Vacuum sealing and reheating

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Joined Dec 9, 2017
I am just a keen home cook that now only has to cook for one. So instead of depriving myself of my favourite dishes (fricassee, bourguignon ,coq au vin etc) I thought about vacuum sealing pre-cooked food, freezing and reheating in water. Before I go spending the money on a vacuum sealing machine I thought it would be best to ask a few questions to people in the know!

There is lots of info on the internet about sous vide and cooking from raw but I am struggling to clear up a few queries about pre-cooked food.

Firstly, can it be done successfully with pretty well any dish? ie, chicken, lamb, beef, fish etc, and with any of the usual French sauces (espagnole, béchamel, hollandaise etc).

And what about vegetables? I usually blanche veg for 1-2 mins, put on ice or under the cold tap and roast in a pan or the oven to reheat and add flavour. Can I cook my veg as if I was to serve it, then let is cool and vacuum seal for another day? Or would it be best to blanche, vacuum seal and then finish at the time of eating. Or just start from scratch on the day of eating!?

What about things like Ratatouille? Is it best to just freeze, or should I try to vacuum seal also. I worry things like aubergine would go a bit funny.

At the time of reheating I would assume defrost first but then would it be ok to just throw the bag of meat in a pan of rolling water for 25-30mins or should I get a temperature controlled water bath and reheat slower?

I just want to eat good food everyday without spending hours cooking after work and without wasting any food. I hope someone can help, and thank you for reading/responding :)
 

phatch

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This is what sous-vide was originally developed for but on a large scale for chain restaurants and hotels. For single serve I don't know that it is as useful. What's your complaint about a microwave or something reheating in a pot or in a toaster oven. Those are faster and often more appropriate to the particular dish. Sous vide from frozen would be on the slow side of things compared to the microwave. If you're setting it up for remote start then it can make some sense.

I think you're on the right track that you want to freeze individual servings for economy and minimizing waste. And vacuum sealing does do a better job than a plastic container or a ziplock bag for maximum quality. But the quality drop off in those other tools isn't that big of a deal either. It's more of a problem in longer storage which doesn't seem to be what you're looking at.

Also the more water in the food so soups and stews, the more expensive vacuum sealer becomes to handle wet seal. Where as these very wet foods are also the ones that freeze the best in the simplest containers. And reheat well from frozen in the microwave.

Sous vide does such an excellent job in preparing tender chicken pork and beef chop or saute even in small servings. You can set it up to start from frozen and have it ready to sear for finish when you walk in the door. I think sous vide is still a handy tool even cooking for one.

I think a lot of vegetables suffer in the freezer. Carrots and broccoli go kind of woody and dry. Surprisingly I think the vegetables that break down the most do the best in the freezer so chopped spinach, kale and those sort of leafy things that will probably be cooking to death work from frozen pretty well to my taste.

You might also consider a pressure cooker. These can save a lot of time.

I think you would benefit from looking at two books from Jacques Pepin. He had two years of a PBS series called Fast Food My Way and More Fast Food My Way. There are two accompanying books. The recipes are good and he gives some tricks as well. One of my favorites is that the first thing he does when he comes home even before taking off his coat is to put some water on to boil. This way, after he's changed his clothes and things, the water is at a boil and it's ready for pasta or blanching or whatever he's going to to cook in it. Getting that pot of water to the boil is often the thing that takes the most time in the evening meal.

The series also stands out to me as a video series. The Books have the recipes but the videos showed him cook the whole meal start to finish with very little elided time. It showed how to multitask the dishes simultaneously which was elegant and critical to a weeknight meal. The videos are available on DVD and many of the streaming services offer them as well such as Amazon Prime has them.
 
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