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Oct 8, 2012 06:58 PM

Sous Vide vs. Immersion Circulator

My copy of Modernist Cuisine at home will be here tomorrow, and after reading through Under Pressure I am going to break down and purchase either an Immersion Circulator or Sous Vide.

I was wondering is any fellow chowhounders have any suggestions? I am not sure if the Sous Vide Supreme is going to be big enough? And is an Immersion Circulator is worth the extra expense. Any help would be great!


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  1. so jealous! been coveting MC for quite some time now...

    1. I would definitely go with an immersion circulator (though in all honestly I've never used the SV Supreme). I say that only because of the ability to use any container. The SV Supreme would be too small for me. I recently did a whole beef brisket and there is no way I could have chopped it up small enough to do it in that little box.

      I own the Polyscience circulator. They recently came out with a less powerful cheaper model which I think from what I've read would work for me as home cook as well as the professional model (it wasn't available when I got into SV). The price difference between a SV Supreme and this isn't that much really and the flexibility of a circulator would be worth it in my opinion.

      1. If you can afford a decent quality immersion circulator, it offers numerous advantages over the sous vide supreme. It heats water faster, circulates water (allowing you to put more in a bath and creating more consistent results), handles a larger bath, and is generally more portable and versatile and flexible.

        The sous vide supreme isn't a bad device, but it's overpriced for a non-circulated sous vide bath, IMO, and there are cheaper options that are just as good for non-circulated baths.

        1. Last Saturday night I tried out my "sous vide" set-up for the first time. Crock pot, temp. Controller, and Ziploc freezer bags. I cooked two 10-1/2 oz. Berkshire pork chops at 138 degrees for about 3 hours (ready to eat in half that time and held for the rest). They came out as perfect as can be; tender and juicy and slightly pink throughout. A couple of minutes searing and we ate. Next up, rib-eye steaks. I'm hooked!! Btw, total investment $100.

          1 Reply
          1. re: grampart

            There are definitely cheaper ways to enter the "sous vide craze". I started with a temp controller and a crock pot, then upgraded from a crock pot to counter top roaster (needed more water space), and then finally to the circulator.

            And I would recommend going the temp controller/crock pot route before the sous vide supreme based entirely on the cost of entry. But if you were debating between SV supreme or a circulator, I'd go for a circulator.

            I still often use Ziplocs instead of vacuum sealer. Just so easy, cheap, can include liquids without issues, etc.

          2. Modernist Cuisine at Home just arrived with the UPS guy.

            Anyway, another vote for the immersion circulator for pretty much all the reasons that has already been discussed. I've noticed the greatest differences with eggs.

            UPDATE: browsed the volume and the SV section starts with a photo of… a slow cooker and digital temperature controller. "Less than $200".

            3 Replies
            1. re: wattacetti

              This is so interesting to me, to see so many people voting for the immersion circulator. I am wondering if I made the wrong decision by going with the SVS? I have been so happy with it! What kind of a difference have you seen in eggs?

              1. re: livetoeattolive

                Did you make the wrong decision with the SVS?

                Do you use it? Does it deliver the results you were expecting? Yes? It was the right purchase decision for you.

                I came out of a lab environment so circulators were what we used to maintain heated water baths. PolyScience was the first to actively tap into the chef market and commercial kitchens are better off with the capability and flexibility of the circulators to keep up with the volume.

                For your specific question, I was getting more variability in the runniness of the egg yolk with a static bath than a circulator when making batches of the things.

                1. re: wattacetti

                  I think you're exactly right -- the PolyScience is perfect for commercial kitchens to keep up with the volume, fast turnaround of dishes/items cooked. Plus, really precise for super scientific lab cooking.

                  Been surprisingly happy with the SousVide Supreme, given that I thought the whole sous vide trend was overrated at first and soooo not "romantic" in the kitchen, without all the wonderful smells you get from the cooking process... but I gladly trade that in for the flavor and texture it gives me in the final result. It made an honest cook out of me!

                  Thanks for your take on the eggs! The most eggs we have ever cooked sous vide was 16 at one time and they all came out velvety and consistent... but I can definitely see your point regarding movement in large batches.