Sous-Vide Equipment

For sous-vide you need three things:

1) A constant temperture water bath. This can be as simple as a pot of water in your oven or as nice as a shiny new $1000 digitally controlled thermal bath like the ones from Cuisine Technologies. A good compromise is a used or refurbished thermal bath found on eBay. They run $100-$300. Make sure you have room for whatever you get and that it can be placed near a sink for easy filling and eventual emptying.

2) A vacuum-sealer. Consumer models from FoodSaver are available for under $200. You really need the FoodSaver Pro model for about $199 (it is really still a consumer version despite the name) to have the flexibility to control the sealing and vacuum. Real “pro” vacuum sealers allow you to apply much larger vacuums but can cost over $1,000.

3) An accurate thermometer and probes. Ideally it should read within 1 degree. You’ll also want a probe–preferably thin–to stick through the bag and into your food. If you don’t also have a digital temperature control on your water bath you’ll want to get a probe for it that you can use to measure water temperature. Cooper-Atkins makes one for chefs that you can buy for under $100 from suppliers like eTundra.com. Compatible “K-type” probes are another $50 or so each. Some probes also require an extension wire for convenient use.

You can get started of course without all this. Place some eggs or a vacuum-sealed product from the store in a pan of water in your oven and monitor the oven temperature with a $3 oven thermometer and the internal temperature with your current meat thermometer and you’ll get some sense of what is possible, but for better results you’ll need to start investing!–David

 

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January 21, 2006. Kitchen Equipment.

3 Comments

  1. sousvide replied:

    Just a quick update. After over a year of using my $99 refurb water bath (courtesy of eBay), it has performed very well.

    I have a small “cheat sheet” of what dial settings correspond to what temps (calibrated with a vat thermometer).

    The only thing that doesn’t work that well is trying to get a temp probe into the sous-vide bag to measure the temp of the meal itself. I’ve tried various weather stripping/foam patches to stick the needle through, but they tend to fall off after awhile in the water. Ideas?

    The weak link in my system is clearly the FoodSaver. Ideally I’d have the budget & space for a real “cryovac” type vacuum-sealer, but I don’t. I haven’t found a good workaround for that, so the best I can do is an okay seal but little or no real vacuum pressure.–David

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