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More Sous Vide questions

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I stopped cooking professionally long before such techniques developed and so have no experience with it. At the risk of sounding crass, I must say it reminds me a lot of those Boil-in-Bag dinners they used to (or maybe still do) sell.
Is the fancy circulator necessary?
Is the packaging machine a standard food saver type machine? I have a large one I use for meat prep for the freezer, never occurred to me that items could be prepped for cooking in the same package.
How does finished product compare to other cooking methods?
At low temps, isn't there some danger of botulinum poisoning?
I guess it just seems like a lot of equipment and steps and I'm trying to figure out if it's worth it in a non commercial kitchen.
post #2 of 13
Me too. More than "reminds" when the process, or the "poor man's version" without a circulator, is used for reheating.

A fancy circulator isn't necessary. A good, appropriate circulator is.

It may be, and often is.

The question is too general to be meaningfully answered (at least by me). Can you be more specific by asking about fish or beef for instance?
.
Not really.

No kidding.

Good question. It's a very reliable way of achieving exact internal temperatures gently. With meats, the surfaces leave a lot to be desired which means more work to be done. Got torch? The same with fish, unless you're comparing to poached. Sous vide fish beats poached fish. What doesn't? With other things, is as does.

Worth it to you? Can't say. I'd certainly give a higher priority to lots of other toys.

BDL
post #3 of 13
Your home machine may just be a sealer. There is another Sous=Vide catagory on this sight look at it to learn more. EDB:D
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post #4 of 13
well, you've seen the experts comment on sights and sites and other full formed nonsense.

the truth is a whale of a lot simpler.

it's simply cooking at a low (very - a relative term with regard to what you're cooking) temperature. the water provides an even low temp, the plastic bag prevents waterlogged food. "say: poached" and you've got the entire concept.

"sealing prevents oxygen <whatever>" bull flipping feathers. go forth and count molecules and you'll quickly determine it's all horsecr*p.

you can "sous vide" in a baking pan in a low oven. I guess we should call that the Dr Suesse-Veed Oven method. results=same.

cooking proteins at low temp preserves texture, moisture, and flavor (subjective call.)
just ask yourself what precisely is the advantage to cooking proteins at hundreds of degrees vs one hundred+/- degrees. the answer is: no advantage, just happens faster. so you sue veed something; then it gets trucked to the serving station and reheated (see Gordon Ramsay does boil-in-bag-reheats)

employ your taste buds and you'll rather likely discover,,,, it's all horsecr*p.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'll look there, thanks I hadn't seen it.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'll try, not knowing what effects are being sought using sous vide by those who use it. How would a sous vide fish filet compare to one that has been oil poached, other than less oily, assuming no pan finishing?

If you wanted to sous vide let's say a beef tenderloin roast for two, isn't the internal temperature kind of a guess just like it would be with grilling, given that every tenderloin is a bit different in thickness and length and you can neither finger poke or use a thermometer like you can on the grill or in the oven. Or maybe you can?

On the botulism subject, this study seems to indicate that sous vide may be a fabulous way to cultivate a nice crop of C. Botulinum if done carelessly.
Safety Evaluation of Sous Vide-Processed Products with Respect to Nonproteolytic Clostridium botulinum by Use of Challenge Studies and Predictive Microbiological Models

Thanks again for the information!
post #7 of 13
poached fish in oil will be oily.

poached fish in a aqueous stock will not be discernible from sue-veeded. well, except on the menu as expressed in dollars.

botulism requires zero to low oxygen and low acid conditions (plus time) to flourish.

the theory of drawing a vacuum on a plastic pouch for souse vide somehow eliminates oxygen is at best a lame pipe dream and at worst a food poisoning event.

take a pick - and do not let science stand in the way.
post #8 of 13
This is an incorrect summary of the cited paper.

Iit says that sous vide is sometimes not an adequate pasteurization method; and that food, inoculated with Botulinum, vacuum packed, subsequently cooked at a fairly low temperature (i.e., too low to pasteurize), is then subsequently stored at temperatures above 4C (39.2F) or above 8C (46F) respectively may very well incubate "a nice crop."

However, the paper goes on to say that the same food, if properly stored at 3.3C or below is safe.

Thus the study is one of storage, more than cooking.

I probably should have said that the remarks I made in my previous post were oriented towards food prepared for service at the time of cooking, or shortly thereafter -- and did not concern intermediate or long term storage. Furthermore, they were restricted to sous vide cooking by contact/immersion (e.g., water bath) and did not reference in any other method of heat conduction.

BDL
post #9 of 13
Perhaps this link, A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking , will answer your basic questions?
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Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
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post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I certainly didn't intend it to be a summary of the paper. In reading the various threads here discussing this technique it's been mentioned more than once that in restaurant use it's often used to prepare menu items in advance for later finishing/service. In reading the following:
Concerns associated with sous vide processing involve the microbiological safety of the products (40). The psychrotrophic food-borne pathogens and particularly nonproteolytic group II Clostridium botulinum bacteria are of concern due to the methods of preparing, distributing, and storing these products. Mild heat treatments in combination with vacuum packaging may actually select for C. botulinum and increase the potential for botulism. Sous vide products are generally formulated with little or no preservatives and frequently do not possess any intrinsic inhibitory barriers (pH, aw, or NaCl) that either alone or in combination would inhibit growth. Therefore, strict adherence to refrigerated storage below 3.3°C must be maintained to ensure the safety of sous vide products with respect to nonproteolytic C. botulinum (1). However, the temperature control in chill chains is often inadequate, and temperature abuse is common throughout distribution and retail markets and by consumers
I doubt I'll be ordering anything prepared sous vide in a restaurant I don't know intimately.

That link above is very interesting. I'm afraid I'll have to eat something prepared that way that is similar to something I've had another way to really make up my mind whether this is some sort of fad or not. The notion of taking two hours to cook a medium rare steak is, I must say, just plain silly.
post #11 of 13
Let me answer from the perspective of somebody who uses the "technique" on a fairly regular basis.

1. You dont need to use a fancy circulator but you do need to use one that will maintain a CONSTANT temp, and an even flow during the entire cooking process. The unit that I use is no bigger than the size of your average home microwave, very easy to use and not super fancy.

2. You do need to use specific bags and a specific vacuum packager. Your average Food Saver cant pull a hard enough vacuum to pull the muscles apart to impart the flavors you want to penetrate the meat(mine pulls up to 60psi very easily) and you cant use the bags that the food saver uses. Those are designed to be used in cold storage applications and dont hold up well in warm water situations for extended periods of time. After a certain amount of time submerged the bags will lose the vacuum and it no longer works.

3. The texture depends on what the product is and what the rub/marinade has in it. Certain products break down protiens differently as does the amount of vacuum you pull. Cook time and temp also have a significant role in the final outcome.

4. As for getting ppl sick, that is all in the technique, food handling, storage and procedures. We have a full micro lab and did testing when we first began working with some customers and found that if the protiens are handled properly, stored properly and kept out of the TDZ PRIOR to packaging you are almost always safe. Nothing is sure fire but neither is cooking a steak on the grill.

5. Is it worth it to you? That's a question only you can answer for yourself.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #12 of 13
El,

I don't want to make too big a deal out of this, it's not a competitive thing, I certainly don't want to bust your huevos, and maybe it would have been better handled via PM. But since it's gone this far ...

You're still misreading the paper. Industry/scientific papers can be difficult, and abstracts can be especially confusing, because they're so dense.

But even in the part you qouted the operative statement is, "Therefore, strict adherence to refrigerated storage below 3.3°C must be maintained to ensure the safety of sous vide products with respect to nonproteolytic C. botulinum (1). However, the temperature control in chill chains is often inadequate, and temperature abuse is common throughout distribution and retail markets and by consumers."

In other words, the danger comes as a result of poor storage -- and is not a result of the cooking method itself. The "safety" problem with the method per se, to the extent there is one, is that it's not necessarily effective at pasteurization.

But this is not uncommon with other methods. You could certainly say the same thing about cooking a thick, juicy, infected ribeye, over a hot fire to rare, and then storing it at 40* for a few days. Yet, that's not going to keep you from eating rare beef cooked over a red oak fire. Or, at least it shouldn't.

You can feel sanguine about eating sous vide foods which are freshly prepared -- even that two hour steak. The problem comes with long term storage. Now restaurants which sous vide as a par-cooking short cut, then hold for a four or five days -- those I'd avoid. But I avoid them anyway, and you should too. Restaurants that take those kinds of money and time saving shortcuts are not the sorts of restaurants I like. For similar reasons, I wouldn't purchase any convenience foods cooked sous vide meant for reheating at home.

BDL
post #13 of 13
Having worked with the process for the last 6 monthes, I have come to some conclusions.
1..That fresh fish filets will hold for over a week at 37'F and will have no aroma at all.
2. Fresh cut steaks about 8-9 days .@37'
3. The process is exspensive figuring cost of bags and labor to fill and seal.
4. Anything with a potruding bone will in most cases case leak in bags.
5. That a steak cooked medium or rare then processed will be medium or rare throughout not just in the middle.
6. That it is quite different then simply poaching.
7. It cannot be produced with home sealers and home made cookers(it cost a lot for correct equipment? Our vac,gas sealer cost $10,000.00 and its 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet by 8'' deep at the crown.
8. That temps over 140''f all protein changes structure or becomes denaturalized.
9. Exact temp must be controlled and maintained in storage and cooking no guesswork
.
10. he original concept of Sous-vide in the USA(WR Grace Corp) was to hold or preserve food UNFROZEN for 37days at a constant 37'F.. It was done in the Bennigan rest chain for soups, and produced in Arlington Virginia.(by Grace)back in the early 80s.
11. The big challenge then and still is how do you sous-vide anything that is golden brown or deep fried, anyone who figures out this process will make some $$.:D
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