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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 2)

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Nathan - I was hoping you could find time to comment - you're the sous vide guru  :biggrin:

I hope I haven't set this thread off on the wrong direction. It was the most active of the sous vide threads so I posted here. My apologies if I have.

Nathan as regard 0.1 accuracy - on your charts you give some  temperatures to 0.X precision. If I do not have the capability to maintain a temperature with this accuracy I am understanding that there shouldn't be too much of a problem.  I reckon I can comfortably get to plus or minus 0.5 F or C. That's not such a big factor of error is it?

On the circulation - I am planning on cooking primarily 2kg joints of meat that are approximately 140mm thick and say 180mm long. There will only ever be one of these joints in there at a time, and this is in a domestic setting. Sounds like I may have to find some way of agitating the water? Or perhaps if I use a very large pan the temperature will be more stable (thermal inertia of the water and all that) Ireally don't know if that last sentence makes sense from a physics point of view.  :huh:

I have been traveling (went to El Bulli) and have been off eGullet for a while.

No problem on posting anything about sous vide here, as far as I am concerned.

As BrianZ says for most things +-2 degrees F, or 1 degree C is fine, and you can get by with even more . Agitation/circulation is always helpful but probably not required if you have only one item in the bath.

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El Bulli - you lucky man! :smile: I hope you are going to post on your time there. Can't wait to read all about it from your perspective.

Thanks for the guidance on temperatures I am going to go for the cheaper alternative of the less precise controller just to get things going. I will post a picture of the setup so that others can try it if they want.

Thinking about it I have had very good results just approximating the sous vide temperatures in my oven so it makes sense that +-1 degree should not be too terrible. Can't wait until the equipment arrives.

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Yo...

I have just started selling "take home meals" en sous vide. I have a market in Manchester Ma. We will be doing all kinds of things Sousvide to pick up hot. Why? Because I am sick of seeing thoes shrivled dry roasted chickens sitting under a heat lamp and thinking about them being eaten by unknowedgable consumers.... I want people to know that that dry flesh is not what chicken should taste like, It does not do a chicken justice.

We also do ribs, roasts and sides.

Basic Protien Tecnique:

Season and Sear Roast, chicken, (rub) ribs.....

Cool and put into bag with demi, jus, butter, and herbs.

Vaccum Seal in a "cooking bag" using a Koch machine.

Steam for 4 hours at 124deg and start selling hot...

If cool when home......

Instructions are to boil water sumberge package and turn water off.

10 min later open bag and serve.

Tecnique varies for sousvide sid dishes but the winner is mashed potatoes.

Good Eats!!!!

I hope this type of cooking can catch on more for home use. I am doing everything I can to spread the word to home chefs as well as house wives around the North Shore, Mass.

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Hello everyone,

I’m new to posting here, but after making my way through 20+ pages of sous vide info I’m still left with a question….

I’m wondering how important the vacuum part of sous vide is. It seems to me that using a Ziploc bag, getting most of the air out, and suspending it in a temperature controlled water bath might be enough to create “poor man’s” sous vide (being careful to avoid leaks into the Ziploc bag). If one were to make sous vide for immediate consumption I don’t see what vacuum packing adds to the process.

It seems plausible to me that the use of a vacuum machine to start the process is a legacy of sous vide’s history: as a method to pre-cook high quality meals en-masse for distribution and rewarming later. If you give up the ability to keep your sous vide in long-term storage after cooking, is it possible to eliminate the need to purchase a vacuum machine?

Aaron

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Aaron......no cheating at the back of the class...... :smile:

You can get a starter vaccum machine from Target for $90.

That's the average cost of 5 cocktails in Manhattan these days.

Seriously you may not be convincing anyone of that argument here....

Bryan Z...care to chime in ?

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I think you can get away with not having a vacuum sealer. At the same time they are so handy it's a nice thing to have. You never have to worry about leaks.

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If you're into sous vide cooking you're going to have to buy and/or engineer a water bath of sorts. If you're going to do that, you're more or less in for a penny, in for a pound, (or something).

What I'm trying to say is that while one could play around with Ziploc bags/plastic wrap and careful burner watching/slow cooker-ing, you won't really appreciate the beauty of sous vide (and I assure it is beautiful) without at least decent equipment. I've made this point repeatedly on these boards.

If you're not using the right equipment, you're more or less slow poaching, which is useful but not entirely the same. Furthermore, you might have problem with the infamous "bag float," leakage, etc.

AND if you buy a vaccum sealer (even a cheap one) you can start playing around with uncooked-but-vaccumed fruits and vegetables that all the rage amongst modern-minded cooks. Think of that as added bonus.

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my experience with ziploc bags has been that they do not withstand the warm water very well for long periods of time, somehow they end up leaking.

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somehow they end up leaking.

Because the bags are designed for room temp to cold storage.

The seal expands when heated....and therefore leaks.

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I’m wondering how important the vacuum part of sous vide is.  It seems to me that using a Ziploc bag, getting most of the air out, and suspending it in a temperature controlled water bath might be enough to create “poor man’s” sous vide (being careful to avoid leaks into the Ziploc bag).  If one were to make sous vide for immediate consumption I don’t see what vacuum packing adds to the process.

Aaron,

I think you get it. And yes it is possible to do as you say, even letting the pressure of the water bath push out most of the residual air from a flimsy bag. But you will still have some residual air, and the bag will tend to float, and you will have problems with bags that leak, but yes you can do it. For immediate consumption.

If you wrap the food in Stretch-tite and then double bag, and put a handful of florists glass beads in the outer bag to add some weight and keep it fully submerged, and you are both careful and skillful, it will come out perfectly.

And after doing this a few times you will go buy a Seal-a-Meal or some other inexpensive vacuum machine, but by then you will be convinced that you really want to do sous vide with higher confidence and less work so it will seem a bargain.

Doc

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Thanks for your replies. :smile:

It looks like I will have to start working on the "boss" to get the vacuum system approved for purchase.

Aaron

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Vacuum is required for some aspects of sous vide, not others.

The original motivation was for stored sous vide - where you cook, then hold the product chilled until later reheating. This can be several days later if refrigerated, and months if frozen. In that case you want to preserve freshness and vacuum helps with that enormously.

If you do immediate service sous vide, vacuum is still important for a couple of reasons.

Bags with air in them tend to float in a water bath. Not the end of the world, but it is inconvenient. You can weight them down or use a rack to keep them submerged. However note that the air bubble in the bag can still cause uneven heating - the portion of the food that is in contact with the air in the bag will not get the same heat flow as portions that have a tight contact between the bag and the food. Again this is not a terrible problem, but it should be recognized.

The second major issue is that some products oxidize when cooked in air, and don't with a vacuum. An an example, artichokes or endives will not discolor when cooked in a vacuum bag. This is a special case - for most food it is irrelevant.

Apart from those cases you can do immediate service sous vide without a vacuum. In fact you can cook with results that are indistinguishable from sous vide without a bag at all! You put the food in open steamer pans in a combi-oven and use the low temperature steam mode.

Any product that is cooked immersed in low temperature oil (i.e. confit) can be done with or without a vacuum.

Most restraurant chefs (and many amateurs) that use sous vide do both immediate service and also some stored items. Plus the vacuum packing system is really handy for lots of other things, so once you have one there is little motivation for not using it for all of your sous vide. However, you can cook most immediate service dishes in sous vide style even if there is a bit of air in the bag.

Zip lock bags are not ideal as several people have mentioned. At low temperature - for example salmon mi cuit at 38C/100F - it works pretty well. It doesn't work at all when you get to higher temperatures.

I believe that one could design a zip lock bag for sous vide - it would be formulated out of a thicker and more heat resistant plastic, and would have a heavy duty sealing flap that could withstand heat without leaking. This would be useful for any kind of immediate service sous vide. However I don't know anybody who makes such a bag. The volumes necessary to make plastic bags are pretty daunting, so I am not that hopefully that Ziplock or other manufacturers will come out with them. We practitioners of sous vide are not exactly a huge market.

But think of the marketing slogan they could use "Sous Vide that Doesn't Suck" :smile:

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Nathan,

While we're talking about what's needed and what's not, can you explain your thoughts on adding liquid to the bags? I always do, and guess I could do some experimenting, but just don't seem to have the time. 90% of the time I add grape seed oil (never again EVOO). I've done chicken or duck fat on occasion, and once I did a teriyaki sauce on a skirt steak that turned out wonderful. Seems to me that once you add liquid, or even the juices that come from the protein being cooked, you would essentially poach the product.

What function does the oil serve?

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Greetings...

I was wondering if anyone has summed up a list of recipes/timing/temping methods from the info gathered here.

I've got my circulator and I need to jimmy up a way to make it not fall into my pot of water, but once I get that going, I should be on my way.

Maybe someone has links to a blog or something like that where techniques are spoken.

Also, does anyone know if it is possible to seal a 3 mil bag in a regular foodsaver? I have tried with no success. The only bags that work are the foodsaver bags...

thanks

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Anyone have any ideas on where I could buy one of these water bath thingamijigies and have it sent to Australia?

Cheers!

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Greetings...

I was wondering if anyone has summed up a list of recipes/timing/temping methods from the info gathered here.

I've got my circulator and I need to jimmy up a way to make it not fall into my pot of water, but once I get that going, I should be on my way. 

Maybe someone has links to a blog or something like that where techniques are spoken.

Also, does anyone know if it is possible to seal a 3 mil bag in a regular foodsaver?  I have tried with no success.  The only bags that work are the foodsaver bags...

thanks

You're looking at the thread, my friend. Here you'll find nathanm's infamously helpful time/temp/thickness charts and a collection of recipes.

Anyone have any ideas on where I could buy one of these water bath thingamijigies and have it sent to Australia?

Cheers!

On eBay anything is possible.

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Nathan,

While we're talking about what's needed and what's not, can you explain your thoughts on adding liquid to the bags?  I always do, and guess I could do some experimenting, but just don't seem to have the time.  90% of the time I add grape seed oil (never again EVOO).  I've done chicken or duck fat on occasion, and once I did a teriyaki sauce on a skirt steak that turned out wonderful.  Seems to me that once you add liquid, or even the juices that come from the protein being cooked, you would essentially poach the product. 

What function does the oil serve?

I wish I had a perfect answer.

Neutral fluids - neutral oil (like canola), water or dry all seem to have the same effect. All sous vide is poaching - either from liquid in the bag, or liquid that inevitably comes out of the bag during cooking.

Flavored fluids matter a lot. Fat or oil soluable flavors are best carried by an oil in the bag. Water soluable fluids by an oil. Vinagrette carries acids and flavors best dissolved by acids. You need to be careful about flavor in a sous vide bag - it gets stronger than you may think.

So, if you want flavor, add teriyaki or the like. Be careful about too strong a flavor or marinade. If you don't want extra flavoring, you don't need to do anything - dry in the bag works very well.

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I put a piece of bacon in once.......the whole damn steak tasted like cured bacon with that in there.....not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely not what I set out for when I started. In that same batch the garlic I added did the same thing. Next time I use it I'm going to blanch the cloves 5-6 times to really mellow them out, and then be very discreet in putting them into the bag. On a side note I finally got my food-saver canisters so I can try some of the compressed fruit from ideasinfood.

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I've seen a chef at a restaurant in Madrid just rub the meat (lamb in this case) with garlic before vacpacking it, instead of adding the garlic to the bag. It works well if you're looking to get a subtle garlic flavor/aroma.

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Also, does anyone know if it is possible to seal a 3 mil bag in a regular foodsaver?  I have tried with no success.  The only bags that work are the foodsaver bags...

thanks

I have tried using a foodsaver with regular bags, but without any success. I dont think it could be possible anyways. Foodsaver bags are textured, and this texturing permits the air to flow in the bag during the vaccum proccess.

If you try to suck the air out of a regular bag, the air cannot flow once the walls of the bags come in contact with eachother, especialy if some kind of light pressure is applied (sealing bar of the foodsaver).

The texture in the foodsaver bags creates microchannels (ok maybe not so micro but evryone abuses micro and nano these days) that will prevent the creation of an airtight seal, even if moderate pressure is applied on the bag. These channels disapered when the bag is heat sealed.

So unless you find the way of getting the air to flow in regular bags (which I doubt is feasable) you wont be able to use them in a foodsaver.

Edit : You could actually seal other kind of bags (i did this) but you would not be able to VACUUM seal them.


Edited by Pielle (log)

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Interesting Jeffrey Steingarten article on sous-vide cooking in October's Vogue. nathanm prominently featured. Mentions nathanm will be coming out with a book on sous-vide soon. Looking forward to it Nathan!

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Way back in the thread, Nathan mentioned one could cook pork at 130 and eat it safely if held of 112 minutes. I see from the FDA poultry tables this is to sterilize the meat, in regards to salmonella.

Pork on the other hand also MAY (unlikely) contain trichinea. I know this dies at 137, but is it like salmonella where it could be killed at a lower temp. over a longer time?

Is there such a thing as the FDA table for chicken, but for pork?

i'm searching the FSIS web page, but everything says to cook pork to 160!!!

thanks

jason

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I've found this searching the FSIS.

It is taken from a PDF for export requirements for New Zealand.

the doc. can be found here:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Pol...ments/index.asp

I assume, these hold true for US pork as well..and through these guidelines the FSIS is stating that the pork cooked at 133deg. F for 60 minutes is safe to eat?

Note: New Zealand requires pork to be cooked to one of the following time/temperature combinations:

56° C for 60 minutes

57° C for 55 minutes

58° C for 50 minutes

59° C for 45 minutes

60° C for 40 minutes

61° C for 35 minutes

62° C for 30 minutes

63° C for 25 minutes

64° C for 22 minutes

65° C for 20 minutes

66° C for 17 minutes

67° C for 15 minutes

68° C for 13 minutes

69° C for 12 minutes

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