(Continuation from Sous Vide Basics: Part One)
Flavorseal Sous Vide Cooking Equipment Guide
The sous vide process isn’t complicated – just vacuum seal and cook. But when it comes to sous vide supplies, there are several options in the market today, so it’s important to understand their differences and determine what will work best for your situation.
1. The Vacuum Sealer (and the bags)
What chefs really need for vacuum sealing is a chamber vacuum sealer. Chamber vacuum sealers are designed for commercial use, which means they will pull a 99.9% vacuum and won’t break down easily. The chambers can be thoroughly cleaned, reducing the risk of cross contamination and harmful bacteria lurking in the corners. In addition, chamber vacuum sealers use commercial-grade vacuum pouches, which are safe for food contact during cooking and come in many different sizes so you can choose one that correctly fits the products you are cooking.
Home vacuum sealers are not recommended for sous vide. Retail vacuum sealers will only work with channel pouches, most of which are designed for storage, not for cooking. The bag structure may break down, leading to harmful chemicals leaching into the food and bags breaking during cooking. Channel pouches may also allow liquids to be drawn back into the vacuum machine during sealing, and most consumer vacuum sealers are not designed to be cleaned as thoroughly as commercial cooking equipment.
2. The Sous Vide Cooker
There are two choices when it comes to sous vide cooking equipment: an immersion circulator inserted into a small tub of water (usually a Lexan tub), or an all-in-one circulating water bath. Both have digital controls to maintain temperatures within .01° F and circulate water effectively. However, the insulated circulating water baths are more energy efficient since they use less energy to maintain temperatures than the uninsulated Lexan tubs. Some circulating water baths on the market are also NSF certified and available in several sizes.
That covers the basics of the equipment needed to do sous vide in a commercial kitchen. In the third installment to this series on Sous Vide Basics, we will discuss HACCP, the health code, and what you need to consider when doing sous vide in your kitchen.