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Sous vide cooking while in transit

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This week we tried something--using the sous vide cooker while traveling.  We use our sous vide in a plastic Rubbermaid tub with a fitted top so splashing wasn't a concern.  It fit into the larger of our two sinks bowls.  We were running the generator so the roof A/Cs would be on so there was plenty of power.   We knew we were going to be stopping later than usual, so around 3pm we put some steaks up.  When we finally got to our destination around 8pm they were tender and tasty.  Something we'll definitely try again!

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10 hours ago, 2gypsies said:

The crockpot was set in the sink.

We did that a lot with our first motorhome back when we still had jobs and even in our early days of fulltime. Eventually it became our practice to be stopped for the night by 3 pm so we used the method much less. Now that we have downsized to a small travel trailer, that is a feature that I miss. 

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I have considered getting a thermal cooker for this purpose.  I like to "get it over with", but still like home cooked from scratch, so cooking it early and enjoying it later would be good.  I have read reviews and prefer the ones where you use the pot to cook in that goes inside of the thermal vessel where it continues to cook.  My only concern in this case is making sure the temperature stays hot enough to avoid spoilage, which is why I am still pondering whether or not to purchase it.  This is something where I don't spilling would be an issue.

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16 hours ago, SnowGypsy said:

My only concern in this case is making sure the temperature stays hot enough to avoid spoilage, which is why I am still pondering whether or not to purchase it. 

In a thermal cooker, you do have to make recipes with enough liquid that allows for boiling for a couple of minutes before putting the inner pot into the "thermos."  It keeps hot for many hours, but if it's a concern, you can always re-boil the contents part way through the process.  I've done that before, especially when cooking beans just to make sure they are thoroughly cooked...not to avoid spoilage, but just to make sure the beans come out soft.

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LindaH:  Thank you for the idea.  I sort of do that with the cast iron pot with cast iron lid cooking early and then maintaining the temp until lunch by reheating periodically.

I looked up to see what the "sous vide" was.  I have seen them at our local Wal-Mart.  The ones I saw, I just thought those particular ones were for submerging in a pot of more or less liquids to heat them up, sort of like those contraptions that you stick in a cup of coffee with a cord, plug them in and the metal part gets hot (old time thing but I see them still advertised), so didn't pay much attention to them.  I guess I should watch a youtube on them.

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1 hour ago, SnowGypsy said:

I looked up to see what the "sous vide" was.  I have seen them at our local Wal-Mart.  The ones I saw, I just thought those particular ones were for submerging in a pot of more or less liquids to heat them up, sort of like those contraptions that you stick in a cup of coffee with a cord, plug them in and the metal part gets hot (old time thing but I see them still advertised), so didn't pay much attention to them.  I guess I should watch a youtube on them.

"sous vide" means "under pressure" You put your food in an airtight bag while removing any excess air from it. Then you drop that bag into a pot of water with the cooking unit set to your preferred temperature. I like my steaks done to 140°. The heating element will take the water to that temperature then hold it there for hours. So no matter how many hours I leave in my steaks, they are always done just right. It's nice to not have to pay attention to timing when cooking perfect food.

Linda

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8 minutes ago, sandsys said:

"sous vide" means "under pressure" You put your food in an airtight bag while removing any excess air from it. Then you drop that bag into a pot of water with the cooking unit set to your preferred temperature. I like my steaks done to 140°. The heating element will take the water to that temperature then hold it there for hours. So no matter how many hours I leave in my steaks, they are always done just right. It's nice to not have to pay attention to timing when cooking perfect food.

Linda

What does a steak look like when taken out of the water?  A good part of enjoying a steak is the searing look from a grill.

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19 minutes ago, 2gypsies said:

What does a steak look like when taken out of the water?  A good part of enjoying a steak is the searing look from a grill.

Most people (including restaurants) throw it on a grill for a short period of time to get that sear. If you do that you might want to cook it to a bit lower temperature in the sous vide--maybe 135° if you like yours done medium like I do. Be sure your grill is very hot when you throw the steak on for finishing as you don't really want it to cook anymore.

Linda

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More accurately sous vide means under vacuum rather than pressure.  If you have a vacuum bagger(dosn't everybody ?) you put your steak in the bag along with any spices and vacuum seal the bag and drop it in the water and wait!  I have seen a propane torch used to brown and carmalize the outside of the steak and make it look more appetizing.

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3 hours ago, 2gypsies said:

What does a steak look like when taken out of the water?  A good part of enjoying a steak is the searing look from a grill.

The steak doesn't "come out of the water."  The steak is sealed in a bag when it is in the water.  We sear it on a grill or, more frequently, in a frying pan to cause the fat to caramelize and to raise the serving temperature.

It's highly likely that you have eaten sous vide cooked chicken and steaks at quite a few restaurants without knowing it.  The technique was invented by the restaurant industry more than 25 years ago.  How do you think that large chain restaurants can offer so many different chicken dishes?  The chicken breasts are sitting in a sous vide bath waiting for someone to order them.  When ordered they are put in the appropriate sauce and served to the diner.

Edited by docj

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1 hour ago, orca said:

More accurately sous vide means under vacuum rather than pressure.  If you have a vacuum bagger(dosn't everybody ?) you put your steak in the bag along with any spices and vacuum seal the bag and drop it in the water and wait!  I have seen a propane torch used to brown and carmalize the outside of the steak and make it look more appetizing.

I think most "regular folks" use ziplock bags to seal their sous vide items.  We use "freezer grade" ziplocks.

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2 hours ago, orca said:

More accurately sous vide means under vacuum rather than pressure.

Correct. My word substitution skills are amazing. :)

Linda

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49 minutes ago, docj said:

I think most "regular folks" use ziplock bags to seal their sous vide items.  We use "freezer grade" ziplocks.

We started out with vacuum bags but more often use freezer grade zip-top bags now. If you mostly sink the bag in the water before zipping it closed, the water will force out most of the air.

Linda

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Thanks for all the input.  It is interesting.  I do a lot of stews/chilies, and this seems like something that would work well in that case.  I have no use for a microwave, so look for alternatives.  After further review, I would think its best use for me would be reheating pre-cooked from scratch items that had been frozen, maybe.  We aren't big meat eaters, and so much of what is done is with meats.  

Edited by SnowGypsy

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I've seen/read that some people sear steaks before putting them in bags, and some after.  It all depends on which recipe read, or youtube video you watch.  If you are going to use freezer bags instead of a vacuum sealer, it is recommended to get name brand not store brand.  I'm still in s&b right now, and haven't used my anova cooker for a whole lot.  It does make some good hard boiled eggs, and I even replicated those starbucks style egg bites in some little mason jars.  You could probably cook stews and chilies in a sous vide (sometimes called water immersion cooker).  I've even watched a video of a guy making custard in his sous vide.  When/if I do get on the road full time (hoping for mid next year), I do plan on taking my anova.  I bought mine off of amazon, and also bought a rubbermaid container, and a lid specifically make to seal thet op with a small opening for the cooker to slide into.  I'm glad I stumbled upon this, as I probably wouldn't have thought to run the cooker while tooling down the road.

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19 minutes ago, PunchItChewie said:

If you are going to use freezer bags instead of a vacuum sealer, it is recommended to get name brand not store brand. 

We've done just fine with our HEB brand bags, but one thing to note is that that cannot be the kind with a plastic "zipper."  They have to be the kind you squeeze between your fingers to seal.  The zipper type always have a small hole where they will leak.

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12 minutes ago, docj said:

We've done just fine with our HEB brand bags

Good to know.  The page I was on didn't go into a whole lot of detail about it other than mentioning the store brand bags don't seal as well.  Could have just been they were using the wrong type as you suggested.

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One other thing about bag sealing, I usually use one-gallon size bags regardless of what I'm cooking.  They are large enough that usually the top extends up out of the water where I "clamp" it between the edge of the Rubbermaid container and its plastic lid. That way the zip-lock itself is not immersed in the water.

Another important tip is that you should ALWAYS use some kind of trivet or rack on the bottom of the Rubbermaid container to ensure that there is water flow under the bag.  If the bottom of the bag is scrunched against the bottom of the bucket the food there may not get enough heat transfer to cook properly.

If you're looking for more info about the "mechanics" of sous vide cooking I recommend this:  A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking

Edited by docj

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2 hours ago, SnowGypsy said:

Thanks for all the input.  It is interesting.  I do a lot of stews/chilies, and this seems like something that would work well in that case. 

No. Stews and chilis are best done in a crockpot. Sous Vide is best for things that have individual pieces--like meats. It's important that the water surrounds all pieces so I'd be worried that stews might not cook in the middle.

Linda

Edited by sandsys

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We use ZipLoc brand bags because we trust them. Freezer weight because we trust them, too. We do not make it a point to keep the zip top out of the water. But we do use a rack that keeps them standing upright.

Linda

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Ohhhh.... sous vide means food cooked in warm water but not stewed and not on the manifold of the Cummins...

sounds yummy me needs to try this...

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