Equipments & Accessories
Today I had time to experiment “compression” with my vacuum chamber sealer. To put a juicy fruit under vacuum is an issue with clamp vacuum machines as liquids can get inside the machine and break it. Vacuum chamber sealer machines are designed in a way that liquids can be put under vacuum. The vacuum is also much stronger with a vacuum chamber sealer compared to a clamp machine.
Compressing fruits such as watermelon is often described on cooking books or on some blogs. I was very curious to see the result on the texture of the fruit and also on the flavor.
Fo my first try I took a green apple I have cut in thin slices. I added a bit of gin inside the pouch, set the vacuum chamber machine at the maximum and here is the result. A fantastics translucent apple slice. I have also particularly appreciated the combination apple/gin.
On these picture you will realize how different is the color of compressed melon and watermelon compared to uncompressed ones. The texture is also very different, especially for the melon.
Then, what about the flavor? In my opinion watermelon compression doesn’t improve the flavor. I have added in the pouch some watermelon juice as I though this would raise the flavor…but it didn’t work.
Melon was in my opinion more interesting. The texture was getting more compact than with watermelon and the color became incredibly orange. In the mouth the compressed melon was unfamiliar. I can’t say it was better than the uncompressed one but this was an interesting feeling.
I was very surprised to see that the Sousvide Supreme was today available in Europe (Kookpunt.nl – Netherlands) at € 599 (incl. shipping?).
No star Chef, no Heston Blumenthal for the introductory in Europe of the so called “water oven”?
So strange that the Sousvidesupreme (USD 449 in the US) is now almost as expensive as a Grant SV100 immersion circulator and 30% more expensive than a swid! Please keep in mind that, contrary to what was said in several articles on internet, the Sousvidesupreme is not an immersion circulator but a non stirred water bath (PID controlled).
I am currently using a clamp machine to vacuum my food stuff to be cooked sous vide. I decided one year ago to purchase a LAVA V100 which is in my opinion the best choice to start with cooking sous vide. I am still very happy with this machine but it is impossible to experiment compression with watermelon for example or to vacuum marinade or liquid in general. You can always freeze liquids or play with gravity as Casqu8 did in one of his posts but having a vacuum chamber machine is a must!
The problem is the price of vacuum chamber machines. Usually these vacuum machines can be purchased at price ranges from € 1,700 to more than € 4,000!! The size and the weight of a vacuum chamber is also an obstacle for individuals to have this kind of equipment at home. The weight is usually in the range from 50 to 120 Kg!
What is therefore the point of this post? Definitely a vacuum chamber machine can’t be integrated in your home kitchen except if you are a millionaire and your kitchen has the size of my flat.
The answer is the miniVac of VacStar a mini vacuum chamber directly coming from Switzerland. The miniVac is extremely small compared to his brothers and sisters 26 cm large, 40 cm long and 25 cm high. It weights 17 kilos.
Addélice which is the manufacturer of an immersion circulator called Swid also distributes the miniVac as a Pro sous vide kit. An immersion circulator and a vacuum chamber for less than € 1700, this is a lot of money but so far I haven’t seen any other cheaper high tech option.
I am chasing Addélice for months to test the miniVac and finally they have accepted to borrow it to me for the next 3 weeks. I received it yesterday and couldn’t wait to share my first impressions with you!
First impression is about the size. I knew it was small but I didn’t realize the miniVac was so compact before I saw it in real. It is small but so heavy! Take care to have a table that can resist to a weight of 17 Kg.
The size of the chamber seems also small 220 x 280 x 90 mm. In any case the maximum width of bags to be used is 20 cm. It is probably ok for most of my applications but probably too small if I decide to make a one piece beef filet for 5 people.
The parcel contains very few things, the miniVac, the electrical cable, some oil, an “L” frame key, a manual (2 pages!?), a liquid insert and a white plate (see the picture above).
The manual is limited to the minimum and is, in my opinion, not well made. There is such a discrepancy between the good feeling you have of the vacuum machine and the manual! I recommend to VacStar changing this ASAP.
In order to get an idea of the size of the Addélice sous vide Pro kit you’ll find a picture below with a 1.5 liter bottle of coke.
Starting with the minivac
First thing you have to do is to unscrew a cap in order to pour the oil provided with the miniVac (see on the pic below).
Then pour oil in the tube. The manual indicates you should absolutely let a “bubble of air” that should be visible on the screen on the back plate of the miniVac (see the picture bellow).
Features on the front panel
The miniVac has limited features available on the front panel.
The “on/off” button.
With the “Temp” button you set the time used to seal the pouch. The thicker the pouch is, the longer you need the seal it.
The “Vacuum” button sets the “time” to vacuum. In other words 10 seconds should be the maximum time needed to obtain a 99.8% vacuum.
The “Stop” button stops the vacuum process and seals the pouch at any time you decide to push it.
Lets try the miniVac!
For my first test I tried to vaccum seal water, just water. For this test the liquid insert is needed.
This new toy is opening a wide range of things to experiment during the next weeks. I am so exited!
Are Douglas Baldwin Sous Vide Cooking Tables Correct? Review of Baldwin’s table with a 30 mm Salmon Mi-Cuit
As you may already know Douglas Baldwin “Practical Guide to sous Vide Cooking” is to date probably one of the only serious source of information about sous vide that you can download for free on internet (English, Portuguese/Brazil, French and German). The revolution of this document is to allow home cooks cooking sous vide with tables. No need of an external probe to be inserted in the pouch in order to get the internal temperature of the food. Before using Baldwin tables I purchased most of the books available but none of them were mentioning the thickness of food as a key information in order to cook sous vide. Therefore, in my opinion, all these books can be considered as art books but not cooking books where recipes can be reproduced.
I have experimented Baldwin tables for a while now and I have to admit that I have never been sick or disappointed by the degree of doneness according to the temperatures given.
Nevertheless I realized that nobody on the net ever discussed if Baldwin tables are correct or not. Do I have to accept the fact that everybody is assuming these tables are accurate?
This the reason why I decided to purchase an external penetration probe and verify by myself. For those who would like to purchase such equipment I want to say that I made a mistake in my previous post when buying the needle probe from Thermoworks. The one that should be used for sous vide (water proof) is THS-113-181 only (see on the right of the picture). The needle is very thin (1 mm) and long enough to get inside a 7 cm thick beef fillet (incl. the turbigomme foam).
For my first test of Baldwin table I took a cut of salmon, 30 mm thick that I wanted to cook “mi-cuit” at 47°C. Douglas Baldwin table indicates 1 hour and 2 minutes cooking time. As mentioned in Baldwin document I raised the temperature of my immersion circulator of 0.5°C (47.5°C) in order to be sure to reach the target temperature of 47°C.
In order to comply totally with Baldwin table I took care the core temperature of the salmon was 5°C. This step made me realizing that my fridge is definitely not cold enough as the core temperature of my salmon was 10°C before chilling it! As illustrated on the picture I immersed the pouch in iced water for some minutes.
As mentioned above I set my immersion circulator at 47.5°C for 1:02 and noted frequently the data in order to make a graph out it.
And the result is EXCELLENT!
I was very surprised to see how fast the temperature was raising during the first minutes. I was also having some doubts when the countdown of my sous vide equipment was indicating 22 minutes left while the core temperature of the salmon was 36.6°C. The last tenth of degrees take really long to be reached and I now understand why you should set your sous vide appliance 0.5°C above the target temperature…if you don’t it will take ages before you really reach the target temperature.
Polyscience launched on Youtube a video about their new Immersion Circulator, the MX version.
The design of this equipment is fantastic but will this immersion circulator be affordable for sous vide chefs and individuals? Except this video, no information is available on the net. If you have some, feel free to tell us!
Here is the Youtube video!