Is Getting a Sous Vide Worth It?
What is a sous vide? In short, the French translation of "sous vide" equates to "under vacuum". So, what does that actually mean? To keep it extremely simple, a sous vide is essentially a cooking technique where a device heats up water in a container and keeps it at a constant, specified temperature.
In order to cook your food with a sous vide device, you need to put it in a waterproof bag that is free of air. To achieve this, you can either use a high-quality freezer bag or you can buy a vacuum food sealer that does all the work for you (it sucks all the air out of the bag and seals the bag for you).
What Does a Sous Vide Do for You? What Are the Pros?
A sous vide will ensure that your food is cooked evenly at the same temperature and will remain moist throughout. You may either use the food directly from the bag after you cook it in the sous vide or you can finish the food in another way, such as reverse searing a steak in a cast iron skillet.
One pro is that a sous vide can be used to cook a variety of foods, such as meats, pie fillings, eggs, vegetables, etc., making it a multi-use tool for your kitchen.
Another pro is that sous vide devices are relatively small, so you can store them in your kitchen easily without worrying about the space it will take up.
What Are the Cons of Getting a Sous Vide?
In order to get a quality sous vide, you must spend a bit of money. The two most well-known and popular sous vide brands in the USA are ChefSteps/Breville (ChefSteps are owned by Breville) and Anova Culinary. I bought the ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide because it has a magnetized bottom, is run by using an app, and is easy to set up and use.
I bought it for $250, which was more expensive than a lot of other sous vide devices, but in my opinion, it is high-quality and has done a great job.
Another con is that you will have to have certain supplies in order to use a sous vide. You can use a plastic container or a large pot to cook your food in with the sous vide, but if you don't have either, you will have to purchase those items.
As I stated earlier, you can use a high-quality freezer bag or buy a vacuum food sealer, but those will also cost you some money and you will have to replenish your supplies every so often.
If you are going to get a sous vide, I would recommend buying a good quality brand so you know that your purchase will last. You don't want to spend, let's say, $100 just to have to buy another one in a few years because that one didn't last.
I would also recommend getting a vacuum food sealer. Using freezer bags does work, but it just doesn't get the amount of air out of the bag like a vacuum food sealer does and doesn't have the amount of seals that a vacuum food sealer can give. (Any time you use a vacuum food sealer for your sous vide, you want to give the bag at least two different seals in case one seal opens/fails). Your food can be absolutely ruined if there is a leak and you can risk damaging your sous vide.
After reviewing several articles about vacuum food sealers, I decided to get the NESCO VS-12 Deluxe Vacuum Sealer. I decided on this sealer because it has a storage area for bags, a bag cutter, and many options for the vacuum.
You can choose options for dry, moist or double food, a gentle or regular vacuum, as well as a pulse option for any foods that are delicate (you can control how much air is sucks out). This vacuum food sealer was $100, but since it has every kind of option I need, I thought it was worth it compared to other vacuum food sealers.
In my first experiment with cooking with a sous vide, I decided to cook two ten ounce New York Strip Steaks. I first had to download the ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide app. All I had to do was make up a username and password, then name my sous vide. For reference, I named the sous vide Fat Willy, which is also what I have named our local neighborhood raccoon.
After that, I chose the type of food I was going to cook (steak), how I wanted the steak done (it states the type of cook and the temperature the sous vide will cook your food at - I chose medium rare), and how thick the steaks were (1 1/2 inches).
I then set up the vacuum food sealer and cut two bags, put a double seal on the bottom of the bags, put the steaks in the bags (I seasoned them first), then vacuumed the bags and put another double seal at the top of the bags. I used a regular vacuum option.
Finally, I filled a 6-quart pot with warm tap water, placed it on the stove, put the sous vide in the pot on the stove, then added the steaks. I opened the app and started the sous vide. It preheats the water, then starts a timer to cook the food. The app shows you the time, the temperature, and has a alert when the food is done. It also turns off the sous vide for you. All you have to do is unplug it and take it out.
I took the steaks out of the pot, then out of their bags and let the steaks rest on a plate for 12 minutes while I heated up two pans on the stove. After the steaks rested, I gently dabbed their surfaces dry, then seared them in the pans until they had a nice color. I rested them again for seven minutes and when I cut into them, I was happy to see they were completely cooked evenly throughout and significantly more tender and juicy than when cooking them without the sous vide method first.
After using a sous vide, I will never go back to cooking steaks any other way. The steaks were melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy and I am amazed at the difference. Using a sous vide and vacuum food sealer is so easy and I believe anyone can do it, even novice at-home cooks.
What are your thoughts on sous vide devices? Have you used a sous vide before? What was your experience? Please share your thoughts below!