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Photos by Donna

Last year, The French Laundry Cookbook Team, published Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide, a book spearheaded by per se chef de cuisine Jonathon Benno and featuring the dishes of him, his French Laundry counterpart Corey Lee, and Thomas Keller.  The book was explicitly geared toward professional chefs (recipes are in metric weights) because this form of cooking was at the time most applicable to restaurant kitchens.  The capacity to cook food sous vide, that is vacuum sealed and submerged in water kept at low precise temperatures, is perfectly suited to the demands of cooking for large numbers because food hit a specific temperature and stays there, no real chance to overcook.  But also the equipment was prohibitively expensive, with chamber vacuum sealers and immersion circulators (the device that heats the water) costing several thousand dollars.

This past October, Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, physician entrepreneurs, unveiled Sous Vide Supreme, a sous vide cooker intended for home use and priced at $500, the cost of a standing mixer and other high powered kitchen appliances.  Having written the above book, experimented with immersion circulator cooking, and having attended a demonstration in New York led by Fat Duck chef Heston Blumenthal, an enthusiastic endorser of the product, I was eager to try it and asked for an early model.

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I've cooked meat, veg, fruit, eggs, custards, yogurt in this.

Sous Vide Supreme works perfectly and comes through on every claim it makes.  It’s not much bigger than a bread machine, is handsomely designed, easy to use, and makes it clear that sous vide cooking could very well become a standard cooking technique in American kitchens.  Indeed, Keller told me that in his discussions with large appliance manufacturers, many are already designing stoves with sous vide cooker built into them.

It’s still a pricey item.  It can’t do half the number of jobs a standing mixer can do.  It really helps to have a decent vacuum sealer, yet another appliance (I use an older version of this one—wow, just checked, fabulous price at amazon). And it takes up more than a cubic foot of the countertop, valuable real estate in many kitchens.

All that said, if you want to cook sous vide, this is a terrific product and I thoroughly recommend it for the home kitchen (for restaurants, too, but only for small portions; restaurants are still better off with Polyscience’s immersion circulators, still the gold standard because they can be put in Lexan tubs for restaurant quantities). I’ve been using this for two months now, cooking everything from meats to vegetables and couldn’t be easier or more convenient.  It’s available from the company linked above, as well as from Sur la Table.  And I hope soon to offer it at my Open Sky store.

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Short ribs cooked at 138 F, 48 hrs, then finished on the grill.

What I love about sous vide cooking is that you can achieve results that are either difficult at home or impossible any other way.  For instance, traditionally, you had to braise short ribs for hours to tenderize them, cooking most of the flavor out of them (which is why the sauce and serving braised things hot is so important). With sous vide you can cook them at 138 degrees for two or three days and they become tender and yet they’re still medium rare.  A sirloin steak, the tri-tip cut is best, can be cooked at that temperature, then seared and you will have a relatively inexpensive cut of meat that is gorgeously and uniformly rare, as tender and tasty as a strip steak, something that would ordinarily take a lot of practice and skill.

I’ll do more posts on cooking sous vide next month but wanted to help get the word out now (Julia Moskin wrote about it for the NYTimes last week), for those who love to cook and can afford (or can afford to ask for) a big ticket item.

In the introduction to Under Pressure, Harold McGee writes that sous vide cooking is “one of the most important culinary innovations of modern times.” I agree and am thrilled by the arrival of Sous Vide Supreme.

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91 Wonderful responses to “The Sous Vide Supreme”

  • Walt

    Michael,

    Thanks for weighing in on the Sous Vide Supreme. I’ve been wondering if it’s everything the company says it is but I’ve seen very little in the way of independent opinion regarding it’s functionality.

    To have your endorsement (and knowing you don’t make such endorsements lightly) gives me the confidence to know I won’t be throwing good money after bad.

    Perhaps, I’ll wait till it’s available in your Open Sky store and pick it up then.

  • David Dadekian

    Do you know, is it going to get a wide retail release? I absolutely want one, but I’ve been an early adopter on pretty much all tech for the last 20 years at a premium cost, and now that I have a family, to be able to get it on Amazon or the like for less than $400 one day soon would be a nice plus. Maybe if I waited a year on that Blu-ray player I’d have a couple hundred extra to spare. Why are spouses such a voice of controlled reason?

  • Dave

    I ordered one as soon as they became available.

    I’ve had it since just before Thanksgiving, and would not do without it.

  • Andrew Janjigian

    I think it is great that SV is finally getting easier to do at home. $500 is not that much for what should be a commonly used tool, but it’s still pricey. I have a DIY set up of similar capacity to the SVS in my kitchen, using a 38-cup Black & Decker Rice Cooker (~$50), and an Auberins PID Controller ($140, http://bit.ly/5wzwMQ). It holds temperature to within a degree for forever (I’m 40h into a 48 short rib recipe right now). It’s less plug-and-play than the SVS, but once you understand the controller, it’s as easy as pie to use. If $500 is out of your price range, I highly recommend it.

  • Matthew Stein

    I scored an older analog Polyscience immersion circulator and absolutely love it.

    This device fixes my two biggest complaints.
    1. Insulated tub for better efficiency, and
    2. A cover to prevent too much water loss through evaporation.

    Great job on the design.

  • Einar

    How does the Sous Vide Supreme compare to the similarly priced immersion circulator SWID from Addelice? With two SV products being released almost simultaneously as semi-pro SV solutions for the home cook, I find it odd that noone seems to have made a comparison between the two.

  • Scordo.com

    Hi Michael,

    Observation and a critical question below for you:

    Looks like a well made machine that yields good results, but I wouldn’t want yet another appliance sitting on my countertop or, even worse, having to retrieve and set up the machine from my cabinet.

    I like the idea of having a few basic cooking items out on my counter top (including a mixer, Cuisinart, and plug in hot water kettle). I could also see having a smaller, high end, espresso machine like the Silvia out as well. Sous Vide seems too large for everyday use – just my two cents.

    I’m also curious as to what the advantage is in the short rib technique you mention. For example, braising short ribs takes about 3 hours traditionally and 2-3 days with the machine (why would a home cook dedicate that much time to preparing a dish)? It seems end product is superior, but beyond a dedicated gourmet the time commitment seems a little strange.

    Best,
    Vince

  • Vivian

    This is really high on my wish list this year. Thank you for touching on the vacuum sealers too. I have long wondered if a Food Saver was adequate for Sous Vide and everyone seems to have different opinions regarding that. Would be so nice to find this under the tree this year.

  • Dave

    FoodSaver works very nicely for Sous Vide, and I have an older model.

    The reason for doing short ribs Sous Vide is that you get a very different result. An incredibly rich, medium rare short rib is something you just can’t do otherwise.

    Sous Vide is just another way of applying heat to food. It’s another technique in the arsenal, just like grilling, braising, poaching, and so on.

  • Russell

    Oooh shiny! But $500? A couple weeks back I sous vided a turkey and stuffing and was quite impressed with what came out using ziplock bags and my largest pot. Held temp pretty well on my stove’s lowest setting. Cost $0. Or a hot plate and a Johnson controller would run you about $100. I am keeping an eye out at my local college campus surplus depot for a cheap retired immersion circulator though…

  • Ellis Jordan Bojar

    I was an early adopter, having taken advantage of the pre-order discount (and receiving unit #331 mid-November).

    The machine does have some obvious “first edition” design flaws. It’s difficult to drain, the interior rack doesn’t attach to anything, and the mouse-pad-cum-insulating-blanket has to be rethought entirely. In a small kitchen, it gets in the way both physically and visually.

    That said, it’s by far the best small appliance I own. Sure, the stand mixer gives us fresh pasta and ground meat, but for the same price the Sous Vide Supreme has provided us with:

    - Perfect steaks (strip loin, 134F for 1 hour)
    - The best chicken breasts I’ve ever had (bone-in, skin-on, 142F for 3 hours)
    - Pork chops that practically melt (137F for 4 hours last night)
    - Sashimi-like, fully cooked salmon (brined, then 121F for 20 minutes)
    - Poached pears with an almost brandy flavor (183F for about 2 hours)

    I tend to hit protein with a cheap butane torch I got for 20 bucks at the local restaurant supply to provide some additional color and flavor. Don’t try a tiny creme brulee torch, it takes so long the meat will get cold.

    And yes, it’s true that some of these preparations take longer to plan and execute, but the cooking times are so forgiving for most items that I find myself prepping dinner at breakfast or lunch and dropping it in.

    So despite it’s petty annoyances, we’re seriously considering getting a second one, so I can make multiple items at various temperatures. I have no idea where we’d fit it…

  • Mark

    I’ve been on the fence since I’ve seen the discussion on eG … you’re endorsement pushed me to the other side.

  • Walt

    Let’s say I’m having a dinner party for eight and want to sous vide some ribeye. Would anyone that has used this know if I can cook that much protein at once?

    Thnaks

  • Dave

    Depends on how thick the steaks are. I did about 2.5 lbs of Rack of Lamb last weekend. Cut it between the ribs (3/4″ to 1″ at most thick), put them together in two flat bags, done within an hour.

  • Dan

    Cooking food in plastic bags!?
    What are these bags made of? Can they withstand the heat and pressure? What chemicals will they impart to the food within?

  • Dave

    What are FoodSaver® Bags made of?

    They are made of polyethylene (a type of plastic) with an outer layer of nylon for added strength and rigidity.

    Are FoodSaver® Bags safe for food use?

    Yes. The bags are made of materials that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined to be safe for food use.

    Why do FoodSaver® Bags cost more than other plastic bags?

    Other plastic bags are usually made of one layer of polyethylene (a type of plastic). FoodSaver® Bags are 5-layer including an outer layer of nylon. The nylon layer not only makes the bags stronger, it also creates a complete air, moisture and odor barrier. Unlike other bags, FoodSaver® Bags can be simmered in water or microwaved (so you can reheat leftovers or pre-cooked dinners).

    ((All answers courtesy of the FAQ on the Food Saver site))

  • Jon Palmer Claridge

    Ditto all the positive comments. I’ve been too busy to do much, but the Food Saver works great and the 48 hour ribs couldn’t have been easier. I think I should have used a higher temp (instead of 132F). Also, I was afraid to season too much after reading Under Pressure and was too conservative, but after reading Diana’s blog from the post above, I can’t wait to explore SOON!

  • Justin Watt

    I caught myself pondering: “Is sous vide the new microwave?” In 10-15 years is this what my kids will be wondering how we ever lived without?

  • Theo Chaojareon

    FYI FoodSaver V2440 is half the price of amazon at Sams Club if you have one near you.

  • Dave

    Microwaves are largely used for convenience. They don’t so much open up new possibilities as heat things quickly.

    There are things I can do sous-vide that I just can’t do with other techniques. It’s the equivalent of learning a new basic technique.

    Scratch that. It is learning a new basic technique.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Talking about Open Sky…i find myself going there before Amazon mostly because of the free shipping to Canada. But why is it the stuff I look for is never there…how is it that not one cook uses or endorses the Aerogarden for growing fresh herbs all year round? (hint)

    As for Sous Vide I will need more posts on discussing the uses…it seems to me that cooking sous vide doesn’t give any color to a protein ie ribs, for instance. The steak you mention, wouldn’t searing it after the sous vide overcook the steak even just a tad?

    Looking forward to many more discussions from your posts on this method

  • Hoon

    I’m sure most here will keep this in mind but you should provide a gentle reminder that bacteria can still grow in certain conditions, even in sous vide. Great post though, I was wondering how many people would actually invest in one.

  • Guy

    I got a Sous Vide Supreme as soon as it came out and I am not an early adopter or kitchen geek (just regular geek). It is all they say it is and more. I use the thing at least once a day. It stores neatly behind my cabinet door.

    And you don’t even need a FoodSaver immediately, since the inexpensive Ziploc hand pump will get you started.

  • Jennifer

    Great review for an intriguing piece of equipment. I have visions of sous vide short ribs dancing in my head. I’ll be saving up my butter and egg money this coming year.

  • Erik @ Food Night

    Michael, do you care to elaborate at all on why “serving braised things hot is so important”. Not sure I follow. I don’t necessarily disagree or anything, I would just like to hear where you are coming from there.

  • Peter

    I was very skeptical at first, but took the plunge and bought one as soon as they were available.

    It’s been plugged in and running for over 2 weeks straight now. Beef short ribs, brisket, chicken breasts, duck confit, tuna, salmon, trotters, pig’s tails, pig’s head, pork belly, mackerel, ling cod, monkeyface prickleback,, beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and even a pate maison have all been in at some point or another.

    I use it with a food saver, but I’m building my own chamber vacuum sealer since freezing liquids before sealing is cumbersome.

    If you are passionate about cooking and ready to embrace this technique, this is an excellent appliance.

  • Scott

    If I did not already have a flexible SV setup (Sous Vide Magic & a big rice cooker), I’d find this to be very interesting. I love the magical results with SV, and it is less effort than some other types of cooking. It can be transformative,

    Vivian> Food Saver was adequate for Sous Vide

    Yes, it is. In fact, and interesting article suggests that you don’t want too high of a vacuum when sealing the bags. (http://cookingissues.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/boring-but-useful-technical-post-vacuum-machines-affect-the-texture-of-your-meat/) The challenging part is when you want to seal liquids in with the food, but you can often freeze it first.

    You can also just put the food in a zip-seal bag, immerse it in water (except at the top) to put pressure on the sides, and then seal it.

    Dan> Can they withstand the heat and pressure?

    Vacuum sealing them does not really apply much pressure. Most protein SV is at relatively low temperatures, so melting is never an issue. There are concerns about BPA, but if you use BPA-free food-safe bags, this should not be an issue.

    Natalie Sztern> doesn’t give any color to a protein ie ribs, for instance. The steak you mention, wouldn’t searing it after the sous vide overcook the steak even just a tad?

    If you use a really hot pan or grill (or a blowtorch), the layer of seared protein is very, very thin, and does not hurt the texture or flavor. In some cases, you may want to sear before putting it in the bag.

    What is really lacking at this point is a good source of recipes, especially with protein/time/temperature. The eGullet thread is a good source, and searching can provide some. I’ve made some great meals from UNDER PRESSURE, although some are challenging in a home kitchen. Nathan Myhrvold and Douglas Baldwin are working on SV books, and those will be very welcome.

  • JW

    I second Scott’s comments. I wrote the following before reading all the posts…”I’ve been experimenting with this technique for some time now using a rice cooker and a PID controller “Sous Vide Magic”. The results are truly remarkable, however, most home cooks will likely be turned off by the fact that there are few recipes outside of eGullet. I preordered “Under Pressure” last year, but was disappointed in that most of the recipes are outside the realm of my setup. I will be interested in hearing what you are doing! Keep up the great work!”

  • John Bailey

    Dear Michael

    I, too, was in the first 500 for Sous Vide Supreme. I certainly enjoy ‘lastest’ technology in my kitchen such as having a PacoJet, a CookTek induction cooktop and a Rational Combi Self Cooking Center. However, I stayed on the sidelines about buying one of the Polyscience immersion circulators, mainly due to the price in case I would not be devoted to sous vide cooking. The Sous Vide Supreme allows me to experiment at a reasonable cost and I can alway buy a proper immersion circulator later.

    May I suggest all interested read Douglas Baldwin’s ‘A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking’ ( http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/sous-vide.html ). This is one of the definitive resources for time and temperatures, plus food safety.

    For the person who needs to allocate dollars and acquire equipment in logical steps, I believe they might be better initially investing in a proper chamber vacuum. This is not to say other vacuum machines don’t work, but if they intend to become actively involved in sous vide, they will benefit with one. Even if they don’t continue with sous vide cooking, they still will have a most useful machine. I use a Minipack-Torre MVS31 which can be purchased from Polyscience’s Cuisine Technology department. First, a better vacuum can be obtained. Other types of machines do not evacuate as much air and even a bit of air in the bags causes them to float (although the Sous Vide Supreme does have the rack to better hold bags in place). Second, liquids and product with marinades can be vacuum sealed without freezing. Third and most beneficial, food is quickly and cleanly sealed for storage and freezing. After any dinner, using the chamber vacuum to save food is easier than cleanig up the pans and dishes. Your refrigerator and freezer will be organized as never before!

  • luis

    This is great Michael. I can wait on a bit until next christmas maybe?. 450 is not a bad price. But I think as it becomes more available and more popular the price will come down. I am thrilled this product is out there and the vacuum packed myth is debunked by the NYT article.
    I have a super nice vacuum pack machine but it doesn’t do well with anything that contain sauces and liquids. A git around that issue with my machine is that I freeze the marinated foods in the vacuum bags. with a few toothpicks saturated in olive oil to make airways. then I vacuum seal them.

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  • Tags

    Warning!

    I strongly suggest that you open your copy of “Under Pressure” to page 33 (safety) before you cook a single thing with this unit.

    Things can get ugly in a hurry if you don’t follow these guidelines.

  • Dave

    The rules in “Under Pressure” are more conservative than they need to be in one key regard.

    Depending on thickness of the material, at temperatures between 131f and 140f, pasteurization will occur before the end of the four hour window. This is why you can cook a short rib at 133 for three days safely.

    Douglas Baldwin’s charts include pasteurization times.

  • Peggy

    Putting my food in even more contact with plastic? I don’t care if it creates manna from heaven, no thank you.

  • Dave

    Uhmmmm… Ok.

    I don’t think anyone is going to tie you down and force you to cook sous-vide. Although if you really are opposed to plastic exposure, you’d have to check to see how restaurants you frequent are holding and cooking their food.

  • ruhlman

    Elinar, didn’t know about the immersion circulator

    ellis and others, thanks for great examples and temps.

    dan et al, plastic doesn’t impart flavor, and just avoid plastics with pcb’s. nothing ot be afraid of.

    hoon, bacteria is an issue, especially anaerobic ones, food should either be in the heat, or in the fridge once it’s in a bag, and it should be chilled in ice bath if not to be eaten immediately.

    erik, in traditional braise, most flavor cooked out of meat so important to have aromatic hot sauce and hot meat for flavor.

    scott, et al, thanks for answering questions.

    john, awesome pdf link, thanks!

  • Natalie Sztern

    Why in all my research on the net, can I not find out how meat browns or caramelizes if cookied via sous vide?

  • Dave

    The Maillard reaction does not occur in sous vide cooking.

    There is no browning or carmelization at all.

    If you want it, you need to apply it after sous vide is complete. For example, searing a steak in a hot pan.

  • Dan

    http://www.slate.com/id/2123101/sidebar/2123136/
    Because it combines low temperatures and an anaerobic environment, sous-vide cooking has long given health officials the heebie-jeebies. Local restaurant inspectors, who take their cues from the USDA, have been taught to cite restaurants for food kept in the “danger zone for bacterial growth,” between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Even now, many would be inclined to red-flag chefs who cook their beef cheeks at 130 degrees. But more recently, the USDA has published complex charts showing that as long as meats are held at lower temperatures for the proper period of time, pathogens should be killed as conclusively as if the meat were cooked to higher temperatures. These new findings, along with the fact that Europeans have safely cooked this way for years, suggest that properly executed sous vide is a safe way to prepare food.

  • luis

    Michael I do not understand the dimensions… 4 in deep is??? crazy narrow???? what gives???

  • luis

    Michael I need to say it. Your new website is amazingly great and a must stop after a hard days work. I am really enjoying how you tie everything together with some of the older works. If you don’t win a prize with this one. We should sousvide Bittman in a jacuzzi filled with a fine Beer.

  • Rhonda

    Natalie;

    I believe your question has been answered by a previous poster.

    If you are seriously interested in answering your question, please re-read earlier posts.

    Browning is a step in addition to cooking en-sous- vide and can be accomplished in serveral different ways.

    Dave:

    Thanks for bringing up the Maillard reaction. I just had a discussion with Chef delGrosso about this and he reminded me that in order for the reaction to begin, the water content on the surface must be less than 15%

    There are some amazing cooks and chefs who contribute to this blog with their knowledge and experience.

    Natalie, not to sound hard, but perhaps more study, less yapp-yapp is in order.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Well Rhonda if you will accept one more yapp-yapp from me, I am not a chef, if sous vide,( and I don’t have one), cooks to temperature and one uses other techniques to brown: wouln’t those techniques over cook the protein? I personally would not use a blow torch for browning purposes.

    btw you do sound harsh and it is my long professional experience in the working world that communication via internet must be especially kind in its words because connotations behind those words cannot be read.

  • Dave

    You cook to temperature, yes. But the sear time on the protein afterwards is very very brief. So you use a very hot heat source for a brief amount of time, and you don’t end up overcooking the meat.

  • Rhonda

    Hi Natalie;

    It is not my intention to be unkind. You should check out “Under Pressure” which is highlighted at the beginning of the post.

    Also, don’t discount the blowtorch suggestion. You can get smaller blowtorches which are very easy to handle and fun to use.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Thank you Dave, finally an answer. This afternoon Gourmet Diary on PBS highlighted sous vide cooking for fish and I can see why some proteins do not necessarily need color added like the salmon they cooked.

    Rhonda I had occasion to read parts of Under Pressure and I admit I found it a difficult book to comprehend especially because I have yet to see a sous vide machine, outside of pictures on the internet.

    It is a new process of cooking that interests me and it is good that Michael will be writing more posts on it: I am sure the professional cook has a head’s up on me even if they haven’t used Sous Vide. It is also good that we provide answers to even stupid questions without sarcasm.

  • kitchengrl

    So I’m giving my SVS its first run … I’m not new to sous vide, having done it with the Auber PID controller and a rice cooker for a couple of years, but this is my first time with the SVS. I brined a brisket in a 6% salt/3% sugar solution, sealed it, and put it on the rack in the SVS, set to 63C. It’s been in for about 18 hours at this point and I’m going to about 42h for dinner tomorrow. Temp regulation appears to be solid according to the controller, fluctuating just around 63C.

    I’m wondering about something – I guess I won’t know the answer until I remove the meat tomorrow and see the interior – but when I lifted the lid on the SVS about an hour ago out of curiosity, not only did I get a load of steam, but the water appeared to be simmering pretty hard. That seemed to me strange considering the temp was only 63F, but the lid has been on and I wondered whether I was just witnessing some physical phenomenon due to water vapor pressure under the lid, and not temperature-based boiling. I mean, I remember that PV=nRT but hell, that was 25 years ago.

    So can anyone tell me whether this is normal behavior for lid-on cooking in the SVS at this temperature, during long cooking periods? I assumed I was supposed to cook with the lid on to avoid evaporation, but I’m a little weirded out.

    Thanks!

  • ET

    And tell us why exactly we need to be making and using more plastic?

    The issue with plastic is not necessarily taste or “pcb’s”. Blithely saying “nothing ot be afraid of.” neatly bypasses issues such as production of plastics (want to work in that factory?Ah, I didn’t think so) , disposal of plastics and general production of more fancy gadgets that never leave us satisfied.

  • John Bailey

    Respectfully, may we agree (at least on this site) to keep disagreements modest and contained to the specifics of cooking. If one disagrees with methods, or materials used or ingredients, no one is compelled to follow any of the suggestions. Yes, we all have our own points of view. However, moral equivelance is a difficult debate whether we are exploring using plastic as a cooking vessel (as opposed to not saying anything about benefitting from the same plastics in a computer) or recently popularized cooking instruments (instead of going back to original ways like preparing food with a wood burning fire).

    I look forward to Michael Ruhlman’s experiments, successes and failures as he investigates sous vide.

  • SC

    The price is ridiculously high. This device is no more complex than say a counter-top deep fryer. If not for the slightly higher temperature of the lowest setting of the fryers, they would have served the purpose.
    The Drs and manufacturers are too profit-oriented and they should lower the price so the cooking method would not have the elitist image.
    Cheers.

  • Dave

    The obvious argument is, if you think you can produce them cheaper, go ahead and undercut them in the marketplace.

  • ruhlman

    kitchengrl, your water should never be simmering in the SVS. Do you have a cable probe thermometer. You might rig it up to monitor the temp inside. Heston did a lot of testing and the SVS was very accurate. If you’re water is simmering. Unless you’re way up in the mountains, are you?

    John Bailey, thanks for your comments on disagreements. I agree.

    and i also agree with dave, the market will ultimately give us increasingly affordable versions.

  • Diane

    I wanted to let you know I just purchased a Foodsaver just like yours and paid only $89 at Bass Pro Shop.

  • kitchengrl

    Michael, thanks for your comment – I checked it again and as it turns out, I mistook condensation dropping back into the bath for simmering (which seems silly, I know, but I saw the rippling, which looked like bubbling, and freaked. I checked the temp using a thermocouple probe and it seems accurate. So, false alarm.

    I considered various salt concentrations for the brine and settled on 6% after coming across a recipe in Keller’s sous vide book that used a 6% brine for 24 hrs for heart. Admittedly heart is denser than brisket, but I brined for a far shorter time – about 8 hrs. I’ll let you know how it turns out. If it winds up being super salty, next time I’ll cut it back to 3-4%, but brisket is cheap, so no worries.

  • luis

    Sur La Table dimensions have a typo……The real dimensions are:
    Overall: 11.5″/14.2″/11.4″
    and that makes sense. Also heard from Frank Hsu on his 1500D sous vide magic 1500D controller.
    His controller works with comercial rice cookers best.

    This NEW product “Sous vide supreme” is exciting and One foot print does it all. Which has to be very appealing to most. Same thing as a bread machine solution. Who doesn’t want that?

    Frank’s sous vide magic appeals to me from a standpoint that it is a controller not a solution. So I can rig a single 115AC electric burner to it and use my cast iron dutch ovens and or my cast iron woks to sousvide. So that’s if you don’t mind a kitchen countertop that looks more like a high school science experiment.. which frankly doesn’t bother me much. Different strokes…

    Another pearl of wisdom from Frank is that it is recommended …Listen up Michael….” He recommends a Five to one RATIO of water to cooked item ” when sousviding. I guess for Bittman we are going to need something bigger than a jaccuzi…ha? mo? moe? stuff for you to add to your book… next update ha??

  • kitchengrl

    update – the brisket was phenomenal. Seasoning was perfect and not too salty at all. Next time, I think I’ll dial it back to 62C to accommodate the sear when it comes out of the bag (and it took a nice brown crust really well, by the way).

  • Michael Eades

    @SC

    When we set out to develop the Sous Vide Supreme, we, too, figured it would be a fairly simple device: basically a crock pot with a very accurate thermostat. Once we got deeply into the project, however, we discovered that a thermostat wouldn’t hack it. A thermostat is an on-off device, and, as such, allows too much variation in the temperatures for the accuracy required for sous vide cooking, where even a degree difference can alter the outcome of what’s being cooked. We had to resort to a PID temperature controller that is always sending power to the heating element, but to different areas of the heating element. So instead of on-off, the temp is always on. The PID receives input from the sensors throughout the basin and directs the power to the various areas of the heating element accordingly to maintain a constant temp throughout that is maintained within one degree for hours and even days. PID’s are expensive, which adds substantially to the cost of the unit. And PIDs don’t come off the rack all the same – there is substantial variation in them. As a consequence, each Sous Vide Supreme is hand calibrated as it comes off the line. This process involves filling each machine with water, turning it on, measuring various temperatures with an accurate immersion thermometer, then hand calibrating the display to match the temps created by the PID. As you might imagine, this is NOT an inexpensive process. But it has to be done to ensure the machines are accurate to within a one degree C tolerance.

    I’m sure that as volume of sales increase, we will be able to lower the price as we achieve economies of scale. But the price as it is seems pretty reasonable to me given the technology involved and the fact that our nearest competitor is about twice the price for a smaller basin. Several years ago my wife and I purchased a modest espresso maker from Starbucks on sale for $399. I can assure you that the technology driving the Sous Vide Supreme is vastly more expensive and complex than that inside our espresso maker, yet the prices of both are comparable – and not unreasonable.

  • michael

    Michael, thanks for that great description of what goes into the production of your machine.

  • Shai

    Hi Michael,
    Have you seen/tried Sous Vide Magic? I found this online today, and the price is much more in my range right now than the Supreme, or one of the Polyscience circulators.
    Here’s a link-http://freshmealssolutions.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage-ask.tpl&product_id=30&category_id=15&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=31

    I’m just curious if you’ve used this product?
    Tks!
    Shai

  • Cameron S.

    Thanks – that does make a lot of sense. Best of luck, and I will become a customer very soon.

  • msparksls

    Thanks for the info. The expense is definitely justified in calibrating the units as they come off the line. I can’t help but wonder, being that I work in an industry where frequent equipment calibrations are so important in maintaining consistency (sometimes working within tolerances larger than one degree C)… with temperature being the single vital element to reproducible, successful sous vide cooking, how well is this PID controller able to sustain its accuracy within one degree after multiple use over time?

  • David Dadekian

    That’s a fascinating and helpful explanation, Mr. Eades. I too would ask how long can that calibration be sustained or will the unit require some calibration over it’s lifetime? Either way, I wouldn’t think the price isn’t justified.

  • Michael Eades

    @ msparksis and David Dadekian

    The PID is basically a piece of hardware that stays pretty much unchanged. It receives input from the sensors around the basin, integrates the info and converts those inputs into temperature outputs that go to the heating element in such a way as to not allow a temperature overshoot. The display panel simply has to be calibrated so that its temperature displays correlate to what the PID is transmitting. You can kind of think of it as a speedometer in a way. If the wheels of a car are turning at a rate that indicates a speed of 60 mph, then you can calibrate the digital speedometer to say 60 mph when it receives that signal. You do the same at a handful of other known speeds, and then your speedometer is pretty well permanently calibrated. This is a simplistic explanation because it doesn’t really deal with the overshoot, which is one of the main reasons to use a PID, but it’s the best I can do without going overboard on the technicalities.

    We’ve tested the units over thousands of cycles and found that once they are calibrated, they stay calibrated…at least over the many cycles we’ve tested. We (and others) operated the early prototypes using this same PID and heating element combo for many months with the calibration holding just fine.

  • sara

    Nagging question…

    This sounds like a great culinary innovation, but is the plastic recyclable? It is essentially a means of generating more garbage unless there is a program in place for reprocessing the plastic being used in the sealing and cooking. And by that, I mean collection and actual reprocessing. Not just collection and then it is someone else’s headache to make it disappear as happens with much of the plastic collected in the US.

    Just something to keep in mind.

  • Matt Sloan

    In addition to the new culinary possibilities that the sous vide technique opens up, I suspect that this method of cooking will become more and more popular due to the fact that one can prepare a meal course days ahead of time. I know that restaurants appreciate this fact and often use the technique to keep food at temperature for many hours before service. In our increasingly hectic lifestyles, it never hurts to have a large hunk of beast prepped and ready to go, leaving one less task to deal with. Especially at this time of year when families are gathering together, and the oven is needing to be utilized to perhaps roast a large bird, cook a dish of stuffing, bake a pie, etc, having one less thing to have to put into the oven sounds great to me.

  • Dan

    following up on ET’s comment above – not to mention the carbon footprint of having these kinds of devices on for long periods of time

  • luis

    Michael Eades thank you for the insight into your sousvide machine temperature controller. And into the accuracy required to make great sousvide food. I would have never guessed the water column temp required such accurate control. It reminds me of the natural thermoclynes we find in the ocean water columns. I the summer here in SOFL we have warm water on top and colder on the bottom even in shallow water.
    Multple heating elements and a PID controller suggests you went all out to correct this issue andbuild an outstanding machine.
    I really commend your great effort to bring this technology to our kitchens.
    I wish you the best of luck with your outstanding product. I find the price to be very reasonable for a new product. Even more now that you shared your insight with us.

  • luis

    Sara I just got my cooking in for most of the week. My day off you see. I can tell you that it is all in plastic bags in my freezer. So basically I think you do have a point. We need to recycle plastic more efficiently. Absolutelly!
    But the technique of sousviding is not entirelly the problem and it is one of the healthiest ways to cook that conserves the most nutrients and true flavor out there. If you look to the future far enough as I do sometimes. You can imagine Whole Foods and Publix selling “SousVide” Ready food.
    In fact I can imagine the thought has crossed Michael’s mind already.
    Rhulman sousvide ready pot roast. One plastic package from store to freezer. Seasoned by Rhulman????….Embrace the future Sarah…love change and be healthy and prosper.

  • luis

    Michael Eads , One last thought on your fine effort. Even with regular ovens we find the huge step forward was to install the fan to circulate the air. Hence the convection ovens. A water oven could be built with a circulator and perhaps a cheaper controller? But it would be much less reliable than your machine which uses no moving parts. Bravo Bro… Kudo’s.

  • luis

    A proportional–integral–derivative controller (PID controller) is a generic control loop feedback mechanism (controller) widely used in industrial control systems. A PID controller calculates an “error” value as the difference between a measured process variable and a desired setpoint. The controller attempts to minimize the error by adjusting the process control inputs. The PID parameters used in the calculation must be tuned according to the nature of the system.

  • luis

    Maybe even sell the first prototype sousvide ready packages through Blue SKY? A nicely seasoned Mangalitza pork chop in a ready sousvide bag seasoned by MR? with specific sousvide directions to do it ins Sous vide Supreme? and Maillard it under hot broiler….hmm hmm hmm……This could work.

  • Jane

    Michael,

    You said “But the price as it is seems pretty reasonable to me given the technology involved and the fact that our nearest competitor is about twice the price for a smaller basin. ”
    I checked Einard’s comment above and I think he is right. Your nearest competitor is a “real immersion circulator” from Addelice. How would you compare the sousvidesupreme with Addelice immersion circulator?

  • E. Nassar

    I am not sure the Addelice is a competitor to the SVS. Maybe I am wrong but that is almost a $1000! For that much cash, I’d rather buy a Polyscience. I’ve been cooking SV for over a year now using an immersion circulator I got from ebay for $100 and a good foodsaver with the Pulse feature. Glad Michael decided to start featuring this unique a very useful technique here. As far as carbon footprint of the machine being on, it is negligible compared to almost any other other household gadget. Someone actually measured the power usage on that eGullet thread if anyone is interested. Of course to each their own, and if you believe using your gas range is so much more efficient all the time then by all means do that, but if we wanted to be completely “green” we can go back to hunting and gathering.

  • Jane

    Nassar,

    The price of Addelice immersion circulator would be more in the area of 645 $ not 1,000 $ (the currency rate €/$ is currently very unfavorable to €, you could imagine that the price could be soon below 600$ . What are your arguments to purchase a Polyscience one instead?
    Buy the way my question was how to compare sousvidesupreme and addelice immersion circulator.

  • E. Nassar

    I guess I’m still thinking the Euro is fairly expensive. As far as argument for the Polyscience goes. Well, it’s more or less the industry standard as opposed to the Addelice which I am not familiar with. That’s about it.

  • Peter

    The electronics inside PolyScience, Addelice, Julabo, et al are likely all the same. I’m a process automation engineer for a pharmaceutical, so I know a little bit about process control devices. Lower priced goods generally have lower manufacturing costs (i.e., cheaper labor).

  • Barzelay

    In addition to Polyscience, there are several other brands that make great circulators that are perfect for restaurants (and are, in many cases, much higher quality than Polyscience). Techne, Omega, Julabo…

  • James

    Hi Michael, hope you had a great holiday! Haven’t seen/heard from you since the Chef’s Garden cook-off this summer. Hope all is well and Cleveland isn’t to cold! I’ll be heading back out to CVI in March to do a dinner with Mangalitsa Pork for the Earth to Table series.

    Anyway, really enjoyed this post! My wife just bought me one of these for christmas- I can’t wait to get my hands on it once it comes in. I’m particularly interested in what it may mean for making confit and rillettes at home. I was curious if you’ve ventured down that road yet, if so how did it work? I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make confit at home without having to keep huge tubs of fat in the fridge…

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