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  1. I have used filtered tap water and it has been fine. I also used the alginate bath after 24 hours. If there are any bits left over from previous spheres you can strain the bath. Also you can use a chelator to reduce the number of calcium ions in your water if you are having issues. I believe sodium citrate can be used for this.
  2. That is very useful information, thank you. Although I do have training in, and regularly do practice, aseptic tissue handling techniques at my work. It is quite apparent that recreating the vacuum bagged meat found at grocery stores is not something that can be done at home without the proper equipment. I imagine that one would need either some sort of irradiation or gas sterilization equipment in addition to the facilities required to maintain an aseptic environment during bagging. It looks like I will be freezing meat from now on.
  3. This is usually accidental. This is not something that I do intentionally. Its just something that has happened. Im just curious as to why it appears to be safe (as in I did not get sick). I suspect that the method is not reliably safe, but rather that I have just managed to (luckily) not contaminate the meat these few times.
  4. So every now and then I buy more meat than I can eat in a a reasonable time frame. I often vacuum seal the meat, for example ribeye or tenderloin steaks, and then place them in a a drawer in my refrigerator. Then I indubitably forget about them, and only re-discover them after significantly past the normal time that is generally recommended for storage in a fridge. In some cases Ive stored them for 6 weeks or longer. The meat generally retains pretty good color. I've found that if the meat is slightly browning when sealed, it is possible that it will be a bit more brown when eventually find it. Otherwise, if it is red going in, its generally just a bit more purple coming out. With regard to smell the meat usually smells OK, not without smell at all, but with a slightly lets say "developed" odor, but not particularly unpleasant, and certainly not rotten. My fridge is at about 3 C, sometimes a few items get frozen depending on their location (usually things closest to the top, I assume this is because that is where the cold air enters), but the meat drawer is at the bottom of the fridge and the 3 degree is accurate to within a degree (over long duration). On occasion I have eaten this extremely old meat, sometimes using a sashimi knife to remove the outer 3 mm or so, but only if its brown (its mostly a visual thing). I then proceed to cook it to medium rare internal temp with a seared outside. It has a mild noticeably "different" taste, but otherwise tastes pretty good. Is this unsafe? I know I am keeping the meat way past the normally suggested duration. I'm not doing anything special, or using any special handling practices while bagging it, so there is opportunity for contaminants to be vacuumed in with the meat. Oddly enough, my stomach is easily perturbed by many things. But never by this meat, in fact never by any type of meat raw or cured or cooked.
  5. 6.1 kWh over 22 hours is pretty good. Any idea what it took to get up to temp? I assume that holding temp will use far less energy than getting up to temp.
  6. Thats really great to hear. I was starting to think that maybe I had a one-off experience because of the other posts mentioning lack of flavor and burnt taste. Did you do it at 96 C? Also, did you put stock concentrate in the bag with the onions, or was it just the onions? Im am trying to figure out why others had unsatifactory results.
  7. What do you mean? Is there a specific dish that you are referring to? The only generic Szechaun ingredient that I use in many dishes is oil flavoured with chillis and Szechuan peppercorn, but that hardly counts as a sauce.
  8. Ah so you wanted a fluid that would exhibit shear-thinning. Cool idea, I'll try it out.
  9. Unless I misunderstand what you are saying, I believe we have done the same thing, apart from forming a gel. I think that caramelizing onions in a pan is actually caramelizing onions, whereas doing it in a bag produces the caramelized water as you referred to it. The difference being whether the surface of the onion takes up the brown bits or whether the liquid retains the color (and flavor). I think that the primary advantage this method yields is that the onions flavor comes out into the liquid, which results in what can be perceived as a soup that has simmered for longer (uniform flavor instead of distinctly flavored components). From a texture perspective, I found the spent onions to actually be ideal for the soup. Maybe crunchier onions produce better soup, but this worked quite well. I really like your idea of converting it into what is essentially an onion concentrate condiment, I think I will give it a shot. Could you please explain the reasoning behind blending it after it set? Was the result a thickened liquid, and if so could that be achieved with something else. I'm not familiar with gellan, so could that be what you meant? What I remember about agar is that the gels are quite "brittle".
  10. Yes I think baking soda might help. I just need to learn how to use it properly. Last time I overdid it while caramelizing onions in a pan and found that it totally broke down the pectin and left me with mush. I used no fat because I didn't want to add any additional liquid. I reasoned that I could get any water from the onions to evaporate but that fat would stick around and make it difficult for me to get a good vacuum. The sealer that I have is pretty limited in its functionality.
  11. So I thought I would try out caramelizing onions in a water bath. I had seen a number of references to this online in a number of places like http://emilysculinaryadventures.blogspot.com/2013/01/another-sous-vide-trick-uber.html or http://www.orgasmicchef.com/soup/sous-vide-caramelised-onions/ as it seemed like a great way to save some effort and explore another SV technique. One of the things that I have read is that onions can release gas and cause the SV bag to balloon and possibly explode. I don't know the mechanism behind this, but I have read that one possible way to avoid this is to pre-sauté the onions a bit. Again, not really sure why. But I did so to be safe, I sautéed the onions with no added fat, I used yellow onions and waited till they got a little bit of color but were mostly dry (for vacuum sealing purposes). Then I sealed the onions with about a teaspoon of chicken stock concentrate, here is the before picture: I put it in the bath at 86 C, just to see if any bubbles would form, it was stable after 4 hours, so then I increased the temperature to 96 C and monitored it for another couple of hours, again no bubbles. So i left it at 96 C overnight for a total time of about 10 hours at that temperature. When I went to bed I had not seen much difference. In the morning I notice a lot of brown liquid in the bag but the onions themselves appeared to not have gotten much darker. I tried an experiment where I increase the bath temperature to 98 C for a short while, within minutes I noticed bubbles of gas forming inside the SV bags. The bubbles appeared to be produced similar to the bubbles produced during the phase change of boiling water at the bottom of a pot, but again I don't know for sure. The bubbles caused the bags to start floating, and then I reduced the temp back down to 96 C at which temperature the bubbles stopped forming, I let it stay there for about another hour. During this time the bubbles gas slowly disappeared. The end product looked like this: As you can see there was a great deal of total color change. The onions themselves were mostly translucent, I assume that this is because when caramelization is done in a pan the brown bits stick to the onions and in this case they remained in the liquid. Interestingly, the bubbles were completely gone when the bag was brought down in temp. A possible hypothesis is that there is something in the onions that is reducing the boiling point of water, or that has a lower boiling point than water and thus is boiling within the bag. However, upon cooling it changes phase back into liquid? The end product was incredible for making French onion soup. My possibly unorthodox method was to get a roux (with some thyme and bay leaves) to the desired color, then add the stock (beef and pork) and SV onions (including liquid). And then simmer for about 30 minutes. I must say that this soup had an incredible depth of flavor that I have not achieved in soups made with traditionally caramelized onions (that were simmered for much longer). I am definitely going to do this again, possible freezing the bagged onions so that I can make french onion soup supper quickly in the future. To summarize: 1. Onions sauteed with no fat till just a little bit of color on the edges. 2. Vacuum sealed with a little bit of concentrated stock. 3. Sous vide for about 10-12 hours at 96 C. (Keep an eye on it to see if bubbles form, reduce temp if needed). 4. Use as needed for soups or whatever.
  12. just FYI: There are some conflicting reports on the maximum temperature of bags: For example the manufacturer (I think they are the manufacturer) says that the vacmaster bags can be boiled (no time limit stated): http://myvacmaster.com/cgi/ary.wsc/storagebags?p-item-num=10102000-Mesh However a retailer says that the same bags cannot be boiled: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/ary-vacmaster-946220-8-x-12-full-mesh-quart-size-vacuum-packaging-bags-3-mil-100-box/120VBM946220.html and sells another set of bags specifically for higher temperatures, which they say can be boiled for 30 mins: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/ary-vacmaster-30749-10-x-15-cook-in-chamber-re-therm-vacuum-packaging-pouches-bags-for-sous-vide-cooking-3-mil-1000-case/120VPM30749.html The same higher temp bags can be found on vacmasters site at, where they state that they can be boiled for 30 minutes: http://myvacmaster.com/cgi/ary.wsc/storagebags?p-item-num=10101000-therm Interestingly both types of bags are BPA free and made of polyethylene and nylon (though the compositions are slightly different, possibly yielding the different characteristics). And, I cannot find the
  13. Another data point. SV Brisket 3 Hours 39 C 3 hours 49 C 65 hours 57 C Mass before SV, 1708 g mass after SV 1409 g Moisture loss 17.5% Chilled in ice bath till internal temp was 15 C (I was impatient). Dried, and then rubbed with salt, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, cumin, red chilli powder, and paprika. Then placed into smoker for about 2.5 hours at around 100C dry bulb temp, Waited till probe at core read 52 C to take out of smoker. Full disclosure, I waited till it hit 51 C (core), let it cool down to 47 C, and then continued smoking till it hit 52 C core. Comments: The meat was moist and tender, possibly a bit too tender. It was very well received.
  14. I did a sous vide chicken breast the other night with the skin on. I was able to use the searzall to crisp up the skin. The only issue was that I found that as the skin crisped it caused the underlying meat to contract resulting in a crescent shaped chicken breast. On a positive note, the skin stayed crisp through the entire meal.
  15. Distilled water is cheap (usually less than 1 USD per gallon). It is safe to drink in reasonable quantities, the only reason I say this is because it doesn't have minerals and fluoride so you will be missing those, and its likely hypotonic. Regarding chlorine in tap water. Usually chlorine leaves tap water over time, so distilled water should not present a serious issue. In fact distillation is used to provide drinkable water when other water treatment methods are not available.
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