• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

cbread

SideKIC: Cheap sous vide circulator.

208 posts in this topic

The SideKIC looks nice as a SV-to-go solution. Personally, I'm not too fond of using ghetto SV for reheating purposes and for longer distances, taking bagged & cooked food with you is often not possible due to cooling issues (dry ice is not readily available in Europe). I know it's probably a bit early, but have you got any plans for a 230 V/50 Hz version?

Plans, yes, but not in production yet. (Sorry about that). Actually there's not a lot we have to change, but unfortunately we can't do everything at once. If the US version goes well, we're definitely going to put together an EU version.


Founder at ICA Kitchen

(Read comments with bias in mind!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to hear more about the steam injector!!!

Excellent, this was a great kitchen hack. It probably should be in a different thread, though. I'll write up a post about it.


Founder at ICA Kitchen

(Read comments with bias in mind!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the answers, Duncan! And welcome to the forums. I'm looking forward to ordering my SideKic, in week or so (mid-month is for discretionary purchases, first-of-month is for bills!).


Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For those who are considering this and worried about the heating up time, just run your tap water until it is a few degrees hotter than target (to allow for the drop in temperature when you add the food). Then fill your cooking vessel, inset sous vide setup and you're off and running - problem gone in one easy step.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, Nick: I very rarely allow my current "ghetto" sous vide rig to heat tap water from room temp all the way to cooking temperatures. Especially for high-temperature vegetable cooking, I nearly always preheat the water.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The SideKIC looks nice as a SV-to-go solution. Personally, I'm not too fond of using ghetto SV for reheating purposes and for longer distances, taking bagged & cooked food with you is often not possible due to cooling issues (dry ice is not readily available in Europe). I know it's probably a bit early, but have you got any plans for a 230 V/50 Hz version?

Plans, yes, but not in production yet. (Sorry about that). Actually there's not a lot we have to change, but unfortunately we can't do everything at once. If the US version goes well, we're definitely going to put together an EU version.

If the price point is the same in Australia I'll get one. I agree with Nick & Chris about not relying on the heater to bring the water to temperature, but any chance of a more powerful heater to take advantage of the beefier current outside of the US?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Duncan,

Thanks so much for coming on to our forum here with good information!

Could you give any estimate of max capacity of one of your units if water is pre-heated before going into the cooking vessel, and assuming the cooking vessel would be well insulated on sides and bottom, and partially insulated at the top? I know those descriptors are pretty wooly, but I'm looking for a ballpark volume.

I'm thinking of a stainless tank with 1 1/2 or 2" foam insulation added to the sides and bottom, and a floating foam lid covering maybe 90% of the water surface to reduce thermal and evaporative losses.

Would you recommend any different max capacities at the 175-195 F temperatures used with vegetables?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Duncan,

Thanks so much for coming on to our forum here with good information!

Could you give any estimate of max capacity of one of your units if water is pre-heated before going into the cooking vessel, and assuming the cooking vessel would be well insulated on sides and bottom, and partially insulated at the top? I know those descriptors are pretty wooly, but I'm looking for a ballpark volume.

I'm thinking of a stainless tank with 1 1/2 or 2" foam insulation added to the sides and bottom, and a floating foam lid covering maybe 90% of the water surface to reduce thermal and evaporative losses.

Would you recommend any different max capacities at the 175-195 F temperatures used with vegetables?

It's a 300W heater so it can pump out 491 Quart * F of heat in an hour. Put the water of the desired temp in your vessel, let it cool for an hour, measure the temperature difference in F. divide 491 by that number and you have your maximum number of quarts that it can maintain in the ideal state.

eg: If you measure a drop of 10 F over an hour, that means you can at most heat 49 quarts. Note that this is the maximum capacity which means if you drop cold food in there, it will never recover.

edit: note that heat loss decreases as the vessel gets colder so if it's an uninsulated vessel, it would be better to measure the heat loss after 15 minutes and multiply by 4 rather than wait the full hour.


Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Duncan,

Thanks so much for coming on to our forum here with good information!

Could you give any estimate of max capacity of one of your units if water is pre-heated before going into the cooking vessel, and assuming the cooking vessel would be well insulated on sides and bottom, and partially insulated at the top? I know those descriptors are pretty wooly, but I'm looking for a ballpark volume.

I'm thinking of a stainless tank with 1 1/2 or 2" foam insulation added to the sides and bottom, and a floating foam lid covering maybe 90% of the water surface to reduce thermal and evaporative losses.

Would you recommend any different max capacities at the 175-195 F temperatures used with vegetables?

It's a 300W heater so it can pump out 491 Quart * F of heat in an hour. Put the water of the desired temp in your vessel, let it cool for an hour, measure the temperature difference in F. divide 491 by that number and you have your maximum number of quarts that it can maintain in the ideal state.

eg: If you measure a drop of 10 F over an hour, that means you can at most heat 49 quarts. Note that this is the maximum capacity which means if you drop cold food in there, it will never recover.

edit: note that heat loss decreases as the vessel gets colder so if it's an uninsulated vessel, it would be better to measure the heat loss after 15 minutes and multiply by 4 rather than wait the full hour.

This is an excellent answer, thanks for pitching in. Doing this experimentally would be a good idea, because Shalmanese's calculation refers to optimal conditions while in practice conditions will be sub-optimal. (And not to quibble, but 4.18J is the heat capacity at 25C; at 90C I think it would be around 4.20. That doesn't significantly impact the calculation).

However I want to note one other limitation, we cap the cooking temperature at 185F / 85C. This was an arbitrary limit but it does mean that it won't hold temperature over that number.

Officially, we suggest no more than 10 quarts, and I should stick to that number. I think given the responses that I'm hearing here, we should probably build a "pro" version with more power; but for now, the 300 Watts will limit the size of the container you use.


Founder at ICA Kitchen

(Read comments with bias in mind!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(And not to quibble, but 4.18J is the heat capacity at 25C; at 90C I think it would be around 4.20.)

4.205 :raz:


PS: I am a guy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

However I want to note one other limitation, we cap the cooking temperature at 185F / 85C. This was an arbitrary limit but it does mean that it won't hold temperature over that number.

I'd suggest that capping the temp at 194°F/90°C would be more useful, if the cap is truly arbitrary: Modernist Cuisine recommends that a number of fruits and vegetables be cooked sous vide at that temperature, and capping there would allow us to use the SideKIC for about 99.9% of the sous vide recipes out there. With vegetables you can usually simply increase the cooking time to compensate for the lower temperature, but obviously it's easier to use the time/temp specified in the recipe.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think given the responses that I'm hearing here, we should probably build a "pro" version with more power; but for now, the 300 Watts will limit the size of the container you use.

If you could build a "pro" version for another $100, I think you would be flooded with requests.

My question is what would a "pro" version entail? And could you do it for that price?


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmmm.... A pro version? I don't know about "pro" but the things that come to mind that I'd be looking for are:

1. A clamp to secure the tool to the edge of the vessel.

2. 195 F capability.

3. Have the bottom reach deeper into the water so that it would be less likely to run dry during prolonged operation; a greater waterline differential between too full and too empty.

You see where this is heading? My first circulator hasn't yet arrived, and here I am specifying details for the next one, a device as yet not even in production... Oh, Duncan, this site is like quicksand. You were just trying to be helpful and here I am working up a scheme that will cost you tens of thousands in tooling etc... Others soon will be chiming in with requests for chamber vacuum sealers for $300 and rotovaps for $500. Next will be the chorus of those seeking an affordable centrifuge. The gadget quest never ends. You're in deeper than you knew.

Seriously, thanks for producing the SideKic! I'm looking forward to it's arrival.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd suggest that capping the temp at 194°F/90°C would be more useful, if the cap is truly arbitrary: Modernist Cuisine recommends that a number of fruits and vegetables be cooked sous vide at that temperature, and capping there would allow us to use the SideKIC for about 99.9% of the sous vide recipes out there. With vegetables you can usually simply increase the cooking time to compensate for the lower temperature, but obviously it's easier to use the time/temp specified in the recipe.

That is an excellent point. I'm going to run this through testing and see if there's any reason we can't do it.


Founder at ICA Kitchen

(Read comments with bias in mind!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. A clamp to secure the tool to the edge of the vessel.

2. 195 F capability.

3. Have the bottom reach deeper into the water so that it would be less likely to run dry during prolonged operation; a greater waterline differential between too full and too empty.

All good suggestions. I'm thinking more heating power, larger pump.

Please don't interpret this as my indicating we're underpowered - I think the existing one is really good for what it does. But there's no reason we can't introduce a bigger-brother machine. As long as the first one does reasonably well.


Founder at ICA Kitchen

(Read comments with bias in mind!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done Duncan!

To be honest, I'm a fairly impatient person also and almost ALWAYS empty my hottest tap water into my SVS to "assist" getting up to temp quicker. I'm assuming that is fairly common practice.

Cheers...

Todd in Chicago

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably in US dollars a bit pricier, but you can get this in Europe for 270 euro ex. VAT. 1300 watts and heats to boiling point. link

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A 300 watt heater can do a lot in an insulated vessel.

I started out with a 300 watt heat in a beer cooler, (I don't know how many quarts) and it worked fine.

Many pumps use a brushless rotor design, and the rotor/impeller is always lubricated by water. They can last a long time.

The one thing that can be worn out perhaps are relay contacts from cycling on and off, unless it is a solid state relay.

I noticed that the unit is not electrically grounded. I think it may be a good idea to advise users to use a GFP electric outlet. Just a suggestion.

dcarch.


Edited by dcarch (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably in US dollars a bit pricier, but you can get this in Europe for 270 euro ex. VAT. 1300 watts and heats to boiling point. link

That's fairly impressive. Doesn't appear to come in US voltage, however. I especially like the vacuum sealer.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, the first thing I can tell you is the shipping is quick...

It was shipped USPS (not my favorite option, but hey, it arrived...)

1 of 6 - Outside box.jpg

Inside the box (after removing the documentation and a thin foam sheet):

2 of 6 - Inside box.jpg

Here it is with a Thermapen for size reference:

3 of 6 - Size reference.jpg

A close-up of the screen (which is a plastic material of some kind, and reasonably fine)

4 of 6 - Innards.jpg

The controller is basically just a screen and a clickable wheel: not many moving parts to break

5 of 6 - Controller.jpg

And courtesy of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, here is a better sense of the scale. In particular, the hook part is 1.25 inches wide, so should fit over the rim of most beer coolers:

6 of 6 - Ruler.jpg

I've just fired the thing up, user interface info coming soon.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first time you plug the device in it gives you a quick tutorial and asks you what temperature units you want:

Setup 0.jpg

Setup 1.jpg

Setup 2.jpg

Setup 3.jpg

Setup 4.jpg

Setup 5.jpg

It can't get much easier than that. Subsequent power-ons jump straight to that last screen there, showing its set temp, actual temp, and how long it has been running. The bottom line can be changed to a countdown timer as well.

The next step was to turn it on and start playing. I hung it over the edge of a 6-quart stockpot and added five liters of water at 18.3°C (groundwater temp here right now). I set the temperature to 50°C and turned it loose: it took 27 minutes to come to temperature. It overshot by 0.7°C before decaying back down to the set temp. According to my Thermapen, however, when the reading on the device was 50.0°C, the actual temperature of the water was 50.4°C. It held that temperature within 0.2°C while it was running, however, in an uninsulated stainless steel vessel sitting on a countertop (basically a worst-case scenario). It think the device is probably useful for most high-precision cooking provided that you check the temperature with a more accurate thermometer and compensate accordingly before adding your food.

The device itself it basically silent: the hum of the pump is very quiet, and is mostly covered up by the actual splashing of the circulated water. It does not appear to have a buzzer of any kind—it does not make a noise to indicate that the set temp has been reached, or that the countdown timer has finished, so I am assuming this means it does not have the means of doing so. I would strongly recommend to Duncan that future iterations of the board include a piezo device so that you can make a beep of some sort.

Physically the device requires that your water level run relatively close to the top edge of your cooking vessel, and there is not a great deal of margin to accommodate level changes when adding food. The best way to deal with this is to use a relatively wide, shallow cooking vessel, rather than a deep, narrow vessel, to minimize the water level change when adding the food (of course, then you will definitely want a lid of some kind to minimize evaporation). The pump is strong enough that in my standard stockpot the water is pretty close to the rim when it's running: I'd prefer a little more margin.

The countdown timer has a minimum five-minute granularity when being set: the minimum time you can set it for is five minutes and a maximum of 59 hours and 45 minutes. When the countdown timer reaches its conclusion the timer flashes on the screen for five seconds, and then begins counting up to tell you how far over you have gone (the pump does not stop running). It appears that it will only count up to the initial value of the timer: when I tested it I set it for five minutes, and when it had gone over time for five minutes, it reset to zero and started counting up again. I'd guess this is a software bug that has to do with how the device is checking for the timer completion, and is obviously very minor. However, in my opinion, without an audible beeper the timer is basically useless. In addition, it lacks sufficient granularity for cooks that last under 30 minutes (when a one-minute granularity is necessary, IMO), and cannot be set for longer than 59:45 so you can't do a 72 hour cook based on the built-in timer.

Finally, I killed the power externally to simulate a power failure: the device turned back on and remembered the set temperature, but not the cooking time or countdown timer. It did not turn the heater or pump back on when power was restored. If power failure is a concern you will want to take additional measures to deal with it.

My initial impression of the device is that even as it stands right now the SideKIC is worth the $175 it costs, when compared to the alternatives: it has some flaws, but if you have a decent thermometer and your own cooking timer most of them can be easily mitigated. I also think that with some very minor changes (some just software) it could be made an even better value. Obviously this is not a final verdict, since how well it holds up over time will clearly be important.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Peaking thru the screened housing, I think I see the outline of a typical inexpensive coffee cup immersion heater. I hope not. Those heaters don't last very long.

You should check the temperature setting. Typically PID temperature controllers suggest you not to get the thermalcouple wiring too close to the power line because of possible interferences.

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, that is a comprehensive review. Thanks so much for taking the time. All your criticisms are definitely valid; and I really appreciate that you think it's a good value.

We certainly have some things to improve. While we can make software updates pretty quickly, unfortunately that won't help people who've already got one (perhaps we'll do an update service). I won't defend all of our hardware decisions, but I will say that we made tradeoffs where we thought appropriate; nevertheless I'll take these into consideration when we design a new version.

I really do appreciate your thoroughness here. Tough but fair.

---

Let me clarify a couple of things that people have wondered about:

- It is a simple electric immersion heater, but it should hopefully be beefier than the $5 jobs you can get on Amazon. We've had very good results with it, but time will tell I suppose.

- The thermometer is not a thermocouple, it's a digital sensor with an embedded thermistor. These are factory tuned; I'm a little concerned about the differential you're seeing, I'm going to have to look into it.

- And we're not using a relay or an SSR, we use a non-ZC triac.

Cheers,

Duncan


Founder at ICA Kitchen

(Read comments with bias in mind!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me stressed that this is a well-designed item (for the price you pay). I didn't mean to critize. Just asking questions.

One good thing as a result of asking questions; I mentioned the possible need for electric grounding, and possible relay contact wearing out.

The use of a non-ZC triac device to control the heater I believe eliminates the contact issue as well as giving a much better isolation of power to ground leak problem. Not bad!

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Duncan,

Are you offering a warranty of any kind? I didn't see it mentioned on the website.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By bhsimon
      Anyone tried this?
       
      I'm trying to think of something novel to do for my friends at an upcoming birthday weekend. We are renting a house in the Hunter Valley (Australian wine region) and food is a major component of our weekend. Last time I did fizzy fruit—the grapes and oranges were awesome and everyone enjoyed the unique experience. I want to do something quirky like that again.
       
      The whipping siphon is easy to transport so I'm interested in using it. The siphoned soufflé in Modernist Cuisine, volume 4 page 297, has a chocolate variation that does not require propylene glycol alginate or maltodextrin (I don't have those things in my pantry, yet). That looks like it might be a good one to try. Anyone done that and have some advice for me before I dive in?
    • By bhsimon
      Besides the health concerns, deep frying steak is the best way to get an even colour and crust on steak. In my most recent experiment, I tried the technique of deep frying prior to, and after, cooking the steak sous vide. In the past, I had only fried the meat after it had been cooked.
       
      The meat was veal chops. As can often be the case, the meat was mishandled somewhere along the way. The obvious signs of this were indentations in the surface. This kind of thing makes it tricky to pan fry and get even colour.
       


       
      This soft meat is also tricky to vacuum seal as it can often be further compressed and misshapen in the process.
       
      I was delighted to observe that a short 45 seconds in hot oil fixed both of these issues! I didn't expect that. Nice. The meat plumped up and that indentation was gone. It also held its shape nicely when vacuum packed.
       

       
      Time and temperature matters. The difference can be just a few seconds or degrees. In the next picture, the time was the same but the oil was 20°C hotter for the steak on the left and the crust is noticeably darker. My next experiment will try 30 seconds at 200°C before and after.
       


      The goal is to keep the crust as thin as possible.
       

       
      I hadn't anticipated the secondary benefits of deep frying prior to sous vide. The plumping of the meat and slight firmness made them easy to package and present. I am curious whether anyone has observed this. I am also curious if it would it work in hot water, rather than oil.



    • By Porthos
      I have purchased an Anova circulator. My interest in sous vide is based upon needing to prepare chicken and pork dishes that remain more moist than other cooking methods I have used. This is based upon needing more moistness for my wife. After her bariactric surgery she became sensitive to meat that is not still very moist.
       
      I would like recommendations for some threads to read through to help get me started.
    • By Adamsm83
      So I did a quick search for a SV whole prime rib and everything I found just turned into, "why waste your time? Just roast it!" Which I would generally agree with, but the kitchen I work in only has one oven that can't be tied up long enough to do the prime rib, so I found a couple of recipes out there and I think my recipe will be as follows...
      Cut a 10# prime rib in half and salt and pepper the outside.
      Vaccum seal each 5# roast and SV at 137 degrees for 10hours.
      Remove from the bags. Pat dry, rub all over with roasted garlic puree, chopped rosemary, thyme & pepper.
      Roast in a 500 degree oven until dark brown.
       
      Now here is where things get tricky, I want to hold it under a banquette heat lamp during service and cut to order (like you used to see at every home town restaurant in the 90's) So my questions are, 1, is it safe? I realize that the SV and the oven should be safe, but then it sits out , although under a heat lamp, lets face it, they aren't great. Still if it sits from 5 to 9 and is gone by 9 then its okay to be in the danger zone since it will be gone in 4 hours anyways (assuming we sell out or throw out left overs. 2, what would my expected yield be after SV. I read you have a loss of approx. 20% when roasting, less if its bone-in, so SV w/ bones what are your opinions? And lastly, what are peoples opinions about the flavor profile of SV beef on the bone. 
       
      Other info to consider, i will be using a very fresh, very local beef that is grass fed up to 600# and finished on brewers grains. The meat has a very rich flavor, not overly irony, but still much more "meaty, beefy" flavor than the crap at the super markets. 
      Anyways, I would like to get this thing rolling next week, so any helpful tips, tricks or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!
    • By Morkai
      I am planning on making Michael Ruhlman's macaroni and cheese this weekend for a party. In the recipe, you make a soubise sauce with flour, butter, milk, and carmelized onions. You hand blend these all together (with some spices), and then add the grated cheese to the hot liquid to melt. Then you can mix in with the cooked pasta and keep overnight in the fridge.
       
      Then I remembered I have sodium citrate in the pantry. 
       
      We like this recipe, but find that it's not as "cheesy" or "creamy" as we'd like it to be sometimes, especially after cooking. Would adding a dash of sodium citrate to the cheese/soubise mixture help keep it that classic cheesy texture? Even if it sat overnight in the fridge and was then baked? As I am making this along with smoking a couple pork butts for my girlfriend's co-workers, I really don't want to have a food disaster! 
       
      Thanks all,
       
      Mork
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.