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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 5)

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for immersion circulators, just check ebay/craigslist/whatever constantly till you find one and then clean the heck out of them.

On a side note I have a jug of citranox that I used once to clean my circulator and will probably never use again, if anyone is in nyc I will be happy to give you a couple cups of it to clean your new (used and dirty) circ.

I have the FoodSaver V2840 Advanced Design and it works reasonably well even so far as allowing me to vac seal liquids with some finagling.

As for the bags its not clear but my guess is they will not work, anvil out of chamber/ clamp type vacuum sealers need bags with small "channels" for the air to be pulled out of even when the clamp is closed. if you get a bag with out this texture printed on it they will not evacuate properly.


Sous Vide Or Not Sous Vide - My sous vide blog where I attempt to cook every recipe in Under Pressure.

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Just came back from a course @ CIA Greystone on Sous Vide. Was a great course and learned a lot.

Looking at some low cost alternatives to equipment.

The PolySci Immersion Circulator is pretty much the industry standard, a no brainer.

A Minipack or other tabletop chamber vacuum sealer is $$. I'm looking at various FoodSaver models, since are $150-300 and could be replaceable if broken. Anyone using these, and if so which model do you use/prefer?

Bags - I found some bags over at BCU, which average out to about $0.07 a bag. Just wondering if these bags would be seal-able by the foodsaver? Or should I just go with the Foodsaver bags, which are more money?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

The Foodsaver will seal any plastic bag but will vacuum only their own bags. There are a few imitation foodsaver bags but they are not as effective. Buy the rolls and cut your own bags from them. Always cut them bigger than you need and they can be reused a couple of times. I turn my bags inside out and put them over a small plate in the dishwasher.

I use the Professional 3 model. It is the top of their line and although nearly $300 I think it's worth the money. I had the Professional 2 for ten years before it gave up the ghost. Mine gets very heavy usage not only for sous-vide preparations but for everything I freeze and for sealing jars and canisters. The new Professional 3 has the pulse feature which makes it easier to use liquids in the bag. If you buy a model that does not have that feature it's best to pre-freeze liquids or oils before vacuuming.


Ruth Friedman

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Ruth-->

I bought a Sinbo from Doug Care Equipment. It's a bit more "hands on" than a foodsaver but does an equal job once you gain some skill. It's $100 and uses the cheap-o bags.

I would not buy a circulator on ebay- get a PID from Fresh Meal Solutions-(If you live on Canada-shipping is cheap) and aquarium pump.

Search for these things earlier in the thread.

Mr. Baldwin--How strict is this...

below 36.5°F (2.5°C) for up to 90 days,

below 38°F (3.3°C) for less than 31 days,

below 41°F (5°C) for less than 10 days, or

below 44.5°F (7°C) for less than 5 days

Let's say my fridge is usually 40, but goes to 44 for an hour or two per day- does this mean 5 days and out?

What about if it goes above 48 for a few hours? Yes I know this is not good-but I'm trying to get my restaurant to get into SV but there are days when the fridge gets warm with the door always open.

Thanks.


Edited by howsmatt (log)

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Yikes! It took three weeks, but I finally made it all the way through this thread. And now I've gotten up the nerve to make my first post. So I'm now equipped with the PolyScience circulator and a brand new chamber sealer arrived last week.

So far I've tried steaks, many kinds of fish, chicken breasts, and last night I served a dozen friends 48 hr. short ribs. The ribs were amazing and my friends gobbled them up in a big hurry.

I've eaten more fish in the past two weeks than all of the past five years combined. It's so easy to go home for lunch and drop in a bag of fish for a few minutes. I'm convinced that once some low cost cookers hit the market (ala crockpot), this technique will revolutionize cooking at home. Or perhaps, some poor soul will cook up a batch of botulism and kill his family and friends and nobody will touch sous vide ever again. :blink:

My downtown apartment has become the nighttime crossroads for a large group of friends. It seems I throw together an impromptu meal for them at least once a week. This, I LOVE to do. At least one Sunday per month, about a dozen of them come to my place for breakfast.

And so, I have a question about vacuum packing omelette ingredients. It would be handy to package up a variety of meat for individual omelettes. Would it be better to package the meats (sausage, bacon, etc.) uncooked? Partially cooked? Fully cooked?

Yesterday, I had some short ribs in 135F water. So I dropped in a couple pounds of pork sausage and bacon. I realize this is only partially cooked. I gave the sausage and bacon the ice bath treatment, then added diced ham and created a bunch of individual servings, which I froze. I wonder if this is a dumb idea, maybe it's better to just package raw, then freeze.

I haven't considered vac packing mushrooms, celery, tomatoes, peppers for the omelettes. I don't know how these items will freeze.

Thanks,

Bob

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Ruth-->

I bought a Sinbo from Doug Care Equipment.  It's a bit more "hands on" than a foodsaver but does an equal job once you gain some skill.  It's $100 and uses the cheap-o bags. 

I would not buy a circulator on ebay- get a PID from Fresh Meal Solutions-(If you live on Canada-shipping is cheap) and aquarium pump.

Search for these things earlier in the thread.

Mr. Baldwin--How strict is this...

below 36.5°F (2.5°C) for up to 90 days,

below 38°F (3.3°C) for less than 31 days,

below 41°F (5°C) for less than 10 days, or

below 44.5°F (7°C) for less than 5 days

Let's say my fridge is usually 40, but goes to 44 for an hour or two per day- does this mean 5 days and out? 

What about if it goes above 48 for a few hours?  Yes I know this is not good-but I'm trying to get my restaurant to get into SV but there are days when the fridge gets warm with the door always open.

Thanks.

I was reading notes of when George Pralus was teaching a class to David Bouley and other pros... he recommends putting cook/chill items into perforated hotel pans with ice - so a layer of ice, layer of bagged items, then another layer of ice, etc... and keep that in your walk-in... he says it's the only way to be sure that you're keeping the item at <34F since a walk-in can get upwards of 55F during service when the door is opened very often.

Before you go about the ice ordeal, you can always try something out by putting a needle probe thermometer into the center of an item and monitor it from the outside - that way, you'll see the difference in temp between the inside of the item, andthe temp of the refrig... depending on the mass of the item and surface area, there should be a lag in change in temp of the item if the refrigerator gets warm for an hour... it won't follow the refrigerator temp... also, once all the items are well chilled, maybe you'd want to put them all in a big pan together - that way, the combined thermal mass will help keep them cool if the refrig. warms up temporarily...

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Just came back from a course @ CIA Greystone on Sous Vide.  Was a great course and learned a lot.

Looking at some low cost alternatives to equipment.

The PolySci Immersion Circulator is pretty much the industry standard, a no brainer.

A Minipack or other tabletop chamber vacuum sealer is $$.  I'm looking at various FoodSaver models, since are $150-300 and could be replaceable if broken.  Anyone using these, and if so which model do you use/prefer?

Bags - I found some bags over at BCU, which average out to about $0.07 a bag.  Just wondering if these bags would be seal-able by the foodsaver?  Or should I just go with the Foodsaver bags, which are more money?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

I agree PolySci Immersion Circulator is a no brainer. I use it a lot and I am very happy that I had one. It is very versatile and can be fitted to everything from a stock pot to a full size cooler. I use it all the time and consider getting a second one for just keeping the food, soup and sauces warm during a multi-courses dinner party at home.

However, the chamber vacuum sealer is a different story. They are many different brand and model available and a great variance of price ranges. There are really no great discussions of the various model. I opt for the one that TK recommended in his book Under Pressure - Koch Model 225. It is suppose to be a tabletop model but frankly it is way too big to sit on the table top. I just received it last week and I am trying to return it back to Koch - they are kind enough to authorize the return. However, because of the size and weight (120lb) sending it back is a task in itself. We are still trying to figure out how to do it. That prompt me to write this post. May be others can share their experience with various chamber vacuum sealers. I will share mine with Koch even though I had not used it yet but I do have the unit to look at and be able to give the following observations:

1. It is way too big for counter top. It will not fit on a standard 24" counter (it is 27inches in width) and the top clearence is the biggest problem. If you have any type of shelving on top of your kitchen counter with clearing of again 24 inches, it is too short for the machine to open ( it requires at least 30 inches of clearance).

2. To put oil in the amchine and to check the oil level, you need to open the machine by flipping it completely over the front of the machine and let the top hang over the counter (if you have one that is big enough and can clear the flip and have space for it to "hang out" over the edge. It take quite an effort to open the machine as it was fitted very tightly to to base, it take 2 persons to do this task .

3. The chamber is nice and big but if you spill. It is not easy to clean. You probably have to remove the seal bar to clean and may even need to take the chamber out.

4. According to the manuel , it is shipped without oil but according to the saleman it does have oil in it. However, I cannot fipped the top over because all I can do is open the top on the floor and so I cannot see the oil level glass located in the front of the machine.

It is probably a great machine when it is working but I do not had the chance to use it.

I would like to hear from others who had a chamber vacuum sealer and let us know what is your likes and dislikes about your particular sealer.

Thank you

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I would like to hear from others who had a chamber vacuum sealer and let us know what is your likes and dislikes about your particular sealer.

Thank you

I ended up with the MVS 31 from these people. Your Koch unit seems to be about 25% larger than the Minipack 31.

So far I'm very happy with mine. The chamber seems to be large enough to package up anything I'll be cooking in the foreseeable future. On the website, there's a video that shows how to use suction from the machine to vac seal a bag that's outside the chamber. I haven't tried that yet. Probably won't need to.

When I got the machine, the compressor instructions said it was shipped without oil, but I checked, and it's full of oil.

Also, when I first tried to use it, I could only achieve a 93% vacuum. It's supposed to go to 99.9%. So I called the dealer and they emailed me instructions to calibrate. Very simple. Took about a minute. Now it works perfectly. I'm at 3250 ft. elevation, hence the need to re-calibrate.

Like you, I don't have room on my kitchen counter. So I brought home a rubbermaid cart to set it on. I roll it out of the pantry when I need it. If I'm just going to bag an item or two, I just leave it in the pantry. Works pretty good that way for me. If I'm ever fortunate enough to be able to redesign my kitchen, I will create a special place for the sealer. I don't know how I ever lived without this thing.

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I also have a MVS31 (but from this guy) and love it. I haven't used any other chamber vacuum sealer, but it seems very well made and its digital controls are very easy to program and use. It is definitely a space hog, but I suspect that the same is true of any chamber vacuum sealer of usable size.


My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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I would like to hear from others who had a chamber vacuum sealer and let us know what is your likes and dislikes about your particular sealer.

Thank you

I ended up with the MVS 31 from these people. Your Koch unit seems to be about 25% larger than the Minipack 31.

So far I'm very happy with mine. The chamber seems to be large enough to package up anything I'll be cooking in the foreseeable future. On the website, there's a video that shows how to use suction from the machine to vac seal a bag that's outside the chamber. I haven't tried that yet. Probably won't need to.

When I got the machine, the compressor instructions said it was shipped without oil, but I checked, and it's full of oil.

Also, when I first tried to use it, I could only achieve a 93% vacuum. It's supposed to go to 99.9%. So I called the dealer and they emailed me instructions to calibrate. Very simple. Took about a minute. Now it works perfectly. I'm at 3250 ft. elevation, hence the need to re-calibrate.

Like you, I don't have room on my kitchen counter. So I brought home a rubbermaid cart to set it on. I roll it out of the pantry when I need it. If I'm just going to bag an item or two, I just leave it in the pantry. Works pretty good that way for me. If I'm ever fortunate enough to be able to redesign my kitchen, I will create a special place for the sealer. I don't know how I ever lived without this thing.

Thank you Bob. MVS 31 sounded good. You have not mention if it will actually fit on regular kitchen counter with a cabinet on top of counter that has a 24 in clearence? Also, is it easy to clean if you spilled inside the chamber? Is it difficult to change oil if need?

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The chamber is quite easy to clean --- it is very easy to remove and replace the seal bar. I won't need to change my oil for another year, but it looks quite easy (it certainly doesn't require to flip the machine upside down!). While you can open the lid about 8in with a cabinet 24in above the counter, you would have to hold it open while you position the bag; if you had 28in from counter to cabinet, the lid could be opened all the way. Personally, I put it on a sturdy stand at the end of my counter (since I already lost enough counter space to all my water baths!).


My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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After sealing literally everything in my freezer, including ice, someone needs to invent a bag-loading device. Why can't there be a chute-like thing that drops a chicken breast into the bottom of the bag, without letting it touch the open end of the bag?

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You can try to fold back the top ofthe bag while filling - sort of like what you do when filling a piping bag.... then unfold and seal...

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After sealing literally everything in my freezer, including ice, someone needs to invent a bag-loading device.  Why can't there be a chute-like thing that drops a chicken breast into the bottom of the bag, without letting it touch the open end of the bag?

Cut the top and bottom off a 2 L. plastic soda bottle. Stick the plastic cylinder in the bag and drop the food through the cylinder. This works for the medium size bags (8 by 12 inch and larger). Cutting the bottom out of a plastic take-out soup container from the neighborhood Chinese restrauarant is another option.

A 20 oz. soda (or Water) bottle works for the small bags (6 by 9 inch).

I fold back the top of the large bags.

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After sealing literally everything in my freezer, including ice, someone needs to invent a bag-loading device.  Why can't there be a chute-like thing that drops a chicken breast into the bottom of the bag, without letting it touch the open end of the bag?

I use the small (approx 10" X 10.75") Kabinet Wax brand deli wraps. I just roll the wrap around the food to be sealed, insert the roll into the bag and empty the food into the bag. This works well for meats, vegetables, dry ingredients, etc.

Easy and cheap.

Liquid ingredients are another story and I usually just use an appropriately sized funnel.

Hope this helps.

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Chef,

Naturally, the simple methods are usually best. Thanks for the suggestion. I was thinking something motorized and stainless steel. lol

Bob

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Hate to follow up my own post, but 3 lb. beef chuck roast @ 135F for 32 hours, marinated in Stubb's Beef Marinade in the bag. Then seared for about a minute on both sides. Stubbs is just something I found at the market last weekend, says "a special blend of soy, lime, ginger and red pepper.

Results: excellent. Not fall apart tender, but extremely tender and juicy.

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I wouldn't mind trying some sous vide at home, but I have an issue with the use disposable plastic bags to cook the food in, it seems like unecessary waste to me. Are there any re-usable vacuum bags available?

Sorry for the noob question, especially if it has already been answered.

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not at the level you will probably want to be at if you end up enjoying this, as most people seem to do. You can get Reynolds Handivac bag that are both resealable and vacuum-able. One way you could "re-use" bags is to cut them from a roll to be long then you need, then seal the very end and cut right below the seal in a straight line when you open them, then wash the bags (someone suggested flipping them inside out and putting them in the dishwasher), fill em up and seal again, its not 100% environmentally friendly but it does significantly reduce waste if you are willing to put up with the hassle.

On a side note, do people have that many issues with food juice/whatever interfering with the sealing options? I never really felt the need to devise a funnel to prevent this...


Sous Vide Or Not Sous Vide - My sous vide blog where I attempt to cook every recipe in Under Pressure.

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... Why can't there be a chute-like thing that drops a chicken breast into the bottom of the bag, without letting it touch the open end of the bag?
There is, a rolled up cheepo cutting mat, the thin plastic kind, flexible so you can roll it and plunge your chicken pieces into a bag. Ditto, you can use it to "funnel" stuffing into a bird for roasting and do similar tasks. Alton Brown idea.

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After sealing literally everything in my freezer, including ice, someone needs to invent a bag-loading device.  Why can't there be a chute-like thing that drops a chicken breast into the bottom of the bag, without letting it touch the open end of the bag?

A simple solution is to fold the bag back on itself, similar to filling a pipeing bag.

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There is, a rolled up cheepo cutting mat, the thin plastic kind, flexible so you can roll it and plunge your chicken pieces into a bag.  Ditto, you can use it to "funnel" stuffing into a bird for roasting and do similar tasks.  Alton Brown idea.

A simple solution is to fold the bag back on itself, similar to filling a pipeing bag.

Thanks. I will try all these methods, deli paper, cutting mat and folding the bag. I've already vac packed enough meat to feed a battalion for a month.

Now, a question on labels. Has anyone used a label printer to make bag labels? I was thinking about bringing home a Dymo label printer from the office. I will have to conduct a little test to see if the labels need to be removed before the bags enter the water. Or maybe someone makes a plastic waterproof label?

Bob

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I have used the Brother TZ labels and they do need to be removed before putting the bag in the water bath.

I find it easier to label the bags with a sharpie pen.

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Just came back from a course @ CIA Greystone on Sous Vide.  Was a great course and learned a lot.

Looking at some low cost alternatives to equipment.

The PolySci Immersion Circulator is pretty much the industry standard, a no brainer.

A Minipack or other tabletop chamber vacuum sealer is $$.  I'm looking at various FoodSaver models, since are $150-300 and could be replaceable if broken.  Anyone using these, and if so which model do you use/prefer?

Bags - I found some bags over at BCU, which average out to about $0.07 a bag.  Just wondering if these bags would be seal-able by the foodsaver?  Or should I just go with the Foodsaver bags, which are more money?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

I agree PolySci Immersion Circulator is a no brainer. I use it a lot and I am very happy that I had one. It is very versatile and can be fitted to everything from a stock pot to a full size cooler. I use it all the time and consider getting a second one for just keeping the food, soup and sauces warm during a multi-courses dinner party at home.

However, the chamber vacuum sealer is a different story. They are many different brand and model available and a great variance of price ranges. There are really no great discussions of the various model. I opt for the one that TK recommended in his book Under Pressure - Koch Model 225. It is suppose to be a tabletop model but frankly it is way too big to sit on the table top. I just received it last week and I am trying to return it back to Koch - they are kind enough to authorize the return. However, because of the size and weight (120lb) sending it back is a task in itself. We are still trying to figure out how to do it. That prompt me to write this post. May be others can share their experience with various chamber vacuum sealers. I will share mine with Koch even though I had not used it yet but I do have the unit to look at and be able to give the following observations:

1. It is way too big for counter top. It will not fit on a standard 24" counter (it is 27inches in width) and the top clearence is the biggest problem. If you have any type of shelving on top of your kitchen counter with clearing of again 24 inches, it is too short for the machine to open ( it requires at least 30 inches of clearance).

2. To put oil in the amchine and to check the oil level, you need to open the machine by flipping it completely over the front of the machine and let the top hang over the counter (if you have one that is big enough and can clear the flip and have space for it to "hang out" over the edge. It take quite an effort to open the machine as it was fitted very tightly to to base, it take 2 persons to do this task .

3. The chamber is nice and big but if you spill. It is not easy to clean. You probably have to remove the seal bar to clean and may even need to take the chamber out.

4. According to the manuel , it is shipped without oil but according to the saleman it does have oil in it. However, I cannot fipped the top over because all I can do is open the top on the floor and so I cannot see the oil level glass located in the front of the machine.

It is probably a great machine when it is working but I do not had the chance to use it.

I would like to hear from others who had a chamber vacuum sealer and let us know what is your likes and dislikes about your particular sealer.

Thank you

I started experimenting with Sous Vide nine months ago when I discovered this thread. In the months that followed I bought an immersion circulator from eBay (it was great as a tester for circuit breaker performance - not otherwise useful, the purchase price was refunded when I emailed the seller a photograph of the do not use tag on the unit dated in 1997 ). I was frustrated and ordered a new PolyScience immersion circulator.

I had a bottom of the line Foodsaver clamp type vacuum sealer stored in the basement years ago, not long after I purchased it. I was frustrated by the poor seal it produced (I almost never got an air tight bag using the roll of material - even with a double seal on each end ). I could usually get a passible seal with the premade bags by sealing the top two or three times. I looked into replacing the Foodsaver with a better model or getting a chamber sealer. I decided that the chamber sealer was the better choice.

I looked at the specs and prices of new units from all the major labels. I say labels because several companies sell the same units with different names e.g. Bizerba, Berkel and Spiromatic sell the same units under their own names. I also searched for used units and found a Bizerba 350 in great condition for a low price ($1200), about the same as the small Chinese or Indian made machines (which I assume may be or may soon become unrepairable). The 350 is a bit larger than your Kotch 225 and has a lot more mass. (The Sipromatic data sheet lists the weight as 242 pounds.) The chamber is huge (18 x 18 x 6.5). I usually run with some plastic filler slabs in the chamber to reduce the volume of the chamber. The seal bar is 17 inches so I have the flexibility to seal two bags at once. Like the Koch 225 it has a 1.25 HP vacuum pump. For comparison the MVS 31 has a 0.25 HP pump.

On the Bizerba 350 the sight glass is visible in the back. I have not needed to change the oil. The oil visible in the site glass is crystal clear. It does not appear to be difficult but it does look like there will be some amount of oil spilled (like a car oil change). There is a cover bar which is removed by 4 screws to expose the pump and plumbing.

I did not have counter space for the unit so I bought a stainless rolling cart/table from Sams Club. It lives on the Breakfast room side of the kitchen counter.

The Bizerba chamber is easy to clean. The only cleaning problem is some tape adhesive residue on the cover. I have not used a solvent or abrasive cleaner since I don't want to cloud the plastic.

I ordered chamber sealer bags from Pleasant Hill Grain Bags Page.

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I had a bottom of the line Foodsaver clamp type vacuum sealer  stored in the basement years ago,  not long after I purchased it.  I was frustrated by the poor seal it produced (I almost never got an air tight bag using the roll of material - even with a double seal on each end ).

It sounds like you had a defective sealer. I have owned several FoodSavers and I've never had a problem (other than pilot error -- i.e. me making a mistake) with getting an air-tight seal. I mention this so that people that are trying to figure out what equipment to buy don't think that they need to be a chamber sealer to get good results. The FoodSaver isn't strong enough to compress/fruits and vegetables but other than that does a great job--especially the models with pulse mode and removable drip trays.

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