Sous vide is a cooking technique that is becoming increasingly popular both with commercial chefs and home cooks.
The key with sous vide cooking is temperature control – sous vide cooking requires a water bath that is kept at a specific temperature. The food is cooked in the water bath so it is vacuum-sealed so that it can be immersed into the water.
While the cooking technique itself is relatively simple and uniform, there are a huge range of different types of sous vide equipment available on the market. In this article we take a look at some of the considerations that you need to turn your mind to when considering which sous vide equipment is right for you.
What sort of equipment
The starting point is to work out how often you will be using your sous vide equipment. If you running a commercial kitchen and likely to be using the sous vide method on a daily basis, then you’re going to need a much more robust piece of equipment than if you are a home cook who will be using it on an occasional basis. Robustness and capacity are the key considerations, but there is also the practical requirement that you need to have quite a bit of space in your kitchen to store and operate a sous vide machine, so if you do not need to cook large volumes of sous vide prepared food then you are better to look at a relatively compact model.
Vacuum sealing the food is an essential part of the cooking process, and home cooks can use any common kitchen clamp-style vacuum sealer. Restaurants will generally opt for a more complicated chamber-style vacuum sealer that offer pressure control and can better cope with liquids.
Water bath capacity
This is another point of difference between the equipment required for commercial kitchens and that required by home cooks. If you are cooking multiple portions at any one time then you need to leave enough room in the water bath for the water to circulate around the pouches. Most sous vide machines that you purchase will include the water bath container which is advisable as they will be specially insulated to maximize cooking efficiency.
Effective sous vide cooking requires maintaining a stable temperature. Your sous vide equipment will include an immersion circulator that will use an electronic water pump to circulate water in the bath and monitor water temperature.
Being Safe with your sous vide equipment
The potential risk with the sous vide method of cooking is that the water in the water bath will evaporate leaving the food pouches not fully immersed in the water bath. Commercial sous vide equipment will be equipped with a lid to reduce water evaporation.
Maintenance and cleaning
With any cooking or food preparation equipment, good hygiene and food safety requires that the equipment is easy to clean. Sous vide machines are generally easy to clean as there are not really any exposed parts or heating elements, plus the water bath is generally non-stick, so cleaning your sous vide should be relatively straightforward.
Are you ready to add sous vide to your cooking repertoire?