Sous vide gives you exceptional taste across all your favorite recipes whether it is cooking daily meals or the superb restaurant-quality steaks. However, just having an immersion calculator or precision cooker alone will not be enough to achieve these fantastic textures and results. There are several essential sous vide cooking accessories needed to add the final touch and complete your home sous vide gear.
If you’re just starting out with sous vide, it is advisable to invest and get these essential accessories, but if you’re an experienced sous vide home cook, then it is likely that you already own all these necessary appliances at home. It is worth noting that it does not take too much gear for any home cook to take advantage of the sous vide technique. Once you have the following primary sous vide accessories, you are good to go. Here is what you will need:
The first and most important accessory for the home cook that is interested in trying out the sous vide technique is a precision cooker. That is because this particular technique requires high levels of accuracy, and investing in a high-quality precision cooker is the best way to achieve that. That said, the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker with Bluetooth is one of the best sous vide cookers you can get today.
The primary function of this Anova precision cooker is to heat and circulate the water when placed inside a water bath or pot to ensure evenly cooked food. To use it, you will need to fill up a pot with water and fasten the cooker onto the sides. It comes with a convenient, strong and adjustable clamp that ensures a tight and well-aligned fit for heating and stirring the water efficiently.
Even if you have never cooked sous vide before, you will not have any problems with using this precision cooker. The set-up is straightforward and you can guarantee high-quality results if you follow the included recipes in the accompanying mobile app. Also, you will save lots of time by leaving the cooker to do its job while also having limited cleanup to take care of after preparing your meals.
The Anova iOS and Android apps connect you immediately to hundreds of diverse recipes from all corners of the world. The apps also include customized settings tailored for every recipe. The settings include the specific temperature and time requirements to get that perfectly desired balance of tasty flavor in every meal whether you are cooking some flaky fish or tough beef.
In terms of build quality, this Anova immersion cooker is made of stainless steel and polycarbonate, which is an excellent combination for kitchen appliances. These materials not only look stylish and sleek, but they also ensure more durability. The Anova brand is also known for making top-class products and this precision cooker also follows the same trend. Overall, it has a nice balance of sophistication and functionality.
The bottom line is that with this Annova’s precision cooker, you can immediately improve your cooking skills as it will get you near perfect results. Whether you are using the app or manual controls, you discover that it is easily adaptable and can fit any pot in your kitchen. In terms of performance, the cooker is accurate and can handle all kinds of recipes from meats and veggies to desserts and cocktails. For home cooks with loftier ambitions, you find that this Annova smart device can take your dishes to a whole new level, instantly.
The modernist sous vide method didn’t get the phrase ‘under vacuum’ unintentionally, as it involves cooking vacuum sealed foods inside a container or water bath. The transfer of heat through water is nearly ten times more efficient compared to heat transfer over the air. Also, when you have air pockets between the food and water inside the bag, then it affects the heat transfer, which can lead to uneven cooking. Making sure that your cooking pouch has none air through vacuum sealing guarantees that the food will be evenly and efficiently cooked in the specified time.
Investing in a high-quality vac sealer is therefore crucial for any cook interested in experiencing sous vide to its fullest. Even though you can still start with a zip-lock-style bag, the vacuum sealer is your best bet if you want to prepare the perfect vegetable dishes. Vacuum-sealed, properly cooked veggies will not only taste great but will also be pasteurized, allowing you to store them safely in your fridge without worrying about freezer burn.
A notable concern for many home cooks when it comes to vacuum sealing is that these devices are too expensive. However, you should know that these handy sealers are getting more affordable every day. Plus, they make batch sous vide cooking a hassle-free experience while keeping things super safe and sanitary in your kitchen. Most importantly, you don’t require buying a costly and huge chamber vacuum as there are many inexpensive, useful vacuum sealers for home cooks that work efficiently.
The needs of a commercial kitchen are very different and to that end we reviewed the Vacmaster Chamber Vacuum Sealer (a real beast!)
Benefits Of Having A Vacuum Sealer When Cooking Sous Vide Dishes
Vacuum sealers work by sucking out all the air from food bags, creating airtight seals thus providing the following key benefits:
- The airtight seal helps to lock in the moisture, nutrients and natural flavors inside the plastic bag to deliver super tender pieces of chicken breasts, steaks or pork chops.
- The seals also allow home cooks to try out diverse sous vide combinations at various levels ranging from well-done to rare.
- Vacuum sealing veggies before cooking helps to compress the cells, which makes your vegetables denser, crunchier and more colorful.
- It also enhances the meat marinating process by pushing the seasonings deeper into the meats.
- Without air, the sous vide plastic bags can stay underwater, even when cooking for a long time, which means you get consistently and evenly cooked food.
- A vacuum sealer guarantees food safety. By removing oxygen, it ensures that no bacteria can thrive in your food. Without bacteria, the food doesn’t spoil quickly, thus extending the lifespan of your sous vide dishes if you store them in the fridge.
- Using vacuum sealers also makes it easier to batch-cook efficiently.
Any home cook looking to achieve that perfect result with sous vide should get a vacuum sealer. It is perfect for preparing vegetables and also for those heavy-duty, batch sous vide cooking sessions. Also, long cooks at higher temperatures will also not affect high-quality plastic bags that have been vacuum sealed.
The other essential elements needed for sous vide cooking are the bags and rolls. Here you will want to ensure that you are using food-safe plastic bags since not all bags are made equal. The best bags for sous vide cooking are made using food-grade plastic and contain zero BPA or harmful plastics. Also, you will want to ensure that you get durable bags that can tolerate the long cooking sessions in sous vide.
The size of the bags matters when preparing your food as the kind of meals you want to prepare will influence it. It ranges from a pint and quart to gallon sizes depending on what you want to cook. For better versatility, you can also get the sous vide rolls. These rolls are customizable, so you can create custom bag sizes based on the food or your preferences. Using rolls contributes to considerably lowering your overall cost of buying bags, which is appealing for many home cooks.
When testing the durability and quality of the bag you should look at the cooking temperature and time. Here, the bag should neither melt when placed in sous vide containers at high temperature nor become brittle and break when placed in a freezer. Ideally, if you plan on cooking for over four hours at 160 degrees Fahrenheit or more, then you should use durable vacuum-sealed bags. Avoid using zip-lock bags are they aren’t reliable and will often leak. You will also want to check that the bags and rolls you are buying are compatible with your vacuum sealer.
If you are in love with the sous vide style and you are always trying out new recipes, then it is worth to consider the overall bag costs. With such a high frequency, you should either get affordable, high-quality bags or invest in quality rolls. Meanwhile, those who sous vide infrequently, like two times per week, should not have any issues with costs. Here, you should get the bags that will fit your food perfectly. Also, some durable and thick bags are reusable and allow you to save costs on buying new bags.
For most home cooks, the hardest thing about sous vide is choosing the appropriate temperature and time, especially when dealing with less common foods and ingredients. That is where having a cookbook or times chart really helps. Fortunately, most immersion calculators will have a range of diverse recipes to try out in their apps. For instance, Annova precision cookers will usually have plenty of recipes and cooking guides in their accompanying iOS and Android phone apps.
So, the first option for a home cook trying out sous vide is to get a cookbook. It is the best option as you will get more detailed instructions to ensure you have the best cooking experience. Most cookbooks will feature hundreds of recipes that will show you how to prepare every type of steak or dessert. Also, using cookbooks can elevate your sous vide skills to higher standards as you explore exotic recipes used in restaurants.
As mentioned earlier, you can always refer to your immersion calculator app for temperatures, times and recipes. You can easily download these apps to view the inspirational cooking guides while perusing the pictures to see the results of your sous vide dish before you cook. You will probably drool over all those stunning food pictures as you aspire to recreate those modernist delicacies.
The other available option is to create your own cooking times chart. You can do your own research and create a customized chart that best fits your needs. You should be ready to do a bit of experimenting here to optimize your sous vide settings for cooking to the specific level of doneness you wish. Once you are confident, you can stick the chart on your fridge or even share it online with your family and friends.
Sous vide recipes usually have broad time ranges, like one to four hours. That is usually because once the food is safely pasteurized and well cooked; it will be ready anywhere within the recommended time range. The advantage of the high precision associated with sous vide is that you can create customized charts based on what the perfect dish means to you.
You have successfully mastered the art of precisely getting your foods to the right texture and temperature with your immersion calculator. Now, it’s time bring out the blow torch and sear. Searing sous vide foods is a must as it makes the foods much more pleasing to both your palate and your eyes.
Searing is all about using a very high source of heat to create delicious, caramelized crusts on the surface of food items. Not only does searing create a fantastic flavor, but it also enhances the overall appearance of the sous vide dishes. It creates more contrast by differentiating the center of precisely cooked foodstuffs and its edges. Also, it generates differences in the flavor and texture of the outside versus inside, which is a lot more alluring to your taste buds.
Using a blowtorch is, therefore, the best way to wrap up your sous vide experience, especially when cooking meats. Since the meats only receive heat directly from the blow touch once it is fully cooked, the searing process does not adversely affect the overall quality. In contrast, if you were to cook the meat directly over surface heat, some parts would inevitably gray and dry out while you are waiting for your meat to cook through to the inner parts.
When shopping around for a blow torch, ensure you choose one that fits the specific fuel type you plan on using, like butane or propane. Also, to get that perfect char on your food, you must ensure that the torch is heated to extremely hot temperatures. Once the blow torch is adequately heated, you can apply the hot flame across the food in a single sweeping motion to cover the food well without burning any specific sections.
After investing in all the essentials mentioned above, it is only practical to pair them with a robust blow torch to transform your food into both tasty and aesthetically pleasing meals.
Sous Vide Cooking Accessories: Summing Up
While many people DIY some of these accessories, investing in high-quality sous vide gear is a smart decision. It will make your overall cooking process easier and also guarantee that you achieve consistently, perfect results every time. Also, getting the best sous vide gear mentioned above is relatively easy and it does not have to be quite costly either. So, grab your sous vide kit and get started on experimenting with this fascinating cooking technique.