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What is Sous Vide?

Sous vide is a cooking process where food is cooked “under vacuum".

Lamb Dish

Sous Vide is a cooking process that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them for an extended period of time at relatively low temperatures.  Some food is cooked for a long time, sometimes well over 24 hours, and other food is for immediate service.  The timings and temperature of sous vide cooked food is just like any other normal cookery technique in that it is dependent on the structure of the food i.e. tough or fibrous food will take longer to cook.  Unlike cooking in a slow cooker or crock pot, sous vide cooking uses vacuum packed pouches which are placed in a precisely controlled water bath or steam oven.

Background

The sous vide method was first described as long ago as 1799 but was re-discovered by American and French engineers in the mid-1960s as an industrial food preservation method.  The method was adopted by George Pralus in 1974 for his restaurant Troisgras to produce the perfect foie gras.  Another pioneer in the science of sous vide is Bruno Goussalt who further researched the effects of temperatures on various foods using sous vide.  Nowadays the technique is widespread, including use in many restaurants who have achieved worldwide status under the direction of chefs like Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, Paul Bocuse, Michael Carlson, Ferran Adrià, Joël Robuchon and many others. 

Sous Vide Lamb

Methods of Sous Vide Cookery

As with all methods of cookery the quality of produce you use is essential.  These products should be chilled before vacuum packing and then stored ready for use or plunged into a water bath for cooking at a set water temperature.  Generally as long as the food has reached the core temperature for the required time the food can be kept in the water bath ready for service.  At service point this food will need to be opened and pan fried to add colour, flavour and texture.  Even pre-cooking of food in vacuum packed pouches and fast chilling for regeneration in a water bath is common practise during busy services, especially for secondary cuts, as the integrity of the food structure is not damaged and food can be served at the same temperature of the water bath.

Benefits of Sous Vide Cookery

Using sous vide as a method of cookery also has other benefits such as lower fuel costs, less fumes and heat resulting in a better and cleaner working environment, reduced stress on staff and less use of cleaning materials.  It also offers potential labour savings during busy periods, enhanced food safety regimes, precise and accurate cookery, less shrinkage of food and a lack of oxygen and loss of product to cooking oils and boiling water means food has a more concentrated flavour.

Lamb CirculatorsEquipment

Needless to say an excellent water bath will create a safe environment where chefs can drawer upon their know-how and inspiration to produce great food that is minimally processed and which posses superior sensory characteristics.  A well calibrated immersion circulator/water bath is essential to do this. The FusionChef™ by Julabo brand of immersion circulators/water baths is ideal for the sous vide technique.  Made by a worldwide manufacturer of high precision liquid control instruments, FusionChef’s equipment provides reliable performance, convenient operation and high temperature stability.  Here are some of the benefits of FusionChef™ water baths depending on model:

  • Convenient operation
  • Wide range of kitchen applications
  • Strong pump performance
  • Easy-to-read displays
  • Best possible temperature control, e.g. set point, actual temperature and core temperature displays
  • Alarm triggers which warn of water loss as well as temperature intolerance (too high or too low)
  • Practical accessories.

To learn more about our range of water baths you can either book yourself on one of our training courses, view our comparison of models table or read more about how our customers use sous vide in our testimonials section.