Anyone who is interested in cooking and staying informed on the most innovative techniques in the kitchen will have encountered the culinary process called sous-vide. What might surprise you is that this kind of food preparation is easy to do at home at not just a trick for top chefs to use.
Chefs use the sous vide style because of its delicious results, but there are many more benefits to “cooking under vacuum” — the English translation of sous vide.
What is Sous Vide?
Vacuuming vegetables and proteins in a plastic bag and simmering them slowly in a water bath is the technique known as sous vide. Three different cooking styles are being used with sous vide:
- Low-temperature cooking
- Containerization separating the ingredient from the heating environment
- Pressurization from the vacuum
Each of the above techniques imparts a special flavor and delicacy of texture in the ingredients as they have been cooked through but not overdone.
Low-temperature cooking (as opposed to slow roasting or casseroling) has been around since the 18th century. Sous vide cooking was perfected in the 1970s in France after chefs were experimenting with an industrial food preservation technique called cryo-vacking.
Why Cook Sous Vide?
Sous vide is everything that the home cook looks for in a modern, healthy style of food preparation. It is the ultimate “leave it to take care of itself” kitchen technique and the finished product tastes as though someone has spent many hours preparing it. However, this is not the only reason why sous vide has become the latest foodie favorite.
The sous vide process locks in all the juices and flavors of the food, and this means the minerals and vitamins are sealed in as well. A sous vide bath appliance is easy to leave on the kitchen counter unattended and stored away afterward. You do not even need to purchase special bags to place the food inside because a standard zip-locking bag can be used instead.
When you have gone to the trouble of sourcing the best quality ingredients, treating them with care and attention is how to enhance their natural colors and flavors. None of the weight or size of the product is compromised when the sous vide technique is used to prepare them.
Food is more flavorful and tastier when serving it sous vide style. Less added salt and fats are needed because the ingredient slowly simmers in its own juices. When a food item is boiled or steamed to break down the fibers, the softening process also releases its vitamins and minerals to be evaporated or diluted away.
This does not happen when the food is slowly cooked in a bag. The nutrients stay in the container where they add to the goodness and flavor. If a sear is absolutely necessary, the ingredient can be seared briefly when the sous vide cooking process has been completed.
It goes without saying that reducing the amount of fat and salt in the cooking process is a far healthier option. Because sous vide food preparation allows the product’s natural flavors and colors to show and it produces its own juices, no additives or sauces are needed when it is served.
This is very beneficial for health in general and is also helpful for anyone trying to reduce their calorie intake. These are just some of the health benefits of sous vide cooking.
Better Textures and Tenderness
You can say goodbye to undercooked or rubbery food and burnt bits when changing your food preparation to sous vide. Slowly poaching vegetables and proteins in a sous vide water bath retains the plumpness of the food and tenderizes it too by breaking down the food fibers gently.
Both the inside and the outside of the product will be cooked through with no toughened skin or sinew. This is why the sous vide technique is recommended for cheaper protein cuts that have more connective tissues.
A sous vide water bath has temperature control that keeps the surrounding water at a constant low heat. This is so convenient for any home cook who does not have the time to continuously watch or stir an ingredient.
The nutritional advantage of not overcooking proteins is that the consumer will never be exposed to carcinogenic charring. The benefit of not overcooking vegetables is their nutrients are sealed in, but their texture is still extremely palatable.
Perfect Every Time
With the exception of a cook taking the food out of the sous vide bath too soon, it is virtually impossible to mess up the cooking process when using this technique. The temperature controls ensure that the ingredients are treated with the care and attention they deserve.
Not only are the results outstanding, but they are also consistently good every time.
If time is one of the things of that always seems to slip by when looking to prepare a tasty meal, then sous vide can help. Because the ingredients can be portioned out and sealed in advance, it is easy to do this the previous day and then left to cook overnight in the sous vide water bath. It will be out of sight and out of mind until dinner is ready to be served.
What makes sous vide packaging very appealing to many families is that the individual portions stay separate and do not contaminate each other. In this way, you can cook for a guest or family member who is meat-free or cannot eat certain proteins without the danger of crossover.
As you will be in control of the temperature at which the food is prepared, the time it takes to make it is entirely in your hands. You can set the water bath for the gentlest of simmers or basic poaching. This means that you will not be left juggling pots and pans at the last minute to bring the meal together which makes for a completely stress-free food prep experience. Removing stress and anxiety is another one of the many health benefits of sous vide cooking.
Sous vide water baths have generous capacities so that you are not limited to cooking only one or two portions at a time as you are with a grill pan. With many portions being handled at one time in a sous vide water bath, you can cater to larger groups of people.
As the portions per person are prepared in advance and placed in individual packets, it is impossible for there to be wastage from incorrect portion sizes or for someone to feel like their serving is not ample. As a bonus, sous vide cookers use less energy than an oven or stove cooker.
Freeze for Later
Where would today’s modern cook be without the ability to freeze food for the convenience of reheating and eating it later? Not only can sous vide portions be prepared the night before and cooked overnight, but it is possible to freeze the portions after they have been cooked and then defrost them for consumption later.
That is the perfect way to deal with surplus or bulk-bought produce as this will keep it frozen at its best time of ripeness or availability.
With all of these advantages that sous vide style cooking brings to the kitchen and home chef, it is easy to see why under vacuum food preparation has taken the culinary world by storm. Not only are there many health benefits of sous vide cooking, but the food is easy to cook and is very delicious.
Have We Convinced You About The Health Benefits Of Sous Vide Cooking?
For home cooks we highly recommend starting with an immersion circulator. But which brand is best? Read our reviews here. There are a stack of accessories for the sous vide cook as well. Get started on your sos vide journey by checking out our accessories recommendations here.