What is Sous Vide Cooking?
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Before we get to all the good stuff on what some of the Best things to Sous Vide is the here is a bit of information on what Sous Vide cooking is.
Sous Vide is a French word that can be translated to “under vacuum”. It is a process where food is wrapped in a vacuum and air-tight bag and cooked in a water bath that is heated to a specific temperature. It has been popular in restaurants for quite some time but it is only just beginning to find its way into homes.
Sous vide cooking aims to eradicate the common mistakes that we make when cooking, such as under-cooking or over-cooking. It is very difficult for one to accurately estimate the exact time that food should cook. Say if you are cooking bacon on a pan. You will find that the pan is way hotter than the heat the bacon is supposed to cook at. This means that there is a very short window for you to remove the bacon from the pan to avoid overcooking which is a tough ask especially since most of us are not trained chefs.
Sous Vide cooking provides a solution. You can set the temperature of the water bath to the exact temperature that the food (in our case bacon) should cook to ensure that you do not end up with overcooked food. The fact that the food is placed in a vacuum and air-tight container means that there is no air present to interfere with the set temperature of the water bath. This method is popularly know as “precision cooking”
5 Best Things To Sous Vide.
Sous Vide cooking ensures that the bacon is fully cooked while still ensuring that it remains soft and tender. The bacon remains soft and tender because the vacuum environment ensures that the bacon does not loose moisture through evaporation. It also ensures that the bacon does not loose volume since there is no water loss.
It is very easy to overcook steak. It is more difficult to achieve an even cook. Sous Vide cooking ensures that the steak is evenly cooked from edge to edge. Steak is more susceptible to loss of volume than bacon. Steak can loose about 40% of its volume due to water loss that is common when cooking steak using traditional cooking methods.
Cooking the steak in an vacuum bag ensures that there is no water loss and consequently no loss in volume.
Cooking salmon using Sous Vide ensures that the salmon is evenly cooked and that it remains soft and tender. Salmon is also very susceptible to loss of volume through water loss. Sous Vide cooking will ensure that your salmon is evenly cooked and that it does not loose volume.
Eggs are a difficult meal to prepare perfectly. Sous Vide cooking ensures that you are able to cook egg in whatever way you want it to cook, Whether you prefer poached egg or soft boiled egg, Sous Vide will help you prepare it. Sous Vide reduces risk of human error and ensures that the eggs cook evenly.
Remember that eggs are fragile and require you to handle them with care especially when packing them in the cooking bags.
Sous Vide can be used to prepare vegetables in any way that you want them. If you prefer them with a bit of crunch, Sous Vide will help you cook them crunchy. The texture you achieve when cooking vegetables will depend on how long you decide to cook them. Vegetables will require a bit more of your attention when cooking to ensure that they acquire the right texture.
TEMPERATURE FOR SOUS VIDE.
The temperature for Sous Vide depends on the food that you want to cook and how you want to cook it. You need to ensure that the temperature and time combination according to how you want your food to be.
For example, If you want your bacon nice and tender you van set it to cook for a certain amount of time with a set temperature. If you want your bacon with a bit of crunch you van maintain the set time but then raise the temperature a bit higher. Conversely, you can maintain the temperature and increase the cooking time.
Various professional chefs have tried out various combinations of time and temperature when using Sous Vide and have posted the information on various sites across the internet. Whenever you need some guidance you can refer to these figures. Manufacturers of Sous Vide machines may also provide this information when you buy these machines.
PACKAGING FOR SOUS VIDE.
Sous Vide cooking is done in a vacuum bag or container. This is to ensure that there is efficient heat transfer from the water bath to the food that is cooking. It also ensures that the food does not loose moisture through evaporation.
There are many types of bags that you can use for Sous Vide. The following are the most commonly used:
a) Resealable plastic bags.
You can use the water immersion method to expel water from these bags. They include heavy duty bags and BPA free bags such as Ziplock freezer bags.
b) Reusable silicon Bags.
These are reusable bags made of silicone that ensure efficiency every time you use them. One example of these is the Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bag.
c) Vacuum Sealing bags.
These bags are probably the best bags that ensure that the food is in an entirely air free environment. You will need a vacuum sealer in order to use these bags and thus they may be a bit expensive. They are the best bags to use for batch cooking.
To be specific they are glass canning jars. Some foods are best cooked using cooking jars; for example beans and grains. In addition, cakes are also best prepared using canning jars. They are the best whenever you need to make the perfect dessert.
How healthy is sous vide?
Sous Vide method has various health benefits. They include;
1. Retention of nutrients and vitamins in food.
Sous Vide cooking basically “seals in” the nutrients and the vitamins in the food. Traditional cooking methods lead to distortion of nutrients present in the food. For example, Over-cooking bacon will lead to distortion of nutrients in the meat and thus the bacon might have little to no nutritional value. Furthermore, boiling foods may leads to essential nutrients being lost in the water.
2. Does not require use of additional fats when cooking.
Cooking oil is used to ensure that the food being cooked does not stick to the cooking surface. With Sous Vide there is no risk of food sticking to the cooking surface. However, you can still lock the food into the bag with some fat to give it a flavor that you desire.
Even when you use fat to sear steak it is difficult to gauge the perfect amount of fat that you require. Too little or too much will lead to imperfect results. With Sous Vide you do not need to sear your steak because it will be evenly cooked in the water bath.
3. Sous Vide makes food easier to digest.
Sous Vide cooking breaks down protein (main nutrient in bacon) into gelatin which is easily absorbed into our bodies. Gelatin has numerous health benefits which include;
- Strengthening of joints.
- Improves skin health.
- Improves sleep quality.
4. Minimal chance of Under-cooking.
The biggest risk that is associated with under-cooking is that you may end up not killing some food-borne viruses and bacteria that may be present in the food. Meat such as bacon and steak may very likely have dangerous viruses and bacteria even if they have been inspected. It is therefore very important to ensure that the food is completely cooked.
Sous Vide cooking ensures that food is completely cooked thus killing all bacteria that may be in the food. Cooking the food in a vacuum means that oxygen that the viruses and bacteria need to survive is lacking and hence they will die under the heat.
Ensure that you cook the food at the right temperature and for the required amount of time in order to kill harmful organisms in your food.
5. Cooking at home is healthier.
Cooking with Sous Vide is easy even for rookies; as long as you follow the manufacturers instructions. Cooking at home means that you can control the amount of calories you eat and thus ensure that you eat healthy. It is difficult to gauge the calorie content in restaurant foods or takeaway foods. They may be cooked with fats and salts that can be detrimental to your health.
A major bone of contention that has been raised with Sous Vide cooking is the type of packaging that is used when cooking the foods. Plastic bags have been known to leach chemicals even before they are put under the stress of a heated water bath. Under such stress the plastic bags will definitely contaminate your food. BPA-free bags have also been found to leach chemicals.
However, a solution has been found. The solution is using plastic bags that do not contain plasticizers. Plasticizers are chemicals that are added to plastics to increase usability of the plastics. Silicone bags that are previously mentioned in this article are the best bags to use to avoid plastic contamination. Canning jars made of glass are also very safe to use.
OVERCOOKING USING SOUS VIDE.
Again, I stress that it is very important to follow the instructions that are provided by the manufacturer of the Sous Vide machine that you are using to avoid a mishap such as overcooking. Furthermore, set the temperature and the time in accordance with the food your cooking in order to avoid overcooking.
In addition, the food might continue cooking cooking even after it leaves the water bath. A simple solution for this is to place the food in an ice bath. It is also possible to overcook steak if you decide to sear it after using Sous Vide. This is especially so if your using thin strips of meat. To avoid this cut the meat to a thicker size ( 2 inches or above).
SOUS VIDE MACHINES.
There are 2 main types of Sous Vide machines.
1. Immersion Circulators
These machines can be used with an ordinary cooking pot or any type of bath that you want to use to cook your food in.
To use, clip the immersion cooker to the pot and the fill the pot and then fill up the pot with water up to the minimum water level provided for in the instructions provided for by the manufacturer. This is so as to avoid damaging the machine or under-cooking your meal.
Then place the bacon (previously sealed in a vacuum bag) in the water and clip it. Set the time and temperature and leave the machine to do the cooking.
Some immersion cookers are designed with wireless connectivity (bluetooth or Wi-Fi). This means that you can operate the machine or track its progress using an app on your phone.
2. Sous Vide ovens or Sous Vide cookers.
Sous Vide machines are the machines that you use to set the time and temperature with which you would like your food (bacon) to cook.
These cookers have all the parts required for Sous Vide cooking. They have a water reservoir where you place your food when cooking. They also come with digital thermometers and digital timers to assist you in properly preparing your meals.
The main difference between the two machines is size. Sous Vide cookers are much larger than immersion calculators and require a much larger storage space. Immersion cookers are preferred since they require less space and have easy portability.
Sous Vide cooking is definitely a great cooking method. No wonder hotels and restaurants have kept it a secret for all this time. However, it is catching up and will soon find its way into many households.
It is a relatively easy cooking method but you still need to follow the instructions to the letter in order to cook your perfect meal. You will need to set the appropriate temperature and time combinations in order to cook your meal the way you want it. At first it might be difficult to get the perfect combination but with a bit of research you will eventually get it right.
It is definitely worth a try for all bacon lovers out there.