Sous vide cooking is one of the more recent cooking methods that has gained popularity in recent years. This involves putting food in a bag while immersing it in water at a controlled temperature for a long period of time.
Using this method, moisture, taste and texture is maintained, resulting in food that is excellently prepared. This technique involves the use of an immersion circulator as well as a container that is big enough to hold water where the food is to be immersed. Like any other cooking technique, part of the success relies on the quality of equipment used.
Therefore, the quality of the sous vide container too contributes to the success of one’s cooking using this particular technique. If you are planning to start using a sous vide for preparing your meals, you should start looking for the right sous vide container as well.
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Ideal Materials for a Sous Vide Container
These days, there is a big concern over food containers made of resin or plastic. BPA-free containers are popular choices these days due to recent research which shows the dangers of BPA in plastic containers.
BPA stands for Bisphenol-A, a chemical that is released by plastics or resins once they come in contact to liquids. These chemicals are said to be able to mimic the atomic structure of estrogen, which is a human hormone. BPA can easily pass through the bloodstream because of this and is said to affect certain cellular processes, such as cell growth and repair, fetal development and some physiological processes such as reproduction.
In the case of sous vide containers, this shouldn’t be much of a concern since the food is packed in sealed plastic bags. The food does not come in direct contact with the food container so it does not get contaminated by the BPA that may leech out from the sous vide container. What should be of concern though is the material used in the pouches which serve as the food containers during the immersion process.
Considering the fact that these containers are to be repeatedly used for long periods of time, durability should be a factor to consider when choosing a sous vide container. Sous vide cooking also involves large volumes of water so the sous vide container should be made of lightweight material.
Sous vide containers are usually transparent so the cooking process can be observed and monitored. It would be a plus too if the container has a smooth finish for easier cleaning and maintenance.
Consistent and precise temperature plays a huge role in successful sous vide cooking. If temperature is not properly maintained throughout the whole process, the quality of the cooked product is affected. It is, therefore, important to get a sous vide container that will be able to retain and maintain heat. Some containers come with insulating covers to help in heat retention. Otherwise, these insulating covers can be purchased separately.
Sous vide cooking requires the use of an immersion heater and ample amounts of water. Make sure that you get a water container that has water level markings on its exterior. These markings help in making sure that you maintain the same water level throughout the whole cooking process. Water tends to evaporate and lessen during the immersion process so you have to make sure that water doesn’t get drastically reduced, or even worse, dry out. An ideal size for a sous vide container is one that is around 8” high.
Take note of how much food the container can hold as well. If you foresee the need in the future to cook food in large batches, then opt for a larger container. Sous vide containers are usually sold in 12-quart sizes, which is large enough to accommodate around 5 pieces of steak. There are also containers sold at 7-quart sizes that are good for cooking smaller batches of food.
Some containers may come with racks which are meant to keep food in place. Food in the bags have the tendency to clump stick together or float during the immersion process. This may lead to uneven cooking. Racks are meant to prevent this from happening.
Precise water level marking on the exterior of the container are necessary in order to maintain consistent water levels throughout the whole cooking process. This is especially important since water tends to evaporate during immersion cooking. A large decrease in the water level during sous vide may affect the quality of the food that is being cooked so it is important that water be kept at a consistent level.
Some containers are supplied with lids to lessen the amount of water loss due to evaporation. Although some containers come with lids during purchase, some have to be bought separately. Make sure that the lids are well fit to the container so that these can retain moisture. The lids should also have a hole where the immersion circulator can be placed.
To be sure about the lid that you plan to purchase, always check the specs provided by the manufacturer.
Immersion cooking, otherwise known as sous vide cooking, is a cooking technique that result in excellently prepared food. However, the technique involves the use of quality equipment as well. As trivial as it may seem, the success of this cooking technique does not depend only on the quality of the immersion circulator, but also on the quality of the sous vide container as well. Knowing how and what to choose will definitely lead to a wise buy which won’t lead to future regrets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a special container when using the sous vide cooking technique?
Yes. A sous vide container that is of the right size is necessary when using an immersion circulator or sous vide. It should be at least 8” high so that it can hold enough water. Water level markings on the exterior are also necessary so that consistent water levels are maintained throughout the entire process.
Can a slow cooker be used to replace a sous vide?
Slow cookers make use of very low temperatures which may not produce the same results as a sous vide cooker which works at precisely controlled temperatures.
How much water is needed for sous vide cooking?
This depends on the type of immersion circulator used. A rule of thumb though is to make sure that the food is completely submerged in water. It is recommended that at least half of the tank’s volume be occupied by food during immersion cooking.