Half-truths, myths, misconceptions, and merely downright false data exist in nearly all professional domains. That is the nature of the vast and fast-paced movement of information in the world we live in today. The food sector is also no exception, particularly when you look at new techniques and methods being introduced and used by mainstream consumers. The following is a collection of the top ten myths surrounding sous vide cooking and accessories.
Over the last couple of years, the sous vide technique that was already used in many fine-dining establishments has started to gain a foothold across home kitchens all over the world. However, despite the increasing popularity of this cooking technique, it is still plagued by numerous misconceptions. Whether it is uncertainties regarding the effectiveness of sous vide cooking or claims that the accessories used for this form of cooking are expensive, it is clear that many misconceptions are surrounding this cooking technique.
The reasons for the misconceptions are understandable, as it initially seems like a strange cooking method for most cooks who are familiar with using the classic types of cooking. Nevertheless, with a bit of education along with several trials and taste tests, most of the critics typically get on board the sous vide bandwagon.
What Is Sous Vide Cooking?
The sous vide method first gained mainstream acceptance in the early 1970s, but it has been around since the 18th century. The primary concept in this cooking approach is to cook the food in tightly controlled temperatures, ideally the temperature at which the food is going to be served. Here is how it works:
- You take the food ingredients and place it inside a plastic, vacuum-sealed wrap.
- Next, you place the bag inside a water bath
- Finally, you set the cooking time and temperature and leave the rest to the sous vide machine.
- Once the food is ready, the device will switch off automatically, and you will be left with a perfectly-cooked dish.
- You can sear the food once it’s ready to get that nice-looking crust.
The non-traditional and unique nature of this cooking method is what is causing so many people to have question marks about it. Read on to see that most sous vide claims are mainly based on myths rather than hard facts.
1. Sous Vide Is Not Real Cooking
For some people, the process of cooking must involve the strain and effort to monitor the food regularly, while making periodic adjustments. Nevertheless, most chefs are keener on getting to a perfect finished meal smoothly, quickly and efficiently, without sacrificing texture or taste. When you cook with top class sous vide equipment, you can achieve remarkable efficiency with unrivalled consistency.
Once you have placed the food inside the plastic bag and sealed it, you place it in a water bath before finally setting the precise temperature and cooking duration. For those who like staying busy as they cook, you can start working on desserts or another dish as your sous vide device will automatically switch off once the meal is ready. That leaves you free and capable of concentrating on other tasks. Alternatively, you could relax with a glass of wine or a book as you wait for your delicious food to cook.
2. Sous Vide Accessories Are Expensive
Another common myth surrounding the sous vide technique is that buying the accessories needed for the perfect cooking experience are quite expensive. The truth is that when this technique was initially introduced to mainstream users back in the 70s, the accessories were a bit costly. That meant that only the top chefs who worked in upscale restaurants and fine dining establishments could access the technology. Furthermore, only wealthy people that had heard about the fantastic taste and culinary perfection of using sous vide would invest the money needed to buy the necessary accessories. Nevertheless, for average consumers, the initial high investment didn’t seem worthwhile.
Fortunately, over the last couple of years, there has been more development in sous vide equipment that has made it more affordable for everyone to start using this cooking method across all kitchens. These technological developments have made it possible to prepare restaurant-quality sous vide dishes at home. Even further still, you can buy immersion calculators that can be merely slipped into any pot to take advantage of this cooking method. That means that it is a lot easier and convenient for beginners to try out this fantastic form of cooking for much cheaper as compared to the previously available equipment.
3. It is Unsafe To Cook In A Plastic Bag
Since sous vide involves cooking food inside plastic bags, most home cooks are cautious about trying it out as they are not sure whether it is safe to do so. There are numerous reports regarding the dangers associated with heating specific kinds of plastic. While there might be potential issues with cooking inside plastic bags, sous vide doesn’t heat the plastic to high temperatures, thus lessening the risk of any problems with heating plastics.
The concern here is that harmful chemicals from the plastic wraps will be transferred into your food while cooking. The reality is that the plastic pouch used to cook sous vide dishes is specifically designed for that job in mind. You want to ensure that you only use plastic vacuum wraps that do not have any plasticizers like BPA and phthalates. Also, it helps that BPA-containing plastics meant for food production were banned back in 2012, which means you can relax knowing that the products available today are safe to use.
Honestly, you should be much more worried about preparing your food in a clean environment than worrying about using plastic sous vide cooking bags. After all, it is reported that food poisoning causes serious health complications and even death for many people every year. And most food-borne health complications are caused by the preventable unsanitary food handling. Sous vide cooking and accessories cut the food contamination risk.
4. Sous Vide Food Is Vulnerable To Bacteria
The other notable safety concern for most cooks is that food cooked using this technique is vulnerable to bacteria because it is prepared at a low temperature. However, that is entirely false. The two key characteristics to remember about sous vide cooking are time and temperature. Thanks to this combination, your sous vide dishes will always be prepared in a hygienic way that is fit for consumption.
Even though bacteria are typically killed at high temperatures, the low and constant temperature inside vacuum-sealed bags allows for the food to be sterilized. Furthermore, you can even chill the sous vide food once it is ready if you were preparing food for the whole week. Make sure you chill it quickly at around 38°F since food starts to become susceptible to bacteria between 40°F and 140° F. Nevertheless, since sous-vide allows full pasteurization, you can be sure that all pathogenic bacteria have been eliminated and that the food is healthy to eat.
5. You Are Limited To Meats And Protein-Based Dishes
People who are not familiar with this unconventional cooking method think that it is only beneficial when preparing protein-based foods like fish, chicken, and steak. Even though you are likely to get the perfect tasting, tender meat when using this method, multiple other recipes come out perfectly with the sous vide style, including everything from vegetables to desserts. Cooking meats with this format are the most popular recipes due to the evenly-cooked fantastic results that numerous cooks have achieved.
Here are some of the various things you can cook with the sous vide procedure:
- Cheese Curds
- Mashed potatoes
- French fries
- Beef stock
- Eggnog and many others
6. Sous Vide Removes The Creativity And Sensation Out Of Cooking
Sous vide accessories appear to break conventional rules of understanding how to cook food. Some people even say that it takes the creativity and sensations out of preparing food. However, the reality is that unless you own a large-scale restaurant-style kitchen, sous vide enables you to experiment with more ingredients and spices, with minimal equipment and pots, as well as in a short amount of time. Hence, only you as the cook can restrict your creativity. So, spread those cooking wings and try out different sous vide recipes and you will see just how creative this cooking method can be if you have an open mind and are willing to try out various dish combinations.
7. Sous Vide Is Too Slow
Since sous vide cooking may take a longer time to prepare as compared to more traditional techniques, most people assume that you are only limited to using this method when you have lots of time to spare. The truth of the matter is that you can find many recipes that are easy and quick to prepare. Most importantly, with this particular cooking style, you are free to leave your dish unattended for most of the time, thus allowing you to spend your time doing other things. You can find quick sous vide recipes that will enable you to prepare flavorful mashed potatoes, fish and other foods in under one hour.
The ability to control the exact temperature of the water and the duration of cooking will also leave you with better tenderization. Some heat sensitive minerals and vitamins can get leached out when using other types of cooking like frying. The precise temperature and cooking duration offer protection from any minerals and natural juices leaking out, which preserves the rich, natural food taste. With temperature fluctuating by only 1° when using the best sous vide equipment; you can be sure that all your foods will be cooked evenly, with minimal risk of overcooking.
8. Sous Vide Can Never Over-Cook Food
As much as sous vide is associated with perfection, it is a misconception to say that it can never over-cook food. Even though it is factual to say that it cannot burn your food and, when you set the temperature accurately, the food can’t be over-done, it’s possible to overcook the food.
When any food is exposed to low temperatures for long periods, the minerals are denatured, which destroys the texture and leaves the food mushy. Chicken and seafood are especially susceptible to experiencing that degradation. Therefore, you must keep track of your sous vide results to ensure you get quality outcomes. However, with a few tries, you should find the perfect temperature and time settings that will give you excellent, consistent results every time.
9. You Must Have A Huge, Costly Vacuum Sealer
The French phrase “sous vide” translates to “under vacuum,” and you could be forgiven for thinking that you must buy a vacuum sealer to use this cooking style successfully. You don’t have to pay for a costly, space-hogging vacuum sealer if you are looking to try out this cooking style. Even the regular zip-lock plastic bags will work just fine for sous vide, and there are preferable to using vacuum-sealed for specific applications.
10. Cooking Sous Vide Does Not Produce Enough Liquids For Sauces
The one thing to understand with this specific misconception is that sous vide gives you precisely what you have prepared it to do. So, adding some water or more seasonings into the pouch before placing it in the water bath can give you a much more concentrated, well-preserved, natural juice that is ideal for creating rich sauces that are better than the typical powdered gravy mixture. Most importantly, you should note that if you cook proteins using the precise sous vide style, you will get juicer meat cuts, which eliminates the reason for even having extra sauce to accompany your dish.
As shown above, sous vide is safe, affordable, and one of the best and effortless ways of making great food. If you are interested in finding an alternative method for preparing healthy meals that is moist, tender and flavorful, all without being too involved in your kitchen, then it is time to try out sous vide.