Burst temperature for cranberries (Sous Vide)?
So I was making a second batch of cranberry sauce as we ate all the leftover CB sauce but still have some turkey, and while the Sous Vide machine was whirring in the background (pulled pork) I got to thinking -- could I make cranberry sauce in a vacuum bag in a sous vide bath? Any thoughts at what temperature I could do this at?
This is an estimate, as I make cranberry sauce every year and not always cooked, but it seems that cranberries burst at 212°, after being cooked on medium high heat for about 10-15 minutes; in other words, when gently boiled for that length of time, not when reaching 212°. It doesn't appear that the sauce would come together with low sous vide temperatures, even over an extended period of time. Cranberries are quite tough berries and require high heat to break down. I don't know what the point of sous viding cranberry sauce would be, concentrate flavor, more tender berry? The point is to get the berries to break down and the sweetener to dissolve; you need higher heat for that. However, I could see using a strained cranberry compote as part of a flavoring agent for sous viding something like venison filet, pork filet or duck breast.
Candied cranberries can be made by dipping the whole cranberry into a sugar syrup, and then allowing it to dry, but that's another ball game.
So interestingly enough, found another food blogger with the same question -- but she went ahead and did the experiment for me. :-) Short version, 185 degrees tor two hours.
Verdict -- flavors do intensify but the fruit doesn't burst and create the pectin thickened sauce. She recommends a combo approach and sous vide the berries with fruit, then finish on the stovetop. I'm going to try this for the holidays.
Good reading at this link:
I suspect that the blogger might have been able to get a thickened sauce just by agitating the bag after 1.5 hours and manually bursting the cranberries before dumping it back in to finish for a bit. I suspect that pectin-thickened sauces need a little agitation. As far as I know, pectin should be extracted and activated at 185 F, but it may have a different texture than normal sauce. I've read about stiff jellies from simmering a jelly for a long time without boiling, but I don't know if that would be due to the cooking temperature or the water loss from a long cooking time (not an issue with sous vide, obviously).
I also suspect that some of the differences in tastes the blogger noted were actually due to not bursting the cranberries - specifically, the sous vide sauce probably came off as more tart because the whole berries would provide bright bursts of sourness, rather than dispersing their tartness evenly throughout the sauce where your palate quickly gets accustomed to it.
Interesting though. Now you've got me wondering whether I could make a decent cranberry sauce sous vide. I won't be able to play around with it until at least monday though. 185 F seems right to me. Of course, bushwickgirl could be right that this is a pointless or silly exercise, but I've never let that stop me before.
You might get a slightly different texture or flavor to the sauce cooking it sous vide. I'm not positive what the OP had in mind, but speaking for me, one of the appeals of cooking sous vide is that there is so much unexplored terrain - sometimes you try something on a whim and get a fascinating or delicious (or better - both) result you didn't quite expect and couldn't have made another way. It's fun.