Sous Vide FAQs

What is sous vide?

Developed in France in the 1970s, sous vide, meaning under vacuum, is a culinary technique in which food is vacuum-sealed and cooked in a low-temperature water bath at a consistent temperature for an extended period of time. The result is perfectly cooked foods with enhanced flavour, texture and nutritional benefits.

Sous vide cooking is one of the fastest growing culinary segments and quickly moving beyond “just gourmet.”

For further information on the sous vide technique, visit our Sous Vide Explained pages.

What important safety precautions should I take when cooking sous vide food?

It is important to note that not all plastic bags are suitable for sous vide cooking and so it is essential users cook with food safe resealable bags or vacuum pouches. These are traditionally made from Polyethylene, but you should always check the bags / vacuum pouches you intend to cook with are food safe before using them.

Another important consideration is correct serving and storage of sous vide food. If serving immediately, simply remove the ingredients from the bag once cooked, sear if desired and serve.

If serving later, place the bags into an ice bath to cool before refrigerating. The quick chill method ensures food remains safe for eating later. To reheat – simply place the food back into the sous vide water bath, once the food has reached its original cooking temperature, it is ready to serve.

A third consideration is to ensure bags are fully submerged in the water so that ingredients are cooked thoroughly.

How many portions can I cook in my sous vide water bath?

This depends upon the size of the sous vide equipment you are cooking with. To separate bags from one another and to ensure consistent cooking, we suggest using a rack. Using a rack will also allow you to cook larger quantities of foods.

Typically portions would be as follows:

A 10 – 15 litre sous vide water bath should be able to cook between 12 and 16, 6oz (170g) portions. A 20 – 30 litre sous vide water bath should be able to cook between 24 and 32, 6oz (170g) portions.

Can an entire meal be cooked sous vide?

In a word, Yes! A number of meals can be prepared entirely using the sous vide technique such as soups and stews. Simply add all ingredients to a bag, cook and serve.

Alternatively, if some ingredients have been cooked previously, to complete a meal, simply bring all ingredients to the lowest temperatures of the set, before serving. The only thing to bear in mind is that cooking times and temperatures vary from one ingredient to another.

What kind of foods can you cook sous vide?

Sous vide is traditionally seen as an alternative method for cooking meats. However, the technique is extremely versatile, meaning all manner of ingredients can be cooked such as:

Meat

Pork, Lamb, Beef, Chicken, Duck, Turkey, Quail

Fish

Salmon, Cod, Haddock, Hake, Turbot, Trout, Tuna, Monkfish, Sea Bass

Shellfish

Lobster, Shrimp, Prawns, Mussels, Scallops, Clams, Langoustines

Vegetables

Carrots, Peas, Sweetcorn, Spinach, Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Cauliflower

Fruits

Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Oranges, Apples, Pears, Tomatoes, Rhubarb, Kiwi, Damson

Other Ingredients

Eggs, Rice, Pasta, Beans

Is cooking in plastic bags safe?

Yes, so long as the ingredients are cooked in food-grade Polyethylene, BPA free bags.

Most recognised food storage bags are made from Polyethylene and so should be safe for sous vide cooking. Vacuum pouches specifically designed for sous vide cooking are also safe and are used more commonly in a professional setting.

What are the most common cooking temperatures?

Typical cooking temperatures vary depending on the ingredients used:

  • Meats and fish range from 50°C (131°F) to 70°C (158°F).
  • Fruits and Vegetables are normally between 83°C (181.5°F) and 85°C (185°F) as this is the temperature at which pectin, the molecular ‘glue’ that holds cells together begins to break down.
  • Eggs typically cook at between 60°C (140°F) and 70°C (158°F) depending on your cooking preference.

What sous vide equipment do I need to get started?

Depending on the size of the establishment, the kitchen would require at least two circulators or water baths, together with two good quality vacuum or chamber sealers (one for raw and one for cooked foods to comply with HACCP regulations) and a good quantity of sous vide bags. Other items such as date labels would also be useful if ingredients are being cooked in advance of service.

How long can you store cooked foods in the refrigerator?

As long as your cooked ingredients are chilled quickly in an ice bath before refrigerating, they can typically be stored for anything from 48 hours to 10 days. To serve these ingredients later, they just need to be brought to their original cooking temperatures in the sous vide water bath before serving.

This can vary of course, depending on the ingredients, and can be longer if you choose to freeze foods after chilling them.

Can you reheat or cook frozen foods using the sous vide technique?

Put simply, yes. When cooking raw, frozen ingredients, the cooking time should be extended by at least an hour to allow the ingredients to thaw and reach the desired temperature throughout.

For previously refrigerated, cooked foods, the cooking time should be extended by between 30 minutes and an hour.

Times will of course vary from ingredient to ingredient depending on the desired temperature and thickness of that ingredient.

What clean up is involved when cooking sous vide?

Very little and that’s another benefit of the sous vide technique. All the cooking is done within the sous vide bags, so there’s little washing up or mess.

What’s more, when you’re done, simply pour away the water, wipe the water bath and store.

 

How much energy does a typical piece of sous vide equipment consume?

Compared to traditional cooking equipment, typical energy consumption is incredibly low.

Which sous vide product is right for me?

For the professional chef, this depends entirely on the nature of the business. If space is not an issue and the kitchen in question cooks set quantities, then a set of tabletop sous vide water baths such as the Pasto range would be perfect.

If chefs are limited by space, then a set of sous vide water baths that are built into the countertop or a set of immersion circulators are more suitable. This allows better flexibility in the kitchen. Grant Creative Cuisine offer the solution through the Vortice.

Is sous vide a difficult technique?

No it’s really easy:

  1. Seal your food in an airtight bag. This is easily done just with a re-sealable food bag, vacuum sealers are optional.
    Immerse the food pouch in the water once it reaches the right temperature.
  2. You’ll find all the right time and temperature settings in our free sous-vide cooking guides.
  3. Your chosen Grant product does the rest and you only attend to it once it’s done!

Your meal is fully cooked after a minimum cooking time. For items like steak, you can sear it for just a few seconds each side to brown it. Dinner is ready, enjoy!

Can I overcook my food?

No! No more overcooking, ever!

Sous-vide cooks everything at exactly the perfect temperature so that it’s just right… even if you leave it for longer than you planned – the odd hour longer it will still be perfect.

Are there health or flavour benefits?

Yes! Sous-vide brings out the best natural flavours in food, retaining maximum nutrition with minimal addition of fats.

With juicy proteins and tender vegetables at your fingertips, sous-vide is the ideal complement to your active lifestyle.

I can’t cook but can I sous vide?

Absolutely!

Not everyone can cook, but anyone can sous-vide.

We’ll let you know the best time and temperature settings – so it’s truly set-and-forget – With mind blowing results, every single time!

Do I need to learn a load of new recipes?

No! Rediscover your entire cooking repertoire.

Food cooked just right tastes amazing. You can enhance everything you’ve ever cooked with new exciting textures.

Fancy some buttery salmon, moist chicken breasts and gooey lava-like egg yolks?

See how we’ve taken a simple spaghetti carbonara to new heights by simply incorporating the sous-vide technique.

Recipe: Foolproof Spaghetti Carbonara

Do I have to buy special / expensive ingredients?

NO! Quite the opposite in fact – You can produce gourmet tasting meals that save you money.

Sous-vide cooking transforms tough, lean and often cheap cuts into mouth-wateringly tender results.

Soft succulent beef short ribs cooked at 55°C (131°F) are just like the prime cuts, but about 6 times cheaper – what’s not to like?

Is there a lot of cleaning up like with some new kitchen gadgets?

No – Lightning-fast clean-up!

All you need to do is pour away the water in your cooker. Done.

Really, it’s that simple. Are you ready to try sous-vide?

Don’t I need a vacuum sealer for sous-vide cooking?

Not necessarily.

If you cook sous-vide for immediate serving (cook-serve), a vacuum sealer is not needed. Using good quality re-sealable freezer bags with the water displacement method works well for sous-vide cooking temperatures.

A vacuum sealer is recommended if you tend to store food cooked sous-vide for consumption at a later date (cook-chill), require compression of certain food or use other techniques such as flash-pickling. We recommend exploring cook-chill at a later stage once you become more familiar with the cook-serve method.

The main purpose of the vacuum (or just an airtight bag) is to ensure an efficient heat distribution from the water bath to food for even cooking, because air is a poor conductor of heat.

What kinds of food bags can I use for sous-vide cooking?

Any food-grade sealable bag will work.

Is cooking with low temperatures safe?

Absolutely. A common misconception about low temperature cooking is that it is unsafe as it involves cooking in lower temperatures that are in the bacterial “danger zone” of 10°C-55°C (50°F-131°F).

In fact, food safety is a function of both time and temperature; a low cooking temperature would be perfectly safe if maintained for long enough to achieve pasteurization.

Generally, food that is heated and served within 4 hours is considered safe (including unpasteurized food), but meat that is cooked for longer to tenderize must reach a temperature of at least 55°C (131°F) within 4 hours and then be kept there, in order to pasteurize the meat.

Unpasteurized food is not dangerous if fresh, high quality ingredients are used with proper hygienic practice. Or else we wouldn’t have sushi, rare steak or carpaccio. However, it’s advisable to not serve unpasteurized food to highly susceptible, pregnant or immuno-compromised people.

Sous-vide cooking is safe with good food hygiene practices, purchase of fresh food and adherence to the time-temperature guidelines. Sous-vide cooking is not more dangerous, as these precautions apply to other conventional cooking methods too!

How do I cook a half brisket?

OK – You need to plan ahead for this one a bit, but the results are worth it!

Brine it overnight:
Put it in the bag with some salt, brown sugar and a little of your favourite smokey BBQ sauce

Cook It:
Sous vide for 24 hours at 65°C (149°F).
Take it out and dry it off, put a sugary-salty-peppery dry rub on it and place it in a 150°C (300°F) oven / sear it in a hot pan to form a crust

Rest, slice and serve.

Finally, given the choice, buy the second-cut half, sometimes known as the deckle – it’s tastier!

What’s so great about sous vide?

Sous vide makes good cooking great and effortless.

Great cooking and sous vide go hand in hand, with precise temperature control key to creating amazing dishes. Sous vide is simple and with times and temperatures clearly defined for all ingredients, all you’ve got to do is set your time and temperature and you’re ready to cook sous vide!