sous vide containers

The Best Sous Vide Containers

The sous vide has revolutionized the quality of at home cooking. Sous vide means “under vacuum” in French, and the term refers to the process of cooking food in a temperature-controlled water bath. It is a cooking method in which food is vacuum sealed in a plastic pouch and then cooked at a gentle temperature in a precisely controlled water bath. sous vide containers

Basically, meat, eggs, and vegetables are sealed in an airtight vacuum bag, which is left in a precisely heated pot of water for longer than normal cooking times.  You then cook that food at a low temperature over a long period of time. Compared to other cooking methods, it provides more control and allows for perfect, repeatable results every time.  It also locks in food flavor, juiciness and succulence.

It is easy to learn and takes the stress out of cooking, because food can be held at a perfect level of doneness for a much longer time than usual methods allow. Another very convenient use of sous vide is to use it to defrost and cook steaks that come straight from the freezer. As long as the steak is vacuum sealed in a suitable bag you can take it directly from the freezer and put it in a pre-heated water bath. Just add minutes to the cooking time and it should come out perfectly.

We always recommend covering your water bath when you’re cooking sous vide. This helps the water heat faster, slows evaporation so you won’t need to add water during long cooking projects, and prevents things from accidentally falling into the bath. We usually use plastic wrap to cover ours, since we have it on hand in the kitchen and it fits any container. But plastic wrap is single-use, can become less adhesive with exposure to steam, and often bunches or tears when we remove it to check on food midway through cooking. If you are going to cook sous vide with an immersion circulator, you will need to source a suitable water vessel to cook your food in.

sous vide container

Some home cooks use their existing kitchen pots and attach their sous vide immersion circulator to it’s side. Other cooks may not have a pot that is the appropriate size. This is because the water vessel you use needs to hold the water itself, the immersion circulator on the side AND the vacuum sealed food bags all at once. In this case you may need to source a suitable larger sized container for your sous vide cooking. With your sous vide, though, it might be difficult to choose the best container to create the perfect precision cooker. This guide will show you exactly what container will be best for your sous vide cooker.

Sous Vide Container Comparison: Polycarbonate, Plastic

Plastic containers are great for larger sous vide cooks. Some choose to have the container on their counter top for the duration of their cook. Others prefer to put the container on the floor which frees up plenty of bench “real estate” for other food preparation. Some sous viders even prepare their sous vide feasts in their garage. Assuming your sous vide container is covered with a lid, this is a perfectly hygienic environment for your sous vide cooking.

Polycarbonate containers are the most popular types of containers used for sous vide cooking. They are transparent, light weight, and come in different sizes and shapes.  Polycarbonate has a high heat tolerance of 210F, and it will ensure consistent cooking. Moreover, a container is transparent, unlike a metal pot, and this will make it easier for you to keep an eye on the food.

Polycarbonate containers come in a wide selection of shapes, sizes, and capacities. From my research it appears the most popular size polycarbonate container for a sous vide water bath is normally referred to as a 10 liter or 12 quart unit. It is typically about 11″ x 11″ x 9″ (28cm x 28cm x 23cm). This is the size I use and it’s good for 90% of the meals I prepare. Perhaps the greatest challenge is trying to decide which size container(s) would best suit your sous vide cooking.

Sous Vide: Water Bath Containers

sous vide containersArguably the most popular sous vide water bath container is the 12 Quart Camwear Polycarbonate Square Food Storage Container by Cambro. It cost around $33 and is approximately 12″ (30cm) square and 8″ (20cm) deep. This makes it relatively easy to get two or three of the gallon-size Ziploc bags into the water bath at one time. Both my husband and I use this container and have been very happy with it since it’s a good size for the vast majority of what we sous vide.

Cambro has long been a leading manufacturer of culinary food storage containers, and their polycarbonate containers are perfect for sous vide water baths. We’ve had the chance to use a 12-quart Cambro round container for one of our sous vide cooking reviews, and it worked great. The material used to make this vessel is remarkably robust, and there’s no way you’d be able to break it by accident.

Prior to this, we used to recommend the Rubbermaid container, but the main reason for this was their BPA-free certificate. It ensured a peace of mind for many who are concerned about the harmfulness of chemicals in plastic, so it made Rubbermaid go-to and most recommended sous vide container. However, since they are no longer BPA-free, their rank definitely dropped in our reviews.

sous vide containersHundreds of users confirmed that EVERIE Sous Vide Container is their best choice. It has a 12-quart container, and a lid with side mounting holes for sous vide machine. Thanks to the use of bales, the lid is locked correctly, so long-term cooking will not reduce moisture. The EVERIE Sous Vide Lid will also work great for Anova Cookers and fit snugly.

In comparison, these Cambro containers definitely out-perform them in various aspects. The material is significantly stronger and seems way more resilient to accidental drops, and the lids that come with it attach more securely. The only potential downside is that the toughness of the material makes is difficult to cut through the lids. If you were planning to fit an immersion circulator with a lid, it might not be viable. Any cover at all will help stop the evaporation and heat loss from the surface. It can be as simple as Saran Wrap/cling film, or aluminum foil for higher temperatures. To further insulate here, I honestly like to put a clean folded bath towel on top of the wrap or foil.

Now It’s Time To Get Cooking

If you have spent any time on Instagram or Facebook you will have seen some fairly interesting sous vide water bath set ups. You’ve probably noticed that many people wrap their sous vide containers in towels or use a silver insulating blanket over their container. They do this because it is really important to maintain your water bath temperature for the entirety of your sous vide cook.

Take your safety into consideration when choosing containers for sous vide cooking. You do not want to use questionable materials which can pose a health risk when heated. One more important thing to remember is that every container has its own minimum water depth requirement. If you get the best sous vide container, you will perform exciting and enjoyable cooking.

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