What is sous vide cooking?
Once limited to the pros, sous vide (pronounced sue-veed) is a cooking technique that utilizes precise temperature control to deliver consistent, restaurant-quality results. High-end restaurants have been using sous vide cooking for years to cook food to the exact level of doneness desired, every time. The technique recently became popular for home cooks with the availability of affordable and easy-to-use sous vide precision cooking equipment like the Anova’s Sous Vide Cooker.
Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. This technique produces results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method.
Why should I cook sous vide?
Sous vide cooking utilizes precise temperature control with circulation to produce results that you can’t achieve through any other cooking technique. The reason–when using traditional methods of cooking, you don’t have control over heat and temperature. Consequently, it’s very difficult and time consuming to consistently cook great food. Food ends up overcooked on the outside, with only a small portion in the center that is cooked to the temperature you want. Food loses flavor, overcooks easily, and ends up with a dry, chewy texture. With precise temperature control in the kitchen, sous vide provides the following benefits:
Because you cook your food to a precise temperature for a precise amount of time, you can expect very consistent results.
Food cooks in its juices. This ensures that the food is moist, juicy and tender.
Traditionally prepared food dries out and results in waste. For example, on average, traditionally cooked steak loses up to 40% of its volume due to drying out. Steak cooked via precision cooking, loses none of its volume.
Traditional cooking can require your constant attention. Precision cooking brings food to an exact temperature and holds it. There is no worry about overcooking.
Types of Sous Vide Machines
Sous vide equipment has existed for decades in professional kitchens around the world, but it has always been bulky, expensive, and overloaded with complex features. This type of equipment eventually made its way into high-end specialty retail shops, but remained limited to chefs and consumers with extensive culinary experience. Cooking shows, social media, and online communities have furthered consumers’ knowledge of sous vide cooking, but it wasn’t until Anova released the first affordable and easy-to-use consumer device that sous vide became accessible to home cooks. There are now many sous vide options available to the home cook. Below are a few types of equipment for you to consider when you’re ready to build your ultimate sous vide setup:
Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
The Anova’s Sous Vide Cooker is a standalone immersion circulator that heats water and circulates it around the pot to maintain precise temperatures evenly. Immersion circulators are an affordable and easy-to-use sous vide machine option. They do not come with a built-in water bath, so they take up very little space in your kitchen. Standalone sous vide devices don’t require additional equipment to get started because they clamp on and adjust to any pot you already own. The Anova’s Sous Vide Cooker is a sous vide immersion circulator. Other examples include ChefSteps Joule, Nomiku, and Sansaire.
Sous Vide Water Oven
Water ovens are often referred to as countertop water baths. They are fully-contained, sous vide devices that are about the size of a microwave and typically cost $500+. Sous vide water ovens heat water, but unlike immersion circulators, they do not circulate the water. This can lead to inconsistencies in the food’s resulting texture. Examples of water ovens include SousVide Supreme, AquaChef, and Gourmia. Multi-use cookers like Oliso, Gourmia and Instant Pot also offer sous vide appliances.
DIY Sous Vide Hacks
Cooler, rice cooker, and slow cooker hacks are great options for exploring sous vide cooking before you decide to purchase a device. The Food Lab’s J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has a great post on sous vide beer cooler hacks.
Sous Vide Packaging
Sealing foods prevents evaporation and allows for the most efficient transfer energy from the water to the food. To do so, simply place your seasoned food in a plastic bag and remove the air using the water immersion technique, a straw, or a vacuum sealer. You don’t need a vacuum sealer to cook sous vide. There are lots of options, here are a few of the best types of sous vide packaging:
Reusable Silicone Bags
Reusable sous vide bags made from silicone, like these Stasher Reusable Silicone Sous Vide Bag bags, make it easy to enjoy they same quality results night after night, without the plastic waste.
Vacuum Sealing Bags
You don’t need to purchase a vacuum sealer and vacuum seal bags, but they work well for batch cooking. Foodsaver and Oliso are great options, and both are pretty affordable. Anova Precision™ Vacuum Sealer Bags are fridge and freezer safe and designed to support long sous vide cooks too.
Resealable bags are very versatile, and can be used with the water immersion method to remove air from the bag. We recommend heavy-duty, BPA-free bags, like Ziplock’s freezer bags.
Several different types of foods can also be cooked in glass canning jars. Beans and grains both work well in jars, as do desserts such as cakes and custards. Get tips on cooking sous vide with jars in our Guide to Sous Vide Cooking with Canning Jars.
Sous Vide Containers
Anova attaches to the side of any pot or vessel with an adjustable clamp. So, you can use any size of pot that you already have at home. If you’re planning to cook a lot of food at once, a dedicated container is a great choice. Explore the options we offer below.