Though based on ancient cooking principles, sous vide technique is a new method of cooking that is gaining popularity among home cooks today. Consequently, a lot of people have various questions about this process and the equipment used. To help you get the hang of it, we’ve put together some answers to various questions you may be asking about this cooking method.
What is sous vide cooking?
Sous vide cooking technique is a method of cooking whereby the food ingredients are inserted in a vacuum sealed plastic bag and submerged in a temperature controlled water bath to cook. Previously, this technique of cooking was used solely in the industrial food outlets and restaurants, but it is gaining traction among home chefs today.
Why should I sous vide cook my food?
Just like most cooking methods, this technique has its unique benefits. Sous vide cooked food retains most of its natural flavors, nutrients, and succulence. Also, you get to control the temperatures so that you can determine which proteins to denature, or so. The method is time-saving since you can put different foods in a single water bath to cook at once. In addition, when cooking, you can continue with other activities and not worry about food burning or overcooking. You also get a uniformly cooked food.
When I heat food in plastics, is my food going to be safe from chemicals?
These kinds of plastic used in the sous vide technique of cooking are considered safe by FDA. Of importance is to keep off any brands that promote budget plastic bags as they might contain PVC. Another alternative is to use canning jars in sous vide cooking though these could be limiting.
Is it a must to use a vacuum sealer?
It depends on with the amount of time your food is expected to take to cook. In case you are cooking anything that can take less than four hours, vacuum sealing won’t be mandatory. Instead, you can use freezer bags. Of importance is to leave a tiny space in one corner of the bag to let air out before sealing. This is actually called “The displacement method”.
On the other hand, it is more fulfilling to use a vacuum sealed bag when cooking for long, like 72 hours or more. You don’t want to risk a bag failure, which can easily cut your expectation short by ruining your scrumptious short ribs after you’ve been waiting patiently for such long. Do you?
What kind of foods can I use the sous vide method to cook?
All kinds of foods can be cooked sous vide. They could be meat, vegetables, fruits and eggs. In fact, you can find more of its other uses here. If you want to prepare any food that calls for an accurate temperature to cook appropriately, then this cooking technique is your go-to choice.
How do I prevent my bag from floating?
This could be a nightmare for many since the food should be submerged to cook evenly. Basically, the bag floats when there is still some air trapped inside. This is something very common with light ingredients or those which emit gas during cooking such as broccoli, cabbage and so forth. Try this trick: seal around and before you close the bag, leave a small space where you can insert a clean straw and suck out the air prior to locking.
Another idea is to use pouches specially designed for this cooking method. They are convenient to open and reseal. They are the best choices where you have to remove the floating pouches and transfer your food into a clean bag for further cooking.
How long should it take for the water oven to heat?
If you use tap water, it will take less than 15 minutes to heat it to the required cooking temperature for most foods. It also depends on the size of the heating element on your equipment. If you want quicker results, try filling the oven with hot water.
What is the correct way of seasoning for optimum taste?
Since any food cooked sous vide doesn’t lose most of its natural flavor, it will still taste sweet with minimal seasoning. Just season it lightly with fresh or dried herbs, spices, salt, paper, or any other flavoring of your choice. Then, put the food in the pouch, seal and place it in your heated water bath to cook.
How long can I store food cooked sous vide?
Food prepared using this technique can be safely refrigerated for utmost 48 hours. If you freeze, the food can last for even a year.
What can I do to make my meat not appear like it is boiled after sous vide cooking?
You will need to sear most meats after cooking using the sous vide technique to get the desired appearance and flavor. Searing can either be done using a hot cast iron skillet, kitchen torch or by grilling gently.
Joe Hughes is an avid cook, writer and owner of Sous Vide Wizard, a leading resource in sous vide cooking tips and recipes. Joe enjoys trying out new things in his kitchen and preparing delicious meals for his friends and family. You can reach him at Joe@SousVideWizard.com.
Sous Vide Setup: Scott Ashkenaz via CC 2.0
Sous Vide Chicken Thighs: ernestkoe via CC 2.0. Unaltered image and altered with text.
Sous Vide Citrus Glace: Edsel Little via CC 2.0