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I have the Foodsaver - can I sous vide?

Hi Folks - with all of the talk about sous vide on Top Chef this season I'm wondering.... can I use my Foodsaver to try this cooking method? If so, how is it done? Is it as simple as vacu-sealing a chicken breast with some seasoning and cooking it in a water bath? I read somewhere that a crockpot could serve this purpose.

I'm looking for details here - like recipes, cooking time and temperature.

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  1. I've done salmon a couple of times - you'll find kind of a lot of information on the 'how to's' if you google 'foodsaver sous vide'. My husband usually glazes the salmon with teriyaki, freezes for maybe 20 minutes (so the glaze is a little frozen) then vacuum seals and simmers in water at 120 degrees or so.

    Having said that, Foodsaver does not recommend using their product for sous vide.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jeanmarieok

      "Foodsaver does not recommend using their product for sous vide."

      How can that be? Their video shows the technique for boiling vegetables in a foodsaver bag. Unless the term 'sous vide' applies only to meat....?

      How long does your husband cook the salmon for? I have no concept of how long the cooking process should take.

      1. re: HungryLetsEat

        Liability issue, maybe? There are concerns about the safety of cooking food in the bacterial danger zone. Food saver probably doesn't want to deal with the potential liability of promoting a cooking method that can be unsafe if not done correctly.

    2. Though I've never done it before it looked like on TC Hung was using a foodsaver. Basically (from what I've read) you add seasoning or marinade or a sauce (hey, it can a be fat free sauce for healthiness) and you vacuum seal it and cook it over low heat in a water bath. Get a candy thermometer to regulate the heat.

      1. Sure you can. You should really do some research on sous vide techniques. Without an immersion circulator you will have a hard time doing meats in a stock pot on the stove and maintaining the narrow range of temperatures recommended but it can be done. You will have to monitor your water temperature well.

        1. To answer the question of how long to cook: Alton Brown did an episode on poaching in pouches. If you have your water bath set to 120 degrees, the protein cannot reach a higher temperature than this, so it will only cook to this "degree" of doneness. It could stay in the bath for hours and will not overcook because it can never cook past 120 degrees. (Think of it more like a slow cooked brisket.) As for how long it takes to reach that temp, well it depends of course, but you've got plenty of room for error.

          5 Replies
          1. re: drgreg

            Now I've been pondering how to hold that even 120 degrees as well. When you say waterbath I'm thinking maybe my crockpot since that can be regulated on low temperatures.

            Any thoughts on whether this would work?

            1. re: Mila

              You won't have the control with a crockpot with say two settings

              This is what the pros use
              http://www.cuisinetechnology.com/ther...

              Some good resource information

              http://www.techneusa.com/sous_vide_%2...

              1. re: scubadoo97

                I got the fancy crockpot with the temperature, probe and hold temperature. I think I'll play around and see if I can get it to work. We've been thinking of trying Heston Blumenthal's low temp steak as well.

                It might be worth a shot to save $925.

                Quick edit - Found this chow article
                http://www.chow.com/stories/10145

                LOL and love the comment that someone is putting in a fish tank circulator to keep the water moving.

                1. re: Mila

                  Actually a submersible pump would work well to circulate the water. Most of my old pumps from the fish tank days would be too strong so a valve would be needed to step it down a notch. Keeping the temperature at your desired level is key.

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    I couldn't pass up a portable immersion circulator for $5 at the local university surplus store, especially since I already have 2 FoodSavers. Tomorrow is the big day to try it out with some CAB steaks, though the immersion circ already got a workout when the city decided to flush the water mains and sending rusty water out a few weeks ago just as I went to wash my hair. I wanted to keep the rusty water out of my water heater to avoid any possible future problems...just for that alone, I've gotten my moneys worth out the immersion circ-lol

                    Has anyone played around with vegetables with sous vide yet? I was thinking about trying some potatoes, but what to add with them?

          2. I've been using the foodsaver bags to sous vide for a while now and they work great.

            What I do is bring a pot of water up to temperature using a good stock pot. It's important to have a pot that heats around as well as the bottom, there's a regulation here in Canada that requires restaurants to get a certification to sous vide. Their reason is that sometimes, the temperature in a stagnant pot of watter isn't actually equal all the way through so you'd still have cold spots and hot spots in the water bath (this is why circulators help) and since your cooking temperature is very marginal then there's a chance to not properly eliminate food born bacteria.

            I just bring a pot to temperature and then leave it on medium stirring every once in a while. I also leave a bowl of ice cubes nearby so i could just drop a cube to temper the bath. I've done it with pork belly, chicken breasts, duck breats, lamb loins, fish, vege, and they've all been fantastic.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jecolicious

              Salmon is the easiest food to cook sous vide at home with no special equipment except a good instant thermometer. Seal your fish in a vacuum bag with whatever seasonings you want. Heat water in a pot to 122F (50C). Drop in the bag and stir by hand for about 20 minutes while measuring the temp and adjusting heat to maintain around 50C. It will be the most tender poached fish you've ever had, with no loss of flavor from the water leaching things out. I even used a ziploc freezer bag the first few times, and pressed out as much air as I could before sealing.