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Sources for determining sous vide temperatures and times

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I've been using 3 sources to figure out sous vide cooking temperatures and times:

* Sous Vide Dash iPhone app. Technology really is the best way to access this information, given the amount of parameters that go into the decision. The info here takes many more variables into account compared to the different printed tables I've seen elsewhere. such as the type of sous vide setup, beginning temperature, etc. The app is, as a whole, beyond awesome.

However, I noticed that it has no recommendation for "tenderness time" for the different cuts. I picked up a lamb shank, and after consulting the app in the supermarket, I decided I had time to make it for dinner - I needed 5 hours to pasteurize it to core. However, when I consulted my two other sources (below), I realized I really needed 2-3 days. I assume the extra time recommended is "tenderness time". This was disappointing...

* Tables from "Sous vide for the home cook". These give temperature and time for all the most common cuts of meat and fish, for different levels of doneness. It would be redundant with the information in the app, except it includes the full amount of time recommended, including "tenderness time", which can be significant for tough cuts. I also like the fact that they include fruits, grains, and vegetables, which are not included in the app.

* Tables from "Modernist Cuisine". These include target temperatures (sometimes with no recommended cooking times). They're a nice complement to the sources above because they specify the team's personal favorite level of doneness for different cuts. After many experiments, I came to the realization that their favorite doneness is very consistent with mine, and I now follow their recommendations pretty much every time. I also like the fact that they have more ingredients listed than the other two sources, such as octopus and geoduck.

So, for these reasons, I always end up checking all three sources before I cook anything. As much as I'm grateful for having access to information with such variety and quality, I'd much rather check just one source.

What source(s) do you check before cooking something sous vide?

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All the above plus temperatures and times that have been put in the eGullet sous vide threads. In addition, many cook books these days from restaurant chefs have times and temps for sous vide cooking that they've experimented with and settled on as most appropriate for their needs.

Bear in mind that a lot of the sources you mentioned have conservative temperatures and time because they are public domain and they want to be very much on the safe side, particularly if immune-suppressed individuals may be fed the meals. Personally I find some of the cooking temperatures would lead to products that do not make the most of cooking sous vide. In these cases, I use experience plus a knowledge of safe sous vide cooking practices in varying the parameters. If you are new to this and/or do not understand the factors involved, don't play at the margins - you could wind up poisoning someone.

As you cook more sous vide, you'll also find your own preferences may diverge from those given in any of these sources. I often look at recommendations from these sources and use different times and temps based on experience and personal preferences.

Until you have experimented with your own preferences, you'll need to continue to consult all these sources. Unfortunately there is no sous vide bible that will meet your needs.

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Modernist Cuisine "best bet" tables are always my departure point for a new food, and have rarely dissappointed me. They are by far the most complete source. From there on I experiment, write down the results, and come up with my favorite (or most convenient) combinations.

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And I use SousVideDash for computing times for tender cuts, fish, etc, but not for selecting temperatures, I don't much agree with their default choices, they are as nickrey said "on the safe/conservative side", and nothing is given for tough cuts.

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I also use the MC best bet tables all day long, and they are the most comprehensive guide I've seen.

Before that I used Douglas Baldwin's practical guide to sous vide cooking as a starting point which also remains a great reference for sous vide time/temp.

Beyond that the now legendary egullet sous vide thread has a wealth of useful information especially with specific ingredients. Coming across that thread 6 years ago was what led me to join egullet in the first place!

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For those of you who rely on MC alone, what do you do for the charts that don't have times? For example: best bets for fish, or tender meats?

I started by using MC alone, but felt the need to search for other sources because of the lack of times for some foods (although I understand why they offer no times for these - the thickness of the cut affects the cooking time more than tough cuts).

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I seem to remember MC having tables relating thickness to time charts. I know Nathan put them in the SV thread a long time ago. Before I got SVDash, I would use the EG thread and MC for temp recs, and then use Nathan's tables (which I printed a long time ago) to get times... Now, SV Dash makes it a lot easier and more accurate.

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For those of you who rely on MC alone, what do you do for the charts that don't have times? For example: best bets for fish, or tender meats?

There are tables of SV times-to-core as a function of shape, width and temperature increment in volume 2. Pasteurization times to add appear on volume 1. Though I prefer to use SousVideDash to compute those times.

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There are tables of SV times-to-core as a function of shape, width and temperature increment in volume 2. Pasteurization times to add appear on volume 1. Though I prefer to use SousVideDash to compute those times.

Good point Enrique - all the information is there, just a little harder to use in printed form.

I've been thinking more about my ideal way to access SV temperatures and times, and I am convinced that software is the best medium. There are so many variables involved that consulting tables in books is cumbersome. In other words, with a few extra features, I think that Sous Vide Dash could become the one and only source I use. Having recommendations for "tenderness time" for tough cuts is a key feature. It would also be nice to see more ingredients (goat, octopus, etc) for the more adventurous cook.

Ideally, I would like to see the MC recommendations in the app, but I understand that may be tricky in terms of rights, etc. Maybe there's some way to work this out?

I would also like some way to store a custom time and temperature for a particular cut of meat. If we can't access MC recommendations in the app, I could see myself entering all of them manually once, and use the app to get the information from then on. It would be a slow and repetitive task, but for me it would be worth it, just so that I could reduce my sources to one.

In the meantime, with the sources we have available today, I think the following works well:

* Tender cuts:

- MC to get the recommended temperature.

- Sous Vide Dash to pick the level of doneness based on that temperature, and to figure out the time based on thickness.

* Tough cuts and less common ingredients:

- MC to get the recommended temperature and time.

- I typically double check with SVHC, but that's probably unnecessary.

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Good point Enrique - all the information is there, just a little harder to use in printed form.

In fact I've never understood why the time-to-temperature tables and pasteurization times were NOT included in the kitchen manual. To me, it was the biggest "usability" error of Modernist Cuisine. With those tables and the "best-bets" sous vide tables in the Kitchen Manual we would have all the relevant data in a single place always at hand in the kitchen.

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If we can't access MC recommendations in the app, I could see myself entering all of them manually once

That's what I have done...

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That's what I have done...

Hu? How did you do that? I don't see a way to enter custom temperatures in Sous Vide Dash... is that what you mean? Or am I missing something?

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Hu? How did you do that? I don't see a way to enter custom temperatures in Sous Vide Dash... is that what you mean? Or am I missing something?

Sorry, not in the app but in a personal spreadsheet.

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Ah, yes, I am also in the other thread where you shared all the details about your spreadsheet - very cool. I also keep a spreadsheet, which is now more complete, inspired by the fields you shared.

I don't necessarily wish the app could replace my spreadsheet. The amount of detail added on each experiment is a personal thing, and it would be very hard to get it right for everyone. But I do wish that the app would have MC's temperature recommendations, or that it would allow me to enter them.

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But I do wish that the app would have MC's temperature recommendations, or that it would allow me to enter them.

Me too. I also wish it would allow me to automatically store the tested combinations with additional info (result, comments...) into some storage system (google docs? the app by Simon and Todd?) so I can remember what I've tried, what worked and what didn't.

Have you suggested this to SVDash author?

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I haven't yet, but I'm going to. The goal of this thread was to organize my ideas and validate them by running them by others. Mission accomplished - thanks for your interest in this.

I will send him email now.

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I haven't yet, but I'm going to. The goal of this thread was to organize my ideas and validate them by running them by others. Mission accomplished - thanks for your interest in this.

I will send him email now.

Done.

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Can anyone comment on the often huge discrepancies between the Modernist Cuisine tables and Sous Vide Dash app?

So far I've only looked at steaks and medallions, in pork and beef. Time recommendations (to reach core temperature) are greater in SV Dash by 60% to 100%.

 

If the MC cuisine times are accurate, then people using Dash are just cooking for extra time and may not notice a difference. But if the Dash times are accurate, I'd expect people to be screaming about the MC cuisine tables leading to undercooking.

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Because it is time to temperature I'd be surprised if anything is "undercooked." The difference is more likely to be how long the piece of meat is held at temperature. This impacts on factors such as pasteurisation, which is big in the sous vide dash application and could explain the variance.

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Can anyone comment on the often huge discrepancies between the Modernist Cuisine tables and Sous Vide Dash app?

So far I've only looked at steaks and medallions, in pork and beef. Time recommendations (to reach core temperature) are greater in SV Dash by 60% to 100%.

 

If the MC cuisine times are accurate, then people using Dash are just cooking for extra time and may not notice a difference. But if the Dash times are accurate, I'd expect people to be screaming about the MC cuisine tables leading to undercooking.

 

The high level answer is I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Modernist Cuisine charts.
 
I actually first wrote the thermodynamic simulation code at the heart of the app after noticing that the last column in Table 1 on page 276 and the last column in Table 3 on page 278 of MC both describe a cylinder 15cm in diameter and 15cm tall, yet they have different times for the same temperature change. I was also bothered by the fact that cubes, spheres and squat cylinders were all supposed to use the same table (table 3).
 
Things may have changed in the second edition, but as I dug deeper on the numbers in the first edition I really wanted to write the code and do some research myself. I corresponded a bit with the MC team, but I didn't get enough details of their simulation code to compare it to mine and determine why we tend to disagree. There are a lot of factors, including how food is situated in the bath and how well the water circulates.
 
Having said all of this, I can say that I have done experiments and found the app's predictions on target, and an independent lab hired by one of the equipment manufacturers has done the same.
 
I'm happy to participate in an ongoing dialog, and if changes are warranted, make them. 
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vengroff - 

 

Thanks for the program, it's been fun to play with so far.  I used it for a pork loin last monday, and it will help out with my next tri-tip.  (Right now, I have 72 h @ 62 C short ribs going, which don't really need the program.)

 

Do you happen to know the h value for the Sous Vide Pro Creative Series?  I bought the non-polyscience Sous Vide Dash (hoping you get a bigger cut of the profits), and it only has an entry for the original Sous Vide Pro. 

 

I've also had fun writing my own simulation based on Baldwin's article, your FAQ, and wikipedia. It was a good excuse to learn a little bit of applied math and physics.  (I ended up using the Crank-Nicolson method to solve Baldwin's equation and managed to get times consistent with SV Dash.)

 

It would be nice if I could use SVDash to time frozen foods, even if it overestimated the time a little, but I understand that's a much more complex problem. Would something along the lines of this work? A Difference Scheme for Solving Two Phase Stefan Problem of Heat Equation  (the author considers a moving boundary between frozen and melted and tweaks the time values so the boundary always lands on one of the steps in the space dimension). 

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It would be nice if I could use SVDash to time frozen foods, even if it overestimated the time a little, but I understand that's a much more complex problem. Would something along the lines of this work? A Difference Scheme for Solving Two Phase Stefan Problem of Heat Equation  (the author considers a moving boundary between frozen and melted and tweaks the time values so the boundary always lands on one of the steps in the space dimension). 

I take it that this method is an attempt to model the stall at phase change when the ice turns into a liquid. Most of us just add a somewhat arbitrary time constant to take this into account.

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I take it that this method is an attempt to model the stall at phase change when the ice turns into a liquid. Most of us just add a somewhat arbitrary time constant to take this into account.

 

Yes, that's correct. The thermodynamics get a little hairy because there tend to be three distinct layers, one above freezing, one below, and in between those two a slushy mess right around the freezing point.

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vengroff - 

 

Thanks for the program, it's been fun to play with so far.  I used it for a pork loin last monday, and it will help out with my next tri-tip.  (Right now, I have 72 h @ 62 C short ribs going, which don't really need the program.)

 

Do you happen to know the h value for the Sous Vide Pro Creative Series?  I bought the non-polyscience Sous Vide Dash (hoping you get a bigger cut of the profits), and it only has an entry for the original Sous Vide Pro. 

 

I've also had fun writing my own simulation based on Baldwin's article, your FAQ, and wikipedia. It was a good excuse to learn a little bit of applied math and physics.  (I ended up using the Crank-Nicolson method to solve Baldwin's equation and managed to get times consistent with SV Dash.)

 

It would be nice if I could use SVDash to time frozen foods, even if it overestimated the time a little, but I understand that's a much more complex problem. Would something along the lines of this work? A Difference Scheme for Solving Two Phase Stefan Problem of Heat Equation  (the author considers a moving boundary between frozen and melted and tweaks the time values so the boundary always lands on one of the steps in the space dimension). 

 

Thanks for the pointer. I will take a look. And it's always nice to get independent confirmation that the simulation results are on target.

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