Sous Vide Cooking

Tag: Addélice

Sous Vide Immersion Circulators Review – Part 1

by on Nov.20, 2017, under Equipments & Accessories

Dissna KW802, Vacmaster/Buffalo, Swid Premium, Melissa (Anova Counterfeit), Anova Wifi

My last review of the most known sous vide equipment of the market dates from 2011. In 2009 most immersion circulators were manufactured by Julabo (now German Fusion Chef), Polyscience (USA), Roner (Spain), Clifton Range (UK). All these machines were laboratories equipment used in kitchens. Then the US Sous Vide Supreme and the German Swid (Addelice) were launched as firsts sous vide equipment 100% devoted to sous vide cooking. End 2012 Nomiku started a sous vide project on Kickstarter followed by Sansaire and Anova…After that the Chinese have flooded the market with cheap and low quality products.

If you are interested in a sous vide immersion circulator, just surf on Alibaba, it is probably available for wholesalers at USD 40…you’ll find the same machines sold on internet with dozens of other trademarks at retail price between USD 100 and USD 300.

Example of "quality immersion circulator" Dissna sold on Alibaba at USD 39...

Some friends of mine have purchased different thermal circulators. They borrowed them to me to conduct this test. Unfortunately I couldn’t put a hand on a Sansaire or Nomiku which are not so popular in Europe.

- Anova Wifi: USD 130 to 180. This world-renowned device has been acquired in 2017 by the Electrolux Swedish Cie. Is this device so great?
- Melissa: EUR 80, Anova’s counterfeit available on the European market (no Wifi or Bluetooth). Is it worth saving EUR 80 compared to the Anova?
- Chinese thermostat sold under many trademarks such as Buffalo, Vacmaster, Lacor, Allpax, Steba, Metro…priced between EUR 230 to 300. Let’s call it Buffalo / Vacmaster. This device seems to be popular among professionals who don’t want to invest in an Addelice or Julabo/Fusion Chef. Is it a good strategic choice?
- Dissna KW802 (also sold under other trademarks): EUR 110. A new comer on the market. Is this piece of hardware promising and about to compete with Anova?
- Addelice: the Swid is very popular in Europe among professionals and amateur cooks. It has the reputation being a high performance and user friendly device. Price is high compared to the other devices (Swid EUR 400, Swid Premium 630 excl. VAT), nevertheless, I think it is interesting having a reference for comparison for the purpose of this test.

On this first post I have focused of the heat speed, temperature accuracy and stability. Other tests and information will be disclosed in future posts.

Test 1: Heat Speed

Power of sous vide devices can vary from 800w to 2,400W. Does the manufacturer’s information comply with the technical specifications? Is it worth it to have a lot of power to cook sous vide? What are the advantages and drawbacks?

The purpose of a sous vide device is to heat and stabilize the temperature of a water bath.
If you are an individual and use small containers (less than 10L) you definitely don’t need strong power. Nevertheless, a powerful device can help temperature stability when regulating high temperature (such as 90-95°C for vegetables), even in a middle size container. Drawback: a powerful immersion circulator in a small container can “overshoot” for some minutes. If the temperature controller is good the overshooting should vanish after some minutes.
If you are a professional and use big containers (as from 28L) power is very useful to reach fast the target temperature and stabilize high temperature in big containers up to 58L. For big containers it is essential, even with high power devices to, at least, insulate your container with a cling film or a custom made lid.

To conduct this test I have used a container filled with 7 litres (1.85 gallons) water only. The container was not insulated and not covered by a lid. Starting temperature was 20°C (68°F) and set temperature 55°C (131°F).

- Without any surprise the Swid (2,400W) is the fastest device. It took 7 minutes only to reach the target temperature.
- The Buffalo / Vacmaster took approx. 55% more time (11 minutes) compared to the Swid. Therefore we could estimate its power to approx. 1,300W.
- Anova took 24′. Compared to the Swid the Anova should be rated 700W (official specifications 800 to 900W).
- Melissa, the counterfeit Anova, took almost as long as the Anova, which is consistent with the 800W specifications.
- Dissna KW802 took 15′, then should be rated approx. 1,120W which is consistent with official specifications. I had some problems to assess the Dissna’s exact heating time. Indeed the temperature displayed on the immersion circulator and the actual temperature in the water bath are not fitting during the heating process. Dissna stopped heating full power at 52°C (while displaying 55°C on its display) and took really long to regulate until 55°C. Then I have done again the same tests but set the target temperature at 58°C. This way I could assess the real time needed to reach 55°C.

Test 2: Temperature Accuracy

Accuracy of the temperature is key for sous vide cooking. 1°C (1.8°F) of inaccuracy can have a great impact on the final result of a recipe! Most immersion circulator’s users don’t realise a sous vide equipment can become inaccurate after a while. Some times an immersion circulator can be inaccurate out of the box! To test the accuracy of an immersion circulator you need a very special thermometer. I have used a Greisinger GMH 3750 with accuracy ± 0.03°C and a Pt100 probe DIN B ± 0.10°C. This device, together with its probe cost approx. EUR 380! Just to say that you can trust in the accuracy of my temperature measuring.
If you make your own test with your immersion circulator and thermometer, you may find different results for the reasons as follow:

- Your thermometer probably sucks! Sorry but many people are relying on their digital thermometer without looking at specifications. I give you one example: This very classic kitchen thermometer is ranked with an accuracy of ± 1°C (± 1°.8°F which is already bad)! But this information is not enough. You need both the accuracy of the thermometer AND the accuracy of the probe. One data is missing, which means this thermometer can be even more inaccurate…
In addition, thermocouple type K thermometers can become inaccurate after some years. Professionals usually make them be calibrated each one or two years.

- For example a manufacturer indicates ± 0.3°C accuracy for his immersion circulator. Which means my device can be + 0.3°C off when yours can be – 0.3°C off, which is totally normal.

The above chart speaks for itself.

- Dissna KW802 circulator was the worst device tested. No comment!
- Melissa, Anova’s counterfeit, got an unacceptable accuracy above 67°C.
- Anova was very good until 80°C.
- Vacmaster / Buffalo Chinese machine was excellent until 80°C and acceptable until 90°C
- The Swid accuracy was excellent at all temperatures. We could not measure the accuracy above 90°C as the Swid can’t be set above 90°C. We asked Addelice why. Addelice said all Swids could set temperature up to 95°C as from mid 2018. In the meantime the Swid can be ordered with 95°C specification, on request. Addelice confirmed accuracy should remain excellent at 95°C.

Test 3: Temperature Stability

The “stability” criteria is the capability for an immersion circulator to regulate the temperature of a water bath which can be affected by external factors like an open window nearby the water bath container, or immersing 5°C pouches in the water bath…
Usually, stability of immersion circulators isn’t an issue.
I have used the Greisinger thermometer to check the temperature stability. The resolution of this thermometer is of hundredth of a degree and its display is refreshed each half second.

- Addelice Swid is very stable.
- Anova is very stable.
- Vacmaster / Buffalo stability is ok although confusing. The temperature stability of the water bath (checked with my thermometer) is ok but the temperature on the display of the Vacmaster circulator is constantly fluctuating of ± 0.2°C.
- Dissna KW802 stability is less good compared to the Vacstar / Buffalo / Allpax and suffer from the same “issue” than the Vacstar device. Fluctuating on the circulator display can raise up to + 0.3°C.
- Melissa (fake Anova): I was flabbergasted! I never thought a manufacturer could cheat that way! As soon as the set temperature is reached, the software of the immersion circulator freezes the display. In other words, if you drop ice cubes in the water bath you will not see any changes on the display…

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Unboxing of the Swid Premium Immersion Circulator

by on Apr.09, 2017, under Equipments & Accessories

I could not resist buying it!
In 2009 I was one of the first to buy the Swid and to test it. Since then, this marvel of technology has been challenged by equipment like Sous Vide Supreme, Nomiku, Sansaire and other Anova. These equipments have the advantage of being much smaller, having Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection and being much cheaper than the Swid. On the other hand:

- they are not professional equipment,
- they have low power capacity (but sufficient for most home use applications),
- price is attractive but, in return, do not expect a reactive after sale service, especially if you are located outside USA. No one repairs a machine at 150 €. Moreover, the warranty of these devices is often 1 year only… do not even consider returning these immersion circulator to the US with all the customs and tax problems that this implies …

I am particularly sceptical regarding Bluetooth or Wifi connections for sous vide devices. What is it (really) the use of being able to switch on your immersion circulator remotely from your work or to change the temperature from your phone when your are just close to the device? IMO this is pure gadget that causes more worry than anything else. Bluetooth is definitely more stable and reliable than Wifi that requires a connection on your router. Just surf a little on the internet to see how many people are complaining that they can not connect their phone to their immersion heater. This is even more problematic when your immersion circulator can’t be operate independently, without connection to your phone or tablet such as the JOULE immersion circulator, for example … Also, when you know how unhygienic is a display of a phone, it is understandable that this can be an obstacle to use such functionality, especially for professionals, while hygiene is at the center of the sous vide technic.

What am I looking for in an immersion circulator?

- power: I do not want to wait tens of minutes that my water-bath reaches the target temperature. Obviously putting hot water directly in the container saves a certain time…anyway it is all question of comfort!
- precision and stability: this is the basis of sous vide cooking,
- ease of use,
- reliability and service,
- the price.

The purpose of this article is to make a quick comparison between my Swid 1st generation which is now almost 7 years old and the new Swid Premium that was put on the market late 2016!

Already in 2010 I had made a presentation of the Swid and a global comparison with the other immersion heaters existing at the time. Since then, other tests seem to have confirmed that the Swid was an exceptional professional device: see Food Service Equipment.

Where to buy the Swid Premium?

Addelice does not sell directly the Swid Premium on their online shop. You will need to go through a dealer which official list is here. They are not many resellers at the moment and I bought mine on the site www.sousvideconsulting.com. This site is clearly professionals oriented.

How much does the Swid Premium cost?

The Swid is at 475 € incl. VAT while the Swid Premium is at 750 € incl. VAT. Addelice indicates that the difference in price is justified by the fact that the Swid Premium is an ultra-robust “war machine”, with oversized components for “virile” use and particularly suitable for caterers who need power. Indeed, the Swid Premium is the first and currently only immersion circulator in the world with a heating power of 2,400W.

Duration of the guarantee?

This has always been the strong point of Addelice which offers, since its beginnings, a global guarantee of 2 years. Since 2016 Addélice offers a 2-years warranty extension on the Swid, giving a total of 4 years warranty! I found no other manufacturer of immersion circulator to suggest this. Unfortunately this extension does not seem to be available on the Swid Premium. Here is a point of improvement for the Swid Premium ;-)

Visible differences between the Swid and the Swid Premium

What the 2 models have in common:

- The Swid and Swid Premium are looking very similar and have a similar weight and size.
- The functions and control panels are very close. If you are regular with the Swid then your grip of the Swid Premium will be immediate.

Apart from that there are a lot of new features compared to my old model:

- Since 2015 Addelice has integrated a Pt100 temperature probe into all its models. I admit that I did not know the difference between Pt100 probe and thermocouples before reading this article … the advantages in terms of accuracy and reliability seem to be very important! Strangely, the other immersion circulator’s manufacturers do not indicate anything concerning the technical specifications of their temperature probes…
- The design of the heater has changed. It is now helical while it was rather flat on my old model. Addelice indicates that this is justified by the search for power (2,400W). This new design will probably make it a bit more difficult to clean the heater which was particularly easy on the old model. Nevertheless, the cleaning will remain globally an easier operation compared to models like Vac-Star or Julabo Fusion Chef which are a nightmare according to the echoes I have had.
- The pump system to mix water is a great novelty! On my old model the pump was in a black tube that could cause some issue when a peel or a piece of plastic accidentally fell into water vacuumed in the inlet of the pump. This happened to me and I had to replace the pump. This operation It has been made quickly and kindly by Addelice. It should also be said that I had never cleaned the pump at that time … As I said the system to mix water is now radically different: the motor is located in the plastic casing, and only the shaft and the propeller are Immersed in water. What ultimately makes the Swid much easier to clean! The water stream is now done vertically (from top to bottom) instead of horizontally (as with the old model). I tried it in a 20 liters tank and the result seemed to be totally satisfactory. Addelice recommends, for large volumes (58 liters), when the water bath is heavily loaded with sous vide pouches thus limiting the circulation of water, to use a pastry grid to be placed at the bottom of the container. According to Addelice it is therefore impossible to have a “cold point” with this technique …
- Heating power: in 2009 my Swid was limited up to 1,800 W. The Swid Premium now benefits from 2.400W! hich makes it the most powerful immersion heater in the world. Obviously, It will not make a big difference for a cooking amateur like me. Nevertheless I imagine the comfort of use this can represent for a professional. It is also reassuring to know that this “Bad Boy », if needed, has plenty of power under the hood…

- The power cable is attached directly to the back of the Swid Premium. It is no longer removable with a plug, as on my old model. Addelice says this is necessary because of the high power of the device. In order to avoid any bad contact and overheating of the cable this component has been particularly reinforced.
- A large waterproof power switch has been added to the Swid Premium.
- An ultra powerful ventilation system has been added compared to my old model. The fan stirs a lot of air but is nonetheless very quiet.

My first feelings about the Swid Premium

Admittedly the price of the Swid Premium is higher than that of the Swid. But you can feel that the Swid Premium is a top range immersion circulator compared to my 7 years old Swid. Clearly the Swid Premium is a professional equipment, without concession, technically sophisticated and high performance.
And now enough spoken of the material, in kitchen !!!

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Sous Vide Equipments – The Ultimate Review (coming soon)!

by on Sep.22, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

Coming soon a review of the most representative sous vide equipment of the market (from the left to the right) on this page :

- SousVide Professional of Polyscience (Immersion Circulator)
- Sous Vide Chef of Vac-Star (Immersion Cirdulator) Swid by Addélice (Immersion Circulator)
- Pearl by Julabo (Immersion Circulator)
- SousVideMagic by FreshMealsSolutions + Bubbler (PID Controler SVM-FMM1500D)
- SousVide Supreme (Unstired PID controlled water bath)
- Sous Vide Chef of Vac-Star (Immersion Circulator)

JF

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First try with rhubarb cooked sous vide at 61°C during 45 minutes

by on May.08, 2010, under Recipes


Rhubarb is the vegetable of my childhood, my mum was often preparing jam out of fresh rhubarb coming directly from our garden.
I found the post from The British Larder’s blog about rhubarb cooked sous vide interesting. Therefore I have decided to reproduce the recipe and try to obtain a delicious rhubarb tart.
Madalene recipe is easy:

  • 140g rhubarb
  • 30g sugar
  • 30g water
  • 1 vanilla pod

Madalena recommends a hard vacuum for this recipe. I was happy to test my MiniVac (a very compact vacuum chamber sealer) at this occasion. I am almost sure you can obtain a similar final result with a good clamp vacuum sealer.


With a storng vacuum, color of fruits and vegetables appear more intense as usual. It is also amazing to observe the sudden transparency of the food stuff.
Contrary to what was recommended by The British Larder (61°C during 20 minutes) I cooked the rhubarb 61°C during 45 minutes with my immersion circulator. I had the strange intuition that rhubarb can’t be cooked at 61°C during 20 minutes.



The result was excellent, not too soft, not too hard. The vanilla syrup was very tasty. The texture of the rhubarb was also surprising. As you will see on the picture bellow the rhubarb cooked sous vide at 61°C is not becoming mushy at all. The rhubarb remains in one piece.

Here is the final result, a rhubarb tart I let probably a little bit too long in the oven. Anyway, it was delicious.

Jean-François

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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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