Tips to Start Sous Vide Cooking

New to sous vide? You already know it can make the perfect sous vide steak, but there’s more to it than just that. We have put together our top tips on how to use the sous vide from our learning experience over the years. We hope these tips will help sous vide beginners reach the next level in their cooking. Welcome to the club!

Here are our top tips on how to use the sous vide. We have spent the last several years playing around with our sous vide and we hope this video helps those who are new to bring their cooks to the next level.

You got a sous vide? NOW WHAT? Well let’s get started. Here are our top tips for the sous vide beginner.

  1. The starter pack:
    1. Aside from the sous vide you would need:
    2. A container – You can use a pot, a cooler, a polycarbonate container. Most things will work. BUT do not use a styrofoam cooler, those absorb water and will eventually break through.
      1. You should also cover the container. It helps with evaporation and keeping in some of the heat. This way you use less electricity. You can use seran wrap, foil or even get a specifically fitted lid for this. Anova makes a nice container for this but there are many options out there. 
    3. Bags for your food – You can use freezer bags (most commonly), vacuum bags, and silicone reusable bags.
    4. A Vacuum Sealer – This is optional but if you’re cooking something for a long time or at a high temperature, I would recommend using a vacuum sealer. We have one from Food Saver and Anova.
    5. The most important basic thing you need to finish off is a heavy pan that holds heat so you can get a sear as quick as possible. There are a lot of options for equipment and we will go over that in a future video.

Some extra tips that can help you

  1. No matter what types of bag you’re using double bag or double seal. If you’re doing things that have hard edges like bones or crab claws or lobster tails, double bag them because these can puncture the bag.
  2. If you do use a vacuum bag you don’t always have to vacuum seal, you can also use the water displacement method. This works especially well with things you cook in liquid. (Do example)
    1. Bonus Tip: You can freeze your marinade then vacuum seal.
  3. Keep your ziplock bag zippers above the waterline.
  4. Start with warm water. I boil my water first or use hot water from the tap. This way you can get to temperature faster and it’s more efficient for electricity.

The Cook

  1. Don’t be scared to experiment especially when you’re starting out. There will be A LOT and I mean A LOT of opinions. That’s because everyone has different preferences. Even the temperatures we give you are for discussion. Experiment with what you like and don’t worry about what other people will say.
  2. That being said you should learn/ check the pasteurization table
    1. The thicker the cut the longer you need to cook it. Make sure to at least cook it to pasteurization. I use douglas baldwin as my reference. I’ve put a link to a chart in the description.
    2. Avoid the danger zone – you don’t want to keep your meat in the range of temperatures where bacteria can grow. That’s below approximately the 125F range.
    3. If in doubt, throw it out. If your bag balloons it’s probably gone bad. There are some foods that give off gasses but I’m talking about *hand gesture* Or if it just smells off, don’t take the chance.
  3. Make sure the food stays down in the water. There are multiple ways to do this. My favorite, when you double bag place a weight, a spoon, butter knife, or something heavy to keep everything down. You can also use a wire rack or a pot lid holder to hold it all down.
  4. There is a lot of leeway, an extra hour or 2 probably won’t hurt. Except for eggs … those suckers are exact timed. Check out our SV egg experiment video.
  5. Longer is not always better, I’m talking about days long cooks. The meats will eventually turn mushy. We usually try to find the right balance between time and temperature. You can definitely cook something for 48 hours and it would be super tender but we don’t want to wait so long.
  6. The time starts when the water reaches temperature

The Finish

  1. Ice bath:
    1. Chill the meat before searing or finishing. This gives you extra time in the pan so it doesn’t overcook.
  2. For some dishes you’ll need to finish the meats – you’ll want to do this in a hot oven, pan, or grill. You don’t want to overcook it just give it some colour and flavour
  3. Keep your juices – perfect for stock or pan sauce full of flavor

Other things

  1. Try to pair up cooks at the same temperature. I love trying to figure out how many dishes I can make at the same temp. This works particularly well with vegetables. I cook them mostly at 185F. Just make sure everything is submerged.
    1. Mention: mashed potatoes, sous vide vegetables etc. video.
  2. Different uses: I use it to defrost my meats in a pinch.
  3. Be Patient! It takes time and plan ahead.

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