Beginner Sous Vide Cooking Guide

What is Sous Vide Cooking?

The term Sous Vide comes from the French term meaning “under vacuum”.

Food is sealed in a vacuum pack or other air tight bag then placed in a Sous Vide Machine, also known a sous vide cooker, a water bath or an immersion circulator.

By immersing the food in hot water, the food is cooked slowly at a precise temperature.

What are the benefits of Sous Vide Cooking?

The science behind cooking has come a long way in the last few years. We now understand more than ever about the chemistry behind beautiful tasting food. We know more about how different temperatures affect the taste, color and texture of what we put our mouths every day.

By cooking with a Sous Vide Machine you are able to precisely achieve the perfect internal temperature for any food. The temperature will also be exactly the same through the food – not overdone on the outside and raw in the inside.

Cooking Sous Vide in a sealed bag means cooking the food in its own juices. No moisture or flavor is lost to air or water, like with boiling, broiling or baking – everything is kept in the bag with the food.

No more overcooking. No more steaks with a large tasteless dark grey band around the outside. No more pork chops with the texture of boiled leather. No more bland vegetables with all the flavor boiled out of them.

With a Sous Vide Machine all your meals will be juicier, tastier and more nutrient packed than ever before.

Is Sous Vide Cooking convenient?

Yes! Once to learn the basics, it is actually very straightforward. It usually only takes 5-10 minutes to get your Sous Vide Machine up to temperature, and during that time you can easily prep and bag your food. Once in the water bath, the food needs no attention. You can prepare the rest of your meal or just relax.

Also, because of the temperature of the Sous Vide Machine is so precise, it is very difficult to overcook the food. You can leave the food in the water bath for 1, 2, 3 or even sometimes up to 4 hours without negatively affecting texture. Most Sous Vide Machines come with a timer to let you know when the food is ready and some, like the Anova Precision Cooker, even come with an app so you can monitor the time and temperature remotely.

Sous Vide Machines are also ideal for those with a very busy schedule. For example, you could bag all your meals for the week in advance then freeze them. An hour or two before you need to eat, you can then simply take one out of the freezer and put it straight into directly into the water bath. Once the time is up, your meal is perfectly cooked and ready to eat. How convenient is that!?

Is Sous Vide Cooking Safe?

Yes! The longer cook times with Sous Vide ensure pasteurization (destruction of bacteria and pathogens), even though you’ll often be cooking a temperatures below the USDA standard. For example, the USDA states that chicken must be cooked to 165°F. Because it is at 165°F that chicken will be pasteurized instantly. However, chicken at 165°F is stringy, tough and less flavorful. For simplicity’s sake, the USDA doesn’t tell you that you can also achieve pasteurization of chicken at lowers temperatures of 140-150°F if the cook time is over 90 minutes.

Once you get your Sous Vide Machine you can take a deeper look at what temperatures and timings are needed for levels of doneness and safe pasteurization. In the meantime – yes, Sous Vide Cooking is perfectly safe!

Do Sous Vide Machines color food?

Sous Vide Machines cook low and slow. The low temperatures are not high enough to activate the Malliard reaction – the chemical process which browns and colors the outside of food.

Some foods like steak, pork chops, fish with skin, chicken with skin, will need to be seared after to achieve the desired crust. The beauty is that once the food comes out of the Sous Vide Machine they are already perfectly cooked inside. So the only thing you need to do is color it. This normally involves getting a pan or grill as hot as possible then searing it for a few seconds. It will come out with a beautiful crust and still be perfectly cooked throughout.

Other foods like skinless chicken breast and skinless fish fillets will come out of Sous Machine complete and ready to eat.

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