Sous Vide Cooking

Equipments & Accessories

Are Douglas Baldwin Sous Vide Cooking Tables Correct? Review of Baldwin’s table with a 30 mm Salmon Mi-Cuit

by on Mar.15, 2010, under Books, Equipments & Accessories, Time and Accurate Temperature

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.

Jean-François

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Polyscience MX Immersion Circulator – What a beauty!

by on Mar.02, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

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!

YouTube Preview Image

Jean-François

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Digital thermometer with a penetration thermocouple probe – Test for sous vide purpose

by on Feb.09, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

A month ago I decided to purchase a digital thermomether with a penetration probe. I had a chock when looking at prices  on internet. Price for such thermometer is usually in the range from EUR 200 to EUR 400.
Then, when I saw the Thermowoks onlineshop proposing a similarly equipment for approx. USD 110 incl. shipping to Europe…I decided very fast to make a try.

The overall price was :

  • MTC, Mini Handheld Thermocouple Meter, Type K : USD 43.
  • K Type Fast Response Meat Needle Probe Fitted into MPK ANSI Plug : USD 30.
  • Coiled Lead Type K Extension Wire 2 Meter Plug to Socket Ansi Colour Yellow (627-741): USD 19.
  • Shipping cost to Europe: approx. USD 20.

Total: USD 110.

My worry was to determine how good this thermometer is. Was it well calibrated? I asked a friend of mine if he could find a precision thermometer in order to compare its precision to the Thermoworks one.  Thanks to Bertrand.L I could find someone borrowing me the GMH-3710. He told me he purchased it here for approx?  EUR 220 excl. VAT and shipping costs. This is 3 times the price I purchased mine!

I red on internet that temperature accuracy depends of the temperature. In other words, the higher the temperature is,  the bigger the risk of inaccuracy could appear.

For the purpose of my test I tried with both the thermomethers to assess the temperature of an apple, a glass of water containeing water at 46°C and 79°C.

Above a picture of the GMH-3710

My test with an apple that was laying around in kitchen was excellent. The difference in temperature between the 2 thermometers was in the range from 0.1°C to 0.2°C only. Therefore the inside temperature of the apple was approx. 21.5°C.

The test with the 46°C water was also good with a difference of maximum 0.3°C.

I also made the test with a glass of water at 79°C. The difference of temperature was in the range from 0.3°C to 0.4°C.

To sum up : The Thermoworks digital thermometer seems to work very well and is price competitive. I am in a hurry to try it while cooking sous vide!

Jean-François

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Polyscience compaires an immersion circulator and a non stired water bath

by on Jan.23, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories, Time and Accurate Temperature

Today Polyscience made the demonstration that a non stired water bath cannot be as efficient as an immersion circulator. It is funny to see that Polyscience directly mentions Sousvidesupreme in the TAG of the article.

Polyscience video indicates clearely that a non stired water bath has a longer response time to reach the desired core temperature. Therefore, it is obvious that Douglas Baldwin cooking tables sould be used with care. Douglas Baldwin indicates in the Pratical Guide to Sous Vide “With all these digital controllers, I highly recommend setting the temperature offset (measured near the temperature at which you wish to cook) using a high quality digital thermometer. Indeed, at the default settings the thermistors used in the above controllers can easily be off 2–4°F (1–2°C)”.

Freshmealsolutions mentions clearely in the user manual of the SousVideMagic : “If you don’t have a proper food core temperature sensor probe, always cook at desired core temperature settings for the duration as specified by reliable recipes with an additional safety factor of at least 25% longer…”
In addition the manual indicates “The default settings are designed to overshoot 1 or 2 degree higher for safety reasons. You can reduce the overshoot by making your own PID adjustments. See the document “PID Tuning”.”

YouTube Preview Image

Jean-François

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Sous Vide & Electricity consumption – Astonishing!

by on Jan.17, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories


There is now some weeks I wanted to verify by myself if a sous vide equipment is more energy efficient than a “traditional” convection oven. Cooking sous vide some kind of meats can take even several days (for example 72 hours pork ribbs at 57°C). What are the electricity costs?

How to proceed to illustrate this point?
My first thought was to compare the quantity of energy used by a convection oven and an immersion circulator (or a PID controller) in order to obtain the same doneness (rosé) on a 1 Kg beef filet.
Therefore I purchased in a do it yourself shop a very cheap appliance (EUR 11) to calculate the quantity of energy used by an electrical appliance (“consomètre” – refer to the picture on the left).
Unfortunately this “consomètre” cannot be plugged to my convection oven (the electrical cables of the oven are directly connected in the wall.  In other word I have no mains where to plug this “consomètre”.

Thus I have decided to restrict my test to the assessment of the amount of energy used during a cooking process of at least 8 hours at 60°C. The final goal is to determine the cost of such cooking process.

I will not spend any time on the scientific explanation between Power and Energy since the purpose of this blog is only cooking. Nevertheless, for those who want to refresh their mind about physics basics I recommend reading this small article.

In order to determine the price of the energy consumption of an immersion circulator during 8 hours at 60°C I took a round pot of 15 liters and filled it with 28°C tap water.

It took 22 minutes for the swid to reach the target temperature of 60°C at full power (2,170 W).

Then the swid was stable very fast (some secondes only). At this stage the total energy consumption was 0.74 KWh which represents 8 cents (in France, 1 KWh = 0.11 €).

During the next 8 minutes the swid was struggling with power variation in the range from 50W to 600W. I would say the average could be in the area of 300W.
After 1 hour (excl. pre heating) the power variation was in the range from 14W to 200 W. At this stage (1:20 hours incl pre heating) the total energy consumption was 1.06 KWh.

Then I covered the tank with a plastic wrap in order to avoid water evaporation and let the swid run for additional 7:25 hours. When I came back in the morning the result was amazing. Power variation was in the range from 11 to 25 W. Total energy consumption was 2.05KWh (8:45 hours incl pre heating).

For France this represents a cost of approx. € 0.22 (0.33$ with currency rate of 1€ = 1.5 $). Astonishing isn’t it?

Jean-François

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