Sous Vide Cooking

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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9 Comments for this entry

  • Sven

    Jean Francois,

    Good to know that Baldwin tables are accurate. I was also asking myself why no one ever questioned the Baldwin tables.
    I agree with your comment about the Thomas Keller book…there is a huge lack of sous vide books for home cooks.

    Sven

  • j biesinger

    Thanks for the great post regarding Baldwin’s tables.

    I purchased the same probe and temp unit. I’m past the one year warranty, however I sent in an email to see if something can be done about the following issues:

    the MTC unit will read “HI” when inserting the probe into meat that is not over the temp limit. the temps will jump around and take time to register a correct temp

    the epoxy at the top of the probe which seals the wire to it, has cracked and separated from the probe.

    A word of caution: try to limit the flexing of the wire at the epoxy joint.

  • Jean-François

    Thanks for the advice, I’ll sure take care about this seal. Probably you can put an epoxy seal yourself.

    JF

  • Frank Hsu

    That’s why Joan Roca’s bath temperature settings are always slightly higher than required core temperature!
    Well done. Right now, we would advise our users to set their SousVideMagic’s offset 0.5C lower. Beside that it is faster, it is also safer too.
    The main problem now it is more time dependent.

  • j biesinger

    I got a reply from thermoworks, they are attempting to diagnose the problem and see if it warrants fixing or replacement (despite being out of warranty). I followed their instructions and it seems likely, that not only is the epoxy cracked, but there’s a short as well.

    So far, I’m very impressed with Thermoworks’ customer service.

  • Hellen

    Hello Jean-François,

    I’m a brazilian student, and I’m trying to obtain my master degree exploring the sous vide techinique applied to a local fish named Tamabaqui.
    I hope that I will can get it!
    And will be lovable If we could change some experience, cause, I’m new in this area.
    I’m still choosing my seasonings, time and temperature and all these stuffs that I’ll use.
    Soon, I’ll leave you some notices about my research.
    :)

  • Jean-François

    Hellen,

    I am very interested by your research about sous vide. You’ll always be wellcome on this blog to share new ideas.
    What is so special with this fish called Tambaqui?

    JF

  • Wolfgang

    Two issues:

    - Douglas’ time/temp tables have, as far as I know, been calculated by Nathan Myhrvold who published them initially in the giant sous-vide thread on eGullet.org in May 2005 (http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/116617-sous-vide-recipes-techniques-equipment/page__view__findpost__p__982720). He also reported extensive testing of the calculated results under real-life conditions yielding excellent results (like yours).

    - I’ve had a similar problem with Thermoworks’ waterproof needle probe some 2 years ago – it disintegrated while being pulled out of a Daurade oven-cooked at 160°C (which is well inside the probe’s specs). Thermoworks immediately sent me a new probe for free, even though it happened after the one year warranty. Excellent customer service, but maybe not that great a product. I’ve since used the replacement probe at temps below 100°C only, fearing the same problem to occur again.

  • Frank

    @Wolfgang: Maybe Douglas has been inspired by those tables, but they are not just copied. Also, Douglas clearly explains the whole theoretical framework he used to derive the formulas which are necessary to calculate the tables.

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