Sous Vide questions

Discussion in 'Whats Cooking? Food, Drink, & Gear' started by agp, Dec 7, 2018.

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  1. Dec 7, 2018 #1

    agp

    agp

    agp

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    I'm looking to get into sous vide cooking and have some questions to start, hoping to get some help here...

    1. Does everything cooked sous-vide have to be vacuum sealed? Is it okay to just put the food in a zip-lock bag?
    2. Is the vacuum sealing for sous-vide the same as for freezing? i.e. can I do it with one machine?
    3. Is a sous vide container necessary? What's the advantage of using that versus a big pasta pot?
    4. For food frozen in a vacuum sealed bag - should it be thawed, and resealed in a separate bag before cooking sous-vide?

    Thanks! Excited for this, also any recipes/videos on sous vide stuff welcome too!
     
  2. Dec 7, 2018 #2

    MontezumaBoy

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    Chefsteps.com is your friend ... Baldwin's book (dry but good reference ... many others just look here or on-line

    I will answer your questions (as best I can);

    1). Zip-loc's work (I don't use them FWIW since I like the sealed/vac systems) just utilize Archimedes's principle to get all the "air out" (put food in bag lower bag in water with seal open slowly and seal when air is displaced)
    2). One machine will work there are many out there just make sure it really seals (sometimes double seal)
    3). Container - use what you have available ... but I do like to use a cambro or tall pot ... circulators are volume specific a bit so size it accordingly ... try and cover it for extended use to help reduce evaporation (good quality plastic wrap works well)
    4). Following the sous vide "cook" the food (to be saved not immediately used) should be put into an ice bath (a lot of ice & water) to try and reduce the temperature of the food very quickly. Once chilled it can be frozen/refrigerated in the same bag (some might use another but I haven't.

    Have fun ... 48-72 hour pork belly is a defining moment IMO ... but there are many many others

    TjA
     
  3. Dec 7, 2018 #3

    Paraffin

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    Welcome to the sous vide rabbit hole. I bought a Joule circulator (chefsteps.com) a year ago and I've been learning the pros and cons.

    1. As said above, you don't need vacuum-sealed bags for most things. I use Zip-Locks with the top open and water pressure on most meat and fish cooks. The only time I use a vacuum bag sealer (cheap Foodsaver brand) is for things like carrots or other veg where I think you want a really tight seal on small objects. Or for a fake BBQ pulled pork shoulder where I'm using a spice rub and "liquid smoke" and I want to make sure it's all reaching the meat. Zip-lock bags are fine for starting out.

    2. I use our cheap Foodsaver vacuum sealer more for sealing left-overs for freezing than sous vide.

    3. A specialized container isn't essential. Use whatever you have. I started just clamping the circulator to a tall stock pot. The advantage of a specialized container (I use a clear plastic one, forget the brand), is that the lid has a cut-out for the circulator and the lid prevents too much evaporation on a long cook. My fake BBQ pulled pork is a 21 hour cook, and I don't have to replace any water during that time. You can do the same with a foam cooler, this just lets me see what's going on in the plastic bag while I'm cooking, making sure the water level is over the bag.

    4. Frozen food just needs more time added to the cook, no big deal.

    I'm not a huge proponent of the technique, but it's great for some things. The best lobster tails (butter in the bag) I've ever had. Great for boneless skinless chicken breasts, then flash-seared in a hot cast iron pan. My fake BBQ pulled pork... just made a nice Brunswick Stew from that, the other night. Love it for carrots and other hard veg, although I'm not sure the extra prep time is worth it from a home cook perspective. Works good for pork chops and then pan-seared.

    My big challenge is steaks. That's because I like how sous vide works for that, but my wife doesn't like the red-to-the-edge color you get with sous vide and a pan sear (and blow-torch finish). She's just used to the gradient inside a cut of nice steak you get with conventional cooking. I'm trying to wean her off that idea, but with limited luck, so far.
     
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  4. Dec 7, 2018 #4

    esoo

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    1. You can use a zip-loc. Advantage of a vacuum sealer is that it gets all the air out so food is less likely to float.
    2. Yes - vacuum seal for freezing is the same as for sous vide
    3. I started using both a Dutch oven and a stock pot. I did buy a larger plastic container as for higher temp sous vide, my Anova struggled against the heat loss from the metal pot.
    4. Yes you can sous vide straight from frozen. Buy your bulk meat, seal, freeze and then sous vide straight from the freezer. I’ve heard the rule of thumb is add 50% to your cook time. For longer cooks (like 12 hour ribs at 165F), I’ve only added a couple of hours without any issues.

    Defining moment was 72 hour oxtail and 48 hour short rib. I just did ribs for a work pot luck and I got kudos from everyone.
     
  5. Dec 7, 2018 #5

    esoo

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    More info on this, please
     
  6. Dec 7, 2018 #6

    gman

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    you don't necessarily need an immersion/circulation cooker either.

    i use a large stock pot with a pasta insert (to keep the food from touching the bottom) on a 15 amp induction burner that has a temperature probe. because the whole base heats pretty evenly the lack of forced circulation has never been a problem. this combo has plenty of power for getting large amounts of water up to temp quickly, even for ingredients i like to do at relatively high temps (eg 175 for potatoes).
     
  7. Dec 7, 2018 #7

    MrHiggins

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    Zip lock bags work fine at cooler cooking temps, but the sides/bottom seal will fail above 160 or so. I lost a lot of duck confit one day when the bags came apart.
     
  8. Dec 7, 2018 #8

    Paraffin

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    That's a good point, thanks for mentioning it. Most of what I cook is somewhere in the 129-145 F zone where Ziplock bags are fine. Carrots or pork shoulder for fake BBQ is higher heat, like 165 F. I use vacuum bags on those, for both the high heat and tight contact with the marinade.
     
  9. Dec 7, 2018 #9

    Kgp

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    Serious Eats has lots of info and recipes.

    Double cut pork chops come out perfect. I cook at 145 for two hours then sear on very hot grill. Boneless pork loin is another favorite. Usually sear with a torch when done. Creme brulee another easy cook.

    Ken
     
  10. Dec 8, 2018 #10

    madelinez

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    1. No, zip-lock bags work fine.
    2.Yes
    3. Most sous vide units have good circulation that help with even cooking. If you have the right container and cooking controls you might be able to simulate that concept.
    4. No, as a general rule, cook it longer.

    As a final point, sous vide allows new recipes. I have never been able to cook chicken breast that is as moist and flavorful as when I use sous vide. I like to perfect one recipe at a time, but I feel like I will be happy to move onto pork and lamb shortly.
     
  11. Dec 8, 2018 #11

    mille162

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    For my cooking vessel, I bought a cheap coleman 25qt stackable party cooler off of amazon for $9.99, used a door-knob drill bit to cut perfect hole in the lid. Perfect fit, insulated container keeps temperature more consistent. Kept the removed “plug”, put a piece of velcro over it, can still cover the hole and use as a cooler when needed.
     
  12. Dec 8, 2018 #12

    rickg17

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    Ziplocks are fine for lower temps and shorter cooks. For longer cooks - 8+hours and esp the 24+ hour ones, I'd go food saver vacuum bags. Same for higher temps. Foodsaver/vacuum seal is handy for freezing things too - I'll get loin roasts, cut them to the thickness I prefer and freeze them in a food saver bag to prevent freezer burn.

    Containers - anything works. For longer cooks you'll want some way to cover the top mostly to ease evaporation. While don't NEED a circulator I highly recommend it - the entire point of sous vide is to cook at a given temp and circulators are very precise. This is esp important if you cook at the 130F level since below that you can end up growing bacteria and never pasteurizing the food. The Anova micro is $70...

    Frozen food... so this is one thing I love about sous vide. If you plan ahead you can season a steak, chicken breast, etc. The vacuum seal and freeze. When you want, cook it. For a steak, add about 30 mins to the 60 that you need for a steak that's about 1.5" thick. NOTE" you can go longer. 2, 2.5 hours is fine.
     
  13. Dec 9, 2018 #13

    aboynamedsuita

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    I’m no expert and just started a few months ago too, I can’t add much that’s already been said for 1/2/4… For 3, I like the clear cambro for being able to see what’s happening inside (eg broken bag). I got both the 6 and 12qt, also the plastic lids and cut them to fit around the anova
    IMG_4988.jpg
     
  14. Dec 13, 2018 #14

    SeattleBen

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    Nevermind, just saw that I totally zombied this.
     
  15. Jan 9, 2019 #15
    Get some short ribs, salt and pepper, fresh thyme and whole garlic clove. Vacuum seal or place in freezer safe ziploc bag with the air displaced. Cook Sous Vide for 72 hours at 132 degrees. Remove the meat from the bone, pat dry, sear all sides then baste with some browned butter. It will change your life. https://www.instagram.com/p/BqnKZ1tBx0a/
     
  16. Jan 9, 2019 #16

    CoteRotie

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    Easy (well, easier) duck confit was the defining moment for me. Some liked my sous-vide duck confit better than traditionally prepared. I thought it was close enough. 36 hours at 155F.
     
  17. Jan 9, 2019 #17
    Gonna have to try confit for that long. Did 18 hours at 158 and it turned out well but could have been more tender. did you render the skin in a pan or under a broiler?
     
  18. Jan 9, 2019 #18

    CoteRotie

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    So here's roughly how I do it, though I'm sure there are improvements that could be made:

    1. 24 hour rub with lots of salt, thyme and a little garlic.
    2. Rinse, put in sous-vide bag. Add enough duck fat to cover the leg. (Not sure this is necessary, but worked well for me. Going to run some experiments next time to see if it makes a big difference.)
    3. Cook for the 36 hours at 155F.
    4. Just before serving heat under broiler until warmed and skin is crispy.

    Let us know if you try it or any variation, always interested to hear what works and doesn't.
     
  19. Jan 9, 2019 #19
    I did an overnight marinade in a whole bottle of port, thyme, anise and juniper berries, then a 24 hour rub with salt and rosemary. The texture and flavor of the meat was excellent but I tried to render the skin in a pan and I didn't get that crispy crackling. Definitely using a broiler next time.
     
  20. Jan 9, 2019 #20

    Lars

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    Did sous vide confit duck leg for xmas..

    First, season with s+p and seal. Chill for 3h.
    image.jpeg

    Rinse and seal.
    image.jpeg
    Cook for 5h @185f
    image.jpeg
    Chill in icewater.
    image.jpeg
    And store.
    image.jpeg
    Or finish under the broiler.
    image.jpeg
     
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  21. Jan 9, 2019 #21

    Lars

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    Oh, should mention that they turned out nice. Have tried before at lower temps, but like this better.

    Lars
     
  22. Jan 9, 2019 #22

    Bensbites

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    1) you can use a ziplock bag.
    2) yes the same.
    3) not nessesary, but you will be more efficient with a non conducive container.
    4) I Sv from frozen all the time.
     
  23. Jan 13, 2019 #23

    MontezumaBoy

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    How are you getting on with SV? Choose a circulator/vac-sealer? Just following up ...

    BTW - Very nice work Lars! Is that a "DIY" setup / I have never seen that sort of layout/setup - details if you don't mind?
     
  24. Jan 13, 2019 #24

    Lars

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    Thanks, MontezumaBoy - It's an Auber WS with a heating element attached.
    When I got into sous vide, all the cool circulators hadn't come out yet, so this was the cheapest way to go without getting a full on commercial solution.
    It works fine and is very stable and precise, but kinda annoying to setup - so every time I see an Anova it gives me circulator envy.

    Lars
     
  25. Jan 13, 2019 #25

    MontezumaBoy

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    Nicely done Lars! I understand the convenience side (in terms of just buying a circulator) but I think setting up your own gives one a much better understanding of the system as a whole along with any PID controller issues. Thx for sharing!

    BMB
     

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