DIY Sous Vide

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Our friend Dave, who is an engineer at Microsoft in Seattle, paid us a visit last week. Reports had been circulating that he had assembled his own Sous Vide; a device that enables highly-accurate temperature control for cooking, in the manner of Heston Blumenthal.

By first vacuuming the food into sealed bags, then immersing it a water bath, it is possible to cook meats and other food stuffs in a way that prevents over-cooking, and because you can cook over more sustained periods of time, it can extract better results from cheaper cuts of meat.

Buying ready-made, commercial Sous-Vides is still very expensive, so Dave lead the way in bringing a temperature controller and the major components over from the USA. All that was left was to fashion an enclosure, and assemble it all together. After heading to the tool district, we found a cornucopia of electronics component shops, and had immense fun selecting the most clicky, over-the-top switches and widgets for the control box.

Results? Melt-in-mouth good, but without disintegrating. I wonder, in fact, if some of the more famous steak houses cook their steaks in this way; we had a relatively good value cut, but it would be interesting to see the results with even better meat.

Next project are eggs; apparently it’s possible to cook poached eggs in the shell that, once opened, are more like custard.

The control box.

Bringing the water up to temperature.

Dropping the vacuum-packed meat into the water.

Bubbling away ...

Plonk

Cutting open the packs of meat, and suddenly filling the kitchen with rather a nice smell!

You still need to finish it off in a pan to attain the colour, and to add a touch of caramelised burnt flavour to the meat. The Lodge cast-iron pan that I idiotically hand-carried back from the USA (6kg!) does the job perfectly; better than non-stick.

Served with pureed cauliflower and jus of bell pepper. Yum!

7 Comments

  1. Tony
    Posted 2011/05/13 at 16:09 | Permalink

    oooh. Gadgets and cooking. Never heard of this before. Is that temperature display correct? 55′C setpoint? That seems very low. Is it high enough to kill bacteria?

    Could be a very energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly way of cooking, too, if somebody could invent a reusable pack to hold the food in.

    • Posted 2011/05/14 at 16:22 | Permalink

      It is – it’s actually the temperature of ‘medium-rare’ cooked all the way through; you then sear it for flavour.

      I am not sure about environmental considerations; I imagine it would actually use more energy in the end, due to the times involved.

  2. Tobias
    Posted 2011/05/19 at 00:13 | Permalink

    Hi,

    I’m about to build my own suis vide machine following this guide, but I like the divided design of your machine better. What metal did you use for the enclosure? I’ve been trying to find something that is not heat conducting so it wont melt the plastic bag, can’t corrode, and is heat resistant. So far my best suggestion is stainless steel.

  3. Tobias
    Posted 2011/05/19 at 18:46 | Permalink

    Hi,

    I’m about to build my own sous vide machine, and I like the two-part design of yours. What is the net of the enclosure made of? I’ve been looking for some kind of material that is noncorroding, heat resistant, and non-heat conducting so it won’t melt the plastic bag (if it even becomes that hot). So far I’ve been thinking of using stainless steel, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.

  4. Posted 2011/05/25 at 13:01 | Permalink

    Hello! We bought some chicken wire net – this was easy to bend, non-corrosive, and does not damage the bag. We then made a rough bracket from aluminium to hold the heater, and this hangs over the side. I can send some more images if you like – let me know.

    • Tobias
      Posted 2011/06/25 at 03:19 | Permalink

      Hi,

      Sorry about my double post – I didn’t think the first one went through.

      I would very much like to see more images! Not sure how this works, so in case you can’t see my email it’s tobias.a.lauritzen + the gmail-ending.

      Thank you so much!

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