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


adey73
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Here's the post I was thinking of:
As an experiment (until the immersion circulator I won on eBay arrives), I have set up a 6-quart crock-pot (on low heat) with a PID controller and let it stabilize at 141°F.  I then put in a single thawed (vacuum packed) chicken breast.  The temperature reading on the PID stayed nice and steady the whole time. 

After one hour I checked the water temperature with my favorite thermapen, and found that the temperature ranged from 136°F to 141°F.  The 141°F, of course, was at the temperature probe of the PID (on the bottom of the crockpot) and the 136°F was near the surface in the center of the pot. 

At least in my crockpot, the food seemed to really hamper the normal convection currents in the pot.  Before I put in any food, the water temperature varied by less than 1°F when I measured it at various points with my thermapen.

It also says he was using a crock pot which Auber themselves admit doesn't get as good results as the commercial rice cooker.

You're obviously right that circulation helps, but you can be pretty close without it. Also, do you think there's any benefit to a a thermal circulator over the auber with a submersible pump? I think it'd be pretty hard to justify at that point. We're talking $200 vs $900 (or $400+ if you want to risk lab equipment - certainly a no-no if you want to cook something like un-packaged eggs. There's obviously an attraction to one item that you clip to the side of a stockpot vs several hacked together products, but that seems to be all you're paying for.

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There are a couple of issues with your statement.

1) Bacteria is killed by a combination of time and temperature, not temperature alone. Cooking a chicken breast at 140 for 1 hour is just as safe as cooking it to 212.

2) Many bacteria, including one of the deadliest (botulism) is anaerobic, meaning instead of "choking" the microorganism to death, you're actually making it quite hospitable.

I'm sure many people here don't mind answering questions, but making statements like this one, and the one categorically stating that somehow the vacuum pulled by a foodsaver machine makes cooking sous vide with it unsafe, demonstrate little understanding of the topic and little effort of research in this thread.

Jason,

Thank you for repeating my point.

"... in SV our objective is not to depressurize a cooking bag, but rather to remove air/oxygen. The reason is to prevent aerobic microorganisms ( i.e. the ones that need air to function) from multiplying, and thus spoiling the food. The drawback is that anaerobic flora (microorganisms that can only live without oxygen) would flourish, so we have to cook things relatively quickly ( e.g. fish), or for an extended period of time (e.g. meat), because the SV cooking temps are relatively low, and it takes a lot longer to kill harmful anaerobic bacteria..."

As far FoodSaver is concerned, I am not saying FS in unsafe, I am saying IMPROPER VACUUM IS UNSAFE, no matter what kind of equipment was used. Needless to say, a machine with less power would leave more air in the cooking bag, which is not advisable, primarily because of the risk of bag rupture/bacterial contamination.

"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

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"Microorganisms are native to food products, for example - Salmonella is associated with chicken/poultry, E. Coli contaminates beef, etc. Boiling would kill most of those "bugs", but in SV we typically don't get into the boiling water temps (100C), so the solution is to remove ALL air and ALL oxygen ( 19-21% of air content), and pretty much "choke" the harmful microorganisms to death."

I highly suggest you purchase a copy of On Food and Cooking if that is truly your understanding of food adulteration.

You own a great book! I am puzzled, though - are you trying to say that E.Coli and Salmonella are not there, or that those microorganism are not dangerous?

"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

***************************************

My flickr collection

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FoodSaver wouldn't create the full vacuum, and the FS seal is somewhat weak, which is why it's too risky to use it for SV cooking.

That's an interesting statement. Do you have any data to back this up?

Yes, check your FoodSaver manual, it'd would tell you the pressure range for your particular model. A good indicator is freezer burns: if you see them - there is no vacuum.

What i mean is do you have data indicating that using a foodsaver instead of a chamber machine is inherently UNSAFE.

On top of that, i've had steaks in the freeze for over a year, and there is no freezer burn whatsoever.

If you don't see a freezer burn - great! It means you vacuum pack is holding well.

"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

***************************************

My flickr collection

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IF you are that worried, double seal and double bag it

I usually put two seals on with my foodsaver, but the bags (and vacuum) are perfectly OK.

If you are that concerned about botulism make sure the food is acid or ina a mildly acid sauce.

Double bags work great.

Chck out this recipe:

https://www.nespresso.com/precom/nmag/4/pdf...046_0051_en.pdf

Why does Heston Blumenthal suggest to double bag the pork belly? Any ideas?

"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

***************************************

My flickr collection

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OK, at the risk of beating a dead horse I'll have a go at it...

The pressure in a properly sealed vacuum bag is always less than the atmospheric pressure, that's just basic physics and the definition of vacuum. However, in SV our objective is not to depressurize a cooking bag, but rather to remove air/oxygen. The reason is to prevent aerobic microorganisms ( i.e. the ones that need air to function) from multiplying, and thus spoiling the food. The drawback is that anaerobic flora (microorganisms that can only live without oxygen) would flourish, so we have to cook things relatively quickly ( e.g. fish), or for an extended period of time (e.g. meat), because the SV cooking temps are relatively low, and it takes a lot longer to kill harmful anaerobic bacteria ( it's similar to canning/preserving, which is also cooking under vacuum, BTW)

False. Atmospheric pressure is squeezing the sealed bag (trying to 'fill' the vacuum, as it were), until the pressure inside the bag equilibrates (more or less). Think about it: would a full vacuum crush delicate items? Crappy vacuum initially merely means less pressure on the bag after it's been sealed and residual air pockets. There are several advantages to vacuum sealing: one of the most significant for usual purposes is even cooking. No air pockets = full contact with water in bath. Some other useful features of vacuum sealing are to create interesting textures (through compression), better penetration of marinades/sealing, and prevention of oxidation for certain products. There is no significant food safety benefit to vacuum sealing.

Most of the usual nasty critters (Salmonella, E. coli etc..) are facultative anaerobes. They can grow both in the presence or absence of oxygen. SV does sweet nothing to sterilize the food within, only proper temperature control for adequate periods of time can do this (see USDA tables wayy upthread). What's more, the temperatures involved can't even kill botulinum spores, the most dangerous anaerobic bacteria!

Microorganisms are native to food products, for example - Salmonella is associated with chicken/poultry, E. Coli contaminates beef, etc. Boiling would kill most of those "bugs", but in SV we typically don't get into the boiling water temps (100C), so the solution is to remove ALL air and ALL oxygen ( 19-21% of air content), and pretty much "choke" the harmful microorganisms to death.

See above. Removing air does not prevent E.coli and Salmonella growth. Boiling temps are not necessary to kill the bacteria. Consequently, ensuring a good bag seal has nothing to do with bacterial contamination during cooking (obviously, this doesn't apply to stored products). If the nasties can't grow inside the bag, they can't grow in the water!

Edited by Mallet (log)

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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FoodSaver wouldn't create the full vacuum, and the FS seal is somewhat weak, which is why it's too risky to use it for SV cooking.

That's an interesting statement. Do you have any data to back this up?

Yes, check your FoodSaver manual, it'd would tell you the pressure range for your particular model. A good indicator is freezer burns: if you see them - there is no vacuum.

What i mean is do you have data indicating that using a foodsaver instead of a chamber machine is inherently UNSAFE.

On top of that, i've had steaks in the freeze for over a year, and there is no freezer burn whatsoever.

If you don't see a freezer burn - great! It means you vacuum pack is holding well.

Freezer burn has nothing to do with vacuum. (Yes, I am going to keep saying you don't truely need vacuum, you just want to remove the oxygen) Even if something was packed in a chamber vacuum sealer it can still freezer burn. The majority of freezer burn is related to the type of material used for the bag or wrap. FoodSaver and many vacuum bags are designed to be an oxygen barrier. Lots of famous label freezer bags and plastic wraps etc will "leak" oxygen over time and cause freezer burn. The nylon material of the outer layer of the FoodSaver boil safe bag gives these bags a certain higher degree of oxygen protection.

Edited by pounce (log)

My soup looked like an above ground pool in a bad neighborhood.

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IF you are that worried, double seal and double bag it

I usually put two seals on with my foodsaver, but the bags (and vacuum) are perfectly OK.

If you are that concerned about botulism make sure the food is acid or ina a mildly acid sauce.

Why does Heston Blumenthal suggest to double bag the pork belly? Any ideas?

Because it's a pain in the ass to clean fat out of a circulator if the bags breaks.

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ARGH! I LOST MY VACUUM! I'm SVing some duck legs and this is my 1st time SVing something overnight. I used my Foodsaver Pro III and the foodsaver bags. It was SVing just fine after 5 hours. But when I woke up this morning, there was lots of air in the bag, as if it wasn't vacuum sealed at all. The bag was floating. I check the bag, and there are absolutely no punctures in the bag. All the fluid is still there. IS THIS A SIGN OF BOTULISM? I don't understand how any air would have gotten in there; it was submerged under water when I started.

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What's the temp? You can test it by putting it in cold water. If it collapses it's probably ok as long as you have been at safe temps etc. Liquids can turn to gas at temp and expand the bag. Generally if you chill the bag the bag will collapse and tell you that the expansion is due to heat.

Edited by pounce (log)

My soup looked like an above ground pool in a bad neighborhood.

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It was at 65C. I cooled the bag down, but there was still a lot of air in there. I opened the bag and it smelled.... funny. Not real bad, but not real pleasant either. It smelled a bit sour. I thought it might be due to the raw green onions I put in there. Maybe the sulfur in the onions had no where to go. I ate it anyway though. :P

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65 C for X number of hours should be perfectly safe. If I rember correctly from upthread, the magic number is 52 C. Above that tempt, no harmful bacteria will grow and over time, you will even achieve sterilisation. Don't take my word for it though, check the relevant posts upthread.

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As far as circulation goes, I have been doing successful sous vide without a circulator and my water bath tends to measure the same temperature all over.

This can be attributed to a number of elements in the system, but overall, there is a convective effect in a non-agitated bath that will tend to equalize the temperature if the heat transfer with the environment is significant but not too variable.

Here's a shot of my rig finally mounted in a project box:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/salsaviz/2224...57603780796468/

I'd still like to rig up a circulator, if people could suggest more solid (read: metal?!) components than aquarium pumps; I'm a little nervous about temperature issues with a plastic pump...:o Or, should I not be?

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I'd still like to rig up a circulator, if people could suggest more solid (read: metal?!) components than aquarium pumps; I'm a little nervous about temperature issues with a plastic pump...:o  Or, should I not be?

Nice rig. You can use a cheap ($8) aquarium air pump to increase circulation. The pump won't be in the water -- only the 1/4 inch pvc tubing coming from it. I have used one with an airstone and was told by someone here that they got fine circulation with just the bare hose. With the heat coming from below the air should do a fine job of keeping the heat distributed once the setup has come up to temperature. Even with a brisket (my setup can only handle a smallish 4 lb one) there was uniform heat distribution when the pump was running.

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I used a small submersible aquarium/indoor fountain pump to actually pump the water. Worked like a charm - until I started to test some higher temps. It didn't like 80C over 8 hours...

Try the air pump solution instead.

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I feel terrible for not taking photos but, I finally got some good results out of the sous vide machine..

I personally feel, the Sous Vide should not be used for the "better" cuts of meat.. Such as filets, or tenderloins.. I feel the crust just doesnt come out good.. And I am talking from my cooking or from dining at restaurants.. I think nothing beats a charcoal grill or bbq..

Took ribs, dry rubbed, added smokey bacon stock, cooked for 8 hours.. Ribs came out, put a sauce on and broiled.. The meat was fall off the bone tender.. Simply fantastic, some of the most tender ribs I have eaten..

Also did collards, kale, turnip greens, bacon, bacon stock, and apple cider vinegar.. Fantastic also.. However, the color was off, I should have added some lemon..

Ribs will be at the Super Bowl Party fo sho..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Has anyone done duck confit? You basically just take the legs and cover in traditional rub for a day or so.. Then cover in duck fat and cook at 85 C? I have seen NathanM on the early threads say 80 at first then say 82.2 C

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I personally feel, the Sous Vide should not be used for the "better" cuts of meat.. Such as filets, or tenderloins..  I feel the crust just doesnt come out good.. And I am talking from my cooking or from dining at restaurants.. I think nothing beats a charcoal grill or bbq..

If you sear or broil the steaks after you take them out of the water bath, you can get a really nice crust on the meat.

Took ribs, dry rubbed, added smokey bacon stock, cooked for 8 hours.. Ribs came out, put a sauce on and broiled.. The meat was fall off the bone tender.. Simply fantastic, some of the most tender ribs I have eaten..

These ribs sound great. I tried doing SV ribs once but it didn't turn out like I'd hoped. This makes me want to try it again. What was temperature did you use?

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I personally feel, the Sous Vide should not be used for the "better" cuts of meat.. Such as filets, or tenderloins..  I feel the crust just doesnt come out good.. And I am talking from my cooking or from dining at restaurants.. I think nothing beats a charcoal grill or bbq..

If you sear or broil the steaks after you take them out of the water bath, you can get a really nice crust on the meat.

Took ribs, dry rubbed, added smokey bacon stock, cooked for 8 hours.. Ribs came out, put a sauce on and broiled.. The meat was fall off the bone tender.. Simply fantastic, some of the most tender ribs I have eaten..

These ribs sound great. I tried doing SV ribs once but it didn't turn out like I'd hoped. This makes me want to try it again. What was temperature did you use?

The temp was 75 degrees.. I might kick it up a few more degrees.. But again, they were almost perfect..

I have had sous vide meat at some really nice places.. From Chicago, to NYC, and Atlanta, I have yet to prefer this method to traditional cooking..

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What's the temp? You can test it by putting it in cold water. If it collapses it's probably ok as long as you have been at safe temps etc. Liquids can turn to gas at temp and expand the bag. Generally if you chill the bag the bag will collapse and tell you that the expansion is due to heat.

Still think vacuum is not necessary, huh? ;-)

This is yet another good illustration why air needs to be removed.

"It's not from my kitchen, it's from my heart"

Michael T.

***************************************

My flickr collection

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Cooked lamb hearts for 24 hours at 75 degrees.. Added bacon stock with some salt, garlic,pepper, and a little brown sugar.. Came out really good.. They are warm now and I had a few slices.. Dont know what I am going to do at this point.. The sauce that was left in the bag is wonderful.. I am thinking salad for tonight with some frisee and a hot dressing from the sous vide juice... However, a sandwich might be pretty damn good too..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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