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Choosing the right equipment

20 January 2021 / Team Cuisine /

SOUS-VIDE EQUIPMENT

Originally developed for high-end French cuisine, the sous-vide method is now easy for home chefs to create perfect meat, fish, and vegetable dishes – all you need is the right equipment! Below are some of the most useful sous-vide tools:

Contents

  1. Getting started with sous-vide equipment
    1.1 For cooking: sous-vide stick vs. sous-vide water oven
    1.2 Air-tight freshness: Vacuum sealer
    1.3 For packaging: Foil bags and rolls
  2. Other accessories: fully equipped with insulation balls

1. Getting started with sous-vide equipment

1.1 For cooking: sous-vide stick vs. sous-vide water oven

Your sous-vide appliance is the most important tool of the sous-vide kit, and you can choose from a wide range of sticks and water ovens:

SOUS-VIDE WATER OVENS

These water ovens are tank-shaped water baths used to heat water to desired temperatures and usually come with a timer function. The advantage of these appliances is their ability to cook large quantities simultaneously, which is particularly useful in the catering industry. However, their larger size makes them unsuitable for a small kitchen. Make sure your sous-vide oven has a water tap for easy water emptying after use.

Advantages of a sous-vide water oven: Disadvantages of a sous-vide water oven:
Professional sous-vide cooking Not suitable for small kitchens
Easy to use Fixed water volume that can only be changed by buying a new appliance.
Very quiet  
No water evaporation  
No heat loss  

SOUS-VIDE STICK

Sous-vide sticks (i.e. the TEAM CUISINE model) have a compact and practical design that can be used in all standard pans. The amount of water must exceed the minimum water line on the sous-vide stick, and most sticks emit an acoustic warning when there is not enough water in the pan. Sous-vide sticks have a heating element that keeps water at a constant temperature, a propellor to properly circulate water, and a cooking timer. These sticks are easy to store and transport and can be used in virtually any-size pan. Pay attention to the power rating when buying a sous-vide stick to ensure it can keep the water temperature constant in larger pans.

Advantages of a sous-vide stick: Disadvantages of a sous-vide stick:
Professional sous-vide cooking Water evaporation
Easy to use Loss of heat
Compact design requires less storage space (Note: Insulation balls helps in both situations)
Easy transport  
Can be used in different pots  
Easy to clean  
   

VERDICT

Both sous-vide appliances are ideal for exploring sous-vide cooking at home, and with proper use there is no difference in price or cooking results. To decide whether the sous-vide water oven or sous-vide stick is best for you, weigh the pros and cons to see which machine will work best for you.

1.2 Air-tight freshness: Vacuum sealer

For successful sous-vide cooking, you need a constant low temperature and perfect vacuum seal. We discussed the cooking temperature in 1.1 when we compared the two sous-vide appliances, but to achieve the the perfect seal you need a vacuum sealer. Vacuum-sealers are not only vital for successful sous-vide cooking, they can extend the shelf life of food and retain the food’s natural nutrients and vitamins. Vacuum-sealed food can last 5-7x longer (due to the removal of oxygen) than regularly-stored food. This method also helps to save space when storing food in the fridge or freezer. Always practice good hygiene by using clean knives and ideally gloves when packing food.

TIP: Label and date stored food with a waterproof pen so you can easily identify the bag contents and so you can track how long leftovers are saved.

When purchasing a vacuum sealer, choose a model that has a high suction power and a double seal like the TEAM CUISINE vacuum sealer. This will ensure food stays sealed and nothing leaks during the cooking process or during storage. Many models also come with adapters that allow you to use special containers (i.e. from FoodSaver), making meal prepping that much easier.

Advantages of vacuum-sealing:

  • Food lasts 5-7x longer
  • Ideal for sous-vide method to prevent leakage of bag contents
  • Saves storage space
  • Preserves natural vitamins and nutrients
  • Prevents freezer burn
  • Can be used with vacuum containers (adapter required)

How should I vacuum-seal my food?

  1. Refer to the instruction manual to choose the correct size bag for your device.
  2. Use special foil bags that are heat-resistant and 100% BPA-free.
  3. Do not overfill bag (fill half way at maximum).
  4. Always place portions adjacent to one another when in the same bag.
  5. Do not squish the bag when vacuum packing to maintain food shape.

1.3 For packaging: Foil bags and rolls

Always use the special-purpose foil when cooking with sous-vide products. This foil is heat-resistant to 215F, 100% BPA free, tear-resistant, and food-safe. Cooking with “plastic” is completely harmless when using this foil as it protects any harmful substances from leaking into food. Special sous-vide foil is available as pre-portioned bags or rolls that can be cut to desired sizes. Foil bags only need to be sealed on one side and only fit a certain amount of food whereas foil rolls must have all edges sealed and can be sized to the amount of food being stored. Ensure the foil is tightly sealed to prevent opening during the cooking process. This foil can also be placed in the freezer.

2. Other accessories: fully equipped with insulation balls

Insulation balls are a useful addition to the basic sous-vide kit as they prevent water evaporation during the long cooking time for sous-vide meals. The balls are placed in the pan or water bath and float to the top to create a “lid” over the food that reduces water evaporation by almost 100%. These balls are specially designed to easily access the bag underneath the water. Most insulation balls come with a mesh storage sack where the balls can dry after use. They are also very easy to wash with a simple water rinse.

The small balls create a “carpet” over the surface of the water bath

Watch this video to find out more about the essential sous-vide equipment!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfVmZUgSxo0&t=1s
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