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  1. That's a very good point about the tar screwing up the pump. I'm sure you're absolutely right about that. Thanks for pointing it out.
  2. I thought I might get the "why not just leave it in the bag?" question The reason I want to take it out is that I want to try adding a "warm smoke" process. My plan is to use the water bath as the actual heat source, and to put the meat on a rack above the water. The space where the meat is would be fully enclosed so that the heat from the water is trapped. The temperature sensor is in the air space above the water, but the heating element is in the water. Then I plan to inject smoke from an external source (wood chips on a miniature cast iron skillet set on a hot plate) via the air line that I am already using as a "bubbler". I haven't yet quite figured out the mechanics of getting the smoke into the air line, but I think that's a modest engineering challenge. The air space would only be vented when necessary to "freshen" the smoke. The whole thing bears some similarity to the way the Smoking Gun from Polyscience is used, but I want to be able to do a more lengthy smoking process coupled with the moist heat. I've tested the temp control in the enclosed area above the hot water, and it seems to hold quite nicely. Right now I'm in the "proof of concept" phase, but I didn't want to make myself sick when I get to the point of cooking something that I'll actually eat. Why go to all this trouble instead of just using a smoker? A) I don't have a smoker and I don't have a place to put one if I did. B) I think it will help keep the meat more moist than a typical dry smoke technique would. C) It's cheap (no meaningful cost for wood or charcoal. D) I just think it would be kind of cool. Why not use the Smoking Gun as the smoke source? I don't have the money for it. If Polyscience wants to send me one to help develop a new use for the tool, I'm ready and willing. My plan is to finish the meat with a brief turn in a very hot oven or by searing, depending on what kind of meat it is and what sort of rub or paste is on it. What do you think?
  3. Food safety question: If a piece of meat (say a chuck roast for example) has been properly and completely cooked via SV at a temp of 135F, could it then be removed from the bag and immediately placed in a moist air environment at the same 135F temp and kept there safely for several hours? Of course, this assumes that the non-SV environment is properly controlled at the desired temperature. I know that air is not an appropriate medium for LTLT cooking because of the poor heat transfer characteristics, but in this hypothetical case, the meat is fully cooked and is at the desired temperature to start with. Note: This would be for service directly after being removed from the hot air environment. It wouldn't be intended for chilling or freezing for use at a significantly later date.
  4. How long are you willing to let the water stay in your SV while heated? In theory, SV water should be hot enough that normal germs aren't going to grow in it (I think). Plus, you've got the bag as a barrier between your food and the water. That suggests to me that leaving the water under heat in the SV container for 2-5 days between rounds of cooking shouldn't be a problem. But maybe I'm missing something. From a convenience standpoint, I like the idea of having it hot and ready. Emptying the container, washing it, refilling it, and reheating it is a pain. The cost of keeping it hot at a safe temp (say 150F) in the set up I use (which is well insulated) is minimal - about 10 cents a day.
  5. RoManPa - I have to question whether you really want to venture into SV or not. I'm a fan, but I've got to say that if it wasn't for meat, there wouldn't be that many opportunities to use it. As others have said, there are two issue. Cooking eggs requires very precise temp control, which means greater expense for the equipment. Also, eggs done SV get old pretty quick. They're interesting, and fun, but it's hard to imagine doing them frequently. On the other hand, veggies aren't as temperature sensitive, but neither are they a transformative experience in most cases. The really cool thing with SV is what you can do with meat. IMHO,it's worth investing in a basic setup for cooking nothing other than chicken breasts (although others would probably say that about chuck roast). The other stuff seems to be more in the vein of "What else can I do with this?" I'm not trying to put a damper on your interest here. I'm just letting you know what you might experience when you get into it.
  6. Here's a little different use for SV equipment. No vacuum involved, and you don't even need to use a bag, but it takes advantage of the LTLT control that's achievable with a simple home SV set up. I don't have a PID controller. Instead, I use a "bang-bang" controller from Ranco. A PID controller should work just as well though, if not better. Basically, it's a temperature-controlled simmering pot (kind of like a crock pot with a more precise temperature control mechanism). It's not always easy to get a pot of whatever you're cooking to maintain the proper simmer temp over a multi-hour period, particularly if you don't want to monitor it frequently. This makes the long simmering process a slam dunk. I simply plunk the probe into the pot (which in this case is enameled cast iron, but could be just about anything else), then set the pot on a standalone electric burner that in turn is plugged into the controller. Set whatever simmer temp you want (usually something in the 190-205F range) and away you go. Since it's just simmering, the precision of the temp control isn't nearly as critical as if you were cooking a SV egg or salmon mi cuit. My set up will bounce around within a a 5% range (F), but that doesn't make any difference for this application. Come back 2 or 4 or even 8 hours later to some tasty vittles. Today, I'm using it to make chicken stock, but I've also used it to make stews as well as red beans for red beans and rice. Cheap and easy. Just the way I like it.
  7. I've done stock a couple of times using SV equipment. Don't want to call it SV, since in at least one case there was no plastic bag at all - simply the "low and slow" heating method. Yesterday I did duck stock using a rice cooker and a Ranco ETC controller (the bang-bang variety, not a PID). I set the controller for 202F and left the duck carcass (which I had roasted previously), the carrots, onions and celery, the herbs, and the water to simmer for about 8 hours. Using the controller, I was able to maintain a nice super-low simmer for as long as I wanted, even though with this particular setup I get about a 5 degree variation in temp. Turned out great! Normally I use a much larger, well insulated container (28 Qt) with a 300W heat source and the same controller. With that setup, I can maintain temps within about 1 degree F, which I find is just fine for everything I've ever tried. My equipment is very basic - a plastic tub inside of an old styrofoam cooler, the Ranco controller, an aquarium bubbler, and two different heat sources. I use a 1200W water heater element ($8 at Home Depot) to bring the temp up initially, then switch to the 300W element to maintain the temps. The one downside of this controller is that it has a slow response time, and when a powerful heating element is used, it can overshoot significantly, which is why I switch to the smaller element after the water has reached close to the desired temp. The smaller heating element is actually one of those thingies designed for heating up cups of water when you are traveling. I got it for about $6 at the local hardware store. The whole setup is ugly as sin, but it works! There's plenty of room for cooking multiple items or big hunks of meat. I'll take some pics of it if anybody is interested in seeing what it looks like. I picked up the rice cooker at a garage sale for a few bucks a couple of weeks ago, so I've been trying it out just for grins.
  8. Ive researched pumps that will handle sous vide type temperatures. I kept coming up with the March 809 pump. Apparently, it's the standard pump that home brewers use, since the beer making stuff is at higher temps. The capacity is probably way more than any of us would need, but I haven't found anything smaller that is rated for reasonably bigh temps. It's not cheap ($110-150 US), but it's not outrageous. They can be ordered from pump supply places, or from home brewing supply shops. if you want a high temp water pump, that's the one I would get. Here's the nice part: If you've got a healthy size heating element, you could use a relatively small volume "heating bath" and then use the pump to recirculate the water to and from a large container (something like a big plastic bin, a small stock tank, or a galvanized tub, etc.). That way, you could cook really big stuff (like maybe a whole brisket?). That's essentially what Hester Blumenthal did when he sous vide'd a whole pig. He did it in a hot tub, which is more or less the same concept. The heater is seperated from the bath, and the water is just pumped from one area to the other.. My home built SV outfit, which is crude but effective, has dual heating elements. It's got a standard 1200W water heater element ($12) plus a 300W travel style immersion heater ($6). My container is a 24L rigid polystyrene restaurant supply container with a lid. I use the big element to get the water up to temp (since it takes forever using the small one), then switch to the smaller element. The whole thing fits inside of a polystyrene foam container, which provides remarkably good insulation. Because I am cheap (and poor), I'm just using a "bang-bang" Ranco controller ($55). It does the job though. I'll try to post some pics of my outfit when I get a chance if anyone is interested in seeing it. I don't use a water pump in my setup. A really cheap aquarium pump with no airstone seems to work well. I just use the suction cups that are designed for the tubing to keep it in place at the bottom of the tank.
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