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Sous-Vide Cooking at Home - Sous-Vide Supreme. Anybody using it ?

I was wondering if any CH are doing sous-vide cooking at home. Very recently the Sous Vide Supreme was introduced and it looks very interesting but I would like to hear if somebody has already used it.

http://www.sousvidesupreme.com/sousVi...

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  1. HI

    My Sous Vide Supreme will be arriving tomorrow, I'll keep you posted on my progress with it. Foodcrazy2

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodcrazy2

      Great ! Please keep us updated

    2. Nice way to cook, but a bit gadget-intense and I think not that accessible to a home cook, at least today.. and its a lot of money to spend for what might be a dusty, underused appliance. I will say at $500, prices have come down from the commerical immersion circulators, though.. perhaps in time..

      I'd be interested in seeing several reviews, and comments on how effective the temperature control is (falling out of calibration so near the danger zone is a worry for me)... the postings on their site weren't from any of the "core" food or consumer product reviewing groups - a testing session in Consumer Reports or a writeup in Food and Wine would be nice to see.

      8 Replies
      1. re: grant.cook

        But it is interesting to see that Heston Blumenthal is currently strongly supporting the Sous-Vide Supreme. I know that doesn't automatically means that it is great but I doubt that he will support a product if it doesn't meet quality standards especially in a field which he made what it is today.

        http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/10/un...

        1. re: honkman

          It might be a good product.. I like to see some things road tested, though.. sort of the "In God we Trust.. all others bring data." Wolfgang Puck is supporting carry-on food sold in airport kiosks and Mario Batali is supporting a mid-range line of cookware. I don't believe Heston is sitting down looking at sensitivity ranges for thermocouples, durability testing results for the push-button switches, and the potential for food poisioning if someone buys a poor quality piece of salmon, handles it in a way that allows cross-contamination, and then cooks it at 113degF.

          Even the post you link to speaks more to trying the thing out, and "If it really does what it claims to.." But its nice to see sous-vide tools coming to the home kitchen... not too much more expensive than a stand-mixer, so it might be close to the price point that would create a market.

          But all the posts I've seen focus a lot on creating a market - big claims, bold words, perfectly cooked food in controlled venus. In this internet, Web 2.0 world, one thing that I definitely would do is try to build word-of-mouth buzz for a new product - find a cool sponsor, get some buzz on weblogs, and get a lot of link traffic to my pages. I'd even post to Chowhound and have someone post back, to build an exciting "this is great" thread. All of that is normal - nothing wrong with a new company marketing itself, and social networking sites are too important today to ignore. Those efforts may snag the early adopters. More slow-and-steady types like myself wait a bit to see the follow-on activity..

          1. re: grant.cook

            Here is one chef who attended Sous Video conference and thought it excellent.

            http://beefandwhiskey.com/?p=176

            1. re: grant.cook

              Quote grant.cook: "I don't believe Heston is...looking at ...the potential for food poisioning if someone buys a poor quality piece of salmon, handles it in a way that allows cross-contamination, and then cooks it at 113degF."

              Not to be a wiseass, but I think the above would be a recipe for food poisoning regardless of the quality of your immersion circulator. You have to be very careful with your food (high quality ingredients, careful handling) at cooking temps below 130 F. No immersion circulator can dodge that.

              Anyway, I hope this thing works well, and then I hope it sells well so the price drops and I could buy one eventually. I Would love to see some reports as to its temperature accuracy and durability, but I don't see any obvious reasons to be skeptical of its efficacy. Would have no problems testing it myself if I were a richer man.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                I don't take it as you being a wiseass.. that's what the guy said he cooked the salmon at in the link describing the promotional session. Seemed a bit low.. thought maybe he bought the "magic salmon" free of all bacteria and handled it in a clean room wearing a biohazard suit.

                But I'll give you a reason to be at least somewhat skeptical.. a couple of doctors, previously hucking protein powders and ab-reduction plans, founded a firm to build a high-priced durable good - essentially a precise heating unit, but not one used in a controlled environment like a lab or at least a high-end kitchen - one that gets banged around in a home kitchen. There is a reason when you see a brand like Sony or Caterpillar, you are at least somewhat reassured... and even Sony has batteries randomly catching on fire. Eades Appliance Technologies? I mean, appliance design worked for Ron Popeil, but this is likely a startup with limited capital. More power to 'em, and good luck, but this is part of the reason I am not an early adopter....

                But I agree - I'd be happy to test the thing out.. I'd just have my Thermapen handy to test the final temperature of anything I cooked in the thing for a long while..

                1. re: grant.cook

                  For anyone interested - cooking salmon sous vide at 114 as described is essentially equivalent to eating salmon sashimi. You likely should freeze it according to sashimi guidelines to kill parasites, and should definitely use good product in the first place, handle it with care, and not serve to immunocompromized persons.

                  To cook sous vide, you should be familiar with risks and pasteurization guidelines for any proteins you cook. I guess the point is that since cooking sous vide at all requires that you be pretty proactive in your knowledge and useage of safe food handling, I wouldn't be afraid of any food cooked on a supreme, provided that the cook knows what they're doing in the first place. It's really easy to check water temperature (as you said, with a thermapen) and this should be done with all new immersion circulators (periodlically afterwards too).

                  However, you're certainly right that it could be shoddily made and stop working soon after you buy it. I couldn't find any info about a warranty on the product's site. Hey foodcrazy2 - any warranty we don't know about? A good one would make this a much safer use of half a grand.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    Isn't it more equivalent to salmon sashimi left out on a table covered in Saran wrap in Death Valley for 2 hours?

                    It will be interesting to see how sous vide cooking gets adopted with home usage - most home cooks don't have to dabble on the edge of temperature safety - they grill or sear or roast and pretty much can cut into the thing and go "Yep, its done.."

                    1. re: grant.cook

                      Quote: "Isn't it more equivalent to salmon sashimi left out on a table covered in Saran wrap in Death Valley for 2 hours?"

                      In a sense, your analogy is more accurate. But you make it sound like a bad thing.

                      The issue here is bacterial reproduction with respect to temperature, since we're not cooking hot enough to kill bacteria. We all know that bacterial pathogens like to reproduce in warm temperatures. BUT it's not like bacteria keep reproducing faster and faster as temperatures increase until they suddenly die. There's more of a bell curve to it than that.

                      Remember that part of the reason our bodies can have a fever is to create a less ideal temperate environment for some bacteria. Most pathogens are out of their reproductive sweet spot by 104 F. And sous vide cooking will bring a small portion of fish to this slower-growth temperature range far faster than desert air.

                      So we use good salmon, which has a low rate of pathogen contamination as proteins go. We are extra careful with handling so as not to introduce new pathogens. And we avoid long sous vide cooking times because the temperature isn't safe for that.

                      Anyway, the question of how home cooks adopt sous vide is interesting. Sounds sort of dangerous to tell people to go cook at temps below 130 F without providing a lot more information and warnings. On the other hand, couldn't be much more dangerous than the thousands of people trying to deep fry a turkey today in their back yards or (god forbid) their patio decks or kitchens. Danger doesn't seem to stop everyone.

                      Also, I've eaten enough roast chicken cooked to something like 190 F that I don't think many people would have to toe the line of temperature safety to get more acceptable and accurate internal temperatures from sous vide.

        2. Oh I know I'll be shot down for this but it seems to me that sousvides is the latest iteration of the boil-in-bag of the 1960s. You "vacuum" sealed the food in a heavy duty bag and placed it in a pot of water to cook. The special bags for the vacuum sealer could only be used once. The vacuum sealer cost about $20. The food tasted like crap.

          17 Replies
          1. re: Ambimom

            Sous vide is a technique, just like grilling or poaching. And just like grilling or poaching it can be done poorly with poor or even dangerous results or very well with excellent results.

            I wasn't around for boil-in-bag, but it seems like you're right in a sense. In both, you vacuum seal food and cook it in hot water. But it seems that boil-in-bag emphasized convenience and was applied to a broad range of dishes, many of which it wasn't especially appropriate for or simply weren't good in the first place. It was sold as a technique everyone could use with ease and convenience. Correct?

            Sous vide is about making it easier to achieve extremely precise results. It demands a much greater level of understanding from its practitioners. As such I don't see it being adopted readily by mainstream America or the rachel ray crowd (no offense intended).

            If you want to think of sous vide in terms of boil-in-bag, then I guess:
            Sous vide = Boil in bag would + a work ethic + a real understanding of cooking science

            1. re: cowboyardee

              My Sous Vide Supreme arrived this week. Comes with instructions plus a video. I have made three things so far and all have turned out superb. The machine is easy to use and almost no clean up. Food was perfectly cooked and flavorful. One thing that will take some time getting used to is the amount of time it takes to accomplish the process compared to normal cooking. There has been a lot of comparison to boil a bag cooking and this differs dramatically. Foods are cooked at a precise temperature for each food, hence they cannot be overcooked.

              1. re: foodcrazy2

                Any warranty or return policy?

                Glad to hear it's working out for you. Please update if you encounter any problems, or in a few months if you don't to say so.

                1. re: foodcrazy2

                  Is there a maximum cooking time for any foods, at least in terms of maintaining a reasonable texture.

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    There are maximum cooking times to avoid eating mush. These times vary by protein. For example, spare ribs are reputed to be fine at 48 hours. But salmon would be a disgusting mush at 10. Obviously, meats that call for long cooking times with other methods are the same that call for long cooking times with sous vide. And vice versa. There are also upper limits for safe handling if cooking below 130 F, as I mentioned above.

                    Unfortunately I don't have a lot o personal experience with especially long cooking times - i'm a home cook with a makeshift setup and long cooking times (12+ hours) aren't practical for me. Anyone with more experience with longer cook times is welcome to chime in.

                    1. re: Paulustrious

                      Here is a very extensive guide (including cooking times) for sous-vide cooking

                      http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/s...

                      http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/s... (pdf version)

                      1. re: honkman

                        Excellent article. Thanks to both of you.

                        My thanks, however, cannot go out to foodcrazy2 as I am now jealous - and I want one.

                        1. re: Paulustrious

                          Sous Vide strikes again. Invented by the late, unheralded Pierre DeSerres in Don Mills ON. I'll post a pic of my ancient appliance here. And yes, it works brilliantly.

                          Think, in very general terms, of 1/2 hour cooking time per inch thickness of any protein food, held throughout at the desired final temperature. You can continue to hold most (though not all) food at that temperature for many hours after it's cooked without ruining it.

                          If you are going to eat the food when it's ready, vacuum sealing isn't necessary. It's essential only when you are storing the cooked food for serving later.

                          1. re: embee

                            This is my ancient sous vide cooker...

                             
                            1. re: embee

                              How accurate is the temp control on that thing? I had always assumed that all slow cookers have bad/inaccurate and often un-programmable temperature control, but I have never looked into it too closely.

                              Do you monitor it with a thermometer? Does it require much baby-ing? How are the results?

                              These questions are posed under the assumption that you don't have a PID hooked up to it.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                The temperature holds steady within a couple of degrees F. I used to monitor it, but long ago came to accept its accuracy. It doesn't require any babying at all and is, indeed, quite foolproof. I've been happily using this for more than 25 years.

                                No, there is nothing hooked up to it and it doesn't need anything hooked up to it. I suspect that there is a direct relationship between this and its major deficiency: it is very small. It was designed for home cooking and could not possibly be used for restaurant service.

                                The results, for its intended purpose, are excellent. What this guy did is put a lab quality (mechanical) thermostat into the device and probably (I didn't disassemble it) some insulation.

                                I've posted more information about this elsewhere and will try to find the links. It flopped partly because the food establishment couldn't accept it and felt (as did I, a serious amateur cook -- before I saw the demo) that it would kill creativity and couldn't possibly be safe.

                                He had it safety tested, and certified, by a government lab, but he was years ahead of his time. There was no way a typical home cook could understand this thing without a full demonstration - and possibly even with the demo. The recipe book that came with it, which I still have, reads more like a food science manual than a cookbook.

                                He didn't sell very many and couldn't break into retail. He likely didn't make any money. I believe it was a retirement project.

                                1. re: embee

                                  Holy crap. I'd figured from the picture that it was just a small slow cooker with above average temp control, not a device actually built for sous vide applications.

                                  Nice find. If you don't mind my asking, did it set you back much? If someone made an affordable version of this machine now, I suspect they'd have an easier time finding some buyers.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    I don't remember what it cost, but it wasn't terribly expensive. The appliance was made in Toronto and the "standard" version of this appliance sold at K-Mart for, I think, about $15 - $20. The Smart Pot, itself, never cracked mainstream retail.

                                    The Smart Pot came with "flavour systems" to reproduce typical flavours of different cuisines (they did) and coating powders to simulate caramelized surfaces on meats (they didn't). There was also an extensive, free pre-purchase demo, with samples.

                                  2. re: embee

                                    Hi embee
                                    I have been trying to track down the smartpot and its recipes showing what temperature is good for what type of food. Please email me (freshmeals@gmail.com)
                                    Frank

                              2. re: embee

                                Heating times are not directly proportional to thickness of the food, but proportional to the square of the thickness, something like y = 0.0763*x^2 + 0.0094*x + 0.2753 for meat from 5°C to medium-rare 55°C where x=thickness in mm and y=time in minutes. 1/2 hour is good for 20mm, 48min for 25mm, 69min for 30mm, and so on.
                                Detailed heating time tables are in Douglas Baldwin's Guide, http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/s...

                                1. re: PedroG

                                  That's a very interesting site!

                                  My heating time : thickness guideline comes from the recipe book included with my Smart Pot cooker, copyright 1978!!!

                                  This guideline has proven adequate, overall, when cooking in this very small appliance. What's really shocking to me is how closely overall that Baldwin's information parallels what DeSerres described 32 years ago.

                                  DeSerres didn't use a vacuum seal, and likely never even thought of using one (it was a home appliance, after all, and vacuum sealers weren't found in homes). I can state unequivocally that the vacuum has little to no effect of the results when shelf life isn't a consideration.

                            2. re: honkman

                              The website for my guide, "A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking", has moved to
                              http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vi...

                    2. Off-topic, sorta:

                      I would like to point out that in addition to the link to the thread you posted about this machine, egullet has another sous vide thread that is perhaps the single largest English language reference for sous vide cooking in general. At least that I have come across.

                      http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/...

                      For anyone interested.

                      1. So far I have used the recipes from the enclosed book. Chicken and pork are always things I struggle to get consistant. The chicken breasts were perfectly cooked and moist , all four breast were equal and browned easily for service. No time for brining the pork chops as recommended, which was actually a better test, and they turned out better than I have ever cooked. Spiced whole apples is the only desert featured and they held their shape cooking, were infused with the spices that were bagged with them and were suprisingly a treat.
                        I hope to have time to do the 48 short ribs this weekend.

                        1. Late to the party here (thanks for the heads-up, embee), but...

                          I don't get it. I cook sous vide at home with a crock pot or a rice cooker plugged into a rheostat. Accuracy and convenience leave a little to be desired, so I'm thinking of adding a PID temperature controller.

                          Even if you don't already have a cooker, it'd be a stretch to spend half as much on a setup like that as the price of the Sous Vide Supreme. As a plus, the controller is made by Auber Instruments and the cooker by Rival or Zojirushi. And if one component breaks, the other is still fully functional.

                          Right now, the hope is that Santa is going to bring an 1800w PID controller to my house. Does the Sous Vide Supreme offer anything (other than an endorsement by Heston Blumenthal) that the simpler cheaper setup doesn't?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            This is an interesting question. I haven't used a PID - only even heard of it somewhat recently. But it sounds a lot easier than the electric stove top on low setting + thermometer + ice + surveillance method I've been using. So it's on my christmas list... err, it is my christmas list.

                            Problem is then that I haven't used either system. So a comparison is very speculative. I've heard that a the most popular PID (the SousVideMagic) usually takes about 10-15 minutes to stabilize a temperature. I don't know whether that is an issue for the Supreme. Foodcrazy2? I believe the Supreme doesn't circulate so that keeps it on even footing with a PID. Temp control for a PID is reputed to be quite accurate, usually cited by users as 0.5 degrees or less variation. I don't know anything about durability for either device.

                            Honestly, I suspect the major advantage of the supreme it that it's simpler and less intimidating. I could be wrong. Not worth a difference of several hundred bucks to me personally. But I think its a lot more marketable than a PID.

                            I might update here should I get that PID. I don't really know quite how well it will work.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              SousVideMagic controller does not take 10-15 minutes to stabilize. It all depends on your cooker (slow or rice cooker) and the PID settings used in the controller.
                              SVS is nothing more than a slow cooker with built-in PID controller.

                              1. re: edaname

                                I've been using a SousVideMagic for a while now - I got one very shortly after leaving the above post.

                                You're right in that there is no set amount of time for a PID to 'stabilize.' Not only does it depend on the cooker and your PID settings, but also the amount of water you have in the cooker, your desired temperature, and the type and amount of food you place in the bath. Also - I was a bit inaccurate in even describing the bath as 'stabilized' or not. In practice, the water bath stays increasingly closer to your target temperature (up to a point) as long as it's undisturbed. How tight your temperature control needs to be depends on what you're cooking.

                                I actually posted a thread on using the SousVideMagic if you're interested.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6786...

                          2. Sous Vide Moves From Avant-Garde to the Countertop
                            NY Times 12/8/09
                            ONCE you sous vide, you never go back.
                            That, at least, is the chant of a global pantheon of chefs...
                            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/din...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Rmis32

                              I have a circulator and have done it with induction cooktop earlier.

                              To me it is not a substitution. For example, if you sear a steak you get layers of different textures from very well done outside to a lets say medium center. With sous vide, it usually is medium all the way with crust on the outside.

                              Lobster tail for example has a very different texture as well. And let's not get started on the egg. Yes you can control exactly what happens to the yolk but the white doesn't firm up. To me a perfect egg has a firm white and somewhat liquid egg yolk center. A sous vide egg may have a perfect yolk, but firming the white is tricky.

                              It results in different tastes and textures, but too me I haven't seen anything where I would fully consider it a substitute to regular cooking.

                              Cheers
                              JK

                            2. So, I just received my sous vide supreme and I've given it a shot with two different steaks (ribeye and sirloin). Something is off but I'm not sure what. The moisture is there (although I think there could be more) but the texture isn't perfect. I tried searing it on extremely high heat and blowtorching the other one; so crust isn't the problem. I'm following the suggested cooking times provided in the sous vide supreme guide; so for rare, I cooked a 1" steak at 49.0 C for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Anyone have any ideas? TIA

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: savoryseduction

                                I'd like to help, though I'm still learning the ropes myself. The temp and time seem about right for a 30 mm thick steak. If your steaks were much thinner, searing them afterwards could have had significant impact on their doneness and texture. Could have been a problem with the beef of course - a slow freeze that created ice crystals, poor quality in the first place, etc. Air in your cooking bag can also lead to uneven cooking and unpleasant flavors and textures.

                                Really though, I'd need to know what the problems with the texture were. Too chewy? Too soft? Uneven? Grainy? Dry? Keep in mind that cooking sous vide for a short period of time should not really have a superior texture to the middle of a steak cooked to that temperature via some other means. It should just me more uniformly cooked with a slightly more intense beef flavor.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  Thanks for the response! Well, the texture was slightly too chewy. Which was odd, because it was definitely moist and rare. It also didn't have an intense beefy flavor. I'd love to blame the steaks but I got them from a fairly reputable butcher so I would tend to assume the problem is with me.

                                  *I've had one sirloin done perfectly via sous vide at Fleur de Lys in Las Vegas...they brought me to the back and demonstrated that they used the sous vide and then simply seared it in a cast iron pan to finish. However, I have *no* idea how they got the texture so superior to any other steak Ive had. *sigh* haha :P

                                  What vacuum sealer are you using?

                                2. re: savoryseduction

                                  Sous vide is not an ideal method for cooking a ribeye steak. (I've never done a sirloin.) For a 1" thick steak, 49 C seems a bit low - I'd use 52-53. Your timing is fine. From what you did, I would have expected uniform doneness throughout with a somewhat mushy texture.

                                  A tender, rare short rib or brisket is always an interesting experiment (though you need much more time). Sous vide really excels for beef preps where you want to dissolve a lot of collagen. However, by definition, these aren't rare.

                                  (Note that I've never used the sous vide supreme.)

                                  1. re: embee

                                    I have done sirloin - I think the temperature should be higher, I follow the general rule that tough cuts go low temperature longer time while more tender cuts require higher heat and shorter time.
                                    keller has sirloin at 59.5 but then sears 5 minutes in a pan and adds another 10 minutes of pan roasting.

                                    1. re: jk1002

                                      Do you have a link to keller's times? That seems far too long - I mean if I was cooking a steak via pan searing (like with Alton Brown's method) I would only sear for about 30 seconds on each side, and cook in a 500 degree oven for about 1.5 minutes each side (for rare). So I'm totally confused at using the sous vide and then following it wiht another 15 minutes cooking time on the pan.

                                      1. re: savoryseduction

                                        He is using a 400gr piece - nearly a pound. I don't think you would want to eat that if you pan sear for 30 secs plus 3 minutes in the oven. I can't link to his times, it's in his book. Not recommending to buy it for the home cook but maybe you can take a look at your local B and N, they might have it.

                                        You would not get a rare steak with his times that is for sure but a very pleasant one.

                                        That said, I think he is playing it somewhat safe with times and temperature in his book. It's made for the professional chef and in a restaurant I guess they have to be extra careful.

                                        If you think about it, usually you take a steak rare cause you like it tender. With SV you can break down the collagen that causes toughness if you use time and temperature correct so I wouldn't insist on a rare steak anymore but that is just me.

                                      2. re: jk1002

                                        I have to correct me here, he is pan roasting for 5 minutes, it says "for a total of 10 minutes" so he is including the pan searing phase I guess.

                                  2. Just a pointer to a simultaneous thread in a related vein.

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/678636