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.