Sous Vide Cooking

Equipments & Accessories

Chef Touch System – The all in one sous vide cooking at home solution from KitchenAid

by on Aug.16, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

Today I saw an interesting piece of sous vide cooking equipment called Chef Touch System from KitchenAid. This concept gather a vacuum chamber sealer (a must in terms of vacuum that gives you the possibility to add liquids such as oil or a marinade in you pouch without destroying the machine) a shock freezer (very usefull and safe device if you want to keep meats in the freezer after you cooked it at low temperature) and a steam oven.

The concept of this all in one sous vide equipment gives an idea of what could look our kitchen in a close futur. The only weak point of this beautiful item is the steam oven. Why not replacing it with a PID controlled steared water bath?

Any idea of the price of the Chef Touch System and availability?

Information added October 23rd :

Thanks to N.Lavirotte, we now know the ChefTouch System is available since September in Europe. Official retail price are as follow :

-Vacuum chamber : 2,950 € incl. VAT
- Shock Freezer : 5,000 € incl. VAT
- Oven : steam ( 1,550 €) combi (1,850 € ) incl. VAT
- Kitchen high cabinet : 2,700 € incl. VAT

Total = 12,500 € (combi oven) incl. VAT (approx. 17,500 USD)

JF

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FreshMealsMagic (Sous Vide Bubbler + SousVideMagic 1500D) Review

by on Jul.04, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

In June 2009 I purchased the SousVideMagic 1500B and my review was globally very positive.
In August 2009 FreshMealsSolutions spread the information about a new product, a “Bubbler” called FreshMealsMagic (FMM). Prior to the launch of the FMM, this new device has been commented in this post.
I also have to admit that I was doubting on the capability of the FMM to stabilize in an accurate way a waterbath.

The core product of FreshMealsSolutions is the SousVideMagic PID controller (now the 1500D version). In my opinion, the main improvement of this PID controller version is the 2nd digital screen (green screen on the above picture). Setting the temperature and the cooking time becomes easier and “readable”.  A second screen indicating the cooking time is a function that is strangely not implemented on most Immersion Circulators.

The bubbler (FMM) can be summarized as a heater element together with a probe and a hose expulsing air. The FMM replaces the usual ricecooker plugged to the SousVideMagic. Therefore the FMM offers the possibility to use pots of any size. Potentially the FMM and the SVM become highly versatile.

The Bubbler solution (contrary to immersion circulators that are using a circulation pump) needs a new device to pulse the air: a small air pump (see on the 2 above pictures). For non American users, the input power cord and an adaptor for the pump should be purchased in you own country (approx. EUR 20 alltogether).

Bubbles generated by the pump create a significant movement in the polycarbonate container provided with the FMM kit.

I tested the temperature accuracy of the FFM together with the SousVideMagic controller. As from now I made a technical test without cooking food stuff. For that purpose I used my Thermoworks K type thermometer. The test was conclusive. I tried to find cold spots (once again this test was done without any plastic pouches) and globally the temperature was almost the same everywhere.

Regarding temperature stability: I filled the container with 12 liters of water at 35°C (starting temperature). I set the PID controller to 56°C. The SVM 1500D is 2,000 W and therefore reached the target temperature quickly. I haven’t tuned the SVM and the stability of the temperature was nevertheless very good (in the range from (55.9°C to 56.3°C).

Storing the SVM sous vide kit can be done easily in the polycabonate container provided in the kit.

To sum up:

  • This new sous vide kit makes FreshMealsSolutions entering in the world of the versatile sous vide equipments.
  • Temperature accuracy is very good (I have not especially insulated the container at the occasion of this review).
  • Temperature stability seems good but I should do futher tests cooking some food.
  • I like the possibility to check the temperature and the cooking time at the same time!
  • Main drawback: this sous vide piece of  equipemnt is composed of 3 devices and 7 cables…what a mess!

Cost of the SousVideMagic 1500D (PID Controller) + FreshMealsMagic (Bubbler):

  • SousVideMagic 1500D: USD 160
  • FreashMealsMagic: USD 140
  • Sending costs to Europe: USD 110
  • Custom duties (Europe): EUR 50
  • Input power cord and socket adaptor: approx EUR 20.

Grant total (1 EUR = 1.25 USD): approx. EUR 372 (USD 446).

JF

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Anthology of compressed fruits (under vacuum)

by on May.22, 2010, under 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.

My other tries were watermelon, melon and banana with rhum ans sugar cane. As you will se bellow, colors of watermelon and melon are getting very intense. The visual effect is fantastic!

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.

Jean-François

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Sousvide Supreme now available in Europe (Netherlands) at € 600

by on Apr.12, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

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).

JF

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Vacuum chamber sealer – Review of the miniVac of VacStar

by on Apr.11, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories


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.

Addelice sous vide kit - swid immersion circulator and minivac vacuum chamber

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.

Perfect!
This new toy is opening a wide range of things to experiment during the next weeks. I am so exited!

Jean-François

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