Equipment Reviews

Essential Sous Vide Accessories

The sous vide cooking method gives you matchless taste in all your recipes, whether they are everyday meals or occasional steaks. But a precision cooker or immersion circulator alone cannot do the magic. There are other accessories that you need to buy to complete your sous vide kit.

If you are a beginner, you may have to invest in these things but if you are an expert level home cook, it is probable that you already have all these things at home.

Torch

When you cook meat with conventional methods, the end result is a browned steak or a seared cut of meat. However, with sous vide, this is not the case, with the end result being pink, mushy meat.

To get a seared or browned finish, you will need a kitchen torch for the finishing touch. Many recipes call for searing after cooking in a hot water bath, and for this so you should have a blow torch.

If you’ve never used one before, you’ll need to be very careful with a torch. While it can brown your food, the same can also easily burn the food if you don’t use it correctly. Most models these days come with a non-slip grip which is sturdy. Also, it is better to get a torch with a metal body as these will last a long time and not corrode easily.

A good option is the Master Class Deluxe Cooks Blowtorch. This model comes with an anti-flare flame that can be adjusted at all angles. Most of the models that you find on Amazon are manufactured according to the National Standards of Health and Safety so you can trust them.

The blowtorch is supplied empty when you buy it and needs to be filled with some sort of fuel for working. With a blowtorch, you can sear food at a high temperature of up to 1300 degrees. If you are a professional cook or you want to take your skills up a notch, you can attach a Searzall to the end of your blow torch.

This is an attachment that will help distribute the flame evenly. When the Searzall is attached, it would take longer to brown the meat. Make sure that you completely dry the meat as it comes out of the sous vide cooker. Dry the meat with paper towels so that it’s easy to brown it completely.

An effective alternative to blowtorch is an iron pan. Almost every kitchen has it so it saves money too. The trick with searing this way is that you sear at high heat so that the meat gets browned but not cooked.

Racks

For preparing multiple or larger sous vide meals, you may also need to get a wire rack. This accessory lets you put together several batches of meat simultaneously. The only consideration is that the cuts should require the same cooking temperature.

The avid sous vide cook who frequently uses this cooking technique can really benefit from a sous vide rack. When placed in the water bath, the design of the rack keeps the different food pouches separated. This allows for complete water circulation around every pouch, distributing the heat evenly.

The weight of the rack also keeps the pouches submerged throughout the cooking process. You can also use the rack for cooling the food before serving. Or put it in the freezer to freeze your leftovers.

When looking for a rack, choose a model that is made from stainless steel. This will yield superior heat tolerant properties. It is also easier to clean and won’t rust or corrode easily. Also look for a model that collapses so you can store it conveniently.

Once you get a rack, you can use it conveniently for other kitchen tasks as well and not limit its use to sous vide cooking only.

Weights

Since sous vide cooking takes place in a hot water bath, the food pouches can often float around. But if the food is not submerged properly, it remains undercooked and might even be raw in some places.

Placing weights in the food bag will ensure that the food stays submerged in the water completely and gets cooked evenly by even heating on all sides. Keeping the bag submerged exposes it to the correct temperature reducing the risk of bacterial growth and unsafe conditions.

Oftentimes, sous vide users put metallic cutlery in their water bath to keep the food submerged. The problem with this method is that the metal can have an effect on the taste of food. Or, some people just take any heavy weight from home and put them in their sous vide cooker. These weights are not made for the job so they can topple off. If the weight is too large, the flow of water can also be lowered.

Most sous vide weights are made with a stainless steel core that is durable. The outer finish is covered with silicone shell due to prevent anything affecting the food’s taste. Most Sous Vide weights are cylindrical in shape as this shape does not obstruct the flow of water.

Plus, there are different types of weight based on where you place them in the bag. For instance, some larger weights are shaped to stay on top of the food item keeping it under water. Others are designed to go to the bottom of the bag and weight it down from its base.

Weights are particularly effective when the food being cooked is buoyant. For such foods, it is recommended to place the weight in between the foods.

While most sous vide weight will be engineered from food grade material, you may still have concerns about leaching. If this happens, simply wrap the weight in a separate bag and then put it alongside the food. Or wrap it really well in cling warp. This will also eliminate any concern of any flavor getting transmitted to the food.

You can either buy these weights in packs of three of five. Your choice depends on the bag size you use for cooking. To make things easier, most companies make weights that are dishwasher safe so they can be washed easily.

Weights and racks are both different ways to keep the bags under water. But weights are a way cheaper option as compared to a sous vide rack. They are also more flexible and are a less cumbersome alternative to racks.

If you compare racks and weight further, you will also see that weights take up less storage space than racks.

Bags

Sous vide cooking involves the use of bags as the food does not get any direct heat. Instead, the heat is dissipated through water and then reaches the food through the bags.

Experts recommend getting special bags that are designed for sous vide. Make sure that the bags you buy are food safe so that they don’t harm your food. Another thing to make sure is that the bags should be able to withstand high temperature. Look for heavy duty bags that can tolerate heat well. Many cheap quality bags that you find in local stores may burst due to high temperatures.

Some people also have concerns for cooking in plastic bags since some plastic qualities contain BPA which is hazardous for health. To dodge this problem, only look for options that are BPA free and pose no threat to health. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on special sous vide bags, you can use any food safe refrigerator ziploc bags instead.

Sous vide bags are available in an assortment of sizes and you should get those that suit your meal portions. If you get larger bags for smaller food portions, you may have floatation issues. Or if the bag is too small, then you’ll end up cramping your food item in it. This could potentially alter its texture during cooking.

So choose from sizes that will complement your cooking portions for best results.

Vacuum Sealers

Vacuum sealers are important for sous vide cooking because this method involves cooking food under vacuum. These sealers seal the bags and ensure that there is no air in them. You simply need to activate the sealer and it will remove the air from the bag, making it a vacuum bag.

Most contemporary models also come with a very friendly control panel that lets you change the settings depending on the type of food that you cook. Settings can also change for moist and dry foods.

Vacuum sealing also prevents the food from shrinking. Plus, the nutrients and flavor will be preserved.

Another consideration is that air is a very poor conductor of heat so if the ziploc bag has any air in it, the heat will not dissipate properly. This is why it becomes important to remove the air from the bags so that heat conduction remains uninhibited. A vacuum sealer can also be used for keeping the food sealed at home for storage.

You can choose from different types of vacuum sealers ranging from chamber vacuum sealers and external vacuum sealers to vacuum sealer hand pumps.

Another method for making vacuum in the bag is to use the water pressure method in which air is removed from the bag using water pressure. However, that method is not very accurate. If you want to cook professionally or in the best possible way, then a vacuum sealer is the best option.

Containers

Sous vide containers are a great way to start next-level cooking. You can use any pot at home but if you want to make sure that you don’t face any problems, then it is important to use the right kind of container.

There are a few things you need to consider when buying a sous vide container. The first of these is size. Consider which size is compatible for you. If you want to cook bigger meals for a larger party, then you will need a larger container. If you cook only for yourself or have a small family, then you can work with a small container just as well.

When buying Sous Vide containers online, make sure that you get one that is heat resistant. Ideally, the container should be resistant to temperatures as high as 210oF.

Most containers are made with polycarbonate and are also safe to wash in a dish washer.

Another thing to consider is the immersion circulator you have. Most models come with their own containers that are suitable for them. The containers for these devices are already pre-cut which means that their lid is made in a way that it has room for an immersion circulator on the side.

If there is no container that is specifically made for your immersion circulator, then get a container which has sturdy sides so that you can mount any immersion circulator to it. Most containers that you get from Amazon will be compatible with established sous vide brands like Sansaire, Nomiku and Anova.

Many containers also come with weight balls that make the sous vide experience even better. When you buy a container online, go for the ones that come with a money-back guarantee.

When you shop from a physical location, you can return the device if it doesn’t work for you. But you can’t do this for online purchases unless you have a warranty. So, if you buy one with a refund policy, you will be able to return it if your immersion circulator doesn’t work well with it.

Conclusion

You do not necessarily need to have all these accessories for cooking sous vide as you can DIY most of them. Also, some of these accessories are already present in most houses. Still, if you want to make cooking easier and take all precautionary steps, then investing in these accessories is a wise thing to do. If your immersion circulator company has its own accessories, try to get those as they will be the most compatible ones. Otherwise, you can get any brand you find most suitable for your sous vide needs.

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