Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jan 7, 2011 02:20 PM

Sous vide at home

Is it just me, or is the topic du jour home sous vide?

People using Zip Lock Freezer bags (even though its not recommended by the makers!) or going through the expense of getting a home vacuum food saver type system.

I'm ready to try it and now I've read too much - but which way should I go?

I'm a tad afraid of the Zip lock method because of unknown issues re: boiling in the plastic.

But I'm also a little reluctant to spend $200 for the vacuum system until I know hovering over my stove to watch water boil is going to be worth the results.

Thanks for any thoughts!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: ipsedixit

      This is probably the thought behind the dishwasher sous vide, too. If you set your hot water heater at the right temperature, it might be idea. Clean dishes and dinner at once.

      1. re: chowser

        or how about the washing machine? Set it on "warm water" and "gentle cycle" and make maybe sous vide scrambled eggs?

    2. the key to sous vide is the temperature control

      No matter which container or bag you use, the key is the cooking vessel-it must be suited to maintaining that optimum temp. I would guess that you should only use plastic vessels that are temp rated to handle the temps that you will cooking in. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer to obtain clear temp ratings.

      3 Replies
      1. re: AdamD

        Correct. It's not as important what kind of bags you are using but the temperature control. With sous-vide cooking you are working in a temperature area (definitely not at water boiling temperature) which if not done correctly can support bacteria growthl. Before trying anything you should buy any of the new books or at least go over the cooking tables from Baldwin. (The thickness of your cuts and the water temperature will determine your best cooking time)

        1. re: AdamD

          Cooking For Engineers just posted a pretty long treatise on various no-hack (no disassembling or wiring or normal DIY stuff) solutions to setting up a sous vide cooking area at home. Three of the ways they start off with I can try at home without buying anything else. It's worth trying I guess.

          1. re: yeah_whatever

            Great article in Cooking for Engineers! Thanks for the post!

        2. sous vide is not about "boiling in the plastic." It's cooking food that's been vacuum-sealed at precisely controlled (low) temperatures. For the home cook, this means you need something like the Sous Vide Supreme, which I own and love.

          I've owned a vacuum sealer for lots longer than the SVS. I package just about everything that goes in my freezer with this: no freezer burn, ever.

          4 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            Does the Sous Vide Supreme have a means of holding the food in the water? I am pondering an immersion circulator, but in addition to the expense, it also seems like keeping the food submerged would be a challenge.

            1. re: chatty

              Yes it does, but more to keep packets of food separated than to keep them submerged. If you've sealed the packets properly, they will have no air in them, and will not float.

              1. re: pikawicca

                Is it totally great to have one of these at home?

          2. Zips are the cheap way to go if you are just experimenting with temperature control methods. I've done small pieces of salmon (only takes 10 minutes or so, depending temperature), sweet potato (2hrs) and eggs (no bag needed).

            There are various ways of controlling the water bath temperature. I just used a pot of water, lowest heat on the stove, lid or no lid, and the probe thermometer. You can go up from there.

            3 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              How about oven roasting bags instead of ziplocs? Obviously, the former are meant to be used with heat.

              1. re: greygarious

                The nice thing about zips is that you can close them up with very little air inside. One trick that I read is to immerse the bag (with the food inside) in water as far as possible, and then seal it. The water pressure will squeeze out most of the water.

                As to temperature sensitivity, remember that Sous vide is below boiling, In the 140-165 range as opposed to 212 F.

                1. re: paulj

                  Oven bags should work with the immersion trick - gathered up so it's almost closed, dunked, then a quick twist and wrap with a twist tie.

            2. If you like to tinker with things (or knows someone that does) I've read a handful of versions on that look like this.