Sous vide or “cooking under vacuum” is a technique most restaurant chefs use because of the deliciousness of the resulting dishes. As vitamins and nutrients are better retained through sous vide than other traditional cooking methods, the low-temperature cooking technique was bound to be a favorite among experts.
Luckily, it isn’t complicated to take up at home either as there are special appliances to prepare food in this manner, sous vide machine reviews shedding light on the reliable kitchen tools you can use. If you are a health-conscious person, you won’t mind the extra time it takes for the food to prepare because your health and taste buds benefit from it.
Let’s dive into this interesting cooking topic a bit in the following to show exactly how low-temperature meal preparation benefits you and why you should take the time to prepare your food in this manner.
What Is Sous Vide?
Sous vide is a low-temperature food preparation method that originates from France and that has rapidly caught on not only among restaurant chefs but casual at-home cooks too. Meal preparation is surprisingly easy with this technique as you can freeze meals and cook them whenever needed.
With sous vide, to prepare the food, you place it in a hermetic food-grade bag that you submerge in a temperature-controlled water bath. Thus, you have full control over cooking time and temperature to ensure on par results when you cook different foods. Sous vide meat is renowned for its tenderness that cannot be obtained through any other cooking method, for example.
How long does it take to sous vide a meal?
Contingent on the ingredients you use to prepare the meal and the starting temperature of the cooking process, foods that you prepare using this technique can cook anywhere between 20 minutes and 48 hours. This is because of the low-temperature range used in the process, specifically 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (55 to 60 degrees Celsius).
What are the dangers of traditional cooking that motivate chefs to turn to sous vide?
As popular as frying and grilling might be because of the speed at which the food is made and the tastiness of the resulting dishes, the truth of the matter is that these old-style cooking methods are quite dangerous for our health. This is all because of the formation of HCAs and PAHs that can occur most of the time when you cook traditionally. These substances are harmful to the body and over time, can lead to serious health effects.
Sous Vide Benefits
1. Perfect Outcome – No More Undercooking or Overcooking
Both undercooking and overcooking are disastrous as overcooking renders the meal uneatable in most cases, whereas undercooking can usually have more dangerous repercussions seeing how you can enter into contact with foodborne viruses because of it. With sous vide, as opposed to any other cooking method, neither of these two issues won’t emerge anymore as temperature and time control is fully in your hands to impede the unwanted outcomes.
2. Enhanced Texture and Tenderness
The veggies and proteins are slowly poached in the sous vide water bath, which means that the plumpness of the food is preserved each time and that tenderization is guaranteed as the fibers are gently broken down. The food is properly cooked inside and out, so there won’t be sinew or tough skin, which makes this the preferred cooking method for cheaper protein cuts.
3. Better-Tasting Meals
As the ingredients gradually simmer in their juices, you don’t need to add as much salt and fats when you prepare the meal. Moreover, as the food slowly cooks in the enclosed space that represents the bag, its nutrients stay in the container, enhancing the flavor of the meal.
4. Possibility of Batch Cooking
In a pan, you are generally limited to cooking 1-2 food portions at a time. If you have a large family or have guests over and you want to make food for them, this means that you will waste a lot of time in the kitchen to prepare it. With sous vide, this is not an issue seeing how the generous capacities of the water baths allow the preparation of multiple meals at once.
5. Healthy Cooking
It goes without saying that since you use less salt and fat to make the food, it is healthier to consume. Sous vide preparation relies on the natural flavor of the food rather than on additives or sauces, the juices of the ingredients sufficing. Thus, the outcome is substantially healthier as opposed to the food that results from traditional cooking methods.
6. Full Control over the Cooking Process
You are in full control of the amount of time the food cooks, as well as the temperature at which it is prepared, so food preparation is made significantly easier and chances for a successful outcome with each dish are higher than with any other cooking technique.
7. Freeze for Later Consumption
As aforementioned, the large size of sous vide baths lets you prepare more meals at a time. Since the portions are individually prepared in bags, when the food is cooked, you can freeze as many portions as you like for later consumption, saving a considerable amount of time in the long run by doing so.
8. No More Waste – Saves You Money
You cook each meal in an individual package, so you can prepare the right portion size for every single person in your household. Thus, you waste less food as you can size each serving to how much you know everyone consumes, saving money by doing so.
Sous Vide Cooking Tips
Before we dive into the secrets of sous vide regarding time and temperature settings according to the food you prepare, we must first shed light on the topic of cooking bags as it is important for the outcome.
You cannot use any cooking bags as they might contain bisphenol A or other harmful chemicals. Instead, you should use special cooking bags that have been tested and found to not contain these chemicals. Now, let’s see what are the based safe cooking times and temperatures for sous vide:
- Tender fish – 122°F preparation temperature, 40 to 70 minutes preparation time;
- Medium-rare pork – 144°F preparation temperature, 1 to 3 hours preparation time;
- Well-done pork – 185°F preparation temperature, 8 to 16 hours preparation time;
- Light, tender chicken meat – 149°F preparation temperature, 1 to 3 hours preparation time;
- Dark, tender chicken meat – 167°F preparation temperature, 45 minutes to 5 hours preparation time;
- Rare beef steak – 129°F preparation temperature, 1 to 2 hours preparation time;
- Medium-rare beef roast – 140°F preparation temperature, 6 to 14 hours preparation time;
- Well-done tough beef cuts – 185°F preparation temperature, 8 to 16 hours preparation time.
Cooking at home is healthier, period. Regardless of the cooking method you use, whether it is sous vide, grilling, or any other technique you prefer, as long as you make your meals rather than buying frozen from the store or eating out every night, you are on the right track toward a healthier life.
However, if you are health conscious and you want to take it a step further, then sous vide cooking is the food preparation method you should predominantly use seeing how it better preserves the vitamins and nutrients your body needs without compromising on flavor. Best of all, it’s not much hassle to make the food using sous vide and you don’t need any advanced cooking skills either, so anyone can take it up.