Sous Vide Equipment – What You Need To Start Sous Vide Cooking At Home

Sous Vide is French for under vacuum and is a unique way to cook food. As the name suggests, the food is cooked in a vacuum which sounds very intricate and complicated but is actually quite simple. The food is vacuum sealed in plastic and then cooked in a water bath that has a constant temperature. There are a number of benefits in this technique but two that immediately spring to mind are that it is a healthier way to cook food and gives the food a unique texture. So if you are keen to give this cooking technique a go what Sous Vide equipment do you need?

Essentially you need 2 pieces of equipment to try this cooking technique at home.

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The first is a vacuum sealer machine. You’ve probably seen these machines before as they have other applications outside of sous vide cooking. Folks use a vacuum sealer appliance to seal food for storing in the freezer or even to keep food fresh when traveling.

For sous vide cooking, the vacuum sealer will remove all the air surrounding a piece of food and then seal the plastic cover around the food. This makes it ready for cooking. Vacuum sealers work best with solid foodstuffs but don’t work as well with liquids like soups or sauces as the process of sucking out the air draws out the liquid too. So with liquids, the vacuum seal is not really a vacuum.

Apparently you can get machines that do vacuum seal liquids but they are far more expensive. These are chamber vacuum sealers that eliminate the air in a chamber. Placing a bag of liquid in the chamber allows the pressure to be constant inside and outside of the bag. This makes it possible to vacuum seal liquid filled bags.

The second piece of equipment that you need is a water bath. These days you can get a purpose built water bath for sous vide cooking. It’s called the supreme and a demi model is also available. This is a home appliance that makes it easy for home cooks to try this cooking technique. You simply set the water temperature and time and dunk your vacuum seal food items into the bath. It cooks slowly and produces a uniquely textured and flavored meal.

Other ways to create a water bath without having a bespoke product is to use an immersion circulator. This is an element that can be placed into a container of water to heat it up by convectional heating of the water. It achieves a constant temperature throughout the volume of water ensuring that the food gets cooked completely.

Immersion circulators are more expensive than a supreme water bath and are harder to use.

Steps to Your Baby’s First Foods

The introduction of soft, solid food is an important stage in your baby’s development. It is an exciting and challenging time for you and your baby. Go at your baby’s pace as all children are different and progress at a different pace.

When to start:

Until 6 months of age, your baby needs only human milk or infant formula to grow and develop. However, around 6 months your child’s nutrient stores and requirements are no longer met by breast milk/ formula alone in particular for iron and zinc. You will need 6 Months Baby Food. Introducing solids can help to ensure your baby receives all the vitamins and minerals needed to grow and develop into a healthy child.

Step 1:

Around 6 months your baby may shows signs that he/she is ready for starting solids. These may include:

  • Wanting to put things in his/her mouth.
  • Able to suck small amounts of pureed food from a spoon.
  • Interested in food eaten by others.
  • More frequent feeding.
  • Can sit upright when supported with good control of the head and neck.

Solids can be introduced gradually. There is no need to force food – human milk or formula is still the most important part of the baby’s diet. At this stage solid foods are “tastes” for your baby.

Offer food between or after a milk feed. Start by using a firm plastic spoon with small shallow bowl.

The first solids need to be sloppy smooth in texture (i.e. no lumps) and mild in taste.

Baby rice cereal is an excellent first solid food because of its smooth texture and high iron content. Mix it with a little human milk, formula or cool, boiled water.

Pureed vegetable and fruit are also excellent

Start with one to two teaspoons of solids. Increase the quantity to two to three tablespoons, and then build up to three meals a day at your baby’s own pace.

Try one new food at a time and introduce a new food every 2-4 days adding onto their existing diet.

Notes:

Small quantities of food can be frozen in ice cube trays or stored in airtight plastic bags and thawed as needed.

Step 2 (Around 7-8 months)

Once your baby is around eight months old and is eating baby-rice cereal and several different fruits and vegetables, try other foods with a higher protein and iron content with a thicker texture such as:

• Well cooked meats and poultry e.g. meat, chicken, fish

• Cooked egg

• Dried peas, lentils, beans eg baked beans, red kidney beans

• Wheat-based cereals (couscous, pasta, bread/toast) rolled oats, baby muesli, rice.

• Include at least 2-3 different food choices at each meal. Try to offer these separately, not always mixed together to allow you child to develop food preferences for different tastes.

NOTE: If your family has a strong history of allergies discuss this with your doctor.

Food Texture Changes

Between six to nine months of age babies begin to chew (even if they have no teeth). During this time it is important that the texture of foods changes from a smooth puree to a mashed texture with small, soft lumps and finally minced/finely chopped foods. Introducing minced and chopped foods encourages practice in chewing and biting lumpy foods, which helps develop baby’s speech.

Your baby will benefit from healthy eating at every stage of development – from childhood, when good nourishment is needed for rapid growth – to adulthood, when a well balanced diet can reduce the risk of many diet-related diseases. Now is the time to introduce life-long healthy eating habits.