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adey73

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 3)

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According to PolyScience, they are not going to be producing a home consumer priced immersion circulator -- they couldn't get the price down to the target point and meet their quality standards.

((I called them to ask last week))

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That's interesting. I guess it leaves the market open to others! I am sure if Thomas Keller has a book in the offing then a product will emerge.

Thanks for sharing.

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I'm curious about how important agitation is for a home sous vide rig. Seems like used lab water baths are available for not much money, and it doesn't look like they agitate.

I'd expect a home rig to be more like a PID-controlled crock pot with an agitator as opposed to a full-on immersion circulator. Or, if induction elements can get cheap enough, are their built-in controllers good enough to maintain a narrow temperature range?

Do any pros use lab water baths, or is it always kitchen-specific setups?

(edited to add question about induction....)


Edited by salsa72 (log)

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According to PolyScience, they are not going to be producing a home consumer priced immersion circulator -- they couldn't get the price down to the target point and meet their quality standards.

((I called them to ask last week))

This is interesting. I wonder what the target price point was. Seems like it shouldn't be too terribly difficult on an industrial basis to wrap some heating coils around a stick with a little boat motor on the end to stir the water around, then slap a PID on top, snake a thermistor down the stick, add a clamp on the back and wrap the whole works in plastic. This would offer good accuracy for home use, and circulating the water would keep the water bath uniform. Shouldn't it be possible to do something like this for $100 - $150? Of course, if their target price point is 50 bucks, no wonder they can't do it.

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Circulation is important if you want short bath times or very accurate temps.

Sure you can slap some things together and get a very good setup for 100-150. For kicks I am testing the Auber unit and a swamp cooler pump for circulation (see posts up thread).

Realistically, knowing the cost of the parts and business overhead (liability insurance etc) I'd put a low end pupose built counter top self contained unit with tank/bath at about $250-$300. Businesses like large profit margines though so early prices might have to be a bit higher.

I paid maybe $100 for a very good used lab model. It was over $2500 new. The used supply of lab equipment cannot sustain the needs of consumers if this method was desired by the average home chef.

I am sure there will be complete turnkey solutions as well as a number of "kits" coming out. The "kit" approach is good for small businesses as it off-loads a lot of liability to the kit "builder". Water + Electricity + microbes and bacteria = a fair amount of risk.

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My "specs" would include a circulator (have you ever looked at the hardware that does the circulating in one of these things? it's nothing special). I also don't see any reason why a home kit would need to include the container for the water bath -- just make something that can clamp on to the side of a stockpot.

To my mind, it should be relatively simple and inexpensive to put something like this together. PID kits retail for something like 60 bucks with a decent enough thermistor. Throw in a heating coil, something cheap to squirt water through a directional port (more or less the guts of an immersion stick blender), a clamp and a plastic enclosure for the whole thing. On an industrial level, that shouldn't bring the price up by more than, say, another 90 bucks retail. Seems like this would be good enough.

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To my mind, it should be relatively simple and inexpensive to put something like this together.  PID kits retail for something like 60 bucks with a decent enough thermistor.  Throw in a heating coil, something cheap to squirt water through a directional port (more or less the guts of an immersion stick blender), a clamp and a plastic enclosure for the whole thing.  On an industrial level, that shouldn't bring the price up by more than, say, another 90 bucks retail.  Seems like this would be good enough.

I think that you are underestimating the cost of putting together, manufacturing, storing and supporting a product like that -- given that the PID kits at Auber are $60 to $90 by themselves.

Remember that a real manufacturer of such an item needs to be able to manufacture something for a fraction of the retail price. So, if the target price were $100 -- the manufacturer would need to be able to manufacture it for something like $25 to $35 dollars. They would need to think that there is a sizeable market to get into manufacturing something like that -- even as a kit. (Also, keep in mind that the second they include something like a heater they are going to have to think about liability and getting UL approval).

And the market is small. There is not a huge demand for sous vide in the home market. Even among my peers that think of themselves as being really into food -- many of whom have lots of cooking gadgets -- there is not a lot of interest home sous vide.

The Auber Instruments approach makes a lot of sense to me and hopefully other companies will get into the game. too. They are leveraging equipment that people have on-hand or can procure inexpensively.

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You also have to remember that if someone like PolyScience did a "home" version, a number of resturants and labs might choose to use it for non ultra critical applications, thus potentially cannibalizing sales of higher end models.

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I think that you are underestimating the cost of putting together, manufacturing, storing and supporting a product like that -- given that the PID kits at Auber are $60 to $90 by themselves.

Those are retail prices for plug-and-play units. Surely the parts and packaging cost considerably less than that. That's why I'm making estimates based on retail prices. For example, an immersion blender (representing the stick around which the unit would be built, the circulator and the motor for the circulator) can be had for 20 dollars retail. How much can a heating coil to wind around the stick possibly cost at retail? Another 20 bucks? So now we have, at retail prices, a $60 Auber PID with thermistor, a $20 immersion blender and a $20 heating coil -- or let us rather assume that we're getting the parts that more or less comprise these three elements, and that they would extend out to similar retail prices. That's 100 bucks. I can't believe that putting all these parts together in some kind of housing, slapping on a clamp and doing the appropriate soldering and programming of the PID could possibly add more than 50 dollars per unit to the retail price. Now... this unit may not last as long as a Lauda. But it should certainly last as long as a $150 microwave.

Now... whether or not companies have liability, volume and other concerns that are keeping them from pursuing this kind of project is another story (although, of course, it's just as easy to poison or burn yourself with a crock pot if you don't follow the instructions). But I don't see price as a reasonable excuse.

You also have to remember that if someone like PolyScience did a "home" version, a number of resturants and labs might choose to use it for non ultra critical applications, thus potentially cannibalizing sales of higher end models.

I have to believe that restaurant purchases of brand-new Brinkmann/Lauda or PolyScience circulating water bath heaters are not significant to the bottom line of these companies. It should also be possible to create a culinary version of these products that has decent enough accuracy for culinary applications, but not for lab work. Again, it's likely that labs aren't using brand new top-of-the-line super-accurate circulating heaters for noncritical applications anyway.

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A fish tank filter designed for a 20 gallon tank has a low-end retail value around 20 dollars. I'm not saying that one should be used in conjunction with this new device. I'm just giving a general cost of a circulating device. Perhaps a filter doesn't fit the model perfectly, but a fish tank filter is certainly more complex than the circulation features on my Haake D8 immersion circulator, which is annoying loud unlike the pacifying sounds associated with a fish tank. My immersion circulator generates so much sound that I have resorted to purchasing two 10 gallon plastic storage tubs and lids (one sits within the other and the lid is cut for proper insertion of the circulator) and have moved my sous vide operation into my bathroom; more specifically, into my bath tub where the 10 gallon tub is easy to fill, easy to empty, and door easily shuts. The sound level has been lowered from that of a fire-breathing dragon to an overly excited neighborhood dog.

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Huh. It's that loud? My Lauda is quiet as a mouse.

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Thats great! I have the exact one in the closet on a water feature that I can't use , cause my cat thinks its his water dish...Totally forgot about it..tnx agn

Bud

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Actually you would want the lowest gph you could find for a gentle stir of water. 

I don't agree with this. You want as much as possible. There is a benefit in having fast moving water over a gentle stir.

If you look up thread at some of my posts there is existing discussion about using fish tank pumps.

A swamp cooler pump is the best I have used so far. They are desinged for long running periods and can be had in the $20 range. Submersible pumps for fish tanks are questionable over time given temps much higher than they expect.

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Huh. It's that loud? My Lauda is quiet as a mouse.

Yes, unfortunately. I thought perhaps it was due to being unclean, so I took it apart and meticulously scrubbed each part. It's just as loud now as it was when it arrived from Ebay. Outside of the sound, it works perfectly fine. I've run it for as long as 12 hours straight, and it held temperature within .2-.3 degrees C (confirmed by a seperated thermometer).

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it might work for scallopine n stuff... but what about the good ol maillard ??

your meat will lack flavor ?!... ?? 

cheers

t.

Quite right. Thats why sous vide cooked food is commonly seared after cooking . I cook mine to a slight bit lower than 160 to account for the high heat afterwards. Of course that was for a catering party, if you are eating it right away it doesn't really matter.

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Great thread and thanks for everything, especially Mr. Nathan..

Just got the Polyscience big boy a month ago.. Have been playing around alot.. Have a couple of duck breasts in now with different things from chocolate to maple sugar and anise, juniper berry and things.. Cooking at 54.4 C since 2 am last night. Looking forward to eating them tonight..

Just wanted to say what a wonderful, informative, cool thread this is..


Edited by Daniel (log)

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I suspect I should have returned it to the cooker at 55C for (how long?) to bring it back to temp before searing it.

Anna,

In a case like that I would cool the sous vide tank down to 120-125°F with some cold water and after chilling the meat put it back in the tank and leave it until I was ready to sear. The chilling will stop the cooking of the meat and at a water bath temperature of 125°F it shouldn't go beyond medium rare. When you sear it, the outside will heat up but the inside won't receive much of that heat, assuming you are using a really hot pan.

If it is going to be more than a couple of hours you might chill it as you did, and then put it back in the tank. For that I would just use Nathan's tables to figure out how long (selecting the right table based on the temperature difference rather than the end point temperature as Nathan suggested up-thread a ways)

Doc

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Thanks! I have gone all the way through this topic many times but don't remember anything about temperature difference but I am happy to search again!

I think I am pretty anal now about food safety as I am dealing with someone with a compromised immune system so I hesitate to do anything that I am not sure about. Cook and hold was not recommended so I am not sure I totally understand where I might get into trouble. I'm guessing a few hours in the fridge at close to 0C should not be a problem for a beef steak?

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I dont know if this has been discussed but, what about a pork and beans sous vide.. Using pork stock, presoaked or not beans, either smoked ham hock, fresh foot, maybe some duck skin, or some double smoked bacon chunks.. A little grade b Maple or brown sugar, or molasses added.

Maybe take the pork pieces out afterward and crisp or just remove and eat later..

I was thinking regular beans but now am thinking gigantes..


Edited by Daniel (log)

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Well first attempt came out ok.. The meat was just slighty over cooked and I thought dry.. The meat was a medium dark pink and cooked so evenly..(have photos later) However, I was looking for a more meaty medium rare..My girl felt it was better then I thought.. We had it going for about 12 hours at 130. I might want to drop the temp to 122 and see the results.

I put a little chocolate in the sous vide bag.. I dont think it dried the meat out.. It did make a wonderful sauce..


Edited by Daniel (log)

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I dont know if this has been discussed but, what about a pork and beans sous vide.. Using pork stock, presoaked or not beans, either smoked ham hock, fresh foot, maybe some duck skin, or some double smoked bacon chunks..  A little grade b Maple or brown sugar, or molasses added.

Maybe take the pork pieces out afterward and crisp or just remove and eat later..

I was thinking regular beans but now am thinking gigantes..

I wonder if the beans would cook properly under sous vide conditions. It would be worth an experiment just to see what sort of time it would take to get them to soften. If it did work it would be a great way to get all the amazing flavours together for something like a modified cassoulet.

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I'm wondering what would be the advantages of cooking beans sous vide? This doesn't seem like a food that would benefit from LT/LT cooking, so at the most you'd be sealing in aromatics.

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Just for my purpose with the beans.. I have to cook a bunch of things and to have one less thing that needs a burner or the oven would be a great help..

But obviously the finished product is the most important thing..


Edited by Daniel (log)

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Is it possible to sufficiently soften dried beans significantly below the simmer? This would be the major limiting factor.

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