Sous Vide Cooking

Tag: Review

Sous Vide Cooking Book from Joan Roca & Salvador Brugues

by on Jun.06, 2010, under Books

When I started cooking sous vide, one year ago, I searched information about cooking times and temperatures on internet. Nothing was available at this time except Douglas Baldwin Practical Guide to Sous Vide. Therefore I purchased some books that were rated good or excellent on some online shops such as “Under Pressure – Cooking Sous Vide” of Thomas Keller and “Sous-Vide: Garen im Vakuum” of Viktor Stampfer. These books were nice with beautiful pictures…but not really containing relevant technical information. Above all, sous vide recipes of these books couldn’t be reproduced without a penetration probe. Then I realized that Douglas Baldwin’s Guide was the best source of information.

At the same time I heard about a book from Spanish cooks called Joan Roca and Salvador Brugués. But this book was available in Spanish only. This book is now available in English and French. The price of this book is crazy! I saw some online shop proposing it at USD 200! I bought mine in French language at EUR 110 incl. shipping.

The book is nice and full of technical information (100 pages of tech. information to be compared with 50 pages of recipes). I didn’t have time so far to read it completely but one think already disappointed me, you cannot find cooking tables such as Baldwin ones. If you want to cook with Joan Roca and Salvador Brugués cooking book then you need to purchase some turbigomme and a penetration probe…again. Anyway this book seems very interested and I’ll give you my feed back soon about it.

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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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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