Sous Vide – What It Is and How It Works?

September 26, 2018

A Transformation In Home Cooking

Sous vide is a revolutionary cooking method that is transforming our own kitchens. It’s clean, efficient, precise, versatile and user-friendly. But why this technique is becoming so popular around the world? The main reason is that it heats food to exactly the temperature you want so that it’s perfectly cooked, with almost no risk of overcooking. No dry edges and no rare centers. Juices and flavors don’t escape. Food comes out perfectly moist and tender. Perfect for vegetables, meat, fruit, cheese and much more…

Another great advantage of using sous vide is consistency. This technique is so precise that you can do the same dish again and again and the result will always be the same. Fortunately for us, this technology is now becoming much more affordable and accessible for home kitchens, like the Anova Precision Cooker or Joule from ChefSteps. (If you want to know more about sous vide machines go check our reviews).

sous vide
Cooking With Anova

The Technology Behind Sous Vide

The technology itself is simple: a vacuum-packing machine and a water-bath. Vacuum-packing the food makes it easy to handle, protects it while cooking. Ensures that it heats through evenly and prevents the juices from leaking out. If you don’t have a vacuum-packing machine you can use a ziplock bag, a high-quality plastic wrap or canning jars.

Using a water-bath to cook the food is really efficient because water is better for heat transfer than the air in an oven. Together, the vacuum-packer and the water-bath give you great control over your food. You can heat at the sort of low temperatures that really bring out the best in many ingredients.

sous vide
Making Pickles With Joule

The Perfect Symbiosis

This system is exceptionally well suited to cooking food in advance and reheating (perfect for big parties). Sous vide is also a great solution for time-strapped cook who needs to plan ahead, or even for the ambitious cook who wants to try out a complex multi-stage dish. After all, this cooking method is very versatile and every cook, professional or not, will have a great time using it.

Through conventional methods of cooking, you shouldn’t reheat your food. Although there are some dishes, like stews and curries, that can be reheated in the next day, you wouldn’t reheat a piece of steak. With sous vide, on the other hand, since the meat is vacuum-sealed in a bag, you can reheat the meat with absolutely no loss of flavor. The only thing you need to pay attention when reheating is the temperature of the water-bath. It should be at the same temperature at which the food was originally cooked. In this way, there’s very little chance of overcooking, even if we leave the food in the water bath for longer than necessary.

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Meal Time With Anova

But Why Vacuum-packing?

As we already said you can use different types of containers to cook sous vide, but we like to use special bags made just for this type of technique. There are two main reasons for us to prefer this bags. First, air is a poor heat transfer. As a result, removing the oxygen allows the heat to penetrate and cook food more directly and effectively. Second, being enclosed in a vacuum bag keeps the food from coming into contact with the water. This prevents loss of juices and flavor.

When you use vacuum machines, you want to make sure that the food is at fridge temperature (3ºC / 37.4 Fº or lower). This is important not just from a food hygiene point of view, but to avoid overcooking it accidentally. In the low pressure of vacuum, water will evaporate at a lower temperature than normal. So pain attention to the temperature of your food before vacuum packing.

sous vide
Meal Prep With Joule

Final thoughts

Sous vide is a cooking technique that produces meat and fish with an intense flavor and a lovely texture. But there is one thing that sous vide can’t do! A nicely browned exterior is impossible to achieve with this technique. So to have the delicious flavor that results from the Maillard Reaction you will have to brown your food after the water bath. This requires an extra step, but in our opinion, this is a very small price to pay for moist, juicy food.

In the end, sous vide is a great technique that everyone should try. From the top chef to the most inexperienced cook, this cooking method is for everyone. And our team will continue to study this technique to give all the information that you need.

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