Getting started with sous vide may seem a little involved at first glance, but there’s really not much to it. You’re going to need bags to put the food in, a container to cook in, and a sous vide machine. A small investment in your sous vide setup can deliver healthy, restaurant-quality meals for years to come.
In order to put a sear on your meat you will also need a cast iron skillet. Many people already own one so I am not listing it here. They’re not expensive if you don’t.
We’re going to cover this start-up info as concisely as possible so you get the overall picture of what you’ll need.
Sous Vide Bags
First let’s look at sous vide bags. You need to put your food into durable bags that are BPA-free and will make a good seal. You have two options. You can use special sous vide bags with a vacuum sealer, or you can go the Ziploc route.
With a vacuum sealer, you do have to purchase one more piece of equipment if you don’t already own one. They do come in handy for more than just sous vide so you may want to consider it. There are plenty of options including maybe the most well-known, the Sous Vide Supreme Vacuum Sealer.
You can find good deals on it on Amazon but in my opinion there are better options. It has spotty reviews and it seems kind of luck of the draw as to whether you’ll receive a reliable unit.
Here’s what I would choose:
Ziploc bags are also an option. Get the freezer bags because they are the ones that can stand up to the sous vide cooking process. Here is more detailed info on using Ziploc bags for sous vide. If you use Ziploc bags then you won’t need the vacuum sealer, so it’s a good way to go if you want to try out home sous vide cooking while making less of a financial commitment.
Make sure the bags you use are BPA-free!
Next let’s move on to cooking containers and the variety of options you have available.
Sous Vide Cooking Containers
You need to have a cooking container to use with your immersion circulator. The exception would be if you are using a water oven style sous vide unit, which is a self-contained unit that already has a cooking container as part of it. I recommend using an immersion circulator because they are much smaller and easier to store, and they offer flexibility in that you can use different cooking containers. They’re also less expensive.
Typically you would use a large stock pot or a Cambro container like this one:
Some type of lid is also a good idea because it will prevent the water from evaporating during a long cook. There are special lids like this one, but some people use a layer of ping-pong balls as a makeshift lid that will adapt to any shape cooking container. It’s not a perfectly airtight solution of course but it will definitely prevent some evaporation.
Next, sous vide machines and how to decide which one to get.
Choosing a Sous Vide Machine
As mentioned above, there are two types of sous vide machines that you can get. The water oven style is a large, boxy unit that contains the water bath for your cooking. They can be hard to find storage space for if you have a smaller kitchen.
Water ovens are more expensive and don’t offer the adaptability of the immersion circulators, which are the smaller, wand-style units that attach to your cooking container.
There are a lot of very good immersion circulators on the market. Some can connect to your smartphone so you can monitor and control your cook, while others don’t offer such advanced features. There are two that I have the most experience with and highly recommend.
This start-up guide gives you a good overview of what you’ll need to get set up. I hope you enjoy using this fun cooking method at home. Check out our perfect sous vide steak recipe to see what you have to look forward to.