Sous Vide FAQs

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Last updated Mar 21, 2019 at 9:34AM | Published on Nov 29, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve answered a lot of questions in the other blogs but this is central resource where you can find the answer directly…or the link to click through to the relevant blog post that has the answer.

What is a sous vide anyway ?

It’s a precision method of cooking, cooking in water for a long time at a low temperature. Used in restaurants to prep food to the point of almost ready so that food can be finished at the diner’s request, on demand. Now, sous vide machines are available to be used at home !
 

Why would I cook sous vide ?

The easy answer is that it makes food simpler to cook and also better to eat !
If you want consistent, precision, cooking this is it.  If you want to be freed up to do other things, or have a less messy kitchen… buy one now!  Have a look at our post on all the reasons and advantages here.
 

What is the difference between a sous vide and an instant pot or a slow cooker?

Lots of people want to know if a slow cooker can be used as a sous vide ( no!)  and the other way round ( sometimes yes!).
 

Why are chefs obsessed with sous vide ?

Because it helps them prep food, serve customers demands more easily, be more efficient, save costs. Head over to our post on this and the second last point is all about what it does for restaurants.
 

What all all the possible machine elements of a sous vide ?

Immersion circulator wand to control time and temperature + pot of water + plastic bags to hold the food. + smartphone in some cases. OR.  An all in one contained water bath + plastic bags to hold the food.  Option extras are vacuum sealers, water containers, lids or sous vide balls to make a temporary lid. Bulldog clips to hold bags to the side of the container. Carrying case for the wand.
 

Will it take up a lot of space ?

yes / no. It depends. The Chefsteps Joule and Anova Nano will fit in your cutlery drawer with whisks and ladles. Others can be put in a drawer or cupboard. Water baths are at least the size of a small microwave.
 

Why wifi ?

It’s modern and allows the supplier to be able to update you ad hoc via your smartphone. It allows you to start the cooking off no matter where you are as long as you have wifi. So if you are delayed doing the shopping or at work or the school run, just turn the dinner on through wifi. Bluetooth also is perfect for cooking within 30m of the machine.
 
What happens if the wifi stops, will it keep cooking?..yes, we know the Joule does.
 

What are sous vide water balls?

A funny flexible way to provide a lid for your water vessel, so it is more insulated ( so it won’t lose heat so fast ). Essentially they are ping pong balls so if you have a supply of those, that should do!
 

How often will I use it ?

We think once you start, you will use it more and more. If its out, or visible in your cutlery drawer, you will use it more.  It should serve you well, so we are sure you will use it regularly!
 

How powerful should the motor be ?

Power in watts will indicate how fast the machine will heat up your water, so the time to cook should be less. As we said with hand blenders though, power in watts can be an indicator but not necessarily the be all and end all, because it can depend on the quality of the motor.
 

What will it do for me as a cook?

It will cook for you, as well as educating you on the technical process of food. For foodies, this is perfect present… to learn about and cook food  at the same time !
 

How will people see me if I use sous vide, does it look like I can’t cook?

Innovative, we would say !  It’s probably seen as a very technical, bang on trend kitchen tool.
 

Is there a cordless version?

We don’t think so but we love that you can take the cord off the Anova sous vide machines when storing.
 

How much should I spend on a sous vide?

You can get them for anything from about £50 to £500 for good ones. Above that you are heading into restaurant territory.
 

What accessories do I need?

You won’t need much more than your usual cooking utensils – a pan, water, electricity! ..but most importantly you will need a BPA free plastic bag to start with.
 

Can I make my own DIY sous vide ?

of course ! but the precision. I mean,  how will you get it so precise, and isn’t accuracy the whole point of sous vide after all.
 

Do I save money by using a sous vide ?

Well we aren’t ones to count the pennies, but we still like to save them. We believe saving on wasted food, gaining on making cheaper meat cuts delectably tasty, and using sous vide to batch prep or to save left overs … ultimately saves money and makes us smile.
 

Do I save time by using a sous vide ?

Weirdly, although it takes longer for the machine to cook food through sous vide …yes, absolutely… YOU will save time, whilst the machine is doing the work.
 

Who uses Sous Vide ?

We are sure you will find practically every chef or kitchen you now uses it.

Heston Blumenthal was one of the first chefs to go on about the virtues of sous vide, and make the wanna be chef want one too.  Marco Pierre White says in his book that its the best way to cook a whole chicken !
 

Is plastic safe ?

yes … there are no known concerns if you choose a plastic that is BPA safe. For more information on BPA and why it is important click over the FAQs on our hand blender page.
 

Is there an alternative to using plastic ?

Looks like there is, but it may not be best for all food stuffs….investigating… Glass jars, mason jars are used. We’ve heard cooking things like paté is good in a jar, and custard is a cinch! If you are going to be regenerating your food though, its best to put it in a vacuum sealed bag.
 

Can you cook meat from frozen with sous vide?

Yes, just add thawing time in. Usually 30mins extra in the Sous Vide Supreme machine, and for the Chefsteps Joule, the app tells you how much time the cook takes if your food is frozen, or if its fresh.

 

Are there sous vide recipes available ?

Absolutely loads. For a start, there is a whole database of recipes on Chefsteps, and you can join that community even if you buy a different sous vide machine!
 

What companies make sous vide ?

Lots.. here’s some of the more well known ones to get you started. Anova, Chefsteps, Wancle, Sousvide, Sousvant, Gourmia, ……Andrew James, Sansaire,
 

For more general information about sous vide, see our main sous vide page

Questions about sous vide cooking

You’ll find a lot more answers to this on our post all about sous vide cooking, but apart from times and temperatures questions,  these are the other most common ones we hear, or indeed have asked ourselves.

 

What foods should I cook with my sous vide ?

Well, really anything you can cook any other way can be cooked sous vide ! We often see posts on even cooking a whole turkey !  However, it seems to be mostly meat, fish and eggs that people cook. Vegetables are also cook well in sous vide. Marinated fruit and desserts are probably less well known but its an area we want to investigate more. We’ve tried to cover how to cook all of these in our cooking guide post. Look out for recipes we like here.

 

Does the end time matter, meaning can I leave the food in the water for longer ?

Yes you can, and by all accounts anything from 30mins to several hours. Sometimes, the texture of the food can change if you leave it tooooo long. Good sous vide customer support will tell you how long you can leave it. We will also be reporting more on this as we experiment ourselves.

 

Can I cook a whole turkey in my sous vide ?

Yes you can as long as you have a bag and water vessel big enough and a machine that can cope with the amount of water you need to house your turkey!

 

Do I need to have a lid on my water bath / pot?

Not necessarily, having a lid just means it is more insulated. If you are cooking for several hours you may need one because the more insulated your vessel is the less water will evaporate out so you don’t need to be as concerned with minimum water levels being reached too early. It makes sense then also that the more insulated the less hard the machine has to work to keep the temperature. Water baths tend to have their own lids. For immersion circulator pods, you can buy flexible lids, or balls, or just cover it yourself with a high quality plastic wrap ( around the pod, never on top covering it! )

 

How should I clean my sous vide? Is it easy?

yes.. it should be. We would say it’s easier with an Immersion circulator, for example just take the pod out and empty the water out of the pan, or indeed keep it in for re-using. If you have a water bath sometimes it can be cumbersome to empty the water out, and sometimes the manufacturer has made it easy to take the inner vessel out. Just check the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

How  does regeneration work ?

Regeneration is a way that restaurants gently bring food back to its perfect state, from a pre-cooked and chilled state. Sous vide does this delicately for you. For example if you cooked lamb for 6hrs at 80°, then chilled ( or blast chilled in restaurants) to 5°C… to bring it back to the previous cooked temperature you need to choose a temperature lower than the 80°, so to regenerate you would sous vide it for 20mins at 60°C for example.

 

What is an easy way to convert from Celsius (°C) / Fahrenheit (°F)

Yes it is confusing that the different scales are used. Commit this easy guide to memory to make it easier.

°F to °C: Deduct 32, then multiply by 5, then divide by 9

°C to °F: Multiply by 9, then divide by 5, then add 32

 

How do I know how long to cook for, and at what temperature ?

Your sous vide supplier should be helping you… with recipes and advice.  Head over to our post all about this too.

 

For more general information about sous vide, see our main sous vide page

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