If you’ve ever tried to make steak, you know that getting the proper consistency can be difficult. Cooking through other methods, such as searing, can make your steak crusty, but as you venture inside, you find it’s not properly cooked. Sous vide, unlike crock pots
, uses a hot water bath to cook food. This method was invented in the 1970s by a French chef.
Sous vide cooking involves placing whatever you want cooked in a plastic, BPA-free bag and sealing it. The bag is then placed in water so the food is cooked using the temperature of the water. This means the cooking process is slow, just like a slow cooker
. Cooking using the sous vide method also involves maintaining water at a constant pre-determined temperature, depending on what you’re cooking.
Because the sous vide machine maintains a constant temperature in the water bath the entire time, it’s a good way of cooking for different people ranging from kids to the elderly. As such, the machine is an ideal kitchen appliance
for bachelors, students, single mothers, busy parents and anyone else who enjoys high-quality food without having to learn or do much.
Sous vide is a good cooking method because it keeps the juices and nutrients in the food, cooks food to the required consistency, and maintains flavor and great taste in the food – you can even cook food without being physically present waiting for your food to cook.
Sous vide machines aren’t made the same. Prices vary based on various factors such as brand, material used, quality and size. A good machine can last years of regular use, hence the need to invest in one you can rely on. Cheap sous vide machines are also on the market, but you should avoid them because their quality and performance is most likely questionable.
A good sous vide machine will cost you anything between $40 and $80, but high-end brands can cost more. Choose a machine likely to meet your needs as well as stand the test of time. Look for offers of machines sold with other items, such as thermometers, for good bargain prices.
When looking for a sous vide machine, the most important factor to consider is the temperature precision of the machine. For your food to cook as required, the temperature of the water has to be very precise so the food does not overcook or cook faster than required. There’s also the need to choose the right size of your slow-cooking machine based on your needs and intended application area.
Here are some of the factors to look out for in a sous vide machine:
- Water bath and food capacities
- A wide temperature range to support cooking of various foods
- Depth of the sous vide machine
- A lid to reduce evaporation and trap steam within the machine
- LED/LCD display of temperature
- Precision in maintaining indicated temperature
- Ability to shut down if the water evaporates beyond acceptable levels
- Timer to support timed cooking
- Ease of use and cleaning of the machine
With the right sous vide machine, you can slow cook your food as you desire, irrespective of your recipe, giving you time to do other things as your healthy and tasty food cooks.
Construction and Design
Whether you’re a beginner or experienced sous vide machine user, there are basic things you must consider to buy the best kitchen appliance of this kind. The following factors should help you make an informed decision:
Type – There are two types of sous vide machines available on the market, the water oven and the immersion circulators. The water oven comes as a complete oven with a water tank inside. Food is placed inside the oven and the lid replaced. The water oven types come in different capacities to accommodate varying amounts of food and water. They are, therefore, limited in terms of the kind of food you can cook.
The immersion circulators are simple and less bulky. They look more like immersion heaters but with better technology. They work when immersed in water, held in a container of your choice. The circulator can then be attached to a variety of containers, depending on what you want to cook. The circulators also have the fastest water heat-up time. If you’re short on storage space in your kitchen and want a unit you can use with your own containers, then opt for the immersion circulator.
Settings – Sous vide machines come adorned with technology. The most important setting the machine should have is a temperature control knob. Usually, the temperature is displayed on an LCD screen that’s easy to read. The timer is another important control setting you need in order to set the machine to shut down after a period of time. This means you won’t have to be in your kitchen physically to avoid your food from overcooking.
These settings should be easy to use and read on the machine. Some sous vide machines have gone further to feature smart phone connectivity through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and even use apps. This gives you the ability to control your slow-cooking machine remotely wherever you are, so you come home to a cooked meal.
Accessories – Some sous vide machines come with various accessories to enhance your cooking experience. If you’re new to sous vide cooking, you might need a sous vide cookbook, sous vide bags for sealing food, a sous vide container with markings to indicate quarts of water and a lid. Sous vide water balls are other accessories meant to enhance your cooking experience. Look for machines that come with as many accessories as possible.
Power – Sous vide machines also come with different power ratings. The power of any given machine determines how long it takes to have the water in it attain the required temperature. With a high-power machine, you can cook your food faster when need arises. Choose a machine with a considerable power rating so you don’t have to wait for your food for so long.
Size/Weight – If you’re short on storage space in your kitchen, then the size of any appliances to be added to your house matters. Water ovens are usually bulky and heavy; therefore, they can take up a good chunk of your storage space, especially if you need one with a big capacity. Immersion circulators, on the other hand, are small in size, are light and take up little storage space. What’s more, with the latter machines, you don’t have to buy containers, as you can use the ones you already have at home.
Performance and Ease of Use
Sous vide machines are easy to use. They have all the controls and settings ready for you to choose and use as desired. To ensure safety, the machines are capable of shutting down when the water evaporates to lower than predetermined levels. Also, the machines are easy to clean. Water ovens are easy to disassemble, so you can clean their parts as required. Disassembly also makes storage easier for water ovens.
Furthermore, some of these machines can be remotely controlled through Wi-Fi and apps, giving you enhanced user experience. It’s essential to acquaint yourself with sous vide recipes and cooking times for different foods, so you can cook your food as you want. Make sure the material used on your machine is durable and rust-free for prolonged use.
In this list, we made an effort to include various types of sous vide machines in a range of price points. Some of them are suitable for commercial use. Make sure that you set a budget right from the start and pick a sous vide machine that allows you to cook efficiently and quickly. Let's start with the first one, a product from Gourmia.
If you already have water in your mouth, you are not alone! Just imagine how many delicious chicken wings, fish or steaks you can prepare with these modern cooking appliances. We hope this guide was a good resource and you were able to buy your favorite one, because you deserve to eat a delicious, flavorful meal every day! If not, check out our other kitchen appliances.