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The Technology Behind Sous-Vide Cooking


Its been a favourite of chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsey for many years now, but the cooking method known as sous-vide is seeing a surge in popularity as the equipment becomes more readily available to those cooking at home.

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So what is sous-vide? Basically, ingredients are sealed in an airtight plastic bag and are then placed in a water bath for an extended period of time.

The idea is that the food is cooked much more evenly than with a traditional method, while retaining moisture.

Check out this article for more info on sous-vide cooking and its benefits.

While it may sound like a glorified version of ‘boil in the bag’ there’s a lot more to sous-vide, and it’s rapidly gaining in popularity as seen in this Huffington Post article.

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We’ve teamed up with Sous Vide Tools to take a look at some of the equipment that is needed for sous-vide cooking.

Water Bath

The first thing you’ll need to get started with sous-vide cooking is the water bath. The bath it where the ingredients will be submerged and cooked.

Water baths allow for full temperature control so you can easily reach the precise temperature that sous-vide cooking requires.

Water baths come in a whole range of capacities, with the smaller ones starting at around 9 litres, and rising to about 20 litres for a large one.

Quite a large capacity is required as there needs to be plenty of room for the water to circulate around the food.

As a guide, around no more than half of the bath should be filled with pouches to allow full circulation.

Thermal Circulator

If you don’t quite have the space or money for a water bath, you can also buy a ‘thermal circulator’.

These gadgets will clip onto your existing cooking pot and control the temperature to within 0.1°C

A circulator is a great option if space is at a premium in your kitchen and it gives you more surface space for the rest of your prep.

You can also purchase specialist sous-vide containers to place your circulator in which have a cut out in the lid to place the circulator in.

Vacuum Packing Machine

The bags that your ingredients are placed in need to be completely airtight, as it helps heat the food more efficiently.

It also minimises oxidisation which helps hold flavour and colour without having to use preservatives.

One of these vacuum packers helps to completely seal the food in an airtight bag, with the advantage of preventing liquids from being pulled from the pouches during sealing.

Vacuum Sealed Bags

Of course you’ll also have to purchase the pouches themselves. Due to the high heat of the water, specialist pouches are needed which are heat resistant.

These pouches are also useful just for storing food in as they can extend its life by up to five times in some cases by preventing microorganisms from growing and removing atmospheric oxygen.

Thermometers

As mentioned, sous-vide relies in extremely precise temperatures, so you’ll also need a very accurate thermometer.

Specialist sous-vide thermometers are available which have extremely thin needles which can be used without losing pressure in the vacuum pouch.

Special foam tape can be used which will expand after it has been pierced by the thermometer so that no vacuum is lost!

The equipment above is merely a starting point and there is a whole range of other accessories which can be used with sous-vide cooking such as food dehydrators and pressure cookers.




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