What is a sous vide machine?

In this article we show you the history of sous vide cooking and answer the question; what is a sous vide machine?

The development of the sous vide cooking technique has been a major breakthrough in the field of cooking. As with any breakthrough, a beautiful history precedes it. The technique has been in use since the 1970s and originated in France.

In the beginning, sous vide was only used to extend the shelf life of products. In 1974, 2 French chefs changed that. Pierre Troisgros, a 3 star chef from Roanne, wanted to prepare his foie gras in a different way because up to 50 percent of the weight is lost in the traditional preparation. He decided to come up with a solution together with colleague chef Georgess Pralus.

They came to the conclusion to wrap the foie gras in food safe plastic wrap, after which they prepared it at different temperatures. After a few tries, they found the right temperature, the result: a 5 percent weight loss. From then on, Pralus went through life as “the father of sous vide” or, as he himself said, “the sous vide pope”.

From star cuisine to every kitchen

Pralus was the one who went to restaurants and introduced other chefs to the technique. Due to technical developments and the increase in the range of sous vide cooking technology, it is becoming increasingly accessible to purchase a sous vide appliance, especially for private use. A quality that was previously only achievable in a top restaurant can now also be at home in your kitchen.

Why cook sous vide?

The sous vide preparation ensures that the maximum quality of each product is used in terms of texture, taste and nutrients! For all the ins and outs about the benefits that sous vide cooking offers and a comparison with traditional techniques, I would like to refer you to this article, in which this is discussed in detail.

Step by step cooking sous vide

In this piece I will explain step by step how you can prepare the perfect piece of meat, fish or poultry using the sous vide cooking technique. Fruit and vegetables are also treated. It is a standard process that must be performed every time.

Preparing sous vide cooking

It is important to prepare the sous vide machine and the sous vide tray before you start eating. This ensures that you can immediately proceed to the sous vide preparation after preparing your food, this is basically what is a sous vide machine?

Fill the sous vide container with warm water. Please note that the water must be between the minimum and maximum amount indicated on the sous vide appliance. This ensures that the sous vide device can circulate the water optimally at a constant temperature through the tank.

Switch on the sous vide appliance and set the desired cooking time and temperature. The appliance will heat the water until this temperature is reached and will give an audible signal when this is done.

what is a sous vide machine

Sous Vide cooking, what is a Sous Vide Machine?

Pre-processing with sous vide cooking

Prepare the product according to the steps below. A tenderloin needs a different preparation than a salmon fillet. That is why it is important that each product type is treated correctly. To make this as transparent as possible, we have made a step-by-step plan per product type below and answer your question What is a sous vide machine and how to use it best.

Meat

1. Boning: here you remove any bones / bones from the meat. This is usually only the case when buying large raw cuts of meat.

2. Remove membranes: remove the top non-woven layer of the product by cutting away the layer with a filleting knife, if it is present.

3. Parry: This is the process of removing nerves and unwanted fat from the piece of meat.

4. Portioning: cut the meat into desired pieces. Not too small, the more it remains a whole, the better the juices are preserved.

5. Drying: pat the product dry with kitchen paper.

Poultry

1. Parry: cut away excess meat, fat and nerve. Tip: do not throw this away, but use these parts to make a stock.

2. Bridging: this is the binding of a poultry, only applicable to, for example, a whole chicken. This ensures that the shape of the product is preserved during preparation.

3. Portioning: cut the meat into desired pieces.

4. Drying: rinse briefly under the cold tap and dry with kitchen paper.

Fish

1. Scales: removing the scales. Use a special scraper or the blunt side of a knife and work from the tail to the head, so contrary.

2. Defaced: this is the removal of the fins. This requires a pair of fishing shears or a sharp knife. Again contrary to a firmer grip.

3. Filleting: cut the fillet off the bone with a filleting knife.

4. Boning: Remove the bones from the fillet with tweezers.

5. Portioning: cut the fish into desired portions.

6. Drying: rinse the fish under a cold tap and pat it dry with kitchen paper.

Fruit

1. Washing: wash the fruit under the cold tap.

2. Peel: Peel the fruit when desired for the recipe. Pay attention! With hard fruit, the outside quickly turns brown because it comes into contact with oxygen. You can counter this by, for example, sprinkling the fruit with the juice of a citrus fruit.

3. Portioning: cut the fruit at your own discretion.

• Soft fruit is very delicate. It is important to wash this first and then drain it before removing the crowns and / or stems. This is because the crowns / stems will otherwise suck too much water into the fruit.

• Citrus and exotic fruits require no preparation other than washing and are often used raw in recipes.

Vegetable

1. Wash the vegetables under the cold tap. Do not do this for too long, because vitamin C is soluble in water and of course we do not want vitamins to be lost.

2. Peel the vegetables, if necessary.

3. Cut the vegetables. Do not do this more finely than necessary to prevent the loss of precious vitamins.

sous vide cooking vegetables

Shellfish

1. Scissors removal: remove the scissors with a circular motion.

2. Remove the head: take the head with one hand and the body with the other hand. Then turn in the opposite direction and remove the head.

3. Remove shell: Gently squeeze and break open the shell. Try to keep the shellfish meat intact.

4. Drying: rinse the shellfish under a cold tap and pat it dry with kitchen paper.

Tip: process the product quickly so that it does not get too hot, otherwise it may lose structure.

sous vide cooking shellfish

Cooking marinades for sous vide

Many people wonder if they should marinate a product before cooking this sous vide. The answer depends on what is being cooked and what your desired result is.

Generally, a marinade is used to flavor or enhance the original flavor. Marinades can be divided into a number of types. These are listed and explained below and we will hopefully answer your question What is a sous vide machine?

Flavor marinades

• Dry rub

A mixture of dried herbs and spices. No moisture is added to this marinade. The salt in the rub ensures that moisture is extracted from the meat, so that the marinade liquefies itself. If sugar is incorporated in the rub, this leads to a nice caramelised crust during the post-processing of the product.

• Marinade fit

This is basically the same as a dry rub, only a liquid product is added. It is also called a wet rub. These marinades often contain oil.

• Fresh herbs

It is customary to add flavor to a product by adding only a few sprigs of herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage or oregano.

sous vide cooking herbs

Texture marinades

These are marinades that are added with the aim of making meat even more tender. The acids and / or enzymes in these marinades start a process that changes the texture in such a way that the tenderness benefits.

These marinades are almost always in the form of a wet rub, because liquid has been added to it. Well-known additives are: vinegar, wine, fruit juice and beer.

There are a few reasons why it is not recommended to use marinades with such an addition for a sous vide preparation:

• First of all, it is not necessary. Due to the constant preparation at low temperature, the product is already brought to the desired doneness, which makes such a marinade unnecessary.

• Secondly, with sous vide preparation, no evaporation takes place due to the vacuum packaging. Liquid inside the bag cannot therefore evaporate, as a result of which the alcohol is not reduced in alcoholic marinades.

• Finally, marinades with a high acid content, as well as alcohol, do not evaporate, which bitterens and negatively affects the taste of the product.

Which marinade?

I recommend using a marinade that is purely aimed at improving the taste of the product. It is important to let the marinade soak into the product for optimal results. A vacuum device is ideal to accelerate this process, where traditional withdrawing can take hours.

Note that the marinade is non-alcoholic and low in acidity. If this is the case, first boil the marinade to reduce the alcohol and acids. A good example of this is this stewed pear recipe.

Airless packaging for sous vide cooking

Airless packaging of food for sous vide cooking can be done in four ways. In this blog we will discuss the four options in detail. Here we discuss the two most obvious methods, the sous vide bags and the vacuum bags.

1. Sous vide bags

First determine the size of the sous vide bag you need, depending on the size of the product and the amount you want to prepare. The bags are available in two sizes: 1.5 liters and 4.5 liters. Lay the bag flat and open it with your fingers so that the product can be easily inserted. Then put the ingredient in the bag and add any herbs or spices. Also pay attention to hygiene.

The herbs should be thoroughly cleaned under the lukewarm tap before adding. When everything is in the bag it is important to make it airtight, there is a handy trick for this. Close the sous vide bag at the top for ¾, then lower the bag into the preheated sous vide box so that the water pressure squeezes the remaining air out of the bag. When the sous vide bag is almost completely under water, press the last piece of the bag closed.

sous vide cooking container

2. Vacuum bag

It is also possible to vacuum pack the food using a vacuum bag and a vacuum device. Open the vacuum bag and put the marinated product in the bag, possibly adding some oil, herbs or spices. Make sure that the food is at the bottom of the bag and that the ends of the bag are free of moisture. Place the ends in the vacuum device, close it and press the button to remove the air from the vacuum bag. The bag can now be placed in the preheated water bath and the timer can be started.

sous vide cooking vacuumbag

Cooking sous vide

After you have put the product in the sous vide bin, you do not have to do anything until the timer goes off. This is not to say that nothing happens. A process takes place when a product is cooked. This process can affect the texture and structure of the product.

This is not the case with sous vide cooking, because of the preparation to the ideal core temperature of the product. Because the water circulates through the sous vide container at a constant temperature and the product is vacuum packed, the structure is beautifully preserved.

Example: What is a sous vide machine, or how to use it!

Take steak, for example, a piece of meat that can be cooked in many ways. The steak contains muscle tissue. If you heat this above a temperature of 60ºc, this muscle tissue will solidify. This leads to a granular structure in the meat.

To prepare a nice rosé steak, the core temperature of the sous vide appliance must therefore be below 60 degrees. The steak is now only cooked and still needs to be fried.

A Maillard reaction, creating a beautiful brown crust, is only possible at temperatures around 140ºC. Because there is a lot involved in preparing the perfect steak, we have written a manual that guides you every step of the way. It also describes in which ways you can add this Maillard reaction to the steak.

sous vide cooking vacuum bags

Nutrients and flavorings

Because cooking takes place in a vacuum bag and this is done at a low temperature, all nutrients and flavors of the product are preserved. In contrast to traditional cooking techniques, many important substances are lost. For example, traditional cooking of vegetables ensures that these substances are cooked “broken”. In addition, it is at the expense of the texture, which makes vegetables limp.

Shelf life

One of the most significant advantages of cooking your product sous vide is the extended shelf life. Due to the vacuum, the product is packed airless, which prevents the oxidation of the food. This inhibits the “ageing” of the product. The shelf life can be extended up to 5 times.

You might read about the best Sous Vide Machines to know what is a sous vide machine.

Finishing with sous vide cooking


As soon as the timer goes off from your sous vide device, it is time to edit the product. I will list and explain the various types of post-processing below.
• Immediately consume
You can choose not to post-process the product. Season with a little salt and pepper and then enjoy.
• Baking
Put a splash of oil in a pan and put it on high heat. As soon as the oil is hot, briefly fry the product on both sides, creating a nice crispy layer. Be careful not to sear it for too long to prevent the product from cooking any further. Then season it with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
• Burndown
This is the ideal way to finish a sous vide cooked product. If the product comes out of the sous vide container, it is already perfectly cooked. You, therefore, want to avoid further cooking the product with post-processing. This can be done by burning it with a kitchen burner.
A kitchen burner can be brought to a very high temperature almost immediately, which offers the opportunity to process the product shortly after.

  • Grab a kitchen burner and make sure it is at an appropriate strength, depending on what you want to burn.
  • Place the product, for example, langoustines, and keep the kitchen burner at a distance of 10-20cm.
  • Burn until the product has the desired color and serve immediately with the rest of the dish. The result is a perfectly cooked product with a beautiful burnt taste.

Grilling

This is one of my favorite ways of finishing because of the typical smoky flavor it creates. Make sure the grill pan or barbecue is hot before you put the product on it. After all, the intention is to create only a golden brown crust and not to continue cooking the product.
• Cool down
To cool down is to let a product cool down quickly to prevent the growth of bacteria and thus extend its shelf life. You do this if you have prepared food, but do not intend to consume it immediately. It is important that this process is completed quickly.
Rapid means that the product must have cooled from 70 degrees to 3 degrees within a time frame of 90 minutes. This contributes to both the food safety of the product and to ensuring the texture, flavors and nutrients.
• Regenerate
There are several ways to regenerate or reheat sous vide cooked products. Below 2 of those ways are highlighted:

sous vide grilling

Method 1:

Switch on the sous vide device and heat the vacuum-packed products in the sous vide container at a temperature of +/- 50 degrees. The product has already been prepared sous vide in advance and only needs to be heated up so that this low temperature is sufficient. How long it needs to regenerate depends on the product. The advantage of sous vide in this case is that the product never overcooks due to the constant low temperature.

Method 2:

Preheat the oven to 120 degrees. Remove the products from the vacuum package and place them in the preheated oven. It is important that the oven does not get too hot to prevent the products from cooking too far. The advantage of the oven is that the product heats up quickly, but the disadvantage remains that the product cooks faster.

All possibilities of sous vide cooking

Now that you are familiar with the steps for cooking sous vide meat, poultry and fish, it is time to discover what other possibilities sous vide appliance has. For a clear overview of all possibilities, you can go to our sous vide recipes. The device lends itself perfectly for the perfect melting of chocolate to make the tastiest chocolate strawberries.
Speaking of fruit, it is delicious to prepare sous vide. Something you should try. See the pineapple recipe. And what about gin and tonic, the well-known drink with juniper berries. In this blog, you will learn how to prepare your own gin and tonic sous vide!

Start cooking sous vide today now you have an answer on the question What is a sous vide machine?

After all this information, you can’t wait to get started. We are happy to help you on your way. Start immediately with the most impressive cooking technique using the sous vide packages. Or view an extensive range of sous vide equipment here

Pamela Smith