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Qwerty

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment, 2011

1,197 posts in this topic

WhiteTruffleGirl: I also have a Minipack MVS 31 and love it. I got mine with a second 4mm seal instead of the cut-off; then if water or oil gets between the plastic and causes one seal to fail, I still have a second seal. Make sure you have a spot for it in mind: it's too heavy for one person to move easily and needs a lot of space above it to open the lid fully -- we ended up building a special shelf for it in our pantry.


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'm looking for a chamber machine too. I'm pretty sure I'm going with the MVS-31X. Looks like an awesome machine.

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I have a circulator....love it.

But I need a chamber vacuum. (Two Food Saver failures and the desire to seal liquids make this a priority for me.)

Best price/value recommendation?

Sealing liquids is possible with clamp-type machines. Other members stated this long ago. I did nod manage to do so at first, but now I have learned the trick. It does not work with fully-automated machines that have no "seal"-button and no external vacuum-port.

Place the machine in a way that the bag can hang down vertically. Place the adapter on the external vacuum-port (without the tubing). When you start vacuuming, air will enter through the external vacuum-port, so almost no vacuum is built up. By closing the port with your finger, vacuum will rise and so will the liquid in the bag. Before the liquid approaches the sealing bar, reduce vacuum by lifting your finger, and press the seal button. Make a second and eventually third seal in case the first one should not be perfectly tight.

In fact, a chamber vacuum machine is not necessary for sous-vide cooking, it would be an overkill. If you need 99.9% vacuum e.g. for boiling/reducing at room temperature or for extreme vacuum-compression, go for a chamber machine. If you will go far beyond 10'000 bags, you might eventually eventually recoup the higher price for a chamber machine by the lower costs for the bags.

If you have bad experiences with Food-Saver, there are other brands on the market. I bought my Magic Vac Elite 11 years ago, and it is still going strong.

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Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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I have owned the Vacmaster 112 or 211 (can never keep it straight) for about four months. It is very quiet compared to my last FOUR Foodsavers, and the bags are cheepo! Outstanding unit. Adjustable vac pressure and sealing times too The only flaw, if u want to call it that is u have to press the top down on the sealing gasket, or 30 to 50% of the time it won't vacuum. Now I just hold the top always while pressing down. Ari the distributor knows about this, but I don't know if there is a fix. No big deal- just press and turn on. As soon as u see the needle indicating vacuum is taking place, which it does in seconds, u can let go and let the machine work its magic. Lots of bag sizes, and I have yet to find a product in my home that does not fit in the machine. I often re vacuum the same bag after cutting open, as I did this morning when taking out some bacon, re vac'ing the remainder of my stash. I just could not be happier!!

alanjesq

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Hi,

I have a couple of chuck steaks in the 61 degree C bath now. How long should I keep them there?

Thanks.

dcarch

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I also agree with Pedro that a chamber vacuum sealer is overkill in the home kitchen. Indeed, I've gotten a lot of emails from people who get worse results because they've used a chamber vacuum sealer: as Dave Arnold first pointed out to me, pulling a medium vacuum* can damage the texture of delicate foods and give them a mushy or pappy mouth-feel. That's not to say I don't use my chamber vacuum sealer for most my sous vide cooking, I just set my Minipack MVS 31 to pull a 95% vacuum.

I very much prefer using Ziploc bags over a clamp-style vacuum sealers. If I didn't own my chamber vacuum sealer, I'd be perfectly happy using the heavy-duty Ziploc freezer bags I get at Costco for all my sous vide cooking. When using Ziploc bags, I just modify my recipes slightly by adding some (usually flavored) liquid to the bag so I can use my water-displacement method for getting most the air out. For instance, I usually use Ziploc bags when sealing up a Costco pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts because it's faster than my chamber vacuum sealer; I put one breast and a 1/4 cup of chicken broth in a one-quart Ziploc bag and then use my water-displacement method to seal it up.

* Chamber vacuum sealers pull "medium vacuums" and clamp-style vacuum sealers usually pull "low vacuums"; a "high vacuum" typically requires a two-stage vacuum process.


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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Doug, does the difference from 95 to 99.9% effect the texture of delicate items more or is it the air release in the chamber? I'm looking at a mvs-31 but wondered if a machine that has a "soft air release" as more ideal? I read in Keller's book that he specifies low/med/high vacuum pressure with his recipes. Do you know what the equivalent Vac % pressure would be for each? I just ordered your book do you do the same with vacuum settings? Thanks

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coz: That's a good question, I don't know if `soft air release' would help; my intuition says it wouldn't help, but I don't have any way to test this hypothesis. Perhaps Nathan knows.

I only mention chamber vacuum settings in my book under the chicken breast and fish recipes, where it's crucial. Since it doesn't hurt to use a 95% vacuum setting for everything, I usually leave my MVS 31 on that setting so I don't have to worry about forgetting and ruining some expensive fish*.

* Being in Colorado, all good ocean fish is really expensive. :hmmm:


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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Thanks for the response. The videos that I've seen show that soft air release may help however I haven't seen it in person. I think I'm going to try the minipack. I hear you good fish (and everything else) is expensive here in manhattan too. Regards

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Here's a little different use for SV equipment. No vacuum involved, and you don't even need to use a bag, but it takes advantage of the LTLT control that's achievable with a simple home SV set up.

I don't have a PID controller. Instead, I use a "bang-bang" controller from Ranco. A PID controller should work just as well though, if not better.

Basically, it's a temperature-controlled simmering pot (kind of like a crock pot with a more precise temperature control mechanism). It's not always easy to get a pot of whatever you're cooking to maintain the proper simmer temp over a multi-hour period, particularly if you don't want to monitor it frequently. This makes the long simmering process a slam dunk.

I simply plunk the probe into the pot (which in this case is enameled cast iron, but could be just about anything else), then set the pot on a standalone electric burner that in turn is plugged into the controller. Set whatever simmer temp you want (usually something in the 190-205F range) and away you go. Since it's just simmering, the precision of the temp control isn't nearly as critical as if you were cooking a SV egg or salmon mi cuit. My set up will bounce around within a a 5% range (F), but that doesn't make any difference for this application. Come back 2 or 4 or even 8 hours later to some tasty vittles.

Today, I'm using it to make chicken stock, but I've also used it to make stews as well as red beans for red beans and rice.

Cheap and easy. Just the way I like it.Stock Cooking Setup.jpg


Edited by JanK (log)

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Soft air release in chamber vacuum machines would not have any effect on the end result. What it is used for is to protect delicate items from the instant ingress of normal atmosphere air after the set vacuum is reached. Soft air will let a bag collapse gently around what is inside before the full pressure of the outside air is let into the chamber. The pressure achieved is the same whether soft air is used or not. If chicken at 99% vacuum is not as good as chicken at 95% that will be the case irrespective of the use of soft air.

I agree with those who say that a chamber machine is not necessary for SV cookery, but I wouldn't want everyone to think that it is not a good thing to have.

If you want to get set up for SV from scratch at the cheapest way to do it well, get a Foodsaver, a Sous Vide Magic and a cheap rice cooker - job done!

If on the other hand you want to experiment with vacuum infusions and vacuum compression or if you plan to pack lots of liquid items, think about a small chamber machine.

I bought my vacuum machine (Henkelman Boxer 42) years before I'd heard about SV. I had used it primarily to facilitate the freezing of nearly everything from portions of meat, poultry and fish, and also single or dual serve pouches of soups and stews etc. The freezer life of almost anything packed this way is far longer than can be achieved with foodsaver type devices or in the case of soups etc. the freezer space saved compared to the use of tupperware (or similar) is substantial.

At the time I got my machine there were not many alternatives and with 20-20 hindsight I do not need such a large machine.

It is true that chamber machines use much cheaper bags than foodsaver type machines, but I'd need to live for 500 years to break even on that basis.

Now that there are smaller chamber machines available for <$1000 do not write them off if your budget allows.

Cheers,

Peter.

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Dears, I am new guy here, but I would like to contribute with this topic...

First of all, if you are going to invest money to buy a vacuum chamber, you sould buy the best you can affort to... You will not use it for SV cooking only but also to preserve expensive products like proteins etc... With good vacuum level and good barrier pouchs, you can stock products for 2 years under freezer...

Tips to buy a good vacuum chamber:

1- Good and powerfull "vacuum pump" (Busch!!!)

2- Stainless Steel vacuum chamber big enough, with round corners (easy to clean!)

3- Double seal bar, easy to disasemble to change/clean (without tools!)

4- Vacuum level control, not timer!

5- Easy access to maintenance...( oil exchange every 100 hours)

6- Sof air release and shut off / emergency switch...

Best brands for small professional users:

C-70 www.multivac.com

Vacuboy www.vakuumverpacken.de

SV-31 www.orved.it


Edited by Arpucci (log)

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Doug, I do agree with you to use Ziploc bags, JUST if you are cooking SV soft proteins for imediate use at HOME...

I am not confident with barrier and thermal caracteristics of ordinary pouchs if you will cook tough proteins for long time...

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Doug, you will not be able to "cold cook" some products without a chamber vacuum like: high chlorophyll green leafs, fruits like watermelons, peachs, strawberrys etc or making coullis on room temperature... You will need a "medium vacuum" level in order to do that...


Edited by Arpucci (log)

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Hi Drago, welcome to eGullet! And thanks for the link, very interesting machine. Can you regulate the vacuum via the built-in external-vacuum-tube, as shown in my post on sealing liquids?

Regards

Pedro

I just tried bagging some water, and yes, your method works. Thanks for the tutorial. It is a bit tricky, as the tubing attachment must be lifted out from its holder to regulate the vacuum, but I am confident that with some practice one could get excellent results.

I have another idea concerning sous viding liquids - I wonder weather using a sealed and vacumed glass jar holding the liquid inside the cooker would work. The takaje valve would make this possible, and it would greatly simplify the sous viding of creme anglaise for instance, and the jar could be re used.

Also Pedro I have to thank you for suggesting a Weck canner for a possible vessel. Encouraged by you and Dougal's post about his experiences with his Lidl cooker

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=129877&view=findpost&p=1761768

I bought a Clatronic EKA 3338

http://www.idealo.de/preisvergleich/OffersOfProduct/2136208_-eka-3338-clatronic.html

which seems to be the same model, I have been using it in the last few days paired with a SousVideMagic 1500D, and the setup shows lots of promise indeed. I shall report about it in more detail in the sous vide equipment topic.

Regards:

drago

Drago,

I continue the part of the discussion not concerning the Food Saver topic here in the main SV topic.

Of course you can use glass jars to heat liquids in a sous vide water-bath, this makes a high-precision bain-marie. For solid food it will work only if you cook the food in liquid, this makes presicion braising.

I am looking forward to your report on the Clatronic EKA 3338 canner.

When you try to find optimal PID-tuning values, you may consider the paragraph I contributed to Frank Hsu's PID Tuning Guide:

Perhaps the simplest way to qualify PID settings without a data-logger is with a digital thermometer (resolution at least 0.1°F, absolute accuracy is not crucial) with minimum-maximum memory and an ice brick ("blue ice") of about 400-500g frozen to -20°C. Start heating the bath at about 5-10°C below the set temperature and reset the thermometer’s memory. As soon as temperature has stabilized at set temperature, write down the maximum temperature (= initial overshoot) and the stabilized temperature. Reset the thermometer’s memory. After an hour or more, write down the minimum and maximum temperature (= oscillation or stability). Reset the thermometer’s memory. Drop an ice brick in the water and after another hour or more, write down the minimum emperature (= disturbance dip) and the maximum temperature (= post-disturbance overshoot), then reset the thermometer’s memory again and repeat stability measurement, as sometimes oscillation is initiated by disturbance. It would be interesting to determine also the duration of the disturbance dip, but this involves watching the display for maybe half an hour.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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I ordered a Henkelman Boxer 35 last night. I know it's a bit overkill but I'm excited for it. It has sensor and timing vacuum settings. It also has a temperature boil sensor that stops the unit if you reach the boiling point. I was going for the minipack model but I really wanted to try the soft air function of the Henkelman. I'll post my impressions of it next month when it arrives.

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When you try to find optimal PID-tuning values, you may consider the paragraph I contributed to Frank Hsu's PID Tuning Guide:

Pedro,

Thank you for the link to the guide for tuning a PID. It is the first time I have seen such a lucid and comprehensive article on this subject. My big cooler has been working just fine but now I will fine tune it according to the article.


Paul Eggermann

Vice President, Secretary and webmaster

Les Marmitons of New Jersey

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I've had my Sous Vide Professional for about 3 months now, and have cooked a variety of dishes including beef, fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, pork, eggs, vegetables. Most are reasonably successful, some spectacularly so. But there is an issue with long-cooked beef which is bugging me.

So far I've made 4 beef dishes with cook times of 24-48 hours at 56-60C. Two were short ribs following the Momfuku recipe which includes a flavorful marinade in the bag. These turned out spectacularly well both times. The other two where boneless short ribs and bone-in chuck roast, each time seasoned with just salt & pepper before going into the bag. In both of these cases the smell of the juices/meat coming out the bag was...unappetizing to say the least. It didn't smell exactly spoiled or rotten; just off somehow. The meat came from different sources (Costco short ribs; grain-fed chuck roast from a local farm) and were prepared at different times. I confirmed bath temperature each time with a Thermapen. The prep conditions were sanitary and meat kept cold until entering bath and consumed within 30 minutes of leaving the bath. The bags hadn't puffed up or leaked. I ended up eating the meat in both cases and felt no ill effects. The meat itself tasted OK, especially after being torched & seasoned. The main issue really is just the smell of the meat when it comes out the bag.

Has anyone else experienced this kind of bag odor with non-marinated beef? Are marinades for SV beef important to have a more appetizing aroma? Could this smell really be some sort of spoilage and I'm just lucky I didn't get sick?

(The only other SV dish I've made with cooking time over 4 hours was turkey leg confit, which was salted for some time before being bagged, and then bagged with an herb sachet. I didn't notice any off odors or flavors -- it was actually quite good.)

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I am concerning about SV cooking using Ziploc or Foodsaver pouches...

Who know how about the composition of this pouches?

Usually plastic pouches for cook-in are made from different products with different thermal and mechanical characteristics’:

PA/PE 20/70 - 90um (max +70C/158F)

PA/PE 20/80 - 100um (max +70C/158F)

PA/PE 25/115 - 140um (max +70C/158F)

OPA/PP 15/65 - 80um (max +115C/239F)

I would recommend do not cook with regular plastic pouches over +70C/158F...

Many vegetables has to being cooked over +85C/ 185F, so being careful!

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One of the key aspects of the Society's Year of Modernist Cuisine is you. As we seek to connect professionals and passionate amateurs to cutting edge discussions about food and drink here in eG Forums, topics like this (and the previous SV topic) bring both newcomers and veterans together to share queries and ideas, flops and smashes, in a pursuit of greater understanding of methods that have only recently arrived in home kitchens.

There is a new tool available to help out the newcomers: the index to the original sous vide topic, where you can find loads of information about methods, equipment, food safety, and much more. But, as you can see in this topic, this discussion is far from over! In particular, we hope that all participating members will continue to explain and illustrate their experiments, so that everyone can continue to engage and learn.

To that end, I wanted to walk step-by-step through my recent preparation of a SV favorite, boneless short ribs. The basics, which you can find in this index post, are these: 60C for 48h in my Sous Vide Supreme, then dried and seared quickly in grapeseed oil in a blisteringly hot cast iron pan and sliced for service.

The meat was served with truffled mashed potatoes (using the retrograde starch method described here) and a porcini mushroom sauce using the juice from the bag and the mushroom soaking liquid reduced and then mounted with butter.

The plating was pretty, trust me, and it tasted great. But that's not what I'm after here. Instead, I thought I'd share the preparations I went through to make this dish -- old hat for the vets but, I hope, useful for those new to this style of cooking.

More, with photos, in a sec.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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One of the real advantages of SV/LTLT cooking is that very small amounts of quality ingredients can transform your dish. I've been using a lot of rubs and marinades to get a sense of what works and what doesn't. Here was the prep for the short rib rub:

DSC00026.JPG

A few smoked Tellicherry peppercorns, some kosher salt, and a small handful of dried porcini mushrooms. I ground them to a powder to insure that they'd distribute evenly as the meat cooked:

DSC00027.JPG

I then added a very small amount of sherry vinegar just to moisten the rub with a bit of acid:

DSC00034.JPG

I then prepped the short ribs. As with many meat preparations, it's important to trim off the extra fat from the meat as it won't render at this low temperature the way it would in, say, beef stew cooked at 325F. Fat, whole sections of short ribs, and small pieces left to right:

DSC00033.JPG

Honestly, I use to toss fat like that, but now I keep it for use in another state (see below). I then made a bag with my FoodSaver, folded over the rim (to keep it from getting wet or smeared with the rub), and put the meat inside. I then scooped up that wet rub and, well, rubbed it all over the meat:

DSC00036.JPG

Finally, I melted a tablespoon or so of rendered beef fat in a Pyrex bowl in the microwave, as I've found that the meat seems more, well, beefy as a result:

DSC00037.JPG

Sealed the package carefully (and took a blurry shot):

DSC00041.JPG

And into the SVS it went. Results, as I said, were excellent.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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The meat was served with truffled mashed potatoes (using the retrograde starch method described here) and a porcini mushroom sauce using the juice from the bag and the mushroom soaking liquid reduced and then mounted with butter.

I made retrograde mashed potatoes over the weekend (using yukon gold) and had two problems...

1. Cooking them the second time at 180 took FOREVER for them to get even close to the texture I'd normally pull them out at (I usually pull them out when a piece can be easily crushed using a pair of tongs). I put them through a ricer, but there was still a lot of graininess to them. Since we set the starches first, is it ok to cook them at a more aggressive simmer?

2. I almost feel like even if they weren't as grainy, the texture wouldn't have been much better than if I just did them the way I usually do, which requires a lot less work and time

Steps I took

sealed potato slices in bag, sous vide at 160 for 30 minutes

rapidly cooled in sink, stuck in the fridge for an hour or so while I prepped the rest of dinner

removed from bag, simmered in salted water at 180 for about 45-50 minutes (method detailed in Potato eGC said it should take 30 minutes, they could have cooked longer, paring knife was just able to pierce and slide out easily)

put them through a ricer, added butter, mixed, added milk

Am I missing something here?

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That's exactly what happened to me the first time I tried and failed at this. Yes, the key is cooking them at a boil, not a simmer, the second time. They're much more hardy than ones that haven't gotten the retrograde treatment.

And you really can beat them up when they're cooked.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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That's exactly what happened to me the first time I tried and failed at this. Yes, the key is cooking them at a boil, not a simmer, the second time. They're much more hardy than ones that haven't gotten the retrograde treatment.

And you really can beat them up when they're cooked.

THANK YOU!

I was convinced I did something wrong -- after the first time I made the retrograde starch I thought this was just OK -- the next two times were disasters and I thought I must have been totally screwing it up. :blink:

So my next try will be to just boil the heck out of the slices until they're at the texture I'm used to cooking them when not retrograding. Thanks!!

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