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Sous vide – what to buy or ask for, for Christmas?


Robert Jueneman
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Wow!

Excellent thread!

I've decided to take the sous vide plunge and happened to stumble upon this thread tonight.

The timing couldn't have been more appropriate.

Can someone recommend a good affordable reference thermometer?

Thanks!

~Martin :wink:

See wiki.egullet.org/index.php?title=Reference_thermometer and wiki.egullet.org/index.php?title=Sous_vide#Thermometers_and_their_calibration.

Attached is a list of thermometers I've tested, but unfortunately only one of each. Unfortunately, I don't have current prices on them.

Instead of buying an expensive NIST or ISO calibated reference thermometer, one may just opt for the SousVideMagic 1500D which comes factory-calibrated to 0.1°C accuracy, then compare it with any thermometer with 0.1° resolution and repeat this comparison every few weeks to make sure the sensor is not drifting, and also compare with the spare sensor that comes with the 1500D. I don't know if any other manufacturers of SV equipment do calibrate their appliances, but as has been posted by several members, there are equipments that are significantly miscalibrated.

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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Thank you!

It's looking more and more like the SousVideMagic is the only way to go in my case.

~Martin

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Bob: Thanks for the clarification. I was afraid newbies might have gotten an unfairly negative view of the Supreme from the OP. Which isn't to say it's the right solution for everyone. As you mention, Douglas Baldwin does a good job of explaining the advantages and disadvantages of the main options in his online guide. And I take your point about all cooking being complicated. Also, I agree sous vide is no worse.

jorach: Yeah, I'd say that counts as an inherent design flaw in the Demi. Bummer. FWIW, as you suspect, no, this isn't a problem with the Supreme, where the bath and racks are all stainless steel. I've had mine for three years with no signs of corrosion. And it usually sits full of water, even when I'm not using it (albeit San Francisco water, which is particularly mild).

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Timely and useful thread, Bob.

Since I started my blog, I'm also trying to do a similar job of informing about sous-vide to Spanish home cooks, as the technique here is much less used and known that in the US. In that vein I posted (all in Spanish, I'm afraid) a "reasons to cook (or not) sous-vide at home", a thorough review of SousVideSupreme Demi (where the potential galvanic corrosion is mentioned, but see below), and a series of detailed explanations on the equipment (types, advantages and disadvatages, and available models) that starts here . Most of the makers have new models since I published it (january 2012), so I'll publish new comparatives soon, especially since now I also own a SWID circulator and have just bought the iePOT.

Also, anyone searching for serious reviews and comparatives should have a look at http://www.sousvidecooking.org/

About the potential galvanic corrosion of the dissimilar metals in the SVS Demi, I think it must depend on the water hardness, as I and several others I know have had their Demis for more than one year now, often leave it full of water with the rack and plate inside and I had experienced no problems at all.

For people fearing plastics, the recent article "No danger in sous vide plastic bags" may be good reading to convince them.

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Thanks, Enrique,

And thanks in particular for the link to your reviews of the European sous vide appliances, as I have not had any experience with any of them.

I have several Spanish-speaking friends here in New Mexico, so I'll be sure to point them to your blog!

And the link to the article about sous vide and plastics is also very helpful

Edited by Robert Jueneman (log)
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One thing you might try is insulating (in the electrical sense) the aluminium from the steel. You may be getting galvanic interactions causing the aluminium to corrode. Perhaps some silicon sheet between the two would help. Disclaimer: Only a theory, I haven't looked up the potentials involved and I don't know the unit to understand if this would be possible.

I'm almost positive it's a galvanic interaction (n.b. I'm a mechanical engineer). I've tried insulating it, I've tried leaving the stainless rack out so it's only aluminum, but no dice.

Agreed with other people saying it might depend on hard water, but I've lived in four different places with this and it's happened at all of them.

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One thing you might try is insulating (in the electrical sense) the aluminium from the steel. You may be getting galvanic interactions causing the aluminium to corrode. Perhaps some silicon sheet between the two would help. Disclaimer: Only a theory, I haven't looked up the potentials involved and I don't know the unit to understand if this would be possible.

I'm almost positive it's a galvanic interaction (n.b. I'm a mechanical engineer). I've tried insulating it, I've tried leaving the stainless rack out so it's only aluminum, but no dice.

Agreed with other people saying it might depend on hard water, but I've lived in four different places with this and it's happened at all of them.

When you google "aluminum corrosion in water" you may find some valuable info, e.g. in a brochure of The Aluminum Association which says "Potable water can contain significant amounts of chlorides. Chlorides can be corrosive to any metal if left stationary", or "Fundamentals of Metallic Corrosion in Fresh Water" says "Aluminum holds up well when exposed to air, thanks to a continuous and highly adherent oxide layer, but is generally unsatisfactory in fresh water environments", so you better drain and dry your SVS Demi after each usage, and for 72h-cooking you might consider a different SV rig.

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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Pedro: I clean and dry my SVS Demi as soon as I'm done cooking because of the corrosion issue; it develops significant precipitates during the 90 minutes or so it takes me to cook steak.

Again; the SVS Demi is a $330 water bath. You should be able to use tap water and not have to worry about it corroding to death if you want to try 72hr short ribs.

I'll be fine, I got it cheap and have gotten my money's worth. I'm an engineer and understand the how and the why, I just want to warn others of the drawbacks of the product. If I had to choose between the $330 SVS demi and the $100 more expensive SVS or the $170 more polyscience circulator I think these are important things to share.

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Does anyone know how well the SideKIC maintains temperatures?

I emailed them on December 9th asking about availability at Amazon and they said "they should be back in about a week or so.".

~Martin

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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I have done some extensive testing with the SideKIC with my Thermopen, and in my opinion it does an excellent job - within +/- 0.05 degree. It has a very active circulator, so I think the water bath maintains a very consistent temp. At higher temps for veggies and larger water volumes, you will need to cover the container with plastic wrap as the heater is only 300 Watts. They were back in stock at Amazon for two days this week, but are out of stock again now. They are available at http://www.fatlaundry.com/products/ica-kitchen-llc-deals-sidekic-kitchen-immersion-circulator

Orem, Utah

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I just ordered the Vac-Star Sous-Vide Chef II and I spent the weekend browsing the posts here. Thanks for all those who have put in valuable contributions. I impressed and feel daunted but I know I'll have responses to my questions here.

Just above you have touched upon the metal corrosion issue. In Brussels, water is very, very hard. What would you do in such cases? A glug of vinegar? That what I do for the steamer, etc.

Thanks for your guidance

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I just ordered the Vac-Star Sous-Vide Chef II and I spent the weekend browsing the posts here. Thanks for all those who have put in valuable contributions. I impressed and feel daunted but I know I'll have responses to my questions here.

Just above you have touched upon the metal corrosion issue. In Brussels, water is very, very hard. What would you do in such cases? A glug of vinegar? That what I do for the steamer, etc.

Thanks for your guidance

I have received mine about 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, it broke after 30 minutes, the propeller that circulates water and the temperature reading went off. Vac star has been very quick to arrange DHL pickup and hopefully I am receiving a new unit today. In the meantime, I have been using the unit I my friend ordered, and it seems very temp stable, fast and silent.

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Not sure, nothing I did. I cooked salmon at 45C for 30 mins and then turned temp up to 65 to cook eggs. When I opened it, it looked like a small piece of plastic has melted in the ring that holds the propeller in place. I hope it was just this one unit and not a more widespread design/material problem.

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I just ordered the Vac-Star Sous-Vide Chef II and I spent the weekend browsing the posts here. Thanks for all those who have put in valuable contributions. I impressed and feel daunted but I know I'll have responses to my questions here.

Just above you have touched upon the metal corrosion issue. In Brussels, water is very, very hard. What would you do in such cases? A glug of vinegar? That what I do for the steamer, etc.

Thanks for your guidance

I had the same problem, and finally ended up installing a water softener, plus a reverse osmosis unit for the drinking water. The water softener gets rid of the hardness, but it back flushes with salt water, and I didn't need the extra sodium. So I use potassium chloride instead of salt, and the RO unit gets rid of that as well. I think it would also get rid of the chlorine that seems to be causing the corrosion with the SVS Demi, but I haven't tried that.

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I just ordered the Vac-Star Sous-Vide Chef II and I spent the weekend browsing the posts here. Thanks for all those who have put in valuable contributions. I impressed and feel daunted but I know I'll have responses to my questions here.

Just above you have touched upon the metal corrosion issue. In Brussels, water is very, very hard. What would you do in such cases? A glug of vinegar? That what I do for the steamer, etc.

Thanks for your guidance

I always use condensed water from the cellar-dehumidifier for my FMM. Condensed water from a tumble dryer will do as welll.

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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Brita works fine, you can even get chem-strips to check the results. they do Ca but for some reason they cant mention that in their adverts.

there was a good thread about this on HomeBarista. they take out most what what you do not want.

thats what I use for my AlexiaPID.

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Other than a potentially larger container size, is there any advantage in going with a FreshMealsMagic II Heater/Air Circulator rather than a slow cooker or coffee urn?

Thanks!

~Martin

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Like other circulators it moves the water while cooking thus making temperature differentials in the cooking medium less likely. With a good circulator you can in effect "crowd the pan" and still be confident of stable temperatures and cooking times. In a rice cooker, hot pot, sous vide supreme, etc you need to be very careful about keeping natural water flows around your product. Hence the rack to keep everything upright and separate in the SVS.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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

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Like other circulators it moves the water while cooking thus making temperature differentials in the cooking medium less likely. With a good circulator you can in effect "crowd the pan" and still be confident of stable temperatures and cooking times. In a rice cooker, hot pot, sous vide supreme, etc you need to be very careful about keeping natural water flows around your product. Hence the rack to keep everything upright and separate in the SVS.

Understood, but I could accomplish the same thing in a slow cooker if I bought the $26 sandwiched perforated stainless circulation plate along with a tube air diffuser and air pump for about $35 total, correct?

censor%20small.jpg

http://freshmealssol...9&Itemid=100079

Thanks!

~Martin

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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I woke up this morning to a SVM alarm. Turns out the temperature probe went haywire, thought it was cooking at 185 degress when in fact the water was at 132. Well, those short ribs go in the trash. I reached out to FMS and decided to pick up the FMM and a couple more temp probes. My rice cooker setup was pretty small so looking forward to using a poly container once I get the FMM

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Like other circulators it moves the water while cooking thus making temperature differentials in the cooking medium less likely. With a good circulator you can in effect "crowd the pan" and still be confident of stable temperatures and cooking times. In a rice cooker, hot pot, sous vide supreme, etc you need to be very careful about keeping natural water flows around your product. Hence the rack to keep everything upright and separate in the SVS.

Understood, but I could accomplish the same thing in a slow cooker if I bought the $26 sandwiched perforated stainless circulation plate along with a tube air diffuser and air pump for about $35 total, correct?

censor%20small.jpg

http://freshmealssol...9&Itemid=100079

Thanks!

~Martin

Most likely. A number of us have used aquarium air bubblers in the past to give some circulation. These improvised solutions fit somewhere on the continuum between no circulation and the significant circulation coming from the professional models.

ps. Thanks for the brining calculator on your web site, I used it yesterday.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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

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