Affordable-ish Immersion Circulators
Well, I am ready to take the plunge and invest in an immersion circulator. My research so far has identified the "expensive" options - PolyScience Chef and Classic Units plus a variety of other thousand dollar plus options- and a growing number of more affordable options.
On the low end of the "affordable" scale are the in and out of distribution SideKic, priced at a very low $180 or so, and the up and coming $300 Nomiku, a kickstarter project, which won't be available until December. Slotted in between these and the very expensive options is the Underground Circulator. It seems to be a more robust unit than the SideKic and Nomiku, with technical specs like a 1,000 W heater, 20 C to 100 C temp range and the ability to handle up to 26 litres of water. Its look and development history seems more restaurant based, and I've read one or two online comments from restaurant users who like it. The other option I've found in the $500 range is the PolyScience "Creative" unit. It looks like a dialed down version of the "Chef" unit. It claims a 1100 W heater and a 20 litre capacity. But their site identifies that it is only for "casual use" so I wonder about durability.
Does anyone have experience with these midrange units - the Underground or the PolyScience Creative Series?
Ooops. Looks like I posted in the wrong forum. I'm now thinking this should have been in the Cookware forum. Can it be moved?
I came from a lab background and the cheaper stuff never panned out even with occasional use. I'm sure that someone's going to pop up and tell me that I'm wrong and that there's nothing wrong with the lower end and that's fine. "Affordable" is how you define it.
Julabo would be my circulator of choice but those units with a stainless tank are all around the $2500 mark. The PolyScience 7306 is a workhorse - I used one to incubate E coli cultures and from what I see the current units aren't any different. PolyScience's SV Pro looks less lab-like and has held up for chef friends of mine; it's now in and around $700-800 and f I had to pick that would be the one.
Given that the bags are immersed - and therefore the protein subject to conduction heating- ya think constantly circulating the water is necessary? i've had great success with salmon, eggs, duck just on stovetop with a frothing thermometer. Used a saute pan under the saucepan as a heat diffuser to control spikes.
Yes I do. Circulators help with higher volumes of products and come back to temp faster than with static baths. I like them for eggs because they're a bit more precise on the temperature control. They are also more versatile: my present setup can do a dozen duck legs for confit, but by snapping the circulator onto a larger vessel, I can do 40 legs at a time. At some point I'm going to SV a whole belly porchetta.
I used to do the stovetop method too but it's impractical for any application requiring greater than a couple of hours of time or fine temperature control.
I'm having a go this weekend at sous vide using an old (non-digital) crock pot, a temp. controller, and Ziploc freezer bags. Will be cooking a pair of Berkshire chops. It should be interesting.