Keeping a house full of hungry males (and females, lol) happy and well-fed doesn’t get any easier than by using sous vide cookery. Whether it’s a quick and casual dinner that you need to prep quickly or something more elaborate, there are many benefits of using sous vide.
With minimal prep time (or not, but that’s debatable), it’s the ideal method to prepare meat ahead of time and have it ready when you need it while also locking in all the juices and natural flavors. However, with several different types of immersion circulators on the market today, as well as various accessories you might need along the way, investing in your first sous vide setup can be slightly confusing.
In this article, we look at some of the key considerations when putting together your own sous vide starter kit – including what sous vide machines you will need to get started with sous vide cooking!
I actually started with Sous Vide a couple of years ago – with a multi-purpose Kuchef Sous Vide from Australia that also functions as a slow cooker. It’s not the best option but at the time, it was a great machine to tinker with food -ahemm, using science. After that, the Chefsteps Joule sous vide became all the rage. Then cooking sous vide has become an open secret for restaurants serving steak. I watch a lot of movies where the chef scoffs at the poor guy who has to cook with sous vide machines because cooking is supposed to be an art and not a science. Lol.
What’s the difference between sous vide and traditional cooking?
Traditional cooking is done at a high temperature, often searing meat to lock in all the juices and natural flavors. However, sous vide cooking is just the opposite. So what is sous vide, exactly?
Sous vide is a method of cooking where the food is placed in a water bath, then slowly cooked at a consistent temperature. This process ensures that the food is fully cooked from edge to edge, with a moist, tender texture inside. With traditional cooking, you get more variation in texture based on the thickness of the meat, whereas the sous vide method results in a more consistent texture, cooked from edge to edge.
Sous vide is a French term meaning “under vacuum”. It is a method of low-temperature cooking that is often referred to as “immersion cooking.” The method involves placing food in a sealable bag, then placing that bag in a water bath that is heated to a consistent temperature (ideally between 60°C – 72°C). The meat then cooks at a low temperature for a long period of time, ideally between 2 – 5 hours. This process allows the meat to cook all the way through while also retaining its natural juices. Told you, food science is yumm.
Sous Vide Equipment and Essentials
Sous vide immersion circulator – There are four main types of sous vide circulators (water bath cookers) available. You want to avoid the cheap ones that run on a plug-and-play system as they don’t maintain consistent temperatures throughout the cooking process.
Digital timer or sous vide timer – A timer is essential for any sous vide cooking. You can either choose to use the timer that comes with your immersion circulator or you can get a separate digital timer with a countdown function.
Sealable bags – These are essential when sous vide cooking meat. The best option is to get Food Saver bags as they have a high-quality seal that prevents any leakage during the cooking process.
Sealable containers – If you plan on cooking multiple dishes at once, it’s best to invest in some sealable containers. This way you can divide the water bath into different compartments, allowing different foods to be cooked at different temperatures.
Should you get a Bluetooth or WiFi Sous Vide Circulator?
The main difference between the two is that a WiFi sous vide circulator allows you to control the device remotely via an app on your smartphone or tablet. Bluetooth sous vide circulators are generally used for short-term cooking (1-12 hours). When it comes to long-term cooking (i.e. sous vide), the WiFi model is the preferred choice as it allows you to control the device remotely, even when you’re away from home. This means you can monitor the cooking process from afar and be alerted when it’s time to remove the food from the water bath.
Bluetooth models don’t have the same functionality, so you have to be present at the time of cooking to monitor the device. Wifi circulators are more expensive, but the functionality is worth the extra cost. Having the ability to monitor the process when cooking sous vide from afar is incredibly useful – especially for those who are out of the house for long periods of time each day and want to ensure their food is cooked to perfection.
The Inkbird Sous Vide 1000 W Timer Immersion, the one I use now, is a WIFI Sous Vide and has a Remote Control, a free APP, and supports C/F Reading. It’s very affordable at +- P5k. Truly, it has come a long time from when I can hardly afford these toys and joys for the kitchen. There’s a lot to be said about cheap and unsafe sous vide machines coming out of China these days but the Inkbird sous vide has truly risen from the pack. I’m not sure which is the best sous vide now -whether Anova Precision Cooker or Joule, but I stake my claim to any sous vide that is consistent with its temperature. Inkbird wins at this and allows calibration.
Why Inkbird Sous Vide?
Sous Vide Containers and Pouches
These containers come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common – they are airtight. This helps prevent any water vapor from escaping and allows you to control the humidity of the water bath. There are many different types of containers available, depending on whether you want the container to be clear or opaque. This 12 qt Polycarbonate Container (P1599) from Sous Vide PH does the trick. This 24 qt one is bigger but is a bit costly for me at P3k.
The sous vide pouches are typically made from a water-impermeable material and filled with food like meat, vegetables, or fish. You cut a small hole in the top of the pouch and then submerge it in the water bath, where it cooks in the surrounding water. The sous vide pouches take up less space than the containers, but they do require you to cut a small hole in the top for steam to escape. These X2000 Sous Vide Bags are my go-to as it’s cheaper, you can cut them manually, and they are very strong. It’s actually reusable so at least we don’t indiscriminately buy stuff that is actually bad for our planet. That’s actually one of my concerns and ruminations on why sous vide is bad, not on taste but it’s possible effect on our pollution level.
Anyway, moving on, If you haven’t bought your vacuum yet, this X2000 Vacuum is great as it’s not “maarte” with sous vide bags. Trust me, this is a very important consideration. As much as possible, I buy both the sous vide bag and the sous vide vacuum from the same store so it doesn’t give me trouble with making it work.
Sous Vide Cooking Timers
These are essential for anyone new to sous vide cooking. The timers will alert you when it’s time to put your meat in the water bath, as well as when it’s time to remove it from the water bath. Similarly, you can also find timers that run on batteries and beep when the time is up. However, make sure to get a timer with a large display so you can see it from across the kitchen! There are many different types of timers available, but the two main types are countdown timers and stopwatch timers. The countdown timer simply beeps or flashes when the time is up, while the stopwatch timer can be used for more than just sous vide cooking.
Sous Vide Timers with Remote Monitoring
These timers are generally used for long-term cooking, such as when doing the sous vide method. Some timers have a remote monitoring function, whereby you can view the status of the cooking time from your smartphone or computer.This is a great way for you to keep track of your cooking, even when you’re not at home. The timers with remote monitoring will require you to download an app onto your phone or computer. You can then input the cooking time, set the timer, and the app will keep you updated on the progress of the cooking time. Thankfully, this is already built-in on the Inkbird mobile app.
When it comes to cooking, the sous vide method is one of the most convenient and effective methods. It is a hands-off cooking method, allowing you to prep ingredients ahead of time and then cook them when you have the time. As long as you have the right sous vide equipment, you can cook almost anything with this method. When you’re first starting out with sous vide cooking, it can be a bit confusing to know what equipment you need. However, once you’ve gotten started, it’s easy to see why so many people rave about this cooking method!