The Importance of Temperature

An easy mistake to make when first cooking sous-vide is to under-estimate the importance of temperature. Since sous-vide lets us be so much more flexible with time it extracts a price in temperature.

The reason for this is simple. Unlike with traditional cooking where a too hot or too cold oven or grill can be compensated for by careful monitoring of the food temperature with sous-vide our meat or fish will never become hotter than the temperature of the water bath–no matter how long we leave it in.

And complicating that is how difficult it is to actively monitor the temperature of the food–even with careful application of weatherstripping it is hard to use a temperature probe on meat in a sous-vide pouch without destroying the waterproof seal.

A final issue is the long cooking times. Too low a temperature is difficult to compensate for by simply “cranking it up” (although for meals which get a final searing you can of course fudge things a little by doing a little cooking during your searing).

And if your temperature was too high your meal might well be ruined long before you notice.

All that said, the choice of temperature is often–literally–a matter of taste. Whether you like your salmon rare (maybe 108) or a little more cooked (maybe 112) is up to you. Similarly you can have your steaks range from very rare to medium rare by fiddling with the temperature on your bath.

You can even experiment by cooking short ribs, for example, at a steak temperature to make them taste more like a chop.

So take notes, learn from others and share your findings on temperature, the secret ingredient of sous-vide cooking!–David

January 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Technique.


  1. matt replied:

    i’ve cooked sous vide over a dozen times and can’t get enough of it. if you have any interest in sharing instructions on how to sous vide at home spending anywhere from $0 to $55 before buying an IC or SVS, i’d welcome any readers who’d like to check out my experiences. pictures and more then the original 2 posts are coming, i promise!

  2. sousvide replied:

    matt–Thanks for sharing your information on low cost sous-vide. That’s very helpful for everyone who is interested but not ready to take the plunge into exotic gear. Most of the folks I tell about sv would like to experiment but without committing a lot of resources.

    Of course after most of them taste it, they’re on eBay looking for a thermal bath:-)

    Seriously, for King Salmon & Steaks in particular I just about won’t do them any other way.–David

  3. jamexsullivan replied:

    I agree with your blog.Unlike with manually cooking food temperature either too hot or too cold , so we can use the Temperature Monitoring system.

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