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

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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 have a Vacmaster SVO-15 that I got fromThese folks.

I got the name and model# from nathanm at the beginning of this thread.

It is relatively compact and easily seals everything up through whole chickens and ducks.

This outfit primarily sells to hunters/ fishermen and home food storage enthusiasts. They were a little less costly than others that sell these units.

I have been very satisfied with the unit. It just removes the air and seals the bag without any fuss.

I marvel at the "screwing around" that I did trying to make the various Foodsavers work.

Hope this helps

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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.

It is interesting that you noted the difference in vacuum power of MVS 31 and Koch 225 (0.25HP vs 1.25HP). That can be significant. I like to hear from those that owned MVS 31 especially Douglas Baldwin because you probably had use the machines more than others. Is the lack of power impacted your use. I am interested in compressing melon like TK. That is important to me, I wonder if MVS 31 can do the same. Thanks

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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.

The Foodsaver (model V835) did have the drip tray but not the pulse mode. The sealed bag would leak immediately if there was any (the slightest amount) moisture or fat in the seal area. This made the drip tray useless. If there was any drippage in the drip tray the seal area was also contaminated and no seal would be made. I needed to clean the inside of the bags between filling and sealing to have any hope of a good seal.

Because of this history I may be excessive about cleaning the seal area of the bags with my chamber sealer.

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It is interesting that you noted the difference in vacuum power of MVS 31 and Koch 225 (0.25HP vs 1.25HP). That can be significant. I like to hear from those that owned MVS 31 especially Douglas Baldwin because you probably had use the machines more than others. Is the lack of power impacted your use. I am interested in compressing melon like TK. That is important to me, I wonder if MVS 31 can do the same. Thanks

The pump power will not control the ultimate vacuum.

The difference in power will directly control the time needed to pump the chamber down to a particular vacuum. Some sealers like mine have a larger chamber and need a larger motor to pump the air out of its chamber in the same time a smaller sealer can pump down a small chamber with a small pump.

Some units are built to a price point by putting in a tiny pump. It is possible that these units may not reach the same vacuum as most chamber sealers.

For example the VacMaster VP-210 with a small chamber and a small (or tiny) pump can take 55 seconds to pump down the chamber for one bag. My sealer with a large chamber and large pump can pump down the chamber in 30 seconds. (The VP-210 unit has one advantage over the other chamber sealers. It uses a dry pump so it does not need the periodic oil changes. ) The equivilant model VP-215 with an oil filled pump cuts 20 seconds off the cycle time.

If I am sealing one bag for dinner the cycle time is not important. If I am packaging portion controlled bags of food after a shopping trip (or an afternoon of sausage making) the cycle time can be very important. This is one reason I found the long sealing bar to be a big advantage. I could seal two bags in each machine cycle, doubling the throughput.

The portion control of Sous Vide cooking is one of the most important aspects for me. I am on a diet and need to be careful with what I eat. (I am down 240 pounds and don't want to let my weight go back up.)

With my chamber sealer there is a physical limit on the vacuum which can be achieved with wet food. The vacuum is low enough that the boiling point of water is below room temperature. The contents of the bag are in a full rolling boil as the bag is sealed. Lowering the pressure further would simply increase the boiling of the water in the bag. (Some of the water vapor dissolves in the pump oil causing the contamination which requires pump oil changes.)

In addition to looking at the type of pump look at the maker of the pump. Many of the major makers use Busch Pumps which is a high quality brand, with repair and rebuild parts available from many sources. Other makers will not identify the pump maker, this pump may not be reparable if it fails, and may not even be replaceable if it is not a standard pump.

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Thank you for the insight. I am in the process of returning my Koch 225 and thinking of getting MVS 31 instead because of reasons state earlier. Size of chamber is not as important to me as being able to fit on my kitchen counter. I will not be packaging a lot of food just for SV and leftover however I do want to compress melon etc.

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The MVS31 has no trouble compressing fruit. Edward is spot on in his discussion about the power of different vacuum pumps; how strong the vacuum is depends much more on the type of pump than its power. As for speed, I find that the MVS31 can vacuum seal the bags faster than I can fill them.


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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Thank you again and now I am ready to return my Monster Machine and order the MVS 31.

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Is it a waste of time to rewarm a frozen sous-vide protein in oven like a tv dinner? Im looking to make some easy prepared dinners and freeze for my son when I have to work late. Would the oven kill the wonderful texture of a turkey breast medallion done at 141 degrees?

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It is probably best to reheat at any safe temp between 130F and what it was originally cooked to. If you cooked to 141 and then reheat at a higher temp, you will lose the texture/mouth-feel.

Have him reheat in a water bath. It only needs to be in there long enough to bring up to temp.

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Thanks...I was afraid of that. Its taken me 3 weeks to go from start of this thread to the end but in that time I've made some of these great recipes here and I'm hooked. My low end roaster has never been used so much. The PID was well worth the price

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If I am cooking-sear-eating the same day, I assume I do not have to leave my meat in the bath for "pasteurization time". My question then is, does anyone have a Baldwin-tacular "get the middle of this meat up to temp" chart?

Once the very center of the meat is up to temp, if I sear it after, can I assume it is safe to eat? Even with poultry? Or would the minimum temp be a different one- something closer to the dried-out temps. proposed by the government?

Next test-lamb shank-I made demi-glace and will pop some in. Will cooked tomatoes and shallots add flavour in the bag? Something else I should put in?

Thanks again to all for making me a more desirable commodity in the food industry.

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Whether you need to pasteurize depends on the meat. Some meat (like intact muscle cuts of beef) are considered safe if the outside is seared and the inside has been in the danger zone for less than 4 hours. I think this is covered on Doug's pages.

Chicken on the other hand is not officially (i.e. as far as the FDA is concerned) considered food-safe unless it is pasteurized.

Douglas Baldwin's pages have the tables you ask about. They are labeled 2.3 and 2.4. Nathan also posted tables in this thread.

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e_monster,

I saw back a while your PID settings with a roaster. are they still 250-900-100 or did you find better settings. I used auto tune and I hang below temp a degree or 2 longer than I like while it stabilizes

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Time/temperature for monkfish tail fillets (gigot de mer)?

I'm guessing 60C for 15 mins, but as fish should they be lower, 50C say?

(bacon, tomato, garlic..., served on pea puree...)

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Monkfish is pretty flexible regarding temperature. I've done it at 55C for 20-25 min, and it's come out well.


---

al wang

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e_monster,

I saw back a while your PID settings with a roaster. are they still 250-900-100 or did you find better settings. I used auto tune  and I hang below temp a degree or 2 longer than I like while it stabilizes

Before I give my answer, I should point out that Suyi at Auber Instruments is super helpful. He has suggested to me that for a large cooker with a lot of latency (like the tabletop roasters) setting I to 0 (thus turning the controller into a PD rather than PID) is the best way to go. I haven't done that because I have been happy with the settings I found. But I will try it when I have a little spare time.

Since my original post, I have also purchased the 3rd generation PID with auto-tune. For the roaster full of water, auto-tune came up with P32 I 998 D 499

Note that a couple of those settings are outside of what you can manually set. So, when setting manually I use the closest settings to that that the PID will allow.

Those settings are rock solid once it come up to temp. I start with hot water in the roaster since my hot water heater is a more efficient water heater than the table top roaster. I let the water in the roaster get up to temp before I add the food. It stabilizes quite quickly -- but I do wait until it has stabilized to add the food. These table-top roasters have a LOT of latency due to the double-walled design.

Also, make sure to use Fahrenheit settings as that give you better granularity (since 1 degree fahrnenheit is about 1/2 degree C).

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Thanks monster,

I re autotuned it after I was at set temp and after I did that My temp is solid. it has nor budged in 4 hours

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I use the Fresh Meal Solutions Sous Vide Magic PID and was having problems getting the parameters correct.

The auto tune came up with values similar to those of e-monster, which I thought were quite unusual given what is written in the manual. Also, when I tried them, it was not maintaining the temperature as well as I wanted.

I use a rice cooker (Tiger brand, admittedly a smaller one because of space limitations in my kitchen). It had been overshooting the set temperature and took ages to fall back it because of the rice cooker's extremely good insulation.

Reading through the SVM manual, I found an adjustment that limits the power output of the device. It is expressed a a percentage of power and in essence reduces the output wattage according to the percentage set. Once I set mine at 75 (75%), the refinement of PID parameters was much easier.

It now maintains a rock-solid temperature and does not overshoot the target as it used to.


Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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If anyone is having trouble finding the right settings with a large cooker, it is probably worth trying with I set to 0. Apparently with large devices where there is a slow response time, setting I to 0 will often make things work much better and reduce or eliminate overshoot. He feels that often using PID controllers as either PI or PD is often more effective than using as PID.

Suyi also mentioned that when experimenting with your own settings, it is generally a good idea to set I to 1/4 of D if you don't set I to 0. He offered this tip: when experimenting, start with a large D value and set I to 1/4 D. If that doesn't work, reduce D by 50% and set I to 1/4 of that.

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well, i sous vided some brisket for 48 hours at 147 degrees. salt, pepper, stick of butter in the bag.

meh..

it was ok, but nothing to die for.

next time, i think i'll try it 135..

anyone with a killer sous vide brisket recipe??

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Make sure to get a decently marbled brisket and trim almost all of the fat cap off (not much of it will render). I honestly don't think you need to do anything other than season it (salt and pepper). I don't think you need to any any fat in the bag. When it is done, I would brown one or both sides in a very hot pan or with a blowtorch and serve with sourcream and horseradish.

I have found that the quality of the brisket is important--especially if you are cooking the flat. Some flats have almost no marbling.

That being said, while the briskets have come out great since I shifted to 135F, I think that short ribs are a tastier meal.

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Yea. Brisket sous vide can be really tasty, but I haven't ever found it eye-opening. The most interesting effect you can get is infusing the meat with whatever flavorings you might have in the bag. I often will put in some caramelized onions and a little fresh rosemary.


--

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well, i sous vided some brisket for 48 hours at 147 degrees. salt, pepper, stick of butter in the bag.

meh..

it was ok, but nothing to die for.

next time, i think i'll try it 135..

anyone with a killer sous vide brisket recipe??

I rubbed and smoked a brisket for 2 hours over fig wood, then SV 48 hrs. @ 146F/63C. It was very good, and much better than the conventionally smoked one that I compared to it. Photo

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Well I did my first long cook SV this weekend and ate the dish last night. Was extremely disappointed with results. I'm sure some of it is down to my technique.

I have an old polyscience IC (got a few months ago on ebay for a few hundred $) and 8" deep acrylic full size hotel pan with lid. (I cut the lid to fit around the SV heater and used a Extech thermometer to monitor water temperature (as Poly has analogue scale and wasn't sure about accuracy/stability). Never varied by even 0.1C in 3 days.

I cooked short ribs at 55.4C (131.8F) for about 76 hours, followed by a few minutes per side in hot skillet. (Originally planned them to be on for about 48 hours, but dinner plans changed on Sunday). All I used was S&P and a bit of garlic salt.

Colour was fantastic: perfect medium rare and texture was pretty good (when I could find meat).

The taste and smell however were somewhat odd/unpleasant. After starting cooking, I read about 40-50 pages of this thread and realized I should have probably taken all of the fat off. I've seen other people mention an off taste with long cooking times.

Can anyone offer any hints/tips on what I did wrong?

It was very disappointing after such a long wait. Problem now is the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) has reduced significantly :-(. My next dish (hopefully chicken curry tonight) better be spot on.

Regards

Mark

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Mark,

Welcome to the forum! I'm not the expert you seek, as I've only been doing SV for a few weeks. I've tried 48 hr. short ribs a few times now. The first time with just basic seasoning, S&P. Results were OK, and everyone enjoyed them, but I thought they could be better. Next time I used a store-bought beef marinade (Stubbs) and I thought they were excellent, much improved from the first batch.

So far, chuck roast with a marinade is my favorite SV dish. 30-48 hrs. really does a nice job on chuck. I suspect you're right on the trimming. The short ribs should be trimmed pretty well.

Bob

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