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Sous Vide Shopping Guide
Ever wonder how professional chefs can craft a perfectly cooked steak? While everyone may want their food cooked to perfection, we can all agree this is easier said than done. A few minutes too long on a hot stove, and your steak is dull, your chicken is tough, and your eggs are rubbery.
So what’s a chef’s secret? An appliance called a “sous vide.”
This culinary tool is designed to keep world-class chefs and restaurants churning out hundreds of perfectly cooked plates in a single evening. From sous-vide eggs to sous-vide salmon, these wizards of the kitchen create culinary masterpieces.
What is a Sous Vide?
Just saying the word (it is pronounced “sue-veed” by the way) will make you feel more sophisticated; a French word meaning “under vacuum,” the device does basically what it says it does. It works by placing food inside a sealed container, which is then placed in water and cooked consistently at a particular temperature.
This might seem unremarkable until you examine the science behind it—not only does this cooking methodology keep critical juices and flavors from dispersing into a burned pan or boiling water, it also prevents food from overcooking for a longer amount of time. If you step away to take that call from a chatty neighbor, you can feel confident that your expensive piece of ribeye you left in your sous vide won’t be ruined.
Sous Vides in the Modern Kitchen
With sous vide machines available from as low as $50, any home chef can have one, which is a big change from just a few years ago.
Sous vide machines have been known to chefs world-wide for quite some time now, but because of their bulk, they haven’t been popular in the average kitchen –the restaurant models are often about the size of a microwave.
But with the advent of home cooking shows, it was only a matter of time before sous vide machines designed to work in a home kitchen became available.
This has been accomplished largely through “immersion circulators.” These gadgets work much like a sous vide, but without the larger tub component. Ideally, you would use an immersion circulator in conjunction with a recommended water container, but many people simply don’t have the space to store such a container. Not to worry—a pot often works just as well, depending on what you are cooking and which sous vide model you select.
The best part about the immersion circulators is that they are compact—once you are finished, you can easily store the device in a drawer if needed.
How to Choose Your Sous Vide
Here are a few things to consider when purchasing a sous vide machine:
Size of the Unit (and Heating Power)
Sous vide ovens are considered an all-in-one package; they include the water tank, a thermometer, and an immersion circulator. This might be preferable if you want a no-muss, no-fuss option, but not only do they take up more space, they can also take up more power. If your kitchen isn’t the size of a bunker, it may not be the most practical choice.
It is important to remember that the size of the unit doesn’t necessarily translate into better quality from the result. To prove this, our top sous vide choice is quite compact. The Anova Precision Cooker Pro weighs about 7 pounds, and packs quite a punch: It can quickly and consistently heat 100 liters of water within an accuracy of +/- 0.05 ̊ C when used as advised.
Keep in mind that sous vides use electricity to cook, so if you are keeping close tabs on your energy bill, this can be an important factor to consider. For the most part, the difference should be negligible, but check wattage levels in relation to the size of the device you are considering to negate an energy bill spike.
Sous Vide Apps & WiFi
Many sous vide models on our list (including our top sous vide pick) include an app/wifi feature. You may be wondering why you need to have a remote connection with a kitchen appliance, but in truth, this feature can offer considerable conveniences. For example:
You can set the start time for your meal to begin cooking (and you don’t necessarily have to be there when the device starts up), and,
You can monitor the sous vide remotely; some models will even alert you if the temperature falls outside of a certain range!
If a sous vide app is important to you, do your research—the app isn’t the top priority for some manufacturers, and some have a smoother interface and user experience than others. Make sure the app itself is available on your device, and from the app store, you can see the different feedback about how easy it is to use.
Sous Vide Noise Levels
If you don’t think you’ll appreciate the sound of a sous vide interrupting your cocktail conversation with future dinner guests, noise levels should factor into your comparison.
Ideally, the only noise should be the gentle sound of water swirling around your water container. However, the impeller that circulates the water can be louder in some models than others. If sound levels are important to you, be sure to read over what other customers have to say about it.
Pick Your Next Sous Vide
Now that you have read up on the various sous vide machines, we hope that you feel empowered to give the style of cooking a try. It really can take your home cuisine to the next level, and you don’t have to be a master chef to master the art of cooking like one.
Sous vide machines are incredibly easy to use; before you know it, you will be enjoying your perfectly cooked steak, greeting guests, and enjoying conversation—all the while knowing that your expensive steak is cooking safely in the realm of your kitchen.
No matter what you are cooking, with a sous vide, you don’t need to stand in the kitchen babysitting it to achieve a perfect result. Compare and review our top sous vide models and find your next high-tech kitchen assistant in no time.
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