Sous Vide Cooking

Tag: Review

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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I have tested for you the LEWHIF. The chocolate without calories!

by on Oct.09, 2012, under Uncategorized

This post is not related to sous vide cooking. Nevertheless I wanted to share with you a nice moment I enjoyed testing this strange delicacy.
A friend suggested us to taste the Whif at the end of a meal. I heard, few years ago, about the Whif concept but I didn’t have until now the opportunity to try this product. This is not a new product nevertheless this is still a curiosity that is appealing!
The idea is to inhale through the mouth fine chocolate powder particles (or other flavors) to obtain an intense taste but without the usual texture of chocolate in your mouth. This tidbit is an aerosol (they call it AeroShot) that is supposed to give you the pleasure of chocolate without the calories … on paper you call that an invitation to pure pleasure!

The design of the packaging and the product is attractive. We have tested several flavors, chocolate, chocolate mint and chocolate raspberry. Using the Whif is easy, it can be closed for multiple use.


In conclusion : This is definitely an interesting concept, it will set the mood of your party, but this is underwhelming. None of us has done “Whouaouu!” after testing the Whif. We are probably facing a significant cultural barrier with this product. For me it is impossible to dissociate, in mouth, the taste of chocolate from the texture of the chocolate.

 

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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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Julabo New Fusion Chef Immersion Circulator for Sous Vide (Part 1 – The Pearl)

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

Julabo is known as the European leader in manufacturing Constant Temperature Circulators used for research, science and industry with a reputation since 1967. Some weeks ago Julabo launched the Fusion Chef Immersion Circulator series devoted to sous vide.

I received some days ago the Pearl an Diamond immersion circulators and could not stand giving you my first impressions of these fabulous pieces of sous vide equipement. Today I’ll show you the Pearl and will post tomorrow about the Diamond. I’ll make a full review of these equipements during the next days and will share my conclusions with you.

The Pearl is a very simple and nice finish immersion circulator. The front display is composed of one screen and 4 buttons


Julabo’s immersion circulator is totally composed of stainless steal (casing and protection cage) which gives an excellent “feeling” about the machine.

The Pearl is sold with a protection grid which is a good point as protection grids are usually sold separatly at EUR 100 . The protection cage is fixed with 4 screws on the down part of the casing which is, in my opinion, not really practical if you want to proceed to a fast cleaning of the immersion circulator after each use.

Pearl’s price list is EUR 899 (excl. VAT?).

Main specifications :

  • Temp. range: 20°C to 95°C
  • Temp. stability: ± 0,03°C
  • Power: 2,000W
  • Circulation pump: 14 l/min
  • Low-level water alarm
  • Safety protection grid

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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