Sous Vide Circulators

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I am on the verge of purchasing my first Sous Vide machine.
I read through the threads here. Upon research I've found way too many to choose from.
They run the gamut from $79.00 to $635.00.
What do I really need to look for in one of those submersible gadgets?
I even found one that has Bluetooth technology so I can set it or turn it off from my phone.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Chef,
I started messing around with this a few months ago. I have an Anova with bluetooth. I bought on for a friend recently and found it on sale for $99.. I use a eight quart polycarbonate container and cover with saran wrap. This seems to work well for me. Have fun and good luck.
 

phatch

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I use an anova but have a 12 quart poly tub, but usually only fill it to 8. Otherwise like jimyra. The joule is also highly regarded.
 
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I have had a polyscience sous vide pro for a couple of years now. Love it. Best of luck they're all pretty good these days.
 

phatch

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What to look for well that's a more difficult question.
What's the biggest item you think you're going to cook? The wand styles like anova or Joule can handle usually up to about 20 quarts of liquid. Beyond that point they're usually radiating about as much heat as they can generate and have a hard time maintaining temperature. Then many people will customize an ice chest to use as an insulated bath meaning that they can heat even larger volumes of water. Another reason they might use an ice chest is so that they can do a really delayed start and manage an ice bath to maintain food safe temperatures real well with a delayed start.

So let's talk delayed start. So you want to have a sous-vide dinner and you're going to be at work all day. With a delayed start you can pack the food in ice and a little water and then have the circulator start, melt the ice and then cook the food so it's ready when you come in the door. For most systems this requires an internet connection on the sous vide circulator and you'll run it from the app in your phone. I sure wish they just gave me a timer that it could count down and run but either way it works for me.

The user interface is another thing to consider. Most of these units require an app and you interface with it on your phone. The joule has no UI on the device itself that I can think of. Anova lets me set the temperature manually and then i time manually as well.

And you need to consider user privacy data policies and thelong-term stability of the company

I expect this device can last years and years. But the wand is not going to receive a hardware update to use newer forms of Wireless technology. In a few years my Wi-Fi router might not support an old device like my sous vide circulator. So if you commit to one of them that has no UI on the device itself it gets pretty useless. Anova got bought and the privacy policy on the unit I bought changed requiring me to have an account withquite a bit of personal private information that it didn't used to require of me to use it on my local wifi.

More to come.
 
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phatch

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The Anova systems use a clip mount. So you're essentially mounting from the rim of your container. Joule has a magnetic base so it will stand itself upright in compatible pots. Handy, but less versatile. I don't know if it also comes with a clip mount. There's some minimum AND maximum depth of water your circulator has to be immersed in and it should have a sensor and markings on the wand to indicate these levels. With my 12 quart tub, that 8 quarts I mentioned is what it takes to hit those levels. I like the 12 quart tub because it fits roast sized cuts well. But it does mean I'm heating more water than necessary in some cases. I'll often use a smaller pot for those low volume situations. Many will cook on their stove top so they don't have to worry about the heat stability of the surface. I use a baking cooling rack for countertop cooking. This has been enough of an airgap I've had no trouble on my corian counters. The highest temp I've cooked at was 160 and that was fine. I've not tried carrots yet at 183, but that's my next high temp to try.

There are some things I've not seen answered to my satisfaction. I live at 5000 feet so my boiling point is only 202 F. Some potato recipes can hit 195 or I seem to recall one at 200 even. I'm not comfortable playing that close to the boiling point with my circulator. And sous vide may not offer benefits at my elevation for those particular dishes. I may just as well boil them in a bag at that point.

Using a cooking pot saves purchasing and storing another container. But they're somewhat less effecient as they radiate heat more readily.

What bags will you use? For me, this is a standard zip locking 1 gallon bag. Some times 1 quart bags. That limits what I can cook to a degree and some other tricks a true vacuum sealer can do. For how food fits in a gallon bag, and wanting that zip seal to be up in the container to ensure less leaking risks, square container is more useful to me and ensures that water can more easily circulate around the bag than in a round container where it would be more prone to block against the sides. The diagonal of a square container is handy. A clip is also nice to keep the bag positioned in the container.

I am looking forward to a true vacuum sealer but I don't have one that I like at a price point I'm willing to pay.
 
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kuan

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I have an ANOVA also. It's an older model without bluetooth but it does quite well. As for a vessel, deeper is better than wider.
 
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I have a Joule for immersion circulator and a PID controller for stocks. I like Joule because it works through my smart phone and lets me know when the time temp is ready for in and out. Plus the app has a great interface for picking doneness of a wide variety of foods. ChefSteps.com has a great library of souse vide recipes as well as video how to's.

I also use the Ovo timer app - (really slick) for up to an hour and a kitchen timer app for things over an hour in case I'm out of range of Joule.
 
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Thanks for all your input.
I ended up going with the Anova with Bluetooth. I use Foodsaver bags and have a 5 gallon stock pot to use.
I will start out playing with it for fish and steaks...then evolve into other things. I'm looking forward to playing with it.
 
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That's one quick decision!

Lucky you didn't go with Joules. I was gonna say that Joules is only good for low capacity and low temperature, despite its specification. It struggles above 170°F.
 

phatch

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That's one quick decision!

Lucky you didn't go with Joules. I was gonna say that Joules is only good for low capacity and low temperature, despite its specification. It struggles above 170°F.
Sounds like a good candidate for insulated container use.
 
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That's one quick decision!

Lucky you didn't go with Joules. I was gonna say that Joules is only good for low capacity and low temperature, despite its specification. It struggles above 170°F.

Joule is for the home cook - get it? If one is doing commercial work then get one that keeps up. There - plain and simple.
 
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Sounds like a good candidate for insulated container use.

Insulated container doesn't even get a chance to work yet. It's the initial heating up I was talking about. I was doing one of their egg recipe and it took like half an hour to bring 3.5 qt of water from 130°F up to 194°F. Then I added the eggs and the temperature never recovered for the entire cooking time. :(

Joule is for the home cook - get it? If one is doing commercial work then get one that keeps up. There - plain and simple.

Funny you should say that. I use Joules to cook commercially just fine. It can handle the same quantity of food as the PolyScience one and it has no problem maintaining the temperature. It's the getting-to-the-temperature that Joules struggles with. It takes much longer to reach the temperature, but once it's there, it's fine.

I wonder if you can sous vide hog jowl for new years day?

FYI: If anyone is doing the jowl, 24 hours @ 145°F tastes much better than 72 hours @ 143°F.
 
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So I got to play with it a few times.
I must be an old codger...

I made a Ribeye Steak one day and used it for salmon another day.
The machine works perfectly and the food came out as expected.

I can understand its usage in a restaurant now.
Come in at the am and place 20-30 orders of steaks in the machine, set the temperature and timer and walk away. Come back later to perfectly cooked steaks. Great for a restaurant.

In home use.....for me.....just another piece of equipment that's going to sit on my shelf.
Why?
I have to cook twice now. Steak comes out of the Sous Vide circulator but now has to go on to a pan to sear and caramelize.
It's a nice toy and I can see it's value to insure consistency but it's not something to use every day at home.
 
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I don't understand, you used it on 2 different things and decided that it wasn't worth it? What temp did you do your steak at? What temp did you do your salmon at?

What really makes the sous vide special is the ability to achieve things that you can't achieve with traditional cooking methods. As stated above...turning a round into a tender steak. 72 hour medium rare short ribs. Pork belly cooked overnight. I could go on. Try a chicken breast at 140F for an hour and a half. Then crisp up the skin...you can achieve a texture and moistness level that is almost impossible to replicate by traditional methods.

Poaching sausages...burgers...pastrami (brine, rub, cold smoke, sous vide for 24-48 hours)...tri tip into tender steak...leg of lamb...

Everyone focuses almost always on protein. Vegetables cooked sous vide are amazing, especially if you have a good vaccuum sealer. Eggs...easiest coddled eggs for breakfast ever.

Sous vide even for steaks is great...a really big steak (like a 2 inch thick ribeye, say) shines in sous vide.
 

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