Whether you are a home cook or a budding chef, whipping up great meals is something that you always want to do for yourself and for your family. But sometimes, things don’t work out the way you want to. The food that you are cooking can get burned, taste bland, or come out undercooked. With a sous vide machine in your kitchen, you can avoid common cooking problems and make sure your food comes out perfectly each time.
What is Sous Vide Cooking?
Sous vide (pronounced as soo-veed) is French for ‘under vacuum’. It is a culinary technique that many professional chefs worldwide have been using to produce perfectly cooked meals for their customers. It is a process where food is placed in pouches and submerged in a temperature controlled water bath. This allows the food to cook evenly every single time.
The sous vide method was developed the 70s by French Chef Georges Pralus. It remains one of the best culinary techniques used by professional chefs to cook meals that look and taste incredible. Sous vide used to be available only to professional chefs. Today, sous vide machines are available to home cooks and budding chefs with the help of some technological advancements in cooking.
Benefits of Sous Vide Machine Cooking
Cooking using the sous vide culinary technique isn’t just some fancy way of cooking your meal. Cooking with a sous vide machine also has benefits that other culinary techniques do not have. Some of these benefits include:
- Tastier food – when you cook using the sous vide technique, you place your food in a vacuum sealed bag. Inside the bag, you can add flavors and spices. Unlike in traditional cooking, the flavors and spices can drip into the pan and not penetrate the food properly. Even if you marinate the food, the flavors do not get cooked with your dish so it can still taste bland. With sous vide cooking, food such as meat and vegetables get cooked together with the spices. All the ingredients stay inside the bag so the flavors mix and develop to make the dish tastier than ever.
- Restaurant quality meals – because food is infused with all sorts of flavors while it is cooking, it can easily turn out to be comparable to restaurant quality food where the chef uses the same culinary technique. You don’t need to go to an expensive restaurant just to eat good food. With a sous vide machine, you can create restaurant quality food in your own home for a fraction of the price.
- Enhanced flavors mean less salt and fat – When you cook using the sous vide method, the flavors of the food become enhanced. You don’t need to add salt, oil, butter, or other non-healthy condiments just to make it taste better. The flavors “mingle” inside the vacuum sealed bag. The only thing to do is to wait until your food absorbs all the flavors.
- Evenly cooked food every time – sous vide cooking ensures that your food cooks evenly from the inside and out. There’s very little chance of your food getting overdone or undercooked. Using the sous vide machine will give you food that’s cooked just right, as if a professional chef cooked it.
- Cooking becomes more organized – You can prepare meals days in advance inside the vacuum packed bag, store them in the freezer and take them out once you are ready to cook them. This helps you save time on food preparation time. You can even program your sous vide machine to have your food ready for you when you get home.
- You can cook in large quantities – With sous vide cooking you can also create individual portions for a large number of people. All you need to do is prepare the individual vacuum bags and place them all inside the sous vide cooker and you’re done.
How to Sous Vide at Home
Advancements in technology have enabled the sous vide machine to be affordable and easy to use. You no longer need to go to a restaurant just to experience what sous vide cooking tastes like. You can do it at home using your own sous vide cooker.
- Place food inside a vacuum sealed bag together with the spices and other flavors you want to add to the food. You can cook meat, fish, and vegetables. Many people like to use a vacuum sealer to really pack in the flavor and the food together.
- Get an immersion circulator (more on this later on) and place it in a Cambro container or a large pot.
- Set the sous vide machine to your desired temperature and allow the water to heat.
- When the water is at the correct temperature, place the sealed food inside the Cambro container or pot. The food should be completely submerged in the water to ensure that the heat reaches every part of the food.
- Time your cook according to the recipe or cooking times guide.
- There are some good websites that provide startup recipes for you to help you get started on cooking using the sous vide method. You should try those recipes and see how they work for you. Part of the fun is trying stuff out to see how it turns out using sous vide. Pick up a good inexpensive sous vide recipe book that’ll teach you the different ways to cook your food using the sous vide method at home.
- Turn off the immersion circulator and take the bag of food out. This should be able to give you restaurant quality meals every time.
Types of Sous Vide Machines
There are two most common types of sous vide machine. These sous vide machines will make cooking easy for anyone:
Immersion circulators are stand-alone devices that you can use to heat a tub or a pot of water to your desired temperature. It takes in the water and heats it up to the right temperature and circulates the water back out. It repeats the same process until the water in the vessel is consistent in temperature.
This kind of sous vide machine comes with a price range of about $120 to just under $300. The best ones are commonly the most expensive ones. If you are planning on buying an immersion circulator, look for something that fits your budget and your needs in terms of features such as Bluetooth.
Immersion circulators come with a small display that tells you when the temperature of the water has reached the desired level. The wand type immersion circulator is probably the most common type of sous vide cookware.
The downside to this kind of machine is that you need a separate pot or Cambro container to use it. If you are using a pot, remember that metal conducts heat so that might affect how your food is cooked, versus cooking in a Cambro.
Water Bath Sous Vide Machines
This type of sous vide machine looks like a deep fryer. It is often square shaped and works automatically. All you need to do is to place the food inside the cooking chamber and you can leave it alone. Water bath sous vide machines will automatically track the temperature for you and even provide indicators that the cooking time is done.
The downside is these machines are generally a bit more more expensive than immersion circulators. Some of the best sous vide machines like this can fetch anywhere from $200 up to $1,000. Some of the less expensive ones don’t have a very large capacity, and with the water bath units you have no flexibility in terms of capacity. Immersion circulators allow you to scale up to a larger container if necessary.
Choosing The Best Sous Vide Machine
Sous vide machines cost around $100 to $200 and naturally you want to get good value for your money.
To help you in your search, here are some of the best sous vide machines currently on the market:
- Gourmia GSV900 Sous Vide Self Contained Circulating Water Oven – This sous vide machine is one of the few that are priced reasonably at just under $200. This sous vide machine comes with a stainless steel rack for easy food handling. Its capacity is at 10 quart, which allows for up to 12 vacuum sealed bags of food to be cooked at the same time. This product is very handy to have around as its size isn’t so bulky.
- Sous Vide Precision Cooker Immersion Pod with Digital LCD Display, 800W, Stainless Steel, Powerful Operation, Quiet & Accurate – Precise and Even Cooking – By Primo Eats – at approximately $100, this sous vide immersion cooker is a great find. It comes with a digital LCD display so you can easily see and use the machine. It fits through most pots and cambro containers. The temperature control of this sous vide machine will ensure that you get evenly cooked meals all the time. It is easy to clean and maintain. When you are done using it, it can be stored away in any kitchen cabinet easily.
- Sous Vide Precision Cooker Immersion Circulator by Forsous – Another immersion circulator this time by Forsous is making a name for itself with its easy to use features and fit anywhere size. The Sous Vide Precision Cooker Immersion Circulator by Forsous comes with a large LCD display so you can see the temperature that your food is cooking easily. Its controls are easy to understand. The base of this immersion cooker is wide and easy to clean. It has a fast water heating ability so you don’t have to wait too long for your food to cook.
- Instant Pot Accu SV800 Sous Vide Immersion Circulator – the slanted design of this immersion circulator make it easy for you to see the temperature of your pot without you needing to go near the pot. That’s a convenience that other immersion pots do not provide. It comes with a pot holding clamp so it won’t topple over or become dislodged from its upright position when food is added to the pot. It fits most pots and is easy to maintain and clean. It comes with various water flow channels that allow the steady and consistent flow of water all throughout the pot.
- Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven, Black, SVD-00101 – this sous vide machine is sized like a small safety deposit box for your food. Inside is a stainless steel wire rack that you can use to cook as many as 10 individually packed meals in one go. It can hold up to 8.7 liters of water, making it perfect for preparing food for a party. This guy is a big leaguer in the sous vide world. It’s priced from just above $300 to $450. The price that you pay may be steep but it is worth it to get good quality sous vide cooker. It comes in two colors, red, and black.
Sous Vide Machines: A Must-Have in Your Kitchen
Whether you are an expert chef or a new cook, you could never go wrong with using a sous vide machine to cook your food. Sous vide helps you create delectably, mouthwatering dishes in a snap. You don’t need to spend money on expensive restaurants and travel hundreds of miles away just to eat good food. With the sous vide machine you can do it at home for a fraction of the price.
A sous vide machine will help you create perfectly cooked, restaurant quality dishes every time with very little effort on your part. Cooking your own meals at home allows you to control the portions and the quantity so there will be no waste.
Choose the right kind of sous vide machine that fits your family’s budget and needs. There are immersion circulators, which are inexpensive sous vide cookers that are also very portable. If your budget permits it, you can also try the water bath sous vide machine. These are larger appliances that are not as portable, if that’s a factor that’s important to you. Both types will provide you with excellent results. The main differences between them are the convenience of cooking, the size, and the price.