Benefits of Sous Vide Cooking

We’ve been getting reader feedback asking for information on the technique of “sous vide” cooking. Good idea, I thought. So let’s start with what it is and its benefits.

Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. This technique produces results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method.

Cooking this way has terrific benefits. By cooking food at lower temperatures for longer, you can expect:

1. The food is tastier. As food is vacuum sealed in a sous vide bag, it doesn’t dehydrate or lose its form while cooking. The original weight, flavor and natural color and aroma of the food is not lost. It also means you can use cheaper or forgotten cuts of meat to greater effect!

2. The food is healthy. Due to the enhanced flavors of sous vide food, little or no additional salt or fat is needed during cooking. Plus, vacuum sealing food means that vitamins and minerals are not lost during the cooking process unlike boiling or steaming.

3. The results turn out food that’s restaurant quality. Not only is sous vide food tastier, but you’ll also experience the texture of food as it’s meant to be eaten. Gone are the days of chewy chicken and soggy asparagus – sous vide meat is tender and moist, and vegetables retain their crunch and color.

4. The results are consistently good. Consistency…being able to count on a good end product every time…that’s a huge plus! With extremely precise temperature control, the same dish can be prepared time and time again achieving the same results. Sous vide water baths are renowned for unparalleled accuracy in temperature control.

5. Sous vide food is never undercooked, chewy or burnt. Cooking the food until it’s done on the inside means that it can be overcooked, if not burnt, on the outside. With sous vide this is never an issue. Food will cook all the way through evenly at a low temperature and can be browned or seared afterwards. It’s virtually impossible to overcook food in a water bath.

6. Sous vide cooking makes organizing your cooking time easy. Probably one of the best things about sous vide cooking is that it offers you more control over your timings. Food can be prepared and vacuum sealed up to a day in advance and left to cook slowly in the water oven. You can come back and serve up your meal whenever you’re ready and you can even sous vide your food overnight!

7. Sous vide cooking is THE way to quick and simple meals. A sous vide water bath is just as easy to use as any slow cooker. Once you’ve prepared the food to be cooked (which could be as simple as vacuum packing a steak), it’s as easy as placing the bag in the water bath at the right temperature. Many meals can be prepared and cooked in under 30 minutes!

8. Sous vide is perfect for cooking large quantities. Sous vide cooking also makes it easy to cook many individual portions for a large group, taking the stress out of dinner parties and family gatherings.

9. Sous vide cooking can help minimize food waste. Plus, this method uses less energy compared to gas or electric ovens.

10. You don’t need any special tools or appliances to cook sous vide. While tools like immersion circulators can make the process faster and easier, you certainly don’t need any new gadgets to get started. Just grab a pot, a digital thermometer, and some ZipLock-style plastic bags, and you’re good to go. The only drawback to using a pot of water on your stove top is the need to stay close by and tend your water and its temperature (water will evaporate and its temperature will then fluctuate). But it’s a technique that’s easy enough to master.

Stay tuned for more articles on recipes, how-tos, and equipment comparisons. Meanwhile, think about adding this technique to your repertoire of meal-making approaches!


    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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