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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment, 2011


Qwerty
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Any tips for sous vide'ing mutton? I got a leg of mutton and cooked it for 24 hours at 70⁰C (158⁰F). It wasn't too successful... the muscle bulk was definitely overcooked, dry and stringy.

Garlic. I'd hesitate to use 6-10 cloves of garlic even with a big chunk of sv sheep. (See below about meat quantities.) Garlic sv is unlike garlic in a roast. Tread gently. Its easy to make a garlicky gravy/sauce/butter for adding at service or table.

Wrapping herbs in something like a paper towel makes it easier to catch them - it won't do much for modulating their potency.

Thomas Keller, "Under Pressure" pg 269 suggests rolling herbs and spices into a sachet for the SV bag to prevent direct contact with the meat as this can create stronger flavored areas in the meat. He uses plastic wrap for this.

Paul Eggermann

Vice President, Secretary and webmaster

Les Marmitons of New Jersey

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Home-made Bacon - to SV or not to SV - that is the question.

Not sure if I should post this in the Charcuterie thread or here!

I have been curing and smoking bacon for a very short time after an initial collaboration with Nickrey which was a great success. The last batch I made was cured for 11 days and then smoked at 65°C (150°F) for 4 hours. I'm pretty sure that the internal temp of the meat didn't get to 65°C during this time, but next time I'll use an internal probe to be sure.

I took one of the smoked pieces and cooked it SV at 65°C for 90 minutes. I then chilled the bag and refrigerated it overnight with the other 3 pieces prior to slicing.

What made me think that the interior of the bacon didn't get to 65°C was that the SV cooked piece was definitely more pink and looked more like commercial bacon. The other pieces were definitely cured OK - that is they were pink, neither raw looking nor brown, but looked more like the colour of prosciutto (read: a bit translucent) rather than bacon.

When cooking the non-SV bacon I usually put it into a cold pan without any oil or fat and bring the heat up. The fat rendering from the bacon is sufficient to grease the pan and there is negligible moisture loss during that process.

When I cooked the SV bacon using the same method quite a bit of water was expelled from the bacon, which had to be evaporated before any browning could take place. I cannot really understand this, and indeed the SV piece of belly was the other end of the same belly for one of the non-SV samples - so it cannot be a meat variation.

The flavour of the cooked SV and non-SV bacon was very similar. I had expected the SV bacon to be drier given the water loss, but couldn't detect a difference. If anything the SV sample was a little tenderer than the non SV sample, but that could be my imagination (Hawthorne effect?).

I will cure some more pork belly using the identical method for each piece. I've pretty much decided that the next batch should include some bacon cooked SV and then smoked and some smoked first and then cooked SV. Also I intend to keep one piece just cooked conventionally in the smoker, but paying better attention to the internal temperature.

Can anyone suggest what else I might do to get a better understanding of the benefit of SV to bacon?

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... Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, add a 6-10 garlic cloves and a sprig or two of thyme wrapped in a paper towel. This will prevent the garlic and thyme from overpowering the flavor of the meat.

...

Thomas Keller, "Under Pressure" pg 269 suggests rolling herbs and spices into a sachet for the SV bag to prevent direct contact with the meat as this can create stronger flavored areas in the meat. He uses plastic wrap for this.

I can understand flavour-impermeable plastic wrap preventing flavour concentration, particularly when dealing with bagging at a high vacuum in a chamber machine - thus pressing herbs into very close contact with the meat.

I've never noticed 'flavour localisation' problems, with my FoodSaver allowing potential juice spread all around the bag.

I don't see a paper towel being any sort of a flavour barrier to compare with plastic wrap.

And 6-10 cloves of garlic still sounds rather 'personal' to me! :smile:

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

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... Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, add a 6-10 garlic cloves and a sprig or two of thyme wrapped in a paper towel. This will prevent the garlic and thyme from overpowering the flavor of the meat.

...

Thomas Keller, "Under Pressure" pg 269 suggests rolling herbs and spices into a sachet for the SV bag to prevent direct contact with the meat as this can create stronger flavored areas in the meat. He uses plastic wrap for this.

I can understand flavour-impermeable plastic wrap preventing flavour concentration, particularly when dealing with bagging at a high vacuum in a chamber machine - thus pressing herbs into very close contact with the meat.

I've never noticed 'flavour localisation' problems, with my FoodSaver allowing potential juice spread all around the bag.

I don't see a paper towel being any sort of a flavour barrier to compare with plastic wrap.

And 6-10 cloves of garlic still sounds rather 'personal' to me! :smile:

The plastic wrap does not totally enclose the herbs since it is trimmed to fit at both ends and left open. I did not find any difference between using plastic wrap vs paper.

You're right, I like lots of garlic in general. It keeps the Angel of Death away!! :smile: :smile:

Paul Eggermann

Vice President, Secretary and webmaster

Les Marmitons of New Jersey

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although the rolled plastic wrap sounds like an interesting solution to actual contact between garlic and say meat ...

wouldnt the meat at the end of the plastic rolled up tube meet a lot more garlic flavor than the meat on the other side?

is this just an issue with the sulfurous flavor of uncooked garlic/onions etc vs dried or precooked garlic/onions ?

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How long are you willing to let the water stay in your SV while heated? In theory, SV water should be hot enough that normal germs aren't going to grow in it (I think). Plus, you've got the bag as a barrier between your food and the water. That suggests to me that leaving the water under heat in the SV container for 2-5 days between rounds of cooking shouldn't be a problem. But maybe I'm missing something.

From a convenience standpoint, I like the idea of having it hot and ready. Emptying the container, washing it, refilling it, and reheating it is a pain. The cost of keeping it hot at a safe temp (say 150F) in the set up I use (which is well insulated) is minimal - about 10 cents a day.

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How long are you willing to let the water stay in your SV while heated? In theory, SV water should be hot enough that normal germs aren't going to grow in it (I think). Plus, you've got the bag as a barrier between your food and the water. That suggests to me that leaving the water under heat in the SV container for 2-5 days between rounds of cooking shouldn't be a problem. But maybe I'm missing something.

From a convenience standpoint, I like the idea of having it hot and ready. Emptying the container, washing it, refilling it, and reheating it is a pain. The cost of keeping it hot at a safe temp (say 150F) in the set up I use (which is well insulated) is minimal - about 10 cents a day.

I admit to being anal but since the water often smells after I have cooked something in it, despite the vacuum bags, I am not willing to let it sit for days at any temperature. If I empty it immediately and dry it out and refill with hot tap water next time I want to use it, I don't find it takes more than 15 minutes to reach temperature. Your mileage may vary but I think there are enough risky things with SV that this is not something I am willing to compromise on.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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After filling my Amazon.com basket with all the parts for Seattle Food Geek's DIY immersion circulator, I remembered a very important fact: I don't know diddly about assembling electronics. I've been looking at other systems and am wondering about the Sous Vide Magic with the Fresh Meals Magic setup. It seems like people are pretty happy with it. I like the fact that I would have a circulator and the option to make a water bath with a crock pot or rice cooker. Then I spotted a passing reference to using the SVM to control a cold smoker. Is this possible? That would really seal the deal for me to have that added functionality.

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How long are you willing to let the water stay in your SV while heated? In theory, SV water should be hot enough that normal germs aren't going to grow in it (I think). Plus, you've got the bag as a barrier between your food and the water. That suggests to me that leaving the water under heat in the SV container for 2-5 days between rounds of cooking shouldn't be a problem. But maybe I'm missing something.

From a convenience standpoint, I like the idea of having it hot and ready. Emptying the container, washing it, refilling it, and reheating it is a pain. The cost of keeping it hot at a safe temp (say 150F) in the set up I use (which is well insulated) is minimal - about 10 cents a day.

I admit to being anal but since the water often smells after I have cooked something in it, despite the vacuum bags, I am not willing to let it sit for days at any temperature. If I empty it immediately and dry it out and refill with hot tap water next time I want to use it, I don't find it takes more than 15 minutes to reach temperature. Your mileage may vary but I think there are enough risky things with SV that this is not something I am willing to compromise on.

I never noticed any smell in the water bath, and I see no problem changing the water only every now and then. I use distilled water (i.e. the condensed water from the air dehumidifier in the cellar), thus avoiding limescale as well as growth of most bacteria. Every 48h/55°C cooking should theoretically reduce eventual pathogenic bacteria by something like 150D. For additional safety, the water could be heated to e.g. 80°C for an hour between rounds of cooking.

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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After filling my Amazon.com basket with all the parts for Seattle Food Geek's DIY immersion circulator, I remembered a very important fact: I don't know diddly about assembling electronics. I've been looking at other systems and am wondering about the Sous Vide Magic with the Fresh Meals Magic setup. It seems like people are pretty happy with it. I like the fact that I would have a circulator and the option to make a water bath with a crock pot or rice cooker. Then I spotted a passing reference to using the SVM to control a cold smoker. Is this possible? That would really seal the deal for me to have that added functionality.

I have used the SVM with a rice cooker for a number of years now (I'm on my second SVM, having upgraded to a newer model) and am very happy with it.

The SVM can control any electrical appliance that has a straight electrically controlled fixed setting thermostat, including some smokers.

If the piece of equipment has a digital electronic controller which needs to be set with cooking parameters before cooking, such as the Masterbuilt electronic smoker, you can't use a SVM. What happens in this instance is that the SVM cuts power to the unit when the target temperature is reached. When the power is reconnected as the temperature drops, the unit does not have any memory of what it was doing and cannot function. For this same reason, the SVM cannot be used with more sophisticated electronic programmable rice cookers.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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

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Then I spotted a passing reference to using the SVM to control a cold smoker. Is this possible? That would really seal the deal for me to have that added functionality.

I use a SVM to control a "Bradley Original Smoker" and it works fine. I understand that you can control a "Bradley Digital Smoker" using a PID controller, but the PID controller takes over the role of the "digital" part of the Bradley so the extra expense is wasted.

Also to keep the temperature low it is necessary to use the Bradley cold smoke adaptor or gerry rig something similar. This keeps the heating element of the smoke generator outside the smoking cabinet and allows you to control the internal temp of the cabinet using your SVM.

Of course for sous vide the SVM is excellent. I normally use it with a large commercial rice cooker, but have tried using it to control a bain marie which it does fine. The bain marie needs forced circulation though (an air bubbler works OK) whereas the rice cooker maintains a fairly constant temperature throughout with natural convection.

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I have a question.

I got home from work about 7:00 last night looking forward to taking my now 48 hour cook of dry rubbed pork ribs out of the sous vide, and browning and glazing on some sauce on the hibachi using hot burning hardwood lump charcoal for quick browning/glazing. It was the first time I've tried ribs sous vide and couldn't wait to see what the result was. Was pretty upset to find the demi unpluged, my stepdaughter had unplugged it earlier in the day because it was beeping which she found annoying, apparently I had too much pork in there and the water wasn't circulating well (something else to look into). They had been sitting there for who knows how long, I'd guess the water was down to 90degF or so.

I tossed them.

This morning I'm wondering if I had taken them back up above pasteurization temp for the required time, would they have been safe (ignoring the beeping issue)? Even if I had thought of it then without knowing for sure I would have tossed them. Could I have just turned it back on at 140f and gone for another 24 hours?

Dag-nab-it, I was bummed. Heading out of town tonight for the week on business too so I have to wait to give it another go.

Thanks for any advice.

Larry

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I agree with throwing them. Reheating the food will kill off any bacteria that had grown in the meantime, so you wouldn't get a gut infection from the reheated food. However, growing bacteria can also release significant amounts of quite nasty toxins (to stop other bacteria growing nearby). Those toxins will remain in the food, even after cooking, That's how you get things like botulism, which can be fatal.

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I agree with throwing them. Reheating the food will kill off any bacteria that had grown in the meantime, so you wouldn't get a gut infection from the reheated food. However, growing bacteria can also release significant amounts of quite nasty toxins (to stop other bacteria growing nearby). Those toxins will remain in the food, even after cooking, That's how you get things like botulism, which can be fatal.

There may be some other bacterial toxins that are heat resistant, but botulinum toxin is destroyed by cooking.

PS: That's not an endorsement to eat meat that has been held at petri dish temperatures for an unknown time.

Edited by pep. (log)
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I have a question.

I got home from work about 7:00 last night looking forward to taking my now 48 hour cook of dry rubbed pork ribs out of the sous vide, and browning and glazing on some sauce on the hibachi using hot burning hardwood lump charcoal for quick browning/glazing. It was the first time I've tried ribs sous vide and couldn't wait to see what the result was. Was pretty upset to find the demi unpluged, my stepdaughter had unplugged it earlier in the day because it was beeping which she found annoying, apparently I had too much pork in there and the water wasn't circulating well (something else to look into). They had been sitting there for who knows how long, I'd guess the water was down to 90degF or so.

I tossed them.

This morning I'm wondering if I had taken them back up above pasteurization temp for the required time, would they have been safe (ignoring the beeping issue)? Even if I had thought of it then without knowing for sure I would have tossed them. Could I have just turned it back on at 140f and gone for another 24 hours?

Dag-nab-it, I was bummed. Heading out of town tonight for the week on business too so I have to wait to give it another go.

Thanks for any advice.

Larry

There was a discussion up-thread where I had initially proposed pasteurizing meat for the minimum amount of time, and then lowering the temperature to the point where maximum tenderization occurs. But after much discussion, I became convinced that wasn't a good idea. I think it applies in your case as well.

Although raising the temperature back up to 140 would have re-pastuerized the meat, you can' t be entirely certain what might be going on with various spores, as well as such possibilities as lactic acid build-up, which won't kill you (unlike botulism), but won't taste good, either.

So I think you did the only prudent thing.

Now you have to sit down with your stepdaughter and explain what sous vide is all about. And If the pork hasn't already gone out with the trash, I think I would put it back in the demi, and try to figure out what was causing the beeping!

Bob

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Thanks everyone. I did the right thing then.

The beeping is low water circulation from having too much in the demi, so the temp in the bath wasn't evenly distributed either. I need to build a large version because I tend to cook in large batches on the weekend and stock the fridge/freezer for my busy week and my daughter (the one that's not a breatharian) when I'm gone every other week. Oh for more time, sigh.

Thanks again.

Larry

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Thanks everyone. I did the right thing then.

The beeping is low water circulation from having too much in the demi, so the temp in the bath wasn't evenly distributed either. I need to build a large version because I tend to cook in large batches on the weekend and stock the fridge/freezer for my busy week and my daughter (the one that's not a breatharian) when I'm gone every other week. Oh for more time, sigh.

Thanks again.

Larry

Larry, if you need to cook large quantities of food at one time, and can't afford a PolyScience circulator and the large Cambro tank they sell for commercial applications, I can think of two options.

One is the Fresh Meals Magic from Fresh Meals Solutions, which includes a heater and a PID controller, along with a pump. I don' t have one yet, but PedroG does, and he apparently loves his. You could even cook in your bathtub, if you need to cook a LOT of food!

The other possibility would be to use the SVS Demi as water heater, and then rig up a circulating pump that would transfer hot water from the Demi to a larger container, and then let it flow back to the Demi via a siphon that you would have to prime. In that case you might need to insulate the tank with some polystyrene foam to keep the heat loss down to something the Demi can handle.

As long as you aren't cooking at high temperatures (above 65C), a submersible garden fountain pump is very inexpensive, and ought to do the trick. For slightly more money, LightObject sells a DC powered pump that is rated up to 100C, and is FDA approved for use in espresso machines, etc. Check Amazon.

Bob

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Thanks everyone. I did the right thing then.

The beeping is low water circulation from having too much in the demi, so the temp in the bath wasn't evenly distributed either. I need to build a large version because I tend to cook in large batches on the weekend and stock the fridge/freezer for my busy week and my daughter (the one that's not a breatharian) when I'm gone every other week. Oh for more time, sigh.

Thanks again.

Larry

Larry,

You can easily build a DIY system such as the one I built last year DIY SOUS VIDE COOKER I have cooked for 150 people using this system and it works for 2 or four or eight as well. I have changed the pump since I wrote this and will update it soon.

Edited by paulpegg (log)

Paul Eggermann

Vice President, Secretary and webmaster

Les Marmitons of New Jersey

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Larry - A while ago I described a system I built using a bucket, an Aurber PID controller, a plastic storage container and an aquarium bubblier. All you need to do is plug everything together and you can have a 32gal SV setup. No electronics, just plug the bucket warmer into the PID controller and position it in the center by cutting a hole in the plastic cover. Another hole for the thermocouple and two more holed for two blubbers attached to the air pump. It took less than a half hour to put together. When you are done, just remove the water from the container, let it dry and place everything in the now empty container. If I remember right, it cost less than $200. The advantage of the large water volume is that, unless you put lots of food in it, there is no noticeable change in temperature.

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For slightly more money, LightObject sells a DC powered pump that is rated up to 100C, and is FDA approved for use in espresso machines, etc. Check Amazon.

Be careful of this pump. While it's submersible, it's rated at 100⁰C if it's not submerged, but only up to 50⁰C if it is. It's better than the ~32⁰C rating of aquarium pumps, but it may break if you try to cook vegetables in it. However, I spoke to one person who has used it with no problems. (I've just bought a P-38B pump from eBay, rated to 80⁰C submerged, and it seems to be working fine.)

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I've tried looking around a little bit, but haven't been able to find a recent discussion on the current state of LTLT cooking equipment.

It looks like my setup has bit the dust and I'm doing research into options so I can get back in the game. As of right now there don't seem to be a huge amount, at least from what I can find. Is there anything out there besides my short list below?

  • PID controller - for a rice/slow cooker or it can be coupled with a heating element (Auberins or SVM style)
  • Sous Vide Supreme - water oven
  • Polyscience Professional - immersion circulator

I like the flexibility of something more along the lines of a circulator/PID controller as opposed to a water oven, but I don't know if there are other options out there.

Edited by avaserfi (log)

Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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I have the SVMagic system and use it in Coleman beer coolers.

i love it. i have three coolers 38 qt 16 qt and 9 qt

the SVM will only fit in the largerst cooler I have so i use the PID controller with some immersion heaters for the two smaller set up.

for me in looking into this last Jan the SVSupreme systems seem small and over priced. that may be just me. they may be better suited for those with limited counter space.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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I've tried looking around a little bit, but haven't been able to find a recent discussion on the current state of LTLT cooking equipment.

It looks like my setup has bit the dust and I'm doing research into options so I can get back in the game. As of right now there don't seem to be a huge amount, at least from what I can find. Is there anything out there besides my short list below?

  • PID controller - for a rice/slow cooker or it can be coupled with a heating element (Auberins or SVM style)
  • Sous Vide Supreme - water oven
  • Polyscience Professional - immersion circulator

I like the flexibility of something more along the lines of a circulator/PID controller as opposed to a water oven, but I don't know if there are other options out there.

The Sous Vide Magic is certainly the lowest cost option, and the most flexible. You can use it with a rice cooker or a crock pot, a turkey fryer, an electric smoker, or with the Fresh Meals Magic heater in a beer cooler or even your bathtub! And they can achieve excellent accuracy and temperature control if you program them correctly, although that takes some effort.

The Sous Vide Supreme is a nicely integrated unit that might appeal more to the housewife than the DIY equipment geek (my apologies for the sexist comment!) And some have questioned the accuracy and temperature stability of the SVS compared to the SVM, although I haven't used one personally.

The PolyScience 7306 unit with the cage is certainly the gold standard, and the one most often seen in restaurants and on cooking shows. There are several Cambro tank sizes and cut-out lids available, depending on your needs and space available. If you use the larger tank, you may need to fill it with pre-heated water. But the accuracy and temperature stability is the best-in-class.

The PolyScience Sous Vide Professional Chef Series is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than the 7306, but I would be a bit skeptical of the black plastic, at least if you have hard water.

There are other immersion circulators, including a number from Europe, but I don't know anything about them.

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