You wake up to a faint beeping noise and groggily fumble around with your phone to press the snooze button on the notification that just popped up. When the beeping persists, you realize the notification is not your alarm, and the beeping is not your usual alarm tone. You roll out of bed and walk into the kitchen to confirm that your water-bath has dropped below the minimum level. Luckily, you make it in time to add some water to the pot and save those ribs you had cooking overnight thanks to the low-water alert from Anova. As you shuffle back to bed, you make a mental note to insulate the pot next time.
Why do you need to cover your sous vide container?
While there is no doubt your Anova
is up to the task of holding the temperature precise for days on end with no lid or insulation, insulation can help when cooking sous vide by:
Preventing Evaporation. Insulation helps prevent evaporation from the pot. This is especially important for longer cooking periods or when cooking at higher temperatures.
Increasing Efficiency. Besides evaporation control, having a lid of sorts helps with energy use and efficiency. The more heat that stays in the vessel, the less the Anova works to maintain temperature.
Maximizing Tank Capacity. Proper insulation also allows you to cook with containers beyond the recommended maximum tank capacity. That’s why Anova works so well with coolers.
An Insulation Revelation
There are lots of solutions for evaporation, from DIY coolers you can customize for Anova
to sealing up the top of your pot with plastic wrap.
We love a good Frankencooler, but it’s not always an option for those with limited storage space. And plastic wrap? Let’s be honest, handling even the most cling-free of plastic wraps has and always will be a giant pain.
Luckily, there is a hassle-free and super-versatile insulating option that goes with ANY pot ...food nerds, get ready for some ping pong.
Sous vide ping pong balls, really?
Now hear me out. What's a lid anyways? It's a slab of polycarbonate, plastic, or foam. So are ping pong balls, except they can mold into any shape they're placed in. Along with the flexibility, the balls trap the steam as it rises; the steam collects on the bottom of the sous vide balls, and drips back down keeping the heat in. What little steam does escape is now evenly distributed along the surface.
5-gallon oblong tub that fits ribs, pork shoulders, or steaks for 20? No issue!
Working in a smaller area, and still cooking for a crowd? Sous vide ping pong balls conform perfectly to the inside of a smaller polycarbonate container as well.
Even the smallest stock-pots can become a high-end insulated cooking vessel.
Benefits of the balls
By now, we've touched on most lid-related solutions, but why should you make the jump to sous vide ping pong balls?
Flexibility. Sous vide balls can be dropped into any container to insulate it, no matter what size and shape as long as there are enough to cover the surface of the water.
Cost. A quick search shows most ping pong ball packages (you need 75-100) are half the cost of a standard lit.
Hassle-free. Another bonus is the ability to add food, adjust the placement of food, or remove food without hassling with an additional lid. Just reach right in with some tongs, or grab the edge of the bag.
Easy Clean-up. When you're done, just drain the water through a strainer to catch the sous vide balls, then store them in your container to reduce your kitchen clutter.
So, food nerds, what are some of your favorite tips and tricks? What do you want to learn about next? Leave your favorite lid solutions in the comments below, as well as anything you're curious about seeing in the future.