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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment, 2011


Qwerty
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Hey everyone,

This is my first post.

I have several questions before I start cooking sous vide for the first time. The key question is: how to get started?

I see different references to PID controllers, immersion circulators, combi ovens, autoclaves, and the like, but high expense doesn't work for me and electrical/engineering know-how is not in my wheelhouse, I'm afraid. I'm looking for a more condensed look at ways to cook sous vide-style (nothing too fancy; this is just a starting point for me) in a more uncomplicated, cheaper fashion.

As for what I'll be cooking: lots of vegetables, eggs, and the like, but very little meat. From what I've read, that seems to mean I don't have to worry about long cooking times (12+ hours, etc.).

However, I am open to all opinions and advice on the matter.

Thanks!

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Welcome. There are other threads which answer many of the questions you raise. This post may be blended into one of the others shortly.

If you are not doing Rube Goldberg approaches, then you may want to consider something like a Sous Vide Supreme Demi. While it still does cost several hunbred dollars, in the long run you may discover it becomes affordable if you use it frequently and consider the cost amortized over several years. They offer packages that include the sous vide machine and a vacuum sealer.

As for vegetables, 180 F to 185 F will open a whole world of great flavors and doneness. Corn on the cob is terrific done sous vide.

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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I have several different setups, all inexpensive. I had good luck with veggies, using the submerged ziplock, and a large stockpot(20 qts, and a good fitting lid). With a gas stove, and a large pot, it would hold within 1 deg F for 12 hours at the 183-185 range (takes a lot of fiddle time to find the right setting, but it's cheap). I had better results with "freezer" bags than the less expensive ones.

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Hey everyone,

This is my first post.

I have several questions before I start cooking sous vide for the first time. The key question is: how to get started?

I see different references to PID controllers, immersion circulators, combi ovens, autoclaves, and the like, but high expense doesn't work for me and electrical/engineering know-how is not in my wheelhouse, I'm afraid. I'm looking for a more condensed look at ways to cook sous vide-style (nothing too fancy; this is just a starting point for me) in a more uncomplicated, cheaper fashion.

As for what I'll be cooking: lots of vegetables, eggs, and the like, but very little meat. From what I've read, that seems to mean I don't have to worry about long cooking times (12+ hours, etc.).

However, I am open to all opinions and advice on the matter.

Thanks!

Welcome RoManPa,

As you are new to the area, allow me to suggest that you look at Chris Amirault's index to the original sous vide topic (link here). This index groups the original discussion under subheadings linked to specific posts that you can use to look up what you are searching for, including equipment, safety considerations, cooking certain items, including vegetables, etc.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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For two years, I had been using a tabletop roaster together with a PID controller for SV. This turned out to be too small for serving multiple dishes to 8-10 people. Based upon discussions on this thread, I constructed a system that has worked well for larger scale SV cooking. It is based upon a large plastic storage container, a bucket heater, a PID controller and an aquarium bubbler hooked up to two strips at either end of the container. Holes were easily cut into the lid for the bubbler tubing, the bucket heater and the thermocouple. This was placed on a piece of plywood with casters to facilitate moving the 100+ pound setup when filled with water. It is not pretty, looking more like a mad scientist’s contraption.

When using it, I fill it with water from the hose at my kitchen sink. Then, I move it away while the water comes to the desired temperature – that is why I added the platform and wheels. After preparing the sealed bags, they are carried to the then out of the way SV setup in the kitchen. I then move it where it doesn't take p kitchen space. The biggest problem is removing the water after use – a bucket works well until there is a few inches of water in the bottom. But, by that time, it can be lifted. After letting everything dry, I put everything into the container until I need it again. I have considered insulating it, but that would make storage a bit more difficult. I have not calculated the thermal loss on the uninsulated container.

WARNINGS

It is important to keep the water level over the top of the bucket heater to insure that everything is working ok. To reduce evaporation, increased by the aquarium bubbler (it looks like I am boiling things in it), I could use ping pong balls or use tape to seal around the cutout and holes. For me, it is easier to add a pitcher of warm water every 20 hours or so.

I have not used this setup for high temperature cooking. Everything I make is within the range of 130F – 145F. I plan to test it up to 170F, but have not had the time, not the equipment to determine if any chemicals leach out of the storage container at those elevated temperatures. I think it unlikely that,within the temperature I operate, chemicals will leach into the water, and then pass through the pouches into the food.

To fully test it, would require sealing water in a bag, running the setup for at least 96 hours (beyond my usual cooking times), reduce water sample from the container, the pouch and the initial water (a control) and then use a gas chromatograph, possibly hooked up to a mass spectrometer to identify the components.

CONCLUSIONS

While bulky, this setup has a number of advantages. First, it can accommodate quite a bit of food, either as large, single pouches or as individual servings. Second, with such a large volume of water, I have only seen a temperature drop once – and that was when I cooked a large amount of food; it fell by about 2F. Third, it is inexpensive; costing less than $200 (it has been a while since I built it and didn’t keep track of everything). Fourth, with the exception of the wood platform, the container holds all the equipment when it is not in use.

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Hey everyone,

This is my first post.

I have several questions before I start cooking sous vide for the first time. The key question is: how to get started?

I see different references to PID controllers, immersion circulators, combi ovens, autoclaves, and the like, but high expense doesn't work for me and electrical/engineering know-how is not in my wheelhouse, I'm afraid. I'm looking for a more condensed look at ways to cook sous vide-style (nothing too fancy; this is just a starting point for me) in a more uncomplicated, cheaper fashion.

As for what I'll be cooking: lots of vegetables, eggs, and the like, but very little meat. From what I've read, that seems to mean I don't have to worry about long cooking times (12+ hours, etc.).

However, I am open to all opinions and advice on the matter.

Thanks!

If you do not plan long time cooking, you may well start sous vide with a water pot in the oven, see post #3540 and #3541 in the old sous vide topic. The larger the water volume, the easier to keep temperature stable. If heating hot tap water to 85°C takes too long, preheat on the stove top or with a bucket heater.

Edited by PedroG (log)

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Hey everyone,

This is my first post.

... The key question is: how to get started?

... high expense doesn't work for me and electrical/engineering know-how is not in my wheelhouse ... I'm looking for a more condensed look at ways to cook sous vide-style ... in a more uncomplicated, cheaper fashion.

As for what I'll be cooking: lots of vegetables, eggs, and the like, but very little meat. From what I've read, that seems to mean I don't have to worry about long cooking times (12+ hours, etc.).

...

Welcome.

To make things simpler to use, you pay more, not less!

The less you are prepared to pay, the more you have to know & do for yourself, and the less neat appearance you will have to put up with.

You COULD cook veg in ordinary ziplock bags, in a picnic coolbox who's temperature was controlled by yourself armed with a stirring spoon and thermometer, plus supplies of near-boiling and tap water.

You would be looking to hold about 180 F (82C) ± 10F/5C for about 45 minutes.

If you want to try it on the stove-top, then as PedroG indicates, use the biggest pot you have, well-filled and frequently stirred (so it changes temperature as slowly and as evenly as possible).

However, using yourself as the 'smarts' of the temperature control is pretty boring and nowhere near as accurate as automating it.

And for EGGS, you will need accurate temperature control. Probably rather better than ±2F/1C.

If you can't build an automated controller, you'd have to buy one.

Its VERY rare to find cheap, used, cooking sv controllers.

There's a different thread specifically considering the use of ex-laboratory circulators.

Because this equipment holds its value well when sold as used, you wouldn't be risking much by buying something with a view to selling it on if it wasn't proving useful.

The cheapest new ready-made controller (because you need to supply a totally dumb electrically heated water pot) is probably the SousVideMagic *Link* which is currently US$160 inc shipping (US, Europe and Asia) - and the current model works on both 110 and 240v (European) mains electricity.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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RoManPa -

I have to question whether you really want to venture into SV or not. I'm a fan, but I've got to say that if it wasn't for meat, there wouldn't be that many opportunities to use it. As others have said, there are two issue. Cooking eggs requires very precise temp control, which means greater expense for the equipment. Also, eggs done SV get old pretty quick. They're interesting, and fun, but it's hard to imagine doing them frequently. On the other hand, veggies aren't as temperature sensitive, but neither are they a transformative experience in most cases. The really cool thing with SV is what you can do with meat. IMHO,it's worth investing in a basic setup for cooking nothing other than chicken breasts (although others would probably say that about chuck roast). The other stuff seems to be more in the vein of "What else can I do with this?" I'm not trying to put a damper on your interest here. I'm just letting you know what you might experience when you get into it.

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RoManPa -

I have to question whether you really want to venture into SV or not. really cool thing with SV is what you can do with meat. IMHO,it's worth investing in a basic setup for cooking nothing other than chicken breasts (although others would probably say that about chuck roast). The other stuff seems to be more in the vein of "What else can I do with this?" I'm not trying to put a damper on your interest here. I'm just letting you know what you might experience when you get into it.

I agree. Eggs are great to do but many people complain about the loose whites and you have to find a way to deal with that issue. I either drain them off or drop them into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds to firm them up. Vegetables come out great but meat is the stellar ingredient that SV transforms into sublime dishes. if you aren't going to do meats them don't spend the money! IMHO.

Paul Eggermann

Vice President, Secretary and webmaster

Les Marmitons of New Jersey

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.....

I agree. Eggs are great to do but many people complain about the loose whites and you have to find a way to deal with that issue. I either drain them off or drop them into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds to firm them up. Vegetables come out great but meat is the stellar ingredient that SV transforms into sublime dishes. if you aren't going to do meats them don't spend the money! IMHO.

Loose whites are a problem when cooking eggs at target temperature. See the scientific background in Douglas Baldwin's post. The solution is Delta-T-cooking, see the sous vide page in wikiGullet and the topic "all about sous vide eggs". Be aware that an unnoticed crack in an egg can mess up your SV rig, so I would not recommend cooking eggs in a FreshMealsMagic or an immersion circulator, but rather in a PID-controlled rice cooker or stock pot or in a SVS, all of which are easier to clean.

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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SV Beef: your rankings and favorite cut?

Beef Cheeks - Mix together dijon mustard, chopped herbs (thyme, rosemary, dill), 1/2 crushed garlic and some cream of horseradish p. Slaver over the cheeks, place cheeks in vac pac add 1 jelly stock cube and 1 ice cube (or add 2 cubes your own frozen stock). Vac pack cook 60C for 72 hours. To finish remove cheeks and place liquid in a pan, bring to boil, strain, reduce liquid and use to make a sauce.

I make batches of 6 of these and then either keep them in the cold temp draw in my fridge so I can have a great meal v quickly or freeze which only adds an extra 30mins to the reheat.

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

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RoManPa -

... Cooking eggs requires very precise temp control, which means greater expense for the equipment. Also, eggs done SV get old pretty quick. They're interesting, and fun, but it's hard to imagine doing them frequently. ...

This is entirely a matter of taste. I personally disagree with the notion that sous-vide eggs get old pretty quick. Sous-vide eggs are a favorite in our household and we never get tired of them.

Edited by e_monster (log)
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SV Beef: your rankings and favorite cut?

Beef Cheeks - Mix together dijon mustard, chopped herbs (thyme, rosemary, dill), 1/2 crushed garlic and some cream of horseradish p. Slaver over the cheeks, place cheeks in vac pac add 1 jelly stock cube and 1 ice cube (or add 2 cubes your own frozen stock). Vac pack cook 60C for 72 hours. To finish remove cheeks and place liquid in a pan, bring to boil, strain, reduce liquid and use to make a sauce.

I make batches of 6 of these and then either keep them in the cold temp draw in my fridge so I can have a great meal v quickly or freeze which only adds an extra 30mins to the reheat.

My favorites are rib-eye, chuck, and brisket.

Rib-eye is cook at 122F/51C for a time that is dependent upon the thickness and initial temperature (fridge or freezer), per Douglas Baldwin's tables, then post-seared using a very hot Le Creuset grill pan and a Le Creuset Panini press.

Chuck is cooked at 131F/55C for 24 hours. An alternative is to cook it at 120F/50C for four hours to get the maximum enzymatic tenderizing effect consistent with food safety, then increase the temperature to 131F/55C. Post-searing as per the above. (Note to Fresh Meals Solutions, PolyScience, and others -- it sure would be nice to have a way to program this automatically!) °

Brisket is cooked at 131F/55C for 72 hours, then pan-seared and accompanied with your choice of BBQ sauce.

I tried beef cheeks once, but was put off by a off smell that may have been caused by lactic acid -- maybe the meat wasn't a good as it should have been. I suspect those cuts don't turn over all quickly. Maybe I'll have to try them again, based ermintrude's recommendation.

SV veggies remain under-explored, but to my taste, corn on the cob is much better at 140F/60C for 30 minutes, as recommended by nathanm, than the 185F for a hour approach recommended by some.

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thanks for the beef comments

Ive been doing my chuck at 130 for 72 hrs. next time I rassle some up Ill take out a chunk at 24 and 36 etc.

once and a while ( twice ) Ive gotten chuck that was mealy perhaps the piece of meat itself ( on super sale = close to spoiled?) vs not properly butchered initially something about lactic acid and rigor )

many thanks for these tips Ill try a rib eye soon.

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Does anyone have suggestions for suitable circulation pumps for home-made SV setups? I've gone through a couple of aquarium pumps (they can't cope with the heat). I found a couple of posts on pumps (Q on old SV thread and a pump suggestion in this thread) but nothing seems ideal.

I'd prefer a submersible, self-starting pump that can tolerate 90⁰C. Does anyone have any suggestions?

If there aren't any pumps, can anyone comment on using air bubblers instead? I'm concerned that bubbles won't circulate water sufficiently in a large pot with lots of bags in it.

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Hi,

If you take a look in the archives, you will discover that air bubblers provide adequate circulation. You don't even need an airstone. Most setups require very little help to circulate the water adequately.

Best,

Edward

Does anyone have suggestions for suitable circulation pumps for home-made SV setups? I've gone through a couple of aquarium pumps (they can't cope with the heat). I found a couple of posts on pumps (Q on old SV thread and a pump suggestion in this thread) but nothing seems ideal.

I'd prefer a submersible, self-starting pump that can tolerate 90⁰C. Does anyone have any suggestions?

If there aren't any pumps, can anyone comment on using air bubblers instead? I'm concerned that bubbles won't circulate water sufficiently in a large pot with lots of bags in it.

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Im suprised you have had trouble with aquarium pumps. the one I got from SVMagic Ive used in smaller set ups with a 1.59 'air stone'

how can the water effect the pump which sits outside the water?

you can get a back flow item so water does not go back to the pump about 59 cents.

anyway this set up works very well for me

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Im suprised you have had trouble with aquarium pumps. the one I got from SVMagic Ive used in smaller set ups with a 1.59 'air stone'

how can the water effect the pump which sits outside the water?

you can get a back flow item so water does not go back to the pump about 59 cents.

anyway this set up works very well for me

I did not find a submersible aquarium pump rated over 80C and the ones that I used that were rated at 40-60C failed at 84C. The plastic impeller shrouds warped and jammed the impellers. In one case the entire pump housing swelled and the pump died. I have also found that the temperature control in my DIY SV setup is much better with the 100+ GPH circulation rate of the pump I referenced earlier in this thread. With a low volume pump ~20 GPH the temperature would fluctuate up to +- 1C. At 100 GPH it is rock solid and rarely moves +-0.1C.

The pump that vice referenced above looks very good and is easier to get than the one I bought in Hong Kong.

Edited by paulpegg (log)

Paul Eggermann

Vice President, Secretary and webmaster

Les Marmitons of New Jersey

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I've taken the plunge and ordered a Sous Vide Supreme. Has anyone used sous vide to pasteurize eggs instead of cooking them? I'm thinking that the proper amount of time and the correct temperature should work. (I'm talking about really pasteurizing the entire egg, not just the shell.)

Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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I've taken the plunge and ordered a Sous Vide Supreme. Has anyone used sous vide to pasteurize eggs instead of cooking them? I'm thinking that the proper amount of time and the correct temperature should work. (I'm talking about really pasteurizing the entire egg, not just the shell.)

If i remember correctly Modernist Cuisine calls for ~2 hours at 131 deg. for pasteurizing eggs. I did it with my circulator, but just to be on the safe side i used 132 (circulators and thermometers have measurement error..thought it would be good to be just a touch higher, and i don't know if they'll ever pasteurize below 131...i forget what the tables in MC list), which partially cooked the whites, they not look hazed. they're fine for cooking with, but not clear and perfect like the purchased pasteurized eggs.

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@vice: Thanks for the pointer for that SV kit. Those pumps look good, though I think I'd put two into a large tank to get sufficient flow. The advantage of that design is that I can put a pipe on the inlet to the far end of the tank, to ensure good circulation throughout the tank.

@paulpegg: Unfortunately for me, both vice's and your pumps are equally expensive for me to get posted to the UK.

(If there are any UKians here who want to share postage costs for the high-temperature submersible pumps, please PM me.)

@rotuts: I'm after a pump that circulates the water, like an aquarium power head, as opposed to an air pump for bubbling. I agree, though, that external air pumps don't need to worry about the temperature.

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I've taken the plunge and ordered a Sous Vide Supreme. Has anyone used sous vide to pasteurize eggs instead of cooking them? I'm thinking that the proper amount of time and the correct temperature should work. (I'm talking about really pasteurizing the entire egg, not just the shell.)

If i remember correctly Modernist Cuisine calls for ~2 hours at 131 deg. for pasteurizing eggs. I did it with my circulator, but just to be on the safe side i used 132 (circulators and thermometers have measurement error..thought it would be good to be just a touch higher, and i don't know if they'll ever pasteurize below 131...i forget what the tables in MC list), which partially cooked the whites, they not look hazed. they're fine for cooking with, but not clear and perfect like the purchased pasteurized eggs.

As I understand it, the purchased pasteurized eggs only have the shells pasteurized and not the internals. That gets rid of near all the risk, but I figured if I have the equipment, why not remove all of the risk?

Did you try to whip them? My primary interest is in using them to make mousse.

Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

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