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Qwerty

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment, 2011

1,197 posts in this topic

[Moderator's note: Click here for the original SV topic; click here for the index for that topic and more.]

Just outstanding work by everyone. Thanks again for the index and closing the old thread. It was time.

I know of the charts in the original SV thread, but does there exist an easy to read, time/temperature guide for various proteins? i.e., is there a compiled chart of, like,

Salmon: 135F for 1 hour

Short Ribs: 130F for 48 hours

Pork Tenderloin: 138F for 2 hours

Etc....

I'm just curious. I know that there are a ton of variables to take into account, but sometimes I just want a starting point to cook things. Does such a chart/list exist?

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In the booklet that comes with the Sous Vide Supreme, there's a chart like that -- but I've found that it's not the most reliable thing in the world. If you snoop through the index linked above, you'll see that there are some things that do coalesce around certain times & temps, 85C for vegetables, for example.


Chris Amirault

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My book, Sous Vide for the Home Cook, has time and temperature charts on pages 22--31 for beef, pork, lamb, venison, eggs, chicken, turkey, duck, fish and shellfish, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Thomas Keller's book also has a chart of temperatures and times. And, as Chris mentioned, the new index has temperatures and times.

With any chart, mine included, there are implicit assumptions that you should be aware of. For my charts, I assumed the ingredients were purchased at a grocery store -- so my cooking times may be too long if you are cooking up 45-day-dry-aged prime-cut beef. Likewise, Keller's chart assume that you're cooking the very best ingredients money can buy and may not be the best time and temperature combination for supermarket beef. Finally, both our charts assume certain maximum dimensions for the food being cooked since size and shape have a huge impact on the cooking time. (I also include pasteurization tables based on thickness in the back of my book and in my web guide, see the link in my signature below.) So to make the most from the times and temperatures in the index, you'll want to read the posts they link to to see what their assumptions were.


My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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I guess what I'm really saying is that I'm lazy, and I wanted, more or less, a "cheat sheet" that I could tape to the kitchen wall or something like that. I almost think that there is such a glut of information I almost don't know where to begin sometimes. That's all.

I've made many delicious things sous vide, I guess I sometimes just want to know if I did it "right," though I know that is not something that can be achieved.

Thanks again guys...

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Qwerty,

I think the tables in Douglas Baldwin's Practical Guide are a very good and practical compilation. For bringing your tender proteins to the desired core temperature (which fully depends on your taste) in a fool-proof way, you have to measure the thickness, see here and here ("cheat sheet") and here (thickness ruler version 2). When dealing with roasts which are rather cylinders than slabs, take into account the geometrical factor, see the tables Douglas Baldwin posted here; in short, cooking times for cylinders are slightly more than half the times for slabs. The cooking times in Douglas Baldwin's cookbook seem to be appropriate for cuts of "usual" thickness.

For tenderizing tough meat, see the many suggestions in the index post #5 ff.

There are two ways of gelatinizing collagen:

1. Enzymatically below 60°C/140°F (it may take 12 to 72h hours depending on the kind of meat). Be aware that by this method, very thick tendons or other thick chunks of connective tissue may escape gelatinization, as the enzyme collagenase originates from the muscle fibers and may not penetrate thick layers of collagen.

2. Thermally at temperatures slightly below 80°C/176°F, which can be achieved by traditional braising as well instead of sous vide. Temperatures above 80°C/176°F should be reserved for vegetables, as meat is turned into cardboard at these high temperatures.


Edited by PedroG (log)

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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...

There are two ways of gelatinizing collagen:

...

Pedro is quite right about collagen being convert to gelatin by two processes: enzymatic and thermal. The sarcoplasmic protein enzyme collagenase remains active below 140°F (60°C) and can significantly tenderize the meat if held for more than 6 hours (Tornberg, 2005). However, the thermal breakdown of the collagen into gelatin is also important at these temperatures, especially when the cooking time is in the 12--72 hour range. The thermal breakdown of collagen into gelatin goes much faster at higher temperatures -- almost all tenderizing occurs within 12--24 hours at 175°F (80°C) (Davey et al., 1976) -- and it takes roughly twice as long for every 10°C (18°F) that you decrease the temperature.

Almost all the water lose caused by shrinking muscle fibers occurs by 175°F (80°C) and there is very little change in the color or texture of the meat above this temperature. Indeed, this is why you can get similar pulled-pork from 60 min in a pressure cooker and from 8--10 hours at 175°F (80°C).

As Pedro mentioned, vegetables are a different story: non-starchy vegetables need temperatures of around 180--185°F (82--85°C) to dissolve the cementing material (pectic substances) that holds their cells together; starchy vegetables, like potatoes, can be cooked at the lower temperature of 175°F (80°C) because of the gelatinization of their starches.


My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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The sarcoplasmic protein enzyme collagenase remains active below 140°F (60°C) and can significantly tenderize the meat if held for more than 6 hours (Tornberg, 2005).

Douglas, do you know the optimal temperature (e.g. for fastest breakdown) for that enzyme to operate at?


Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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In which case there is no need to "mature" the duck confit in the fat over time?

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The sarcoplasmic protein enzyme collagenase remains active below 140°F (60°C) and can significantly tenderize the meat if held for more than 6 hours (Tornberg, 2005).

Douglas, do you know the optimal temperature (e.g. for fastest breakdown) for that enzyme to operate at?

I'm sorry, but I don't. The articles that I've read just say it's active over 50--60°C (120--140°F). Part of the problem is that there are many different collagenases from different sources and with different properties (Belitz et al., 2004).

The original article, Laakkonen et al. (1970), heated beef at 0.1°C/min until it reached 60°C (140°F) and held it there for a total of 12 hours and measured various properties every hour. They found very little change over the first 4 hours, when it was below 50°C (122°F); then significant tenderizing over the next two hours, when it was between 50 and 60°C (122 and 140°F); and then a slower increase in tenderness up until they stopped the experiment at 12 hours. Note that one of the three muscles they tested, longissimus, didn't show further tenderizing after the sixth hour.

E. Laakkonen, G. H. Wellington, and J. W. Sherbon. Low-temperature, long-time heating of bovine muslce. J. Food Sci. 35 (1970) 175--183.


My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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The issue with meat tenderizing is much more complicated than you are suggesting. It is not just collagenases that are present, there are also various enzymes - calpains and cathepsins - that degrade proteins other than collagen, as well as some that act on collagen. Meat toughness is largely about collagen, but not exclusively.

It is a very complicated system, and most explanations of it are highly simplified. In part this is because it has not been figured out yet. A lot of recent meat science research has been about using molecular biology tools to study things that were oversimplified in research done in the 1970s.

The key thing is that the rates of enzymatic reactions are greatest above the animal's original body temperature (37C/100F). The higher the temperature, the faster the reaction (dramatically faster, they are exponential in tempertaure), until you get to a point where the enzyme itself is destroyed by the heat. Between 40C and likely about 50C there are some important enzymes active that cause tenderization. They quit at various tempertaures depending on the enzyme.

Conversely, at low temperatures some of these reactions do occur and likely are the cause of tenderization by meat aging. However instead of taking hours they take weeks (21 - 45 days are typical meat aging times).

The trouble with directly interpreting the Laakonen et al result is that their heating ramp, coupled with the thermal gradient in the meat (which depends on the thickness of the meat) means that different parts of the meat would be at different temperatures. So, while they report that tenderization occurred between 50C and 60C, the question is what part of the meat was at those temperatures?

Besides enzymes, there is also thermal conversion of collagen into gelatin. Note that "gelatinization" or variations on that word are not really the correct term. It is generally called denaturing, or hydrolysis, but there is no single accepted term.

This likely starts at 37C (studies differ on this), but at such a slow rate that it is hard to measure. Various scientific studies, particulary those from the years back, say that this process "starts" at various tempertaures, but that is almost surely wrong. This is particularly true of meat science studies done long ago which used ridiculously high temperatures, and in general oversimplified things.

Empirically, the fact is that by 52C the conversion to gelatin is certainly occuring, and for food safety reasons most long time sous vide occurs at 55C/130F, where it is happening. The rate is much slower at those tempertaures than higher (again, exponential in temperature) which is why you typically have very long cooking times.

Bottom line is this:

- Holding meat at 40C-50C (specifically we find pretty good results at 45C/113F) for up to 4 hours is within food safety guidelines, and has a significant tenderizing effect.

- Cooking meat at 55C/130F for at least 8 hours (and often 24, 48 or even up to 100 hours, depending on the cut) also has a significant tenderizing effect.

For really tough meat, you can do both. This works best if you have two water baths and switch the meat from one to the other, or if you have a programmable water bath and set a timer to change the temperature.


Edited by nathanm (log)

Nathan

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What you call "maturing" the duck confit is aging it.

Yes, it does change the taste, mainly by making the fat slightly rancid, although there are other chemical reaction occuring too.

In a sous vide bag this is not going to happen (or extremely slowly), so if you really want that taste you can cut the bag open and let the cooked confit sit in the fridge for some period of time (days to weeks).

I don't find that this greatly improves the taste. It's basically making the fat go rancid.

Years ago duck confit was made for its preservation aspect, so it was always old and was partly rancid. As a result it was quite salty. Today's duck confit recipes have less salt than the did back in the day, so they are really made to eat fresh without much aging.

You can get the same effect by aging some of the fat prior to cooking it, in which case, yes, you don't need to age it with the meat.

But I think that duck confit is great to eat when cooked fresh, with fresh fat. It's only if you are addicted to the old-time partly rancid taste that you would miss it. Most people these days have never had that.


Nathan

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What you call "maturing" the duck confit is aging it.

But I think that duck confit is great to eat when cooked fresh, with fresh fat. It's only if you are addicted to the old-time partly rancid taste that you would miss it. Most people these days have never had that.

Some say rancid...others "husky..." :smile: .

I'm sous-vide-ing some duck confit tonight.

Both this sous-vide duck confit topic and this confit duck topic are invaluable.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Are there vacuum bags for home sealers that can handle the 116+ degrees C to kill botulism spores?

Cooking sous vide then a short blast in the preasure cooker to destroy any botulism would allow sous vide confit to be kept non refrigerated but can any bags handle temps of around 120C. Also would that change the texture, I guess not as often I have used v hot oil when persevering confit. Or would 120C first then slow sous vide be better.

If I can find bags that can handle being in a pressure cooker that can be used with a home sealer, I'd be happy to experiment, until then going for no risk so eat soon or freeze.


Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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There are sous vide bags that can take the heat - they are called retort pouches. They cannot be sealed by a home edge-sealer type vacuum packing machine (i.e. Foodsaver). They require a chamber style machine.

One could seal them without a vacuum with an impulse sealer - that would work fine.

Alternatively, you can cook things sous vide in a masor jar.

Basically what you are proposing is canned duck confit. It would certainly work.

You could can after sous vide cooking, but once you pressure cook long enough for sterilization, it is unclear you would need any further cooking time. The pressure cooker will, by itself, cook the meat. I am not sure what the texture will be like - I haven't tried this.


Nathan

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You're absolutely right that there many things that affect how tender cooked meat is. I certainly didn't mean to imply that the conversion of collagen into gelatin by thermal or enzymatic processes was the whole story: I was just trying to briefly clarify Pedro's post.

I'd be very interested to know which recent articles you've found that illuminate this fascinating topic. You're certainly right that most the studies -- even recent ones -- use absurdly high temperatures and this limits their applicability to sous vide cooking.

So everyone can follow the discussion, let's step back a moment and discuss the main ideas.

Heat and Proteins

Meat is roughly 75% water, 20% protein, and 5% fat and other substances. When we cook, we're using heat to change (or denature) these proteins. Which proteins and how much we denature them mainly depends on temperature and to a lesser extent on time. I like to divide the proteins into three groups: myofibrillar (50--55%), sarcoplasmic (30--34%), and connective tissue (10--15%).

Myofibrillar proteins: While there are about 20 different myofibrillar proteins, 65--70% are myosin or actin. Myosin molecules form the thick filaments and actin the thin filaments of the muscle fibers. The muscle fibers start to shrink at 95--105°F (35--40°C) and the shrinkage increases almost linearly up to 175°F (80°C). The water-holding capacity of whole muscle meat is governed by the shrinking and swelling of myofibrils. Around 80% of the water in muscle meat is held within the myofibrils between the thick (myosin) and thin (actin) filaments. Between 105°F and 140°F (40°C and 60°C), the muscle fibers shrink transversely and widen the gap between fibers. Then, above 140°F--150°F (60°C--65°C) the muscle fibers shrink longitudinally and cause substantial water loss and the extent of this contraction increases with temperature.

Sarcoplasmic proteins: Sarcoplasmic or soluble proteins are made up of about 50 components, but mostly enzymes and myoglobin. Unlike the myofibrillar proteins and connective tissue, sarcoplasmic proteins expand when heated. The aggregation and gelation of sarcoplasmic proteins begins around 105°F (40°C) and finishs around 140°F (60°C). As Nathan mentioned, before these enzymes are denatured they can significantly increase the tenderness of the meat. The ratio of myoglobin (Mb), oxymyoglobin (MbO2), and metmyoglobin (MMb+) also determines the color of the meat; see Belitz et al. (2004) pages 576--579 or Charley (1982) pages 395--398 for more details on meat color.

Connective tissue: Connective tissue (or insoluble proteins) holds the muscle fibers, bones, and fat in place: it surrounds individual muscle fibers (endomysium) and bundles of these fibers (perimysium) and bundles of these bundles (epimysium). Connective tissue consists of collagen and elastin fibers embedded in an amorphous intercellular substances (mostly mucopolysaccharides). Collagen fibers are long chains of tropocollagen (which consist of three polypeptides wound about each other like a three-ply thread). Collagen fibers start shrinking around 140°F (60°C) but contract more intensely over 150°F (65°C). Shrinking mostly destroys this triple-stranded helix structure and is transformed into random coils that are soluble in water and are called gelatin. Elastin fibers, on the other hand, don't denature with heating and have rubber-like properties; luckily, there is much less elastin than collagen -- except in the muscles involved in pulling the legs backward. As Nathan reiterated, there isn't one temperature above which the collagen is denatured but that it increases exponentially with higher temperatures; for safety reasons, we usually use 130°F (55°C) as the lowest practical temperature for denaturing collagen.

Tenderness: When chewing, you deform and fracture the meat. The mechanical forces include shear, compressive, and tensile forces; most studies use a Warner--Bratzler shear test perpendicular to the muscle fibers and this seems to correlate well with taste tests. Typically, W-B shear decreases from 120°F (50°C) to 150°F (65°C) and then increases up to 175°F (80°C). While this increase in tenderness used to be attributed to a weakening of connective tissue, most now believe it's caused by the change from a viscoelastic to an elastic material: raw meat is tougher because of the viscous flow in the fluid-filled channels between the fibers and fiber bundles; heating up to 150°F (65°C) increases tenderness because the sarcoplasmic proteins aggregate and gel and makes it easier to fracture the meat with your teeth; over 150°F (65°C) and up to 175°F (80°C), the meat is tougher because the elastic modulus increases and requires larger tensile stress to extend fractures (Tornberg, 2005).

Both the intramuscular connective tissue and the myofibrillar component contribute to toughness. In many cuts, connective tissue is the major source of toughness, but the myofibrillar component is sometimes dominant and referred to as actomyosin toughness.

  • Connective tissue toughness: Both the collagen content and its solubility are important. Muscles that are well worked have connective tissue that makes them tougher than muscles that were exercised comparatively little or that are from young animals. The more soluble the collagen, the more tender the meat is and collagen from younger animals tend to be more soluble and soluble at lower temperatures.
  • Actomyosin toughness: Actomyosin toughness can be a major contributer to toughness in young animals and in relatively little used muscles. Immediately after slaugher, the warm flesh is soft and pliable. In a few hours, the meat goes into rigor and becomes rigid and inelastic. Cross-links form between the myosin and actin filaments where they overlap -- where the muscles are allowed to contract or shorten -- and are locked in place during rigor. After rigor has passed, the meat again becomes soft and elastic. (If pre-rigor meat is chilled to below 60°F (15°C), then cold-shortening of the muscles may occur and significantly increase toughness.)

Enzymes

Recall that enzymes make up a significant portion of the sarcoplasmic proteins. The sarcoplasmic calpains and lysosomal cathepsins enzymes are especially important in aging (which is also called conditioning). These enzymes catalyze the hydrolysis of one or more of the proteins -- calpains the Z line proteins and cathepsin the myosin, actin, troponin, and collagen proteins. Dry aging is usually done at 34--38°F (1--3.3°C) with about 70% humidity for 14 to 45 days. Higher temperature aging is also possible, see Lawrie (1998) page 239--40 or some of mine, Pedro, and Nathan's posts in the previous thread. As Nathan just discussed, this higher temperature aging at 113°F (45°C) for even 4 hours can significantly improve tenderness. (Lawrie notes that at 120°F (49°C) that tenderness is particularly increased but that it has a somewhat undesirable flavor.) At our sous vide cooking temperatures between 130 and 140°F (55 and 60°C), many of the enzymes have been denatured but some of the collagenases are active and can significantly increase tenderness.

References

H.-D. Belitz, W. Grosch, and P. Schieberle. Food Chemistry. Springer, 3rd edition, 2004.

Helen Charley. Food Science. John Wiley and Sons, second edition, 1982.

R. A. Lawrie. Lawrie’s Meat Science. CRC, 6th edition, 1998.

E. Tornberg. Effect of heat on meat proteins—implications on structure and quality of meat products. Meat Science, 70:493–-508, 2005.


My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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We cover a lot of this in the meat chapter in Modernist Cuisine (it is about 200 pages long). However even there we have to simplify a bit, and much of the details are not known yet to science.

Unfortunately, I don't have the most recent references handy at the moment...will dig them up.


Nathan

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Nathan, thank you for clearing this up. Since I have been and will continue to make confit a la sous vide, there would be no point in trying to "age" the meat. The only benefit of preparing confit in advance is simply the convenience factor. Therefore I no longer need to have any qualms about serving "fresh" confit. That's awesome!

By the way, any chance of that macaron recipe? Pretty please?! :D

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Thank you, Nathan and Douglas, for your very comprehensive posts! A really outstanding start into the new topic.

What kinds of meat will benefit from aging / conditioning? If memory serves me, it is recommended for beef, but not so much for veal or pork. What about lamb? Poultry?


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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OK, I posted another recipe (Ossobuco SV).

Previewing unchecks the tag, so before clicking "add reply" the Modernist tag has to be checked again.

Chris: what about hierarchical tags? E.g. "Modernist" includes "Sous Vide", but "Sous vide" shows only "Sous Vide".

Hitherto I used to post my recipes in the Sous Vide Wikia, but I will let the Sous Vide Wikia RIP because it remained a one-man-show and because Wikia staff took the Monaco skin away from us and forced the "New Look" upon us which makes articles carefully formatted under the Monaco skin look ragged.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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For those of you who has a DIY sous vide system. If you use a digital thermostat or a PID controller to control the water heater, depending on the heater wattage, you may want to consider this:

Hook up your heater to a motor speed controller which can handle the wattage of you electric heating element. Turn the speed control at the lowest before the relay connects, then turn the controller to the highest. After the water bath reaches the set temperature, you can lower the speed control again to maintain temperature.

Reason for this:

Relay contacts get worn out by cycling high wattage electric current. This way the relay can last much longer.

digital thermostats are not cheap.

dcarch

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It's always tricky for me to adjust the time/temp vairiables when cooking SV in order to achieve a specific result. With tender cuts, the charts are a great guide, but with tougher ones not so much. However, every so often when I am forced to improvise I end up with a much better result than I had hoped for. In this case I am talking about this New Year Eve's Cotechino sausage. For the past 2 years I have been cooking my homemade Cotechino for about 3 hours at 85C. That was time enough to melt the colagen in the pork skin that is part of the filling and produce a good sausage. Well, this year due to necessity I knew I will need to leave the sausage cooking for a much longer period of time. I was afraid to either overcook it or to have it undercooked by the time we needed to eat dinner. I settled on 70C and cooked it for about 8 hours. It was cooked perfectly and held its shape and texture better than the previous year's. I also had less liquid in the bag. That liquid is a collagen rich and very flavorful stock that goes great as an addition to braises or beans (It's normally lost in the water if cooking the cotechino traditionally in a pot). Going forward I will always try to cook it using this lower temp and longer time. I served it with lentils and brussels sprouts.

Cotechino.jpg


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I've been wanting to purchase a Sous Vide Supreme for a good while now and it looks like I may do so in the next few weeks. What I've read here has certainly cemented my confidence in the product and I'm grateful for the information I've found here.

I have a couple of questions regarding the bagging of the food and spices. Currently I have a food saver vacuum sealer. I'm guessing that is sufficient for sealing the food? Is the one they offer from the SVS site any different? As to the bags and the marks, are the bags SVS sells directly any different?

On spices, are you not suppose to use garlic? I did see some reference to that. So I gather no dry rubs? also, how tight a seal do you use? do you leave a little air space or a lot of air space? I know with my food sealer I frequently if I'm doing liquids or just closing something will let it just start to take the air out and then hit the seal.


Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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I can't speak to the specific equipment in question, but I have used a FoodSaver for years and it's absolutely fine for me. Many examples to show you if you want to see 'em. :wink:

As for garlic: foods react differently in the low-heat, anaerobic environment of the bag than they do in a sauté pan or a dutch oven. Some become very intense -- Thomas Keller wraps some aromatics in plastic wrap to diffuse them, for example -- and others don't create their intended effects. Garlic is one of those, so most people who want the flavor of garlic use a high quality dehydrated garlic, which works well. Again, examples if you want 'em.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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All of a sudden Ebay has new immersion circulators from Polyscience for around the price of a SV Supreme. If I had it to do over, I think I'd go the circulator route. Better control of temp, easier storage etc.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Polyscience-Sous-Vide-Professional-Immersion-Circulator-/270687711057?pt=Small_Kitchen_Appliances_US&hash=item3f063eaf51


Edited by gfweb (log)

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All of a sudden Ebay has new immersion circulators from Polyscience for around the price of a SV Supreme. If I had it to do over, I think I'd go the circulator route. Better control of temp, easier storage etc.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Polyscience-Sous-Vide-Professional-Immersion-Circulator-/270687711057?pt=Small_Kitchen_Appliances_US&hash=item3f063eaf51

That's a good price for the unit new. There's also one up there for 99 cents.


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?

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