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Sous Vide Supreme and other home options: 2009-10

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I got an email from fresh meal saying that their updated solution should be available early december, so they will go head to head under the christmas tree ....

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Another concern is what's the importance of circulating the water, which this unit doesn't appear to do?

I believe that for systems built out of insulated vessels like slow cookers or rice cookers circulation is almost irrelevant.

Systems like the PolySci immersion circulators bring water in one tube heat it, and squirt it out another, or immerse the heating element and squirt the water around. They are meant to be clamped on the side of a large tray. There are two problems with that design. First, because this tray has no heater at the base of it like the aforementioned cookers there is no convection, second, because of the high surface area (compounded by the fact that there's no lid) the efficiency is ridiculously low.

If you're using a vessel with significant convection and insulation you don't need to circulate. It will help a PID reach target if the water is circulating but not that much, and once you're stable you absolutely don't need to circulate.

The main reason for doing it with an excellent immersion circulator is convenience. Particularly, it allows techs (or cooks) to insert and remove multiple trays (or bags of food) at (and for) different times. In the home that's just not nearly as large a consideration.

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I was thinking of trying Sous Vide Magic--

http://freshmealssolutions.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage-ask.tpl&product_id=18&category_id=15&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=31&vmcchk=1&Itemid=31

--which is less expensive (even if you have to buy a rice cooker to use it) and would work with the rice cooker that I've been thinking of replacing, because it's larger than we're ever likely to need for making rice but would be perfect for this application.

Sous Vide Supreme certainly looks like less of a kludge than Sous Vide Magic.

I use a Sous Vide Magic* for everything from fish to fowl to meats. Without a recirculation device, it works well for cooking times over 10 -15 minutes. It does take a couple of minutes to stabilize. It's our preferred way for most animal protein cooking. We then hit it with the burner from my forge to crisp up the outside. (see http://blog.technogypsy.net/2009/05/18/steak-sous-vide-a-la-chili-burner.aspx for our first attempt.) Under 15 minutes, I find I need a stirrer and I use a mechanical lab stirrer I got from Ebay. Set it on low and just even out the cool spots. I've tried using a recycled Polysci chiller/heater from my lab and it seems to work the same. I haven't tried any of the real demanding stuff where you keep something at 52.7 C for 30 seconds and quench cool or similar stuff. Smoking beef ribs for 2 hours, sous vide for 18-20 and then "forge crisping" works really really well.

The great thing about using sous vide at home is when someone is late for dinner, the food is ready. So if the goddess gets in an hour late, we just let it sit, brown with the torch and eat late.

Kevin

*Full disclosure: I should note I have been very happy with the service and support on the SVM too. Very nice people. I have no financial interest in them and just bought the one unit. They have been very helpful especially in explaining some of the recipes on the site.

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Isn't the purpose of circulation to make sure that the temperature is consistent throughout the bath? With a rice cooker setup, or this product, you know the temperature of the water near the thermometer probe, but there could be variation (however slight) in the rest of the water. It seems to me that some people have reported having luck using an aquarium pump as a homemade answer to circulation.

oops. Should of answered this above. I checked using a thermocouple system I use for lab-work and measures to 0.02 C and calibrates to traceable standard. The Sous Vide Magic when stabilized is within a 0.1-2 C and moist variation is near the top (well, I do have the lid off.:unsure:) When you drop the bag with the food in, you can see bigger ones, but a simple stirrer fixed that. You could probably eliminate it by using the largest size bath so the thermal stability is greater. From working with PolySci Chillers in my day job, I know you can see local affects even there if the bath size is too small for the temperature difference.

Your mileage may vary,

Kevin

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I can understand a bit of scientific curiosity about the sous vide method of cooking - but frankly, I have enough trouble trying to cook delicious meals with the standard ol' stove and pots.

Wonder if Alton Brown will venture into this?

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Some of these later comments have me very excited about getting this unit. But I'm bummed that I still haven't heard back from them about specs - another email is in order, I guess.

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I can understand a bit of scientific curiosity about the sous vide method of cooking - but frankly, I have enough trouble trying to cook delicious meals with the standard ol' stove and pots.

Wonder if Alton Brown will venture into this?

Let's hope not.

And it looks like while they didn't answer my email directly, the website now has a few more detailed specs up. For instance:

Temperature:

* Display: Digital LED / 1°F (0.5°C)

* Range Ambient: 41°–203° F (5°–95° C)

* Sensitivity: 1°F (0.5°C)

* Over temperature alarm: +5°F (+4°C)

Timer:

* Display: 1 minute resolution

* Settings: Variable 0—99hr:59mins

* Cycle End: Audible buzz & ‘end’ message

Click here for web site.

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Note how well the ideas discussed theoretically here two years ago (in the main sous-vide thread) panned out. First, rather than use expensive laboratory water baths, add available PID temperature controllers to cheap heating appliances.

Summary: Take an existing, inexpensive heater unit with the right range and a different original purpose, and instead of relying on its own cheap thermostatic control, supplement it with an outboard, accurate high-tech one -- the combination potentially being far cheaper than any kind of lab water bath, all things being equal. (2007: LINK)

Soon these controllers were being marketed specifically for sous-vide users. Then, integrate the components to a complete product priced for home use.

... an east-Asian rice cooker and a kettle-type corn popper, both pots with heating elements below. All these simple appliances sell for circa $20. The accurate lab temperature-regulating power-control module I was shown was around $90 (including an accurate sensor on a cord, and a presumably microcontroller-driven servo control algorithm). By my arithmetic this makes $110 retail. Presumably one of these firms could integrate the components. (2007: LINK)

Now this thread. By the way, non-circulating precision water bath heaters marketed for lab use were already available in 2007 for $350 (cited in link in first quote above}. The bare-bones, $100 - $150 home SV unit that I proposed then might be impractical, because I assumed a consumer willing to dicker with servo controllers (like folks here). Whereas a mainstream consumer product needs more engineering for simplicity and safety, and maybe a cost component for insurance.

(Info on most related equipment is in the original sous-vide thread, long tho it be, that my links here point to.)

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"The early parts of the demo were hosted by the creators of the machine, Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades and gave me uncomfortable flashbacks of late-night Ronco infomercials."

snatched from serious eats. That is a bit how I feel about it too. On the other hand I am sort of happy that somebody takes the lead on this, besides the fresh meal solution.

I did some more research, Addelice does not have a release date for the US even though they plan to do it at some point. I read in a few places that the supreme is creating sort of a current by switching on differnet heat elements distributed around the bath and that the wholes in the platter underneath the rack facilitate the current as well.

Not sure if that works well enough, I do know that when I do it on my induction cooktop I have horizontal cold spots at higher temperatures so the need for circulation is there.

The egg demo is impressive I admit.

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This looks very interesting and I would say that it is about time that appliances like this are coming to the home market. To me, though, the really interesting aspect of sous vide cookery comes from the vacuum sealing. To do those things really requires a better vacuum sealer than those typically marketed to the home consumer. Nevertheless, this does present a great opportunity. As for Heston, I wonder if he is financially connected to this in some way? Either way, his endorsement would seem to be worth something.

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...

Wonder if Alton Brown will venture into this?

My guess is that he's well aware of sous vide, but that he won't really address it on his show. Anyone who's seen a few Good Eats will know exactly why: lawyers!

I'll be interested to see how the Sous Vide Supreme folks explain to end users how to not give themselves gastrointestinal botox "treatments". The obvious way is to recommend higher temperatures for longer times.

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Hi,

I made a post on my blog about the Sousvide Supreme and readers made some interesting comments about it.

To sum up, the first reactions was to says the Supreme is technically not better than a Sousvidemagic appliance (Fresh Meals Solutions) but just looking better and twice its price. Some people also mentioned the capacity of 8-10 liters of the pot excludes professional use but this is ok as the target of this machine is home cooks. The last comments relate to the precision of the Supreme and most of the people consider a PID controlled water bath cannot be as good as an immersion circulator.

In my opinion the Supreme might be a very good product but as the Sousvide Magic takes a lot of place in a kitchen.

I tried some month ago an immersion circulator from JULABO (the ED one) and found out such machine was outstanding. I am now testing a new immersion circulator from a company called Addélice which is also working extremely well. This thermal circulator is sold at € 449 including everything. In my opinion, if you have a little bit more money to spend, just buy an immersion circulator.

Jean-François

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> The obvious way is to recommend higher temperatures for longer times. <

In the scrambled egg recipe on their blog they are using 75 celsius / 167f so your probably right.

I understand the risk is not that high as long as you do not use a professional vacuum machine, what bugs me with them is that they sort of nodded of in some blog comments the notion to throw in professional packaged steaks from the super market.

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So, those of you with sous vide cookers in this price range ... what are you using for a vacuum sealer?

Has anyone come out with one at the right price / performance point?

Betty Crocker E-Z Suck Cryovac?

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> The obvious way is to recommend higher temperatures for longer times. <

In the scrambled egg recipe on their blog they are using 75 celsius / 167f so your probably right.

I understand the risk is not that high as long as you do not use a professional vacuum machine, what bugs me with them is that they sort of nodded of in some blog comments the notion to throw in professional packaged steaks from the super market.

Which blog are you referring to? I have never heard anyone make scrambled eggs using SV. I have always done the 62 degree egg in shell. I am intrigued. I wonder of Heston just scrambled an egg into a plastic pouch, sealed it and sous vide'd it?

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http://www.sousvidesupreme.com/community/

Its here ..... scroll down a tiny bit ... Not sure what the obsession with creamy scrambled egg is, I like mine firm.

Thanks for the link. The obsession with creamy scrambled eggs is by definition that's how they should. When they are dry, they are not quite "proper."

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I know about the Ramsay eggs. I know also about the armada of minions cleaning his stainless pan's .....

I am somewhat attracted to the perfect cooked bolded egg. In my head i settled on a polyscience and started saving for that. Unless the supreme gets killer reviews, the fresh meal product shows up or addelice is relased for the US (no date) I am not deviating and stick to my induction method to the paint i have a spare grand for the polyscience.

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Mine has shipped. I should have it on Wednesday, although I don't know how much time I'll have to play with it due to the Holiday cooking.

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So, for the first test run:

I broke down a fresh free range Duck, and boned out the hindquarters. The breasts were sealed with orange oil and turbinado sugar, and the boneless hindquarters with truffle salt. The skin was left on

Four packages were placed in the bath (having brought it to 63c), and cooked for just over three hours.

I crisped the skins with a kitchen torch, and served the breasts on rice with a simple orange reduction, and the hindquarters on greens with a bit of balsamic vinegar.

The meat was an even pale pink all the way through. The only problems I had were that I don't think I was quite agressive enough on the sugar with the breasts (Orange oil is bitter), and I could have been more creative with the hindquarters.

Tonight, I'll be putting in four grass fed two inch short-ribs, each with fresh thyme and some home churned butter. I figure they'll be ready for dinner on Wednesday, but I haven't double-checked any charts.

The machine works well, is easy to clean up after, and stores nicely. So far, no complaints. I did end up putting everything in the bath before turning the heat on, to make sure I had the right amount of water. I then removed the packages, dried them, and put them in the refridgerator while it came up to heat. I suspect this will be less necessary as I get used to it.

And thanks to the Barnes & Noble "please, 25% off coupon on any one item in addition to the members price, just please buy something" email, my copy of "Under Pressure" should arrive sometime this week.


Edited by Dave Weinstein (log)

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Thanks for the feedback, looking forward to more.

With my rice cooker set up, I always run my mixer tap with a thermometer under it until it reaches the correct temperature (or actually a few degrees higher to counter the drop that occurs when I add the cooler meat). You can then add your meat to the cooker and fill it up to the correct level with the already appropriately heated water. Saves a lot of time. :smile:


Edited by nickrey (log)

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Mine arrived as well, but haven't had a ton of time to play with it yet. My first attempts were chicken breasts, which were perfectly cooked, and hard-boiled eggs. The eggs I didn't like as much - the texture of the whites at 160 F for 1 hour was a little wobbly for me - the yolks were perfect, however.

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