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MikeTMD

Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 6)

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Now that I've got a lead on an immersion circulator, I'm looking to upgrade my bagging option. Some of the discussion of vac sealing options refer to models that have been discontinued for quite a while...

So, I'm upgrading from the Reynolds handheld pump, but I'm certainly not going for a chamber system. I'm probably looking at a foodsaver model - but which one? (of the currently available models) are there other good options in the us$100 to us$300 range?

I've been researching this as well and decided not to go with a new foodsaver because of negative reviews on Amazon and other sites for the newer models. Didn't want to go with a used model so I opted for this: http://www.qualityma...00&click=21247.'>http://www.qualityma...00&click=21247. With bulk bags, I spent @ $350 -- $100 more than I wanted to spend, but I thought safer than buying a used model.

Unfortunately the link http://www.qualityma...00&click=21247 is broken, can you post it again? After a link you should always type two blanks or a carriage return, for else eGullet will insert a dot which is included in the link so it won't work.

Thanks!

BTW I use a MagicVac by Solis of Switzerland which has served me for many years without a problem.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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...

...So, I'm upgrading from the Reynolds handheld pump, but I'm certainly not going for a chamber system. I'm probably looking at a foodsaver model - but which one? (of the currently available models) are there other good options in the us$100 to us$300 range?

... I spent @ $350 -- $100 more than I wanted to spend, ...

...

...

It's called the Weston PRO-2300 Commercial Grade Vacuum Sealer in case you need to google....

The link still doesn't work for me ... BUT from Googling the machine does seem to be

-- beyond the budget suggested, and

-- the same (though differently named) machine as previously commended on the Foodsaver etc thread in Kitchen Consumer - Product link http://www.vacuumsealerpros.com/

That Vacuum sealer thread (only 7 pages so far)

I'm sure its a great machine, but it would be one heck of an upgrade from the handheld system!


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

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Thanks for sharing that document, PeterF. I disagree with the recommendation against a hot plate/stock pot solution that Auber makes; I use a hot plate, stock pot, and Sous Vide Magic controller, and am very happy with the results.

Hot plate is designed for heating pot that does not have insulated wall. The heat loss of the pot causes a larger temperature gradient between the bottom center of the pot and edges.

Even without a circulator running, the temperature in my 16 qt stock pot filled with about 12 qts of water and sitting on a hot plate controlled by a Sous Vide Magic was constant throughout to a tenth of a degree F when I measured it.

Energy efficiency is also lower. For comparison, the WINCO ERC-60 rice cooker (shown in the first picture) filled with 9 qt of water (8,7liter) needs about 75 watt of power to maintain the temperature 40 °C (72 °F) above the ambient. When the inner pot of the rice cooker was put on a hot plate, about 150 watts of power is needed to maintain the same temperature difference. That is 0.75 kWh of extra electricity for 10 hours cooking.

At my electricity rates, I think that comes to around $0.10, which seems pretty negligible. (Same as leaving a lamp on over night.)

I guess the safety concern about evaporating all the water out is reasonable. If I were really concerned about it, I think I'd modify a pot lid to fit tightly with the probe wire in place. I've only cooked protein at less than 150F so far, but I haven't noticed any significant loss due to evaporation, with the lid of the pot slightly open to allow for the power line to the aquarium powerhead and the temperature probe.

Since I've never found myself wishing I had a rice cooker, I'm glad to have spent the money on the stock pot rather than the rice cooker.

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Doug,

How much confidence do you have that the person meant "safe" to be "won't melt" versus "won't leach chemicals"? And that the person would be forthcoming about the latter issue? It it wasn't certified for cooking, I wonder if they have tested the leaching?

Not that I am a Doug, but I am a chemist and I have been working on TG-GCMS for leachables lately. It kinda all depends. I worry much much less about bags and films that solid containers. Solid containers tend to need plastizers to toughen them. I've seen some phthaltes transfer to coffee beans. However, I should point out the meat, butter, sugar, salt, etc are all chemical and just because its a chemical does not mean it is toxic.

So for sous vide, I don't worry. I use the vacuum bags over Ziplock type because I have pop bones thru the latter and the vacuum bags seem tougher.

Kevin

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Kevin,

Thanks for the perspective on phthalate leaching.

As a chemist, can you weigh in on the capability of any pid to maintain 0.1C accuracy?

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I'm not kevin or a chemist, but hey, this is the internet. I did do a reasonable amount of 'controls' work. A PID controller can easily do 0.1C, *if* the system it is controlling is correct. First off, maintaining 0.1C at 'steady state' with no changing outside parameters is pretty easy. Assuming the thermocouple that is responsive enough, and a heater that is powerful enough, "all" you need to do is characterize your system and plug in the P,I and D parameters. A controller might be able to learn this in a specific set-up. It is when you distrub the system, like dumping a thermal load suddenly in it, that it goes off. Now, to regain your footing, you'll have to pump heat into it. So, you will need a more (how much? hard to say) powerful heater. Of course, the heat is localized; to spread it around, you'll want to circulate that water; the more powerful the heater, the harder you will have to circulate. And your PID settings will have to be choosen to have the response you want to that.

Of course, the typical water volume, thermal loss to the surroundings, and typical thermal load can all be guessed for most situations to within some kind of sane guess, so I'd bet it wouldn't be too hard to have a system that can not only maintain 0.1C, but recover to it quite quickly. Of course, it might cost ya.

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With a SousVideMagic and a stockpot (9L sideheater 400W) and a fountain pump, I have longtime stability within ±0.06°C, and disturbance with a 460g iceAKKU of -20°C causes a dip of about 0.5-1.0°C with a recovery time of 15-20min., depending on PID settings. When SousVideMagic is run in °C and not °F, PID-values from autotuning are quite acceptable.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Woo! Thanks to the "Investment Recovery" department of my friendly, neighborhood global pharma/chem corporation, I am now the proud owner of a slightly cracked, slightly gunky immersion circulator!

P1010927.jpg

I fired it up when I got it home - no problem. I spent an hour or so cleaning gunk off of it - I'm assuming that this crust of gunk means it was used in an oil bath, rather than a water bath. It's an impressive crust, but I'm getting it pretty clean. One side effect of the vigorous cleaning is that when I fired it up a few minutes ago, the pump complained - I think it was complaining that the motor was working too hard - it would either fire up to full power (5 out of 5 levels of pump intensity) or stall, and would beep it's error code either way. After a few rounds of starting it up, hearing the error code, turning it off and letting it sit, it's now running fine, "humming" away at the lowest pump setting.

Next up is running it with bleach, then an alchohol rubdown, then a finish with vinegar. This is per a discussion here, and elsewhere on the web.

So ... what to make with it? I eat meat, but it rarely knocks my socks off. (pun intended!) I will do some pork/beef/chicken ... especially pork, soon enough. But I'm really interested in doing eggs, veggies and fruit. I've got two quince sitting in my kitchen, so I'm thinking of trying "poaching" them. From what I've heard, quince smell fantastic while you're poaching them, but lots of that flavor/scent is lost in the process, and the end result on the plate lacks much of that flavor - this sounds like a perfect application of sous vide. The Alinea cookbook has a crabapple preparation where the crabapples are cooked at 88C for an hour - any comments or suggestions?

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Quince - a great idea. I plan to do some myself if I find them at the farmers' market tomorrow. I would say 85° rather than 88° for about an hour with some honey or sugar, lemon and butter in the bag.If I find them tomorrow I'll let you know how they turn out.


Ruth Friedman

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Wow - following a round with diluted bleach at 85C, I rinsed the unit - someone warned that bleach+vinegar can produce a nasty byproduct. Then did a round of diluted vinegar at 88C (I'm also inching the temp up to see that the unit is working properly). Man - whatever the coating of crud was that I was scrubbing off earlier today, it came right off - the heater coil is nice and shiny and the black plastic which used to have a film, now isn't exactly "shiny" and new, but clearly doesn't have a coating on it. I did a round with water, and now I'm doing a second round with vinegar and pushing the temp up to 90C. I've already wiped the non-submerged parts of the device with bleach based wipes. I'll finish up with an overall wipedown with alcohol, and some more rounds of water. So far, so good.

(In hindsight, I'm bummed that I spent so long scrubbing when the hot vinegar round really took the gunk off.)

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Eggs at 149 are great but require a quick dip in a pan to finish off the whites. The yolks will be unlike anything you've ever had. The one veg I really enjoyed was yukon gold potatoes, I think I did them at 185-190? (look up thread for potato science discussion). The flavour is pure tater, very good.

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You can find 3M High Temperature Flue Tape (2113NA) in most good hardware stores. It is used for stopping air duct leaks, and can be used up to 600 F (315 C).

You pull your bag, put a hole in a corner with a pin or something else fairly small. Then, squeeze out the air. Hold the bag so the liquid is away from the corner hole, and stick on a piece of tape. The tape is metalic, so pre-cut. You may need to wipe the area of the hole with a bit of paper towel to get grease off. Works like a charm.

Stu

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Do you calibrate your themocouples? If so, how and how often?

As a chemist, can you weigh in on the capability of any pid to maintain 0.1C accuracy?

I'm not kevin or a chemist, but hey, this is the internet. I did do a reasonable amount of 'controls' work. A PID controller can easily do 0.1C, *if* the system it is controlling is correct. First off, maintaining 0.1C at 'steady state' with no changing outside parameters is pretty easy. Assuming the thermocouple that is responsive enough, and a heater that is powerful enough, "all" you need to do is characterize your system and plug in the P,I and D parameters. A controller might be able to learn this in a specific set-up. It is when you distrub the system, like dumping a thermal load suddenly in it, that it goes off. Now, to regain your footing, you'll have to pump heat into it. So, you will need a more (how much? hard to say) powerful heater. Of course, the heat is localized; to spread it around, you'll want to circulate that water; the more powerful the heater, the harder you will have to circulate. And your PID settings will have to be choosen to have the response you want to that.

Of course, the typical water volume, thermal loss to the surroundings, and typical thermal load can all be guessed for most situations to within some kind of sane guess, so I'd bet it wouldn't be too hard to have a system that can not only maintain 0.1C, but recover to it quite quickly. Of course, it might cost ya.

With a SousVideMagic and a stockpot (9L sideheater 400W) and a fountain pump, I have longtime stability within ±0.06°C, and disturbance with a 460g iceAKKU of -20°C causes a dip of about 0.5-1.0°C with a recovery time of 15-20min., depending on PID settings. When SousVideMagic is run in °C and not °F, PID-values from autotuning are quite acceptable.

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You can find 3M High Temperature Flue Tape (2113NA) in most good hardware stores. It is used for stopping air duct leaks, and can be used up to 600 F (315 C).

You pull your bag, put a hole in a corner with a pin or something else fairly small. Then, squeeze out the air. Hold the bag so the liquid is away from the corner hole, and stick on a piece of tape. The tape is metalic, so pre-cut. You may need to wipe the area of the hole with a bit of paper towel to get grease off. Works like a charm.

Stu

Have any idea if there are harmful chemicals in the tape that could leech into the bag and contaminate the food even at lower than 600 F sous vide temps?

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Do you calibrate your themocouples? If so, how and how often?

As a chemist, can you weigh in on the capability of any pid to maintain 0.1C accuracy?

I'm not kevin or a chemist, but hey, this is the internet. I did do a reasonable amount of 'controls' work. A PID controller can easily do 0.1C, *if* the system it is controlling is correct. First off, maintaining 0.1C at 'steady state' with no changing outside parameters is pretty easy. Assuming the thermocouple that is responsive enough, and a heater that is powerful enough, "all" you need to do is characterize your system and plug in the P,I and D parameters. A controller might be able to learn this in a specific set-up. It is when you distrub the system, like dumping a thermal load suddenly in it, that it goes off. Now, to regain your footing, you'll have to pump heat into it. So, you will need a more (how much? hard to say) powerful heater. Of course, the heat is localized; to spread it around, you'll want to circulate that water; the more powerful the heater, the harder you will have to circulate. And your PID settings will have to be choosen to have the response you want to that.

Of course, the typical water volume, thermal loss to the surroundings, and typical thermal load can all be guessed for most situations to within some kind of sane guess, so I'd bet it wouldn't be too hard to have a system that can not only maintain 0.1C, but recover to it quite quickly. Of course, it might cost ya.

With a SousVideMagic and a stockpot (9L sideheater 400W) and a fountain pump, I have longtime stability within ±0.06°C, and disturbance with a 460g iceAKKU of -20°C causes a dip of about 0.5-1.0°C with a recovery time of 15-20min., depending on PID settings. When SousVideMagic is run in °C and not °F, PID-values from autotuning are quite acceptable.

My reference thermometer is an ISO-calibrated Greisinger GMH3710 high precision thermometer (Pt100-probe, resolution 0.01°C or 0.01°F) which should be recalibrated yearly, and which I use to regularly calibrate all my other thermometers and SousVideMagic sensors and my Voltcraft K202 data-logger with two K-type thermocouples (resolution 0.1°C or 0.1°F). The price of my sous vide equipment (SousVideMagic and VEGA stockpot and indoor fountain pump) was more than doubled by the precision thermometry and data-logging equipment.

I am just finishing a new manual PID tuning series and may probably achieve ±0.05°C stability.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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Here's a question that may have been addressed earlier but it's tough to sort through this massive tome.

I am looking to take the next step in my sous vide life. I am an avid home chef and I have really taken to SV cooking. I've been using an Auber PID and a crock pot with a Foodsaver and my results so far have been very good.

Given how much I've been cooking SV, I think it's worth upgrading my equipment. But I do need to figure out the merits of any purchases before I make them. Cost is not a huge issue though obviously I'd rather save than spend.

I would love to hear the group's thoughts on the merits of upgrading to a full laboratory immersion circulator, or if the money is better spent elsewhere. What will a Polyscience do that an Auber will not? Is a commercial vacuum sealer a better purchase?

Thanks. FYI sous vide duck leg confit is a daily staple in my house.

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There is little doubt that a rice cooker or crock pot with a pid controller works, but there is an advantage to an immersion circulator. My analog circulator normally sits in it's 11 liter bath, which is a great size for a few chops or steaks. When I want to do more, such as a brisket, I can move it to a 50 liter foam cooler - still works fine. I also use it in the cooler set at 4 degrees C. to thaw pork butts or turkeys. The analog controller is OK for most SV functions +/- 0.2 degrees C. It is easy to use. My foodsaver is adequate most of the time - if I were to upgrade something else, a better vacuum sealer would be it.

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What you will get is convenience. If your monetary situation is such that several hundred dollars is of little consequence, upgrade. If a few hundred dollars seems like real money, then spend it elsewhere.

With few exceptions, the additional accuracy won't be noticeable in outcome. But the more expensive units are very convenient and don't need the same sort of fiddling with settings.

Now that I have settings for a tabletop roaster (when I need a large volume bath) and presto multicooker that are stable, I personally don't have a need to upgrade the system. I can do eggs and salmon mi-cuit. So, I my setup isn't limiting me. If I had several hundred extra dollars I personally would use it to upgrade my pans. (The tabletop roaster can be found new for around $40 and can often be found in thrift stores).

But your situation may be different. Convenience certainly has its value.

Here's a question that may have been addressed earlier but it's tough to sort through this massive tome.

I am looking to take the next step in my sous vide life. I am an avid home chef and I have really taken to SV cooking. I've been using an Auber PID and a crock pot with a Foodsaver and my results so far have been very good.

Given how much I've been cooking SV, I think it's worth upgrading my equipment. But I do need to figure out the merits of any purchases before I make them. Cost is not a huge issue though obviously I'd rather save than spend.

I would love to hear the group's thoughts on the merits of upgrading to a full laboratory immersion circulator, or if the money is better spent elsewhere. What will a Polyscience do that an Auber will not? Is a commercial vacuum sealer a better purchase?

Thanks. FYI sous vide duck leg confit is a daily staple in my house.

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Why upgrade to a Polyscience? With an Auber (which is the same as the SousVideMagic I have) you may achieve stability of ±0.03°C, as I just found with some more tuning experiments. I should rather invest in a NIST-calibrated high-precision thermometer with a resolution of 0.01°C or better and a data logger.

If you want to cook on the safe side of 54.4°C but not exceed 55°C, you have to calibrate your sensors and working thermometers!

And if you want to perfectly refine your PID-tuning, a data logger will be of great help for multiple closed-loop tuning experiments. BTW autotuning in °C may work acceptably, but in °F results are misleading, as a hysteresis of 1°F is too small.

I also think you need not invest in a chamber vacuum machine, as we do not need high vacuums, we just want to avoid air inclusions in the bag. Especially with fish and poultry, vacuum higher than 90% (0.1 bar) may result in a mushy texture. see http://www.cookingissues.com/2009/06/17/boring-but-useful-technical-post-vacuum-machines-affect-the-texture-of-your-meat/

If you marinate your meat, wrap it in PE-clingfilm (not PVC!) before bagging to avoid sucking liquid into the sealing zone; with large amounts of liquid, use the ziploc-immersion method.

FYI brisket 48h/55°C is perfect, veal shoulder 24h/55°C is even more melt-in-your-mouth-tender.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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I am looking to take the next step in my sous vide life. ... I've been using an Auber PID and a crock pot with a Foodsaver and my results so far have been very good.

Given how much I've been cooking SV, I think it's worth upgrading my equipment. ... What will a Polyscience do that an Auber will not? Is a commercial vacuum sealer a better purchase?

...

Apart from (potentially) finer control, my understanding is that forced circulation would be much better when attempting non-equilibrium water bath cooking. When times are measured as a specific number of minutes rather than an approximate number of hours, the expectation is that the water in contact with the pouch will be maintained throughout at very close to the specified temperature - which won't be the case with an unassisted-convection bath (although a 'very large' bath, rather bigger than your crock pot, with manual stirring should be pretty good).

Beyond that, in general, with a circulator the bath should be much faster to equilibrate at whatever temperature you have set. Less 'warm-up' time!

There is a colossal difference between different FoodSaver models. A high end machine with manual control surely ought to be perfectly adequate for home sv (unless you are determined to crush watermelon), however a basic model can be a real pain with liquids.

Unless you are determined to crush fruit and veg, you don't require a chamber sealer.

There are (in the US) $400 machines that are basically rugged, heavy-duty foodsaver-type machines. They have a certain appeal, but I'm not sure that they extend the capabilities (for sv) beyond what you can do with a manual-control domestic model.


Edited by dougal (log)

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

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I use a hobbyist's hypodermic with a blunt tip. I refill my inkjet cartridges, so I have a bunch of them. The hole is tiny, and while I can't certify the composition of the coating, it would have to maintain its integrity at 600 degrees, so I really am not too concerned at the temperatures within the range of sous vide.

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There is little doubt that a rice cooker or crock pot with a pid controller works, but there is an advantage to an immersion circulator. My analog circulator normally sits in it's 11 liter bath, which is a great size for a few chops or steaks. When I want to do more, such as a brisket, I can move it to a 50 liter foam cooler - still works fine. I also use it in the cooler set at 4 degrees C. to thaw pork butts or turkeys. The analog controller is OK for most SV functions +/- 0.2 degrees C. It is easy to use. My foodsaver is adequate most of the time - if I were to upgrade something else, a better vacuum sealer would be it.

The scalability of immersion circulators is a major advantage, in my opinion. I regularly use mine in an 20 gallon stockpot, a 5 gallon stockpot, and a 2 gallon stockpot. Just now, in fact, I pulled two whole pork butts and two whole briskets out of the 20 gallon water bath and am chilling them down.


--

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Now that I have settings for a tabletop roaster (when I need a large volume bath) and presto multicooker that are stable, I personally don't have a need to upgrade the system. I can do eggs and salmon mi-cuit. So, I my setup isn't limiting me. If I had several hundred extra dollars I personally would use it to upgrade my pans. (The tabletop roaster can be found new for around $40 and can often be found in thrift stores).

Off-topic, but do you mine sharing your SousVideMagic PID setting for the Presto Multi-Cooker? I've never been able to get it to satisfactorily stabilize.

Thanks,

-a


---

al wang

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