New sous-vide equipment options

It looks like there are now a host of DIY water batch controllers on the market (one was demoed at Maker Faire in New York) for $80-$100, and even some pre-assembled ones for $120. If anyone has any experience with these and wants to post a review, that’d be great!

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October 23, 2011. Technique.

14 Comments

  1. Michael Conkle replied:

    Great Review posted here:

    http://seattlefoodgeek.com/2010/04/review-the-sous-vide-supreme/

  2. John Pamperin replied:

    I’ve put together an ember kit from lowereastkitchen.com. If you’ve ever soldered anything yourself or know someone who knows how to solder, its a great thing to make. Basically, it is a temperature controller that you put together yourself and attach it to a large (30 cup) coffee urn for the heating element and to hold the water. The kit is $80 and the urn is about $30, so its a really cheap alternative to the commercial equivalents.

    The kit is very well put together, doing both Fahrenheit and Celsius to a tenth of a degree. It will also display the current water bath temp. I’ve had it running for days on a brisket with no issues.

    The only downfall is the lack of circulation. I solved this issue by getting a cheap aquarium air pump, perforating a length of the air tube, and gluing the tube to the bottom of the urn with a silicone based, food safe glue. A $15 fix.

    And since its a coffee urn, the footprint is quite small and wife friendly.

  3. harald mossle replied:

    I bought the sousvidemagic from freshmealssolutions.com they have a fair price and I’m happy with it. Buy a chip air pump and you are done.

    • sousvide replied:

      Great. Any favorites that you’ve made with it so far?

  4. harald mossle replied:

    I have a small restaurant in the dominican Republic and doing all my chicken with it.
    Chicken breast cooked at 140 F and for around 90 minutes gives a nice juice and tender chicken. Brine it for around half hour before cooking.
    Doing also meatballs and fischballs made with Transglutaminase activa RM. Saves me a lot of time.

    • sousvide replied:

      Harald–Thanks for that suggestion. My wife loves chicken breasts and I often find them too dry, so that’s a great idea for how to cook them. Do you use anything fancy in the brine, or just salt water? And do you cook them with or without bones & skin? Thanks!–David

  5. harald mossle replied:

    Best of all on an busy Sunday meat is waiting for customers and not customers for meat.Not doing red meat too this moment only chicken.
    But did some experiments with beef fillet and beef tongue it was wonderful.
    The tongue cooked for 16 hours with a little bit of cream and after short fried. Outside crisp inside tender. Try somethi8ng can only recommend it.

  6. Scott replied:

    So far at home I’ve used both a slow cooker, insulated cooler and a large stock pot to DIY sous vide successfully. It’s always given me very similar results to using the professional machines at work, even if it is a little more time consuming to maintain temperatures.

  7. Carl Johnson replied:

    Am very pleased with the Sous Vide Supreme Ive had just less than a year now. Just bought a Auberins controller unit, matched it up with a 12 cup rice cooker, and it heats to temp faster than the Supreme! Bought the rice cooker for $7.99 at Good Will, $147.50 for the control unit, makes $155.49 complete, now I can simultaneously cook meat and vegetables just the way I like them. Mistakes I made where: bought a vacuum food saver, should have saved the money and got a VacMaster 112 right off. Got the 112 at Qualitymatters.com for $539 and while the price makes you cry its a delight every time you use it thereafter. I tried using a crock pot for sous vide and it was glacially slow, rice cookers work well. If I did it again Id probably go Auberins/rice cooker and saved the difference. Hope this helps another pilgrim.

    • sousvide replied:

      Carl–That’s very cool about the Auberins controller. I’m sorely tempted. I love my digital sv unit, but would like to have the flexibility to do 2 items at once or to do more food at once.

      I haven’t broken down and gotten a VacMaster (yet), although I keep looking at them. Still muscling through with the FoodSaver, but it is clearly marginal and doesn’t really allow for much pressure.

  8. Don replied:

    I have heard good things about the Auberins unit and thought about going that way. Instead I took a chance on Dorkfood unit for $99. It works fine and so no complaints. The heart of the system I think is the cooker after doing it for a while and running it most of the hours of any given week. I have a 11.5 quart Panasonic “commercial” rice cooker. And the heating is robust to say the least and it feels like it could run forever. My setup is detailed at simplifiedsousvide website. IMHO forget the vac packer to begin. Get your feet wet with Ziplock bags.

    • sousvide replied:

      I’ve also been going “retro” a bit with ziploc bags by immersing them in water to push out the air. I still use my FoodSaver for some things, but the zip-locs work almost as well as a low-end home vacuum unit like a FooSaver. It’s not like the FS is really generating all that much pressure. And with the zip-locs I can use biodegradable (and cheaper) bags.

  9. Leigh Jones replied:

    I put together my sous vide cooker nearly 3 years ago and now I would be a bit helpless without it. Last weekend I made a second copy for my sister, and she’s happily a member of the ranks of sous-vide-at-home cooks too. I started with a Rival CrockPot, 7-qt, oval and added a PID controller ordered online. But the PID controller turned out to be vulnerable to very brief power outages; it forgot the set point temperature and turned off until I returned home. Not suitable, but I tried again and found a thermostat online, Johnson Controls A419, that has worked very well. I also have an aquarium air pump and airstones to aid in circulation. I use no vacuum sealer, just Ziplock bags. Although the low cost of building the cooker was not really an important goal, the entire cooker was less than $100. The water temperature fluctuates a bit, but a meat thermometer in a chicken breast quickly proved to me this is of no consequence. And cooking results demonstrated that the thermostat is as good as a PID controller. This cooker can bring 6-lb roasts quickly up to temperature, and has been a real work horse. It cleans up easily with a few drops of lemon juice and a paper towel, and is lighter and smaller than sous vide cookers without circulation that handle less food and recommend your roast be cut into 4-6 ounce pieces and separately bagged.

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