Sous vide machine is only known by a few people but it is an impressive kitchen machine that should be owned in every kitchen. Are you interested in knowing what you can do with the sous vide? Then you should read through this guide keenly as we are about to show the benefits of the sous vide machine.
What Is a Sous Vide machine?
“Sous vide” is a French term that translates to “under vacuum.” This type of cooking works by putting food in a plastic bag or container, removing all the air, and cooking, sealed, under water at a specific temperature.
Sous vide can be used to cook almost anything and offers precise results that are tender, juicy, and almost impossible to overcook. It’s ideal for a variety of foods, including expensive pieces of meat, like steak, that you want to cook just right; larger, cheaper cuts of meat that you want to melt on your tongue; perfectly cooked veggies, custardy desserts, and more.
You can’t beat the convenience, either: It offers a hands-off cooking experience, making it a great option for parties since your food can cook to perfection while you prep something else. It can also save you money since you can buy cheaper larger or tougher cuts of meat that normally take long to cook, plus the cooking style transforms normal pieces of food into decadent bites.
Types of Sous Vide Machines
Sous vide equipment has existed for decades in professional kitchens around the world, but it has always been bulky, expensive, and overloaded with complex features. This type of equipment eventually made its way into high-end specialty retail shops but remained limited to chefs and consumers with extensive culinary experience.
Cooking shows, social media, and online communities have furthered consumers’ knowledge of sous vide cooking. There are now many sous vide options available to the home cook. Below are a few types of equipment for you to consider when you’re ready to build your ultimate sous vide setup:
- Immersion circulators are shaped like sticks and heat the water in which you place them. They have a slim design, are easy to store, and can be used with a pot or bin you already own. The downside to cooking with the circulators is having to monitor the water levels to ensure it hasn’t evaporated.
- Sous vide machines, also known as water ovens, resemble slow cookers and heat the water in the tub. They usually include a lid so you can cook food for a long period of time without worrying about the water evaporating. They typically have straightforward control panels that are easy to operate. They’re also often built into other appliances like slow cookers or pressure cookers. Compared to immersion circulators, they’re big and bulky to store.
- Sous vide ovens are a third style of sous vide machines that are starting to emerge more and more. They work with steam to set the oven chamber to a specific temperature. They usually can function as a normal oven or toaster oven, too, but can be pricy.
Reasons to Sous Vide at Home
This technique can seem so foreign and fussy — plastic pouches? High-tech gadgets? Who needs all that in the kitchen? But the advantages of sous vide, so well-known by restaurants, can also be enormously helpful to the home cook.
Eliminates anxiety about food safety and cooking time.
Sous vide cooking relies on timing and the immersion circulator to do precise cooking, taking much of the guesswork out of cooking. Your expensive steak is much harder to overcook and you can pretty much guarantee the perfect doneness (and tenderness) you want. There’s no worrying or embarrassment of something not being cooked properly if you have people over, and there’s a great sense of confidence that your food is just the way you want it.
And the final results tend to be pretty stunning; a steak or chicken breast cooked with the sous vide method is miles more tender and succulent than stovetop or grill methods.
It is actually enormously practical.
If you’re cooking for a range of food preferences or allergies, sous vide cooking can make life easier. For example, you can cook chicken marinated in a lot of spices as well as the chicken just sprinkled with salt and pepper at the same time so both parents and kids are happy.
For some types of sous vide cooking, food can be cooked all day, just like in a slow cooker, but you won’t end up with the mushier results that can sometimes come out of a slow cooker.
Lets you be hands-off for easy entertaining.
For those who like entertaining, sous vide cooking means you can spend more time with guests since you’re not dealing with a finicky stove or trying to do a lot of last-minute cooking. There’s some front-loaded prep that needs to happen with sous vide cooking, but once the pouch drops into the water, most of the hard work’s over and you can relax.
If you’re using a kitchen torch to brown proteins after the sous vide process, it’s also an impressive, gather-your-guests-around moment that’s both fun and will make you feel like a million bucks.
This method involves less cleanup.
There’s very little cleanup with sous vide cooking. The receptacle of water holding the immersion circulator doesn’t need to be washed out and the water can be reused, so all you have to do is throw out the plastic bag the food was sealed in. If you seared the food after sous viding, it’s just washing that one pan.
What are the best foods to cook sous vide?
- Steak: Sous vide steak is a popular recipe for any newbie or pro. The cooking method allows the flavors of the steak to shine and softens up the fibers to make it extra tender. Plus, you can set your sous to vide machine to the exact temperature you like your steak – medium-well? No problem! Sear the outside when done to achieve the optimal balance of texture.
- Individual portions of chicken, fish, lamb, and pork all work well, too, in addition to larger cuts, or tough, cheap cuts, that benefit from being cooked low and slow.
- Vegetables: Cooking vegetables sous vide yields more flavor and nutrition. It can replace roasting vegetables to bring out their sweetness, and replace boiling in puree and mash recipes without leaving any of their flavor or nutrients in the water. You can cook root vegetables with cream and butter, then finish them in the food processor or blender before serving.
- Desserts: Sous vide cooking works best for making custard-type desserts such as crème brûlée, flan, and cheesecake that can easily overcook. Rather than seal them in bags, Mason jars work best and make nice serving sizes. You can also use the sous vide cooker to cook a custard-style ice cream base or pudding.
- Eggs: The ability to precisely control the water temperature allows you to make eggs exactly how you like them, from soft-boiled to poached and more.
- Risotto: Rather than stand over a stove, stirring in cups of hot stock into your rice, you can place all the ingredients in a sealed bag. Come back later to finish a creamy risotto with parmesan and herbs just before serving.
- Yogurt: Instead of buying a separate yogurt maker, you can make it in your sous vide cooker. Just heat milk, mix the yogurt culture, and put in Mason jars in a warm water bath while the cultures do their job. You can make cow, sheep, goat, and even seed milk yogurt this way.
Buyer’s Guide for Sous Vide Machines
Water Capacity: Water capacity is the highest volume of water each model can heat, most models can heat 5 gallons which will be fine for almost everyone.
GPM: Gallons Per Minute or GPM measures how fast the water moves around in the water bath, the faster the water moves the more quickly it will come up to temperature, and more easily it will maintain that temperature. There is a downside to a high flow rate, the higher the flow rate the faster the water evaporates.
Minimum and Maximum Water Levels: Each of these models has a minimum water level and a maximum water level and you need to keep the water between those levels for it to work properly or it will shut down. The wider the range between the levels the better. If you have a model with a higher wattage or flow rate this becomes a more important factor.
This represents the maximum temperature the unit is able to achieve for the maximum amount of water it is able to heat. All of the units we looked at are able to achieve temperatures over 200°F, and since most of the cooking occurs in the 135°F to 180°F range this isn’t a concern (see our Sous Vide Temperature Chart for more information about cooking times and temperatures).
Bluetooth and Wifi Connectivity:
Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity is one of the more interesting features available on many sous vide machines. It’s not something you absolutely need, but many times it’s easier to set the controls and timer on the app than on the physical unit. The ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide doesn’t have any physical controls on the unit itself and is only accessible via the app. Bluetooth has a much smaller range and is available on the Anova Bluetooth, Anova WiFi, and Joule models. The sous vide models with WiFi bring your appliances into the Internet of Things era, and as long as your WiFi network is working it will allow you to control your unit from anywhere, this does introduce some Sous Vide Safety Issues you should be aware of.
The physical size of the sous vides circulator usually isn’t that much of a concern for most people. Most of the units we looked at were tall, slender tube designs.
Attachment Clip or Clamp: The attachment clamp or clip is one of the features many people overlook when shopping for sous vide machine. The Anova Bluetooth Sous Vide and Anova Wifi Sous Vide had a clamp design that was the most flexible allowing you to fully adjust the height of the unit within the cooking vessel making it much easier to stay within the minimum and maximum water level markers.
To conclude, sous vide machines are important to have in the kitchen. If you would be interested in getting a good one, this guide is your best bet.