How to Get Started with Sous Vide Cooking: The Basics and Essential Equipment

How to Get Started with Sous Vide Cooking: The Basics and Essential Equipment

What is Sous Vide? A Secret Revealed

At one time, the Sous Vide (pronounced "soo-veed") cooking technique was a culinary secret limited to high-end kitchens and avant-garde cooking schools. Premium restaurants have been making use of Sous Vide food preparation for years to cook foods to precise levels of "doneness". However, this "rich man's" cooking style has become a popular option for laymen with the arrival of simple, affordable, in-home Sous Vide equipment. Sous Vide offers you the set-it-and-forget-it convenience of a slow cooker while also making it nearly impossible to burn your food. Double win!

Perfection for All

Sous Vide, (French for "under vacuum"), refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very specific temperature in a water bath. Since water is a superior conductor of heat (as opposed to the air found in most ovens), its circulation throughout the container (and around your food) ensures a perfectly consistent "oven" which results in an amazingly controlled level of doneness to the food. Imagine a steak, medium-rare, from edge to edge - not just the center. With Sous Vide, this is reality, and YOU can be the one to make it happen! In this multipart series, we'll walk you through the process, the tools you'll need, and the techniques you can employ as you get into this exciting new cooking phenomenon!

What do You Actually Need?

You may be thinking to yourself that, due to its exclusive past, Sous Vide is really complicated or is difficult to do. The truth is that it's as simple as using a slow-cooker or crock pot! To get started, the only "expensive" item you'll need to purchase is either a Sous Vide heater/circulator or a Sous Vide oven. Currently, the vast majority of Sous Vide devices available are heater/circulator "sticks" with dedicated "ovens" in the minority. These heating elements are referred to by several names: "Immersion Circulator", "Sous Vide Cooker", "Immersion Circulator Stick", "Thermal Immersion Circulator", "Sous Vide Precision Cooker", etc.

As you start to search for the perfect Sous Vide circulator, you'll see that prices range from $50 to thousands of dollars. Expect to spend $100-$300 on a good quality circulator that will last you for years. As with all things, you get what you pay for. While there are well-reviewed units for $50-$100, it is likely they're using cheaper parts and may break after only a year or two of service. Be sure to look for units that come with manufacturer warranties and don't be afraid to use them! As you move up the price scale, more features are added to the Sous Vide circulators, phone app connectivity being a big one.

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