All You Need to Start Using Sous Vide

Sous vide cooking can look intimidating, but it’s a rather simple process, no more complicated than roasting or searing. With an immersion circulator, a pan or two from one of your favorite cookware sets, plastic bags, and time, you’re ready to begin.

12The Immersion Circulator

The first item is also the most necessary: the immersion circulator. Also called a sous vide machine, this device circulates and heats water, keeping the bath at a consistent temperature. This cooks food precisely and evenly, leading to perfectly cooked food. It basically turns cooking into a more exact science: a certain temperature, for a certain time, with exact control.

Containers for Sous Vide Cooking

You have a couple of options for containing the water. Polycarbonate containers meant solely for sous vide are available and are perfect for larger food items or cooking multiple things at once. Because they are plastic, they also don’t suck as much heat out of the bath compared to metal pots, allowing for better temperature regulation. However, a large pot like a stockpot or a Dutch oven can also hold the bath.

Vacuum Bags and a Vacuum Sealer

Sous vide is French for “under vacuum.” To most effectively cook food sous vide, you need vacuum-sealable bags to hold the food and keep it secure. These are good for high-temperature cooking and can be kept sealed after the food is finished for easy storage. You’ll also need a vacuum sealer to properly seal the bags. Getting all of the air out and attaining a perfect seal is vital to the process. For certain liquid-heavy meals, you can also use specially made zip bags. Just make sure your bags are BPA-free.

Bag Clips to Keep Food Secure

Sturdy metal bag clips (plastic need not apply) can keep the plastic bags attached to the edge of the container, keeping them submerged.

Cookware for Searing

After taking the food out of the bath, it’s time to add finishing touches. Boneless, skinless chicken is ready for eating, as are vegetables. However, using sous vide means no Maillard reaction and no tasty brown crust. Meats like steak need a sear for the ideal crispy crust. A cast-iron skillet or copper cookware both get hot enough to sear in a flash. Be warned that this should not take long, or you risk overcooking, losing out on the perfection of sous vide cooking. So make sure that the cookware is hot enough before adding the food.

Consider a Hack: Ping Pong Balls for Temperature Control

If you are cooking for longer than a few hours, consider adding a layer of ping pong balls on top of the bath. This will help fight evaporation and add insulation, helping with heat regulation, and making your immersion circulator’s job easier. Without the ping pong balls, long-term cooking can lead to enough evaporation that the immersion circulator will automatically turn off.

Tongs for Handling Hot Food

Use a good pair of tongs for retrieving your food from the bath. Some recipes call for using mason jars instead of bags, and tongs are essential to retrieve the jars. After extracting, your food is cooked and ready to eat.

About CHEFS Catalog

Since 1979, CHEFS Catalog has offered the highest quality equipment to the culinary world, from professional chefs to home cooks. CHEFS Catalog’s collections provide practical kitchen solutions with bakeware sets, appliances, cutlery, recipes, advice, and more. With a passion for all things culinary, they understand the need for durable, reliable kitchenware. They started out as a premier commercial catalog, featuring Julia Child on an early cover. In 2017, CHEFS Catalog transformed into the go-to online source for quality cookware, bakeware, and accessories.

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