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Sous Vide Supreme and other home options: 2009-10

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just got my ship confirmation, won't be as fast as a fire truck but as red :-)

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What kind of internal rack does the Demi come with? The manual shows a tiny little grill thing that looks completely useless, but mentions an "optional" universal pouch rack and handle. The product photos show handles protruding from the top that seem a lot more substantial, like that one in the regular Supreme.


Edited by Chris Birkett (log)

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The capacity description for the Demi is not very helpful for me. Twelve four ounce portions of food is fine, but what about a single 12oz steak? I'd find it hard to believe that the rack system inside is such that everything needs to be split into tiny pieces, but it'd be nice to get some more detail about just what and how you can fit various foods inside. But for this uncertainty, I would have pulled the trigger on the Demi last night, because $199 sounds like an unbelievable deal.

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I was one of the original set of buyers of the Sous Vide Supreme when it was first introduced. Since getting mine, I have learned so much about sous vide cooking. This summer, I also purchased a Sous Vide Professional, the PolyScience circulator.

Could you please give me some thoughts on how they compare in use, and why you might want to spend the extra money on the Professional?

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When I bought the Sous Vide Supreme, the only alternative was the PolyScience Sous Vide Thermal Circulator 7306 which sold at about $969. The SVS was half that amount. I certainly had not used either a circulator or bath previously and did not know if my fascination with home sous vide would continue once I actually owned the machine or whether is might join other 'orphans' on the self. I certainly needed a machine that could hold temperature and experiment I have! The one thing I did note early on was when you were doing two proteins or vegetables for a meal there were no issues as long as both items could be done in the same bath. However, I could not do both meats at say 140 F and a vegetable at 185 F a la minute for the same meal. Then, PolyScience came out with the SVP and between the price Williams-Sonoma offered and their including a 20 qt stockpot and a Camwear plastic container (the value of both was about $199), I felt there was a great value. Now I can do two items at vastly different temps or load one machine for longer timed dishes and the other for what I may do for that evenings dinner. Both are fantastic and both are actively used.

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Is there anything that is a particularly strong suit of one vs. the other? I guess I am wondering why one might spend the extra money on the Professional when the Supreme is half the cost and doesn't look out of place in a home kitchen.

There is the obvious cooking volume difference, though I get the impression a lot of home chefs don't tend to sous vide items that exceed the capacity of the Supreme. Have you cooked anything that wouldn't fit in the Supreme? I also a couple of some reviews have mentioned the Supreme's larger temperature variance, and PolyScience claims it overshoots when warming after large items are added and cool the bath. I do get the impression this is less of an issue than some make it out to be, though.

It would certainly be nice to have multiple sous vide baths at home :)

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There is the obvious cooking volume difference, though I get the impression a lot of home chefs don't tend to sous vide items that exceed the capacity of the Supreme. Have you cooked anything that wouldn't fit in the Supreme?

When you're preparing a protein for the night's dinner you're unlikely to run out of room unless you've got a massive brood. However, I've been doing prep for later meals by packaging a slew of, say, chicken breasts, chili, or pork shoulder, and if that sort of do-ahead cooking is something you want to be able to do, I can see occasionally running into that upper limit.

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I understand the max volume container for the Sous Vide Professional is about 20 quarts. This is the size of the stockpot and bin that came from Williams-Sonoma. Then, it is finding places to store three items instead of the self-contained SVS. If you were tackling multiple items for future use as Chris does, the ability to choose a different vessel would an advantage. However, I have been able to do sufficient quantities with the Sous Vide Supreme.

I know this is probably not the answer being sought, but it is personal preference. If you look at cost alone, then you can have multiple Sous Vide Supremes or a SVS and a couple 'Demis' for the price of the SVP. It is no different of an argument than why some people buy a KitchenAid mixer, others a Hobart N-50 and many are happy with a Hamilton Beach. It is a matter of time/value of money.

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mine arrived today. Looks very nice! It is very light, even with all the boxing around it I could easily carry it in one hand, but then, it's basically a glorified rice cooker of sorts, not much to add weight. There's the platform with holes in the bottom and then a small grill to place your food on, no rack to keep several bags standing. Won't be an issue for now, but I'll either get their rack or see if one of my rib racks fits in there if I want to make more than one or two bags of things. I think that rack should just be part of the delivery, but at $200 including shipping I can't really complain :-)

I've not had the chance to play with it yet, I did put some short ribs (boneless) in bags and sealed them, maybe I'll get to it tomorrow. The little recipe book also has something like spiced apple in it, which made me think of poached pears that I never had but always admired in photos, might just have to grow a slightly sweet tooth to play with such things.

Size seems sufficient for a family of 4 (two little ones, 3 and 7). I can fit one or two steaks in there just fine I think, with a rack even more. I don't server whole steaks though, I slice them. We eat a lot of meat, but not THAT much :-)

I took some pictures that will hopefully help me to revive my blog, will continue to take pix with the first things I make. I'll let you know here, but probably won't have time to put the pictures here as well, or did they make that an easier process now?

So, without turning it on, I'm happy with the looks and feel of the machine. Little things, like the offset handles that should make pouring out the water after cooking easier etc, the designers spent some thought on this. Size should be plenty for regular house use, if you entertain lots of guests and need to impress you might want the larger unit, or just cook and chill over several days. For my use, this seems just about perfect in size, including the storage foot print. It's about as wide as a toaster oven, and just as deep.

More to come :-)

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Thanks for the report! I actually ordered one too, despite my misgivings about capacity and found your report reassuring.

You write

There's the platform with holes in the bottom and then a small grill to place your food on, no rack to keep several bags standing.

So is it possible to leave any food portion vertically oriented with the standard grill? My understanding is that horizontal placement messes with the convection effect.

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well, if the food is somewhat flat on the bottom you can probably have it standing :laugh:

I doubt it's an issue though, unless you plan to put a gigantic bowl filling piece of food in there. And then I'm sure you could find something, be it a fork or spoon or what ever to prop things up. The convection is I think pretty forceful. I don't know where they measure the water temp for the control and I plan to measure around in the bowl, but I'm pretty sure they tested this thing and found it to work.

The instruction book is not the best, and the recipes are so so. Some say to put your food and aromatics in the bag, seal it and put it in the fridge overnight, but none say if you should put it in the water straight from the fridge or have it come up to room temp first? To be safe, I'll go from the fridge, but they could be a bit clearer. And color printing isn't all that expensive, a couple pictures would be nice too :-)

I do think they should include that vertical rack, seems an odd thing to sell extra, as it really can't cost them much and is somewhat necessary if you have more packages than can fit on the rack horizontally. The inside of the "pot" is 11x8.5x6 (deep) approximately. From the 6inch deep you have to deduct the "floor" with the holes and the rack, a good inch or a bit more I think. Then you won't fill it to the top, so you can't really stand large pieces vertically, they'd stick out of the water. But you can pretty much put in there what fits on a piece of letter size paper loosely next to each other and probably propped up against each other as well. Instructions don't say much in that regard, but if you have 3 steaks in there that partially sit on each other, I'm sure they'll all be up to temp after 8 hours no matter which way they sit/stand.

So, you can't feed a crowd with this, but neither can you with the regular supreme IMO. If you want flexible bath sizes or large ones, poly Science or the one with the bubbler from fresh meals is the way to go. I think this unit will do what I need though, but we'll see how it performs, I'll report!

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Thanks for the report! I actually ordered one too, despite my misgivings about capacity and found your report reassuring.

You write

There's the platform with holes in the bottom and then a small grill to place your food on, no rack to keep several bags standing.

So is it possible to leave any food portion vertically oriented with the standard grill? My understanding is that horizontal placement messes with the convection effect.

Did you get the $199 price? I tried to order the other evening and the DEMI199 promo code came up invalid. Somehow, for me, $199 is palatable, but $299 is not.

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The code only applies to certain colors - I think white and red only but don't remember. More importantly, I think I saw that it expired on the 16th. It may be worth your while to send the company an email asking if you can still get the discount if you order today, you never know.

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white and red only, which I noticed once I tried to switch from red to blue. Might be over now, but as Caruso says, doesn't hurt to contact them. Yes, 199 is what I paid, well worth it I think. It's a nice looking unit, well built. Keep in mind, this is a really simple machine, which is why I so far did not jump on the other much more expensive options. There's very little "high tech" in there.

$200 seems just about right for something that looks nice and is built well.

I might try it today, otherwise this weekend.

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seems I missed the short deadline where I can edit my post, so here's what I was gonna add :-)

I Just filled it and turned it on to 134 for those short ribs :-)

And I measured, you have about 4 1/2 inches from the grill to the max fill line for vertical food. I don't how the rack looks like, if that gives a bit more space towards the bottom. I can't even find it on their website, just sent them an e-mail asking.

The temperature of the water goes up pretty quick, it's interesting to watch it creep up to the set 134 degree. It hit that temp for a second and started to beep very quietly a bit before, then must have turned off the heating element. Temp dropped down to 132.4 or so, and now it's slowly creeping back up, I guess by turning the heating on and off in short intervals. A nice approach, as I would guess that overshooting the temp a bit would take longer to regulate (cool) than slowly going up to the set temp.

The unit is lightly warm on the outside, the lid is basically just an aluminum pan and hotter. I put the supplied insulator thing on top, some kine of rubbery thing like a mouse pad. Maybe neoprene or something like that. It can also be used to protect the counter if you put the lid down there (which can be used as a tray to put the pouches in once removed, again something that shows that the designers gave every part some thought here).

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Pulsing the heating element on and off is exactly how a PID controller works. It's similar to a regular thermostat controller except the dead band (min/max temperature) is much smaller because of the finer control, and the control method is a lot more intelligent to (hopefully) eliminate swings and overshoots.

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Thanks for the report! I actually ordered one too, despite my misgivings about capacity and found your report reassuring.

You write

There's the platform with holes in the bottom and then a small grill to place your food on, no rack to keep several bags standing.

So is it possible to leave any food portion vertically oriented with the standard grill? My understanding is that horizontal placement messes with the convection effect.

Maybe you can make your bags stand vertically without a rack or skewer-suspension by using Ziploc bags, placing some glass beads or marbles or the like in the bottom of the bag and leaving a minimal amount of air which will collect opposite to the heavier marbles, i.e. below the zipper and keep the bag upright.

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I received mine yesterday as well. I do not have much to add to what OliverB has written. I have pork marinating for carnitas that will go in tonight, and I put some skirt steak in last night at 132 F. I cut a whole steak into 3 pieces and bagged them separately. They are horizontal but I figured over 24 hours it would not matter much. I did rotate the order this morning though.

I did expect a similar rack to the SVS. Obviously I missed the fine print. I think I can swing the $12.95 considering I got my Demi for $199.

I have noticed that the temperature varies by as much as a degree. It has gotten as low as 131.8 and as high as 132.8. There are not many things that it will make a giant difference on, eggs being the obvious exception.

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I had the short ribs in for 8 hrs at 134 yesterday and they came out really nice. They could have stayed in there longer to melt some more of the fat but we were hungry and it was an experiment. I put them in a very hot cast iron pan for a gorgeous crust. Perfectly cooked! Now, I can do that with a good steak myself, but something like short ribs would be a challenge. Easy in the Big Green Egg, but then you get a lot of smoky flavor. I love that, but it's a different dish. Oven is also possible I guess, but still, won't be the same.

Tonight I'll put two salmon steaks in there :-)

The temp does fluctuate as mentioned above. Mostly by half a degree up or down, but sometimes jumps a degree or more for a second. I'm not concerned so far, would be interesting to know where the temp is actually taken though. I checked with my handheld and temp was pretty consistent everywhere, forgot to check with my infrared, I'll see what that gives me later today if I remember.

I haven't heard back from them regarding the rack, but they probably had gone home already (I'm in California) and hopefully will get back to me on Monday. I'm sure I'll be getting it, but still think it should be part of the package. Or at least very clearly shown as an option on their site.

Well, very happy to far, and lots more to experiment. Finally I have a reason to get my Under Pressure book down and actually do something with it :-)

Oliver

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Salmon steaks simmering :-)

Curious how that'll turn out

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I think future posts will be in the regular (and IMO too long) SV thread, so last notes here unless there's more talk just about the Demi. Salmon tasted fine, but was dry and to my taste overcooked. Might be user error, I had steaks that I cut from a whole tuna and had frozen, it was probably a mistake to take them out of the original vac-sealed freezer bags to add some s&p, as there was a good spoon full of liquid in each bag that now was no longer with the fish in the new bags. Don't know. Taste was quite fine, but texture was more like an overcooked pork chop, a bit dry and rubbery. Have to try that one again I guess.

Tonight I have some chicken breasts in there, we'll see how that goes. But further cooking notes probably don't fit into this thread here, so see me over in the loooooooong thread if I have further things to report.

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one add on: Chicken turned out great, very moist and juicy. Machine temp display does fluctuate by up to +/- 1.5 degree with very short jumps here and there. Mostly it stays in the +/- 0.5 degree. Does anyone know where they measure the water temp? Given that there's no circulation through a heater, maybe they have more than one probe? I can't quite think of a "perfect" way to measure a bath w/o inserting a probe into the water. I'd use my bbq thermometer if it wasn't all sooty and dirty, I'll do that once I get a dual probe one for my BGE. My infrared gun is probably useless here, as I'm sure it measures the water surface temp. But over all, the machine seems well built, comes up to temp quickly and does what it's supposed to do. That my vac bags leave an odd surface on food from those little channels on one side of the plastic is an other issue, also the chicken breasts all looked like pillows in a way, I guess SV comes along with some trimming before serving. The surface can't be avoided unless one has a vac packer that uses bags that are smooth on both sides I guess. No big deal at home, it does make for some artificial man made looking meat though :-D

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That my vac bags leave an odd surface on food from those little channels on one side of the plastic is an other issue, also the chicken breasts all looked like pillows in a way, I guess SV comes along with some trimming before serving. The surface can't be avoided unless one has a vac packer that uses bags that are smooth on both sides I guess. No big deal at home, it does make for some artificial man made looking meat though :-D

What sealer are you using? I know with the Foodsaver bags, the channels are on only one side, so I just make a point of serving that side down.


Edited by mkayahara (log)

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The code only applies to certain colors - I think white and red only but don't remember. More importantly, I think I saw that it expired on the 16th. It may be worth your while to send the company an email asking if you can still get the discount if you order today, you never know.

Thank you for the clarification. I emailed them and am hoping for a positive response.

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I'm using a food saver and yes, that side down :-) It's just at home, so it doesn't matter, would not work well in a restaurant though :D

Also the chicken got a very thin rim or what you want to call it, looked pretty odd. I'd trim it into a rectangle or - what I did - slize it, I'd not serve it to guests looking like a smashed little pillow :-)

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