What is sous vide cooking?
Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. This technique produces results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method.
Why should I cook sous vide?
Sous vide cooking utilizes precise temperature control with circulation to produce results that you can’t achieve through any other cooking technique. The reason–when using traditional methods of cooking, you don’t have control over heat and temperature. Consequently, it’s very difficult and time consuming to consistently cook great food. Food ends up overcooked on the outside, with only a small portion in the center that is cooked to the temperature you want. Food loses flavor, overcooks easily, and ends up with a dry, chewy texture.
With precise temperature control in the kitchen, sous vide provides the following benefits:
Consistency. Because you cook your food to a precise temperature for a precise amount of time, you can expect very consistent results.
Taste. Food cooks in its juices. This ensures that the food is moist, juicy and tender.
Waste reduction. Traditionally prepared food dries out and results in waste. For example, on average, traditionally cooked steak loses up to 40% of its volume due to drying out. Steak cooked via precision cooking, loses none of its volume.
Flexibility. Traditional cooking can require your constant attention. Precision cooking brings food to an exact temperature and holds it. There is no worry about overcooking.
How do I get started with sous vide cooking?
It’s actually very affordable and easy to get started with sous vide cooking thanks to the recent availability of sous vide devices built for the home cook. You can easily get started cooking sous vide at home with minimal equipment, from immersion circulators to DIY hacks using a regular cooler.
All you need is a sous vide machine, a resealable bag or jar for your food, and a vessel to hold the water.
Sous Vide Equipment
Sous vide equipment has existed for decades in professional kitchens around the world, but the machines have always been bulky, expensive, and overloaded with complex features. Countertop water bath systems like SousVide Supreme became available in specialty retail shops several years ago, but the technique remained limited to consumers with advanced culinary knowledge.
Anova pioneered sous vide cooking for the home kitchen with the availability of the first affordable and easy-to-use immersion circulator. In order to bring sous vide cooking mainstream, devices needed to be accessible, approachable, and easy to use. Anova’s first device fit the bill, empowering the home cook to consistently achieve great results, every time.
With options like Anova came the advent of cooking shows and social media, all of which have furthered consumers’ knowledge of sous vide cooking. Companies like Nomiku, Sansaire and Chefsteps Joule followed–along with multi-use cooking device companies like Instant Pot and Gourmia–helping even more home cooks discover and get started with sous vide cooking.
Below are a few options for you to consider, so you can build your ultimate sous vide setup for your home kitchen.
Sous Vide Machine
Sous vide machine is a standalone immersion circulator that heats water and circulates it around the pot to maintain precise temperatures evenly. Immersion circulators like Anova are an affordable and easy-to-use sous vide machine option. They take up very little space in your kitchen and require no additional equipment to get started because they clamp on and adjust to any pot you already own.
Home sous vide machines aren’t limited to precision cookers and immersion circulators. Other options include water ovens, which are fully-contained, countertop sous vide devices like SousVide Supreme, AquaChef, and Gourmia. These water ovens are about the size of a microwave; they heat water, but do not circulate the water. This can lead to inconsistencies in the food’s resulting texture.
Cooler, rice cooker, and slow cooker hacks are great options for exploring sous vide cooking before you decide to purchase a device. The Food Lab’s J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has a great post on sous vide beer cooler hacks.
Resealable Bags or Jars
Heavy-duty zipper lock bags are a great option, especially when getting started. Gallon-sized Ziplocks are very versatile, and they can withstand water temperatures up to 195F/90.5C.
If you’re looking for a reusable solution, silicone bags like stasher make it easy to enjoy restaurant-quality results over and over. Since the Precision Cooker doesn’t overcook your food, you’ll be able to cook an incredible meal in your stasher bag one night, then throw your leftover food back into the fridge. Take it out the next day to reheat it in the water at the same temperature for the exact quality meal you enjoyed the night before.
You can also purchase a vacuum sealer and vacuum seal bags. Foodsaver and Oliso are great options, and both are pretty affordable.
Several different types of foods can also be cooked in glass canning jars. Beans and grains both work well in jars, as do desserts such as cakes and custards.
A pot, plastic bin, or cooler to hold water
Plastic “Cambro” food storage buckets or rubbermaid bins are great choices, especially if you’re looking to place larger cuts in that won’t fit into your stockpot.