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Sous Vide Index

13 posts in this topic

Introduction

Welcome to the index for the Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques, & Equipment topic, one of the largest and most influential topics on eG Forums. (The topic has been closed to keep the index stable and reliable; you can find another general SV discussion topic here.) This index is intended to help you navigate the thousands of posts and discussions to make this rich resource more useful and accessible.

In order to understand sous vide cooking, it's best to clear up some misconceptions and explain some basics. Sous vide cooking involves vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag and cooking it in a water bath at precise temperatures. Though it translates literally as "under vacuum," "Sous vide" is often taken to mean "under pressure," which is a misnomer; not all SV cooking involves food cooked in conditions that exceed atmospheric pressure. (See below.) In addition, calculations for SV cooking involve not only time and temperature but also thickness. Finally, due to the anaerobic conditions inside the bag and the low temperatures used, food safety issues are paramount.

You can read the basics of SV cooking and equipment here. In the summer of 2005, Nathan Myhrvold (Society member nathanm) posted this informative, "I'm now going to answer my own initial questions" post, which addresses just about everything up to that point. For what came next, read on -- and be sure to order Nathan Myhrvold's highly anticipated Modernist Cuisine book, due in spring 2011.

As with all indexes of on-going discussions, this one has limitations. We've done our best to create a user-friendly taxonomy emphasizing the categories that have come up repeatedly. In addition, the science, technology, and recipes changed over time, and opinions varied greatly, so be sure to read updated information whenever possible.

Therefore, we strongly encourage you to keep these issues in mind when reading the topic, and particularly when considering controversial topics related to food safety, doneness, delta T cooking, and so on. Don't read a first post's definitive claim without reading down the topic, where you'll likely find discussion, if not heated debate or refutation, of that claim. Links go to the first post in a series that may be discontinuous, so be sure to scan a bit more to get the full discussion.

Recipes were chosen based solely on having a clear set of information, not on merit. Indeed, we've included several stated failures for reference. Where possible, recipes include temperature and time in the link label -- but remember that thickness is also a crucial variable in many SV preparations. (See below for more information on thickness.)

History, Philosophy & Value of SV/LTLT Cooking

Over the years, we've talked quite a bit about SV as a concept, starting with this discussion about how SV cooking got started. There have also been several people who asked, Why bother with SV in the first place? (See also this discussion.) What with all the electronics and plastic bags, we asked: Does SV food lack passion? Finally, there have been several discussions about the value of SV cooking in other eG Forums topics, such as the future of SV cooking, No More Sous Vide -- PLEASE!, is SV "real cooking," and what's the appeal of SV?

Those who embrace SV initially seek ideas about the best applications for their new equipment. Discussions have focused on what a first SV meal should be -- see also this discussion -- and on the items for which SV/LTLT cooking is best suited. There's much more along those lines here, here, and here.

Vacuums and Pressure in Sous Vide Cooking

As mentioned above, there has been great confusion about vacuums, pressure, and their role SV cooking. Here is a selection of discussion points on the subject, arranged chronologically; please note that later posts in a given discussion may refute earlier ones:



The Charts

We've collected the most important of many charts in the SV topic here. Standing above the rest are Nathan Myhrvold's charts for cooking time versus thickness and desired core temperature. We worked with him to create these three reformatted protein tables, for beef, fish, and chicken & pork.

Nathan provides additional information on his charts here. Information on how to read these charts can be found in this post. For an explanation of "rest time" in Nathan's tables, click here.

Other Society members helped out as well. Douglas Baldwin references his heating time table for different geometric factors (slab/cylinder/sphere) here; the pdf itself can be found here. pounce created a post with all three tables as neatly formatted images. derekslager created two monospace font charts of Nathan's meat table and his fish table.

Camano Chef created a cumulative chart with information gathered from other sources including Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc. Douglas Baldwin shared this chart devoted to pasteurizing poultry. PedroG detailed heat loss and steady state energy consumption of sous vide cookers in these charts.

Finally, there is also an eG Forums topic on cooling rates that may be of interest.

Acknowledgment & Comments

This index was built by Chris Amirault, Director, eG Forums. It was reviewed by the eGullet Society volunteer team as well as many Society members. Please send questions or comments to Chris via messenger or email.

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Food Safety

With long cooking times and low temperatures regularly used, sous vide cooking raises many food safety questions. Below is a selection of key discussion points; feel free to search on specific terms for more information.

Bacteria & Botulism

How does botulism work? Also see this.
Botulism is also discussed here, with follow-up posts here.
At what temperatures are bacteria killed? Please note ff, where nathanm disagrees with the initial repsonse.

General Food Safety Questions

Click here for a discussion of poultry safety, and here for a discussion about fish.
Is plastic (wrap, Food Saver bags, etc.) safe for SV?
How safe is Blumenthal's 50C "perfect steak"? (Also this (with exchange on rapid aging.)

Holding and Storing SV Food

How long can you safely keep SV/LTLT meat in the fridge? (And did NYC ban SV or what?)
What is the difference between cooking time and safe hold times?
When are SV leftovers safe?
What are safe temperatures and times for cooking and holding vegetables?
What are the risks of opening bags, as well as reportioning and repackaging SV cooked meats?

Pasteurization

What's with the 4h/6h pasteurization rules?
What are appropriate pasteurization temperatures?
How can you pasteurize eggs? See also this.
For how long do pasteurized eggs keep in the fridge?
Can you use SV to pasteurize fresh pasta?
Can you use SV to pasteurize raw milk?
What are the benefits to pasteurizing liquids in the microwave?

Sterlization

To what extent should we worry about sterile equipment with SV cooking?
What is cold-pressure sterilization?

Techniques to Reduce Risk

What are some methods for reducing surface pathogens prior to SV/LTLT cooking?
Does the anti-pathogen dunk work?
Does Jaccarding change any of the safety calculations for SV? See also this exchnage about when Jaccarding is and is not safe.
What's the lowest safe temperature for cooking red meat?
Can burgers be safely cooked SV? Also see this.

Temperature "Zones"

Are there food safety "temperature zones"? How do they work?
What is the "danger zone"?
What is the "edge" of the temperature safety zone?

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Equipment

There are basically two types of SV equipment set-ups: an out-of-the-box product like the Sous Vide Supreme and a DIY arrangement using some combination of any or all of the following: an immersion circulator, a big pot of water, ping pong balls, a rice cooker... you name it. Below you'l find discussions about a wide array of equipment, focusing on those set-ups, issues, and products to which our members devoted a lot of energy and time.

Here's a general equipment overview from a few years ago. More recently (circa 2008), we discussed the state of consumer-grade SV appliances and
the state of SV equipment in general. There was also a discussion in 2009 devoted to upgrading equipment. For more recent information, we suggest posting to the current SV topic and asking members for their assistance; as you can see, we're always ready to lend a hand!

Bags

Can you use ZipLoc bags for SV?
Can you use regular bags with a FoodSaver or other vacuum machine?
Can I get shrink bags? Where?
Are there better options than FoodSaver bags?
Can 3M High Temperature Flue Tape cover holes in my bag?
See also this eG Forums topic on SV bags

Bag Use

Do the bags really have to be vertical?
What are some ideas for loading bags without making a mess?
How do people label SV bags?
If the bags come into contact with the heating coil on your circulator, will they melt?
How can you prevent bags from floating?
Why not use glass beads to keep bags sunk?
Why is my bag expanding? See also this discussion on bag bloat and this discussion on steps you can take to reduce bloat.

Can You Use This for SV?

an aquarium heater?
a bain marie?
a crock pot and a temperature controller?
a food dehydrator?
a fryer?
an incubator?
a Rational combi oven?
the original cryovaced packaging?

DIY SV Set-Ups

What's the minimum practical volume for a home SV water bath?
What containers work best for an immersion circulator?
What are some techniques to reduce evaporation in an open-top SV set-up?
What workable "on the cheap" set-ups can you build?
See also this eG Forums topic on portable induction burners used for SV, this topic on setups for precise temperature control, and this topic on primitive home SV set-ups.

Immersion Circulators

Does it matter where the immersion circulator is placed?
Why is my circulator making so much noise?
How do I clean off the crud off this used immersion circulator? Also see here and here.
Is a circulator really necessary?

Miscellaneous Equipment FAQs

What's the story with these combi ovens? See also this discussion of benefits/drawbacks of combi ovens.
Can you use home, non-chamber vacuums to compress and infuse fruit?
Can you use a microwave for LTLT cooking?

PID Controllers

What are the basics of PID settings?
How do PID controllers work with an induction hob?
What should I make of this PID controller temperature overshoot?

SV Magic

What's the best way to calibrate the SV Magic? There's more on calibrating the SV Magic here.
To what equipment should you hook your SV Magic?
What's the relationship between the SV Magic and the Auber unit?
Why is my SV Magic off by 15 degrees?!?

Temperature Sensors & Stability

What can you tell me about temperature sensors?
How important is immersion circulator temperature stability?
What are some techniques and equipment for logging temperature data?
How can you achieve temperature stability with a water-pot in an oven?
Also see this eG Forums topic on precise temperature controllers.

Torches & Heat Guns

What torches/heat guns work best to finish SV/LTLT proteins? See also this discussion.
Which Iwatani torch do you like best?
Does a heat gun compare to a torch?
What are some useful techniques for using this crazy-hot torch I got?

Vacuum & Chamber Sealers

What are the basics of vacuum sealers? See also this discussion for vacuum sealer comparisons.
What FoodSaver features should you look for (pulse, e.g.)?
How do you get a good Food Saver or other vacuum seal?
What are the basic of chamber sealers? See also this discussion?
What is cryovacking?
What's this Reynolds Handi-Vac all about?
What is the VacMaster?

Water Baths

What sort of container do you use for a water bath?
What's the minimum volume for an effective water bath? See also this discussion.
What should I do if my water bath doesn't recover its temperature shortly after I add the item I'm cooking?
What are the differences between circulating and non-circulating baths?
Can I put stock in my water bath?
How do you prevent water bath evaporation?
Are there systems to maintain water level as it evaporates from your SV set-up?

Miscellaneous Equipment Discussions

What's a CVAP?
What sort of pump should I get for my SV set-up?
Can you build a SV "failure" alarm?
Any thoughts on the KitchenAid Chef Touch?
How can you use a chimney charcoal starter as a high-heat grill?
How can you use canning jars for sous vide cooking?

Hardcore DIYers will enjoy Pielle's stove modification topic. Finally, click here for PedroG's handy thickness ruler and this revision.

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General Cooking

SV cooking can transform food in stunning ways. By preparing the product at the desired finishing temperature instead of a higher temperature, and by controlling temperature and time precisely, you can obtain a far wider array of results, tailored to your needs and tastes. Below you'll find an array of topics related to meat and fish cookery. Later in the index, you'll find topics and recipes specific to types of meat

Caramelization/the Maillard Effect

Is it possible to caramelize -- to create proper conditions for the Maillard reaction -- in SV cooking? More here.
Should you sear meat before or after SVing?
What are the benefits of pre-searing, and is it worth it? See also this discussion.
What solutions can I use to coat the surface of meat to promote browning?
Also see this eG Forums topic on the Maillard effect on SV meats.

Fat

At what temperatures does fat render? See also this discussion, this one, and this one.
What can you do about that fat that isn't melting?
How aggressively should I trim fat for SV meat cookery?
Can you use sous vide methods for rendering lard? See also this discussion and
this eG Forums topic.
Does the density of cooking fat promote moisture retention in proteins? Please note this post as well.
Also see this eG Forums topic on larding SV meats.

Sauces, Marinades, Osmazome, Brines, Stocks, and Other SV Liquids

Should you add liquid to the SV bags? What liquid? What effect does the liquid have?
What is the effect of alcohol in SV cooking? Also see this discussion.
What effect do acids (citrus, vinegar) have on meats in SV cooking?
What happens to extra virgin olive oil during SV/LTLT cooking?

If you let the meat rest in the bag, will it reabsorb the juices it's lost during SV/LTLT cooking?
Should one brine meat for SV applications?
Can you use milk as a brining fluid?
What are the implications of using milk as the liquid in the SV bag?
Has anyone used buttermilk as a SV liquid?
What is the relationship between vacuum level and marinating?

So what is osmazone, the liquid left in the bag? And what about that scum in the bag that slightly hardens over the course of LTLT/SV cooking?
What should you do with the osmazome?
How can you prevent the sauce created with the liquid in a SV-cooked protein from coagulating?
More on osmazome here, here, and here.

Can you make stock SV?
Is SV a useful method for making stock? See also this eG Forums topic.

Temperatures, Times, & Storage

How do you take the temperature of something inside a sealed bag? and More on measuring temperature through the bag
What temperatures -- and what conditions -- determine doneness?
Do you really need to be that precise -- down to the degree -- for most foods?
At what temperatures and times can I get meat that has that low-n-slow braised quality?

When should you add the meat to the bath: at room temp or when it's at your final temp?
Can you pack and freeze SV-ready proteins then drop them from the freezer into the water to be cooked?
How do you reheat your SVed meat? See also this discussion and this discussion.
Can I reheat SV proteins in the oven, like a TV dinner?
For how long can you freeze meat that has been cooked sous vide?

What can you do for cook & hold SV?
Is multistage cooling a worthwhile technique? See also here and here.
What are the workflow logistics for high-volume SV production?

Also see this eG Forums topic on the importance of accurate temperatures in SV cooking.

What Happened?

What's the story with that off smell in my bag?
What's that weird smell coming from my SV set up?
So what about the water in this thing?
I'm getting a sour smell when I open the bag after a SV/LTLT session. What gives? also here
My SV items are cooling down too quickly!
My roulade went bad. What happened?

Miscellaneous Cooking

Why does Jaccarded meat retain more, not less, moisture?
Why does LTLT cooking dissolve some connective tissue but not all of it? Additional, detailed response here.

What is the effect of salt on meat in SV/LTLT cooking?
What role do meat enzymes play in SV cooking?
What about bones?

What's the big deal about thickness?
How do you measure thickness?
Do you need to trim meats to uniform thickness?
How can you create a log shape with a vacuum sealed bag?
Can you cook galantines SV?

How can you deal with sharp shells and bones in your SV bags?
How do you get smoke flavor into your SV bag? See also this discussion.
What amounts of spices or herbs should one use for SV cooking?
Why should one (does Thomas Keller) wrap aromatics in plastic?

Do you need to cool or rest your food if you're serving immediately? See also this discussion.
The ΔT question: is it best to cook at final core temp or cook slightly above?
What happens if you leave things in for a really, really long time?
How can you use SV for canning?
What is vacuum reduction, and can I use my SV set-up for it?

Also see this eG Forums topic on SV for spirit infusions, BryanZ's sous vide odyssey, and this topic on SV braising.

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Beef & Veal

What are some tips for searing beef? Pan? Torch?
How do you use SV to get beef enzymes activated productively?
What's the maximum thickness of a piece of beef to be safely cooked SV/LTLT?
What's the best way to cook a tough beef muscle?
What's the lowest possible temperature for beef cooked 24-48 hours?

Is it a good idea to cook tender cuts of steak LTLT? and also this.
How do you like your Wagyu strip steaks?
What types of steaks benefit most from SV cooking?
How would you compare a steak cooked SV/LTLT versus one cooked on the grill or sautéed?
For how long should you cook steak?
What are good tips for flat iron steaks?
What happened to these ribeyes?

Why is brisket so persnickety? Also see this discussion.
How can I make terrific short ribs?
What happened to my oxtail?
What are the best temperatures for lamb loin?

Brisket

brisket overview 57C/135F 48h
brisket brined 57C/135F 48h; also here and here
brisket 65.5-71C/150-160F 48h
brisket 64C/147F 48h and here
brisket 64C/147F 27h
brisket, Wagyu 56.5C/134F 24h and 45h
brisket, smoked
pastrami smoked then 20h 65C/149F

Offal/Variety Cuts

beef cheeks overview
beef tongue and cheeks overview
beef cheeks 70C/158F 30h; also here
Dexter cattle cheeks 56C/132.5F 72h
beef tongue 64C/147F 24-48h
marrow discussion
marrow 58.5C/137.5F 12h
beef shanks 73C/163F 48h
ox heart 82C/180F 8h

Roasts

chuck roast 57C/135F 32h
sirloin roast 55C/131F 12h
bottom round beef roast 53.5C/128F 10h
roast beef 52C/125.5F 4h
roast beef for sandwiches at different temperatures
cross-rib beef roast 56C/133F 20h
Boston "pot" roast 59C/138F 6.5h

Short Ribs

short ribs discussion
short ribs 60c/140F 30h
short ribs 60.5C/141F 72h
short ribs 60.5C/141F 36h
short ribs 56C/132.5F 48h

Steak

flank steak 55C/131F 24h; same approach here
flank steak 64C/147F 2h
flank steak smoked 4h then 56C/133F 48h

shell steaks discussion
skirt steak 29h 55.5C/132F
rib eye cap 61C/142F 15m

tri-tip discussion
tri-tip 57C/135F 12h
tri-tip 57C/135F 22h
tri-tip 56C/133F 6h

Braised Beef & Veal Dishes

boeuf bourguignon 61C/142F 18h and 60C/140F 8h
ossobuco variety of temps & times
chili 61C/142F 16h
short rib chili 57C/135F 36h
beef penaeng 57C/135F 30h brisket

Miscellaneous Beef

burgers 60.5C 1h and at 56C/133F
shwarma beef 57C/135F 36h

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Poultry

Any tricks to getting chicken skin just right?
How do you render the fat to get that crispy duck skin?
How can you brown turkey skin?
What are good approaches to duck breasts?
What makes confit confit-like, and how can you achieve those ends with SV? See also this eG Forums topic on duck confit.
What steps can I take to avoid rancid confit?
For how long does duck confit cooked SV keep in the fridge?
Can you fry SV chicken to good effect?
What are the issues related to eating and enjoying medium rare poultry?
Where in the 140-160F range should I cook my chicken breasts?
How do I prepare chicken breast for shredding?
What is a safe final temperature for turkey?

Chicken Breast

chicken breast 60C/140F 4h
chicken breast 67C/153F 2h
chicken breast 63.5C/146F 1h
chicken breast 60C/140F 2h
chicken with miso
chicken with shiitake and scallion 65C/149F 40m

Confit

duck confit 82C/180F 18-24h
duck confit 80C/176F 12h
duck confit 82C/180F 10-12h
turkey leg confit 82C/180F 10h
See also this eG Forums topic on SV duck confit and this eG Forums topic on SV Duck.

Duck Breast

duck breast discussion
duck breast, smoked 61C/142F 45m
duck breast 57.5C/135.5F and 59C/138F

Foie Gras

foie gras discussion
foie gras, Blumenthal 60C/140F -- and breaks down unless frozen
Also see this eG Forums topic on the lowest possible temperature for SV foie gras.

Fried Chicken

fried chicken, Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc recipe
fried chicken
fried chicken 60c/140F 1h

Turkey

turkey discussion; see also this eG Forums topic on SV turkey
turkey breast 62C/143.5F
turkey breast porchetta
turkey thighs 74C/165F 24h

turkey, Doug Baldwin Thanksgiving!
turkey breast 67C/153F 3-5h
turkey galantine 65C/149F 12h, also here and here

Miscellaneous Poultry Dishes

goose
chicken thighs, Shanghai drunken 57.5C/135.5F 6h
chicken curry 60C/140F 3-12h
chicken thighs 63.5C/146F 90m
squab

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External links

There are many other resources besides this eG Forums topic, and we've gathered the best of them here.

Sous Vide Books

Society member Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist Cuisine
Society member Douglas Baldwin's Sous Vide for the Home Cook
Thomas Keller's Under Pressure
Joan Roca and Salvador Brugues's Sous Vide Cuisine

Books That Incorporate Sous Vide Techniques

Society member Grant Achatz's Alinea Cookbook
Michel Richard's Happy in the Kitchen
Alain Ducasse's Grand Livre de Cuisine
Heston Blumenthal's Big Fat Duck Cookbook
Jill Norman's Cook's Book

Blogs & Websites

Nathan Myhrvold's book has an affiliated website, ModernistCuisine.com. There you can find videos, illustrations, and some discussion of content, which will continue to expand past the book's publication date.

Douglas Baldwin's book started as a website, A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, where a great deal of useful information can be found.

Dave Arnold and Nils Noren of the French Culinary Institute maintain the fantastic CookingIssues website, and there are many useful posts there on sous vide cooking, including primers one and two on sous vide and low-temp cooking. Select "sous vide" from the dropdown "Category" menu on the right of any page.

Some other useful resources include:

The Ideas in Food blog by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot
Sous Vide at Home by Peter Black
Fresh Meal Solutions's Guide to PID Control for SV Cooking
Daniel Humm videos of SV technique
Serious Eats Sous Vide Primer
Sous Vide Kitchen
Sous Vide wiki
SousVideCooking.org
La Cocina al Vacío (text in Spanish)
La Cocina al Vacío index translated into English
CookingConcepts.com

Articles

Mainstream media has done a generally poor job communicating just what SV cooking is about, but here's a list of articles so you can judge for yourself:

Hesser "Under Pressure" article in NYT Magazine, August 2005.
2005 Slate article on SV cooking.
Washington Post 2005 article on SV/LTLT cooking in the DC area.
SF Chronicle SV article May 2007.
Wired article on Nathan and "obscure culinary discussion forum eGullet."
WSJ on Trying SV at Home, Aug 2008.
Sydney Morning Herald SV article, August 2009.
NY Times on Nathan's book, November 2009.
NY Times on SV Supreme, December 2009.

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