Frequently asked questions about sous-vide cooking (FAQ)
Below we answer the most frequently asked questions about sous-vide cooking. Don't know what sous vide is yet? Then first read our article "What is sous-vide?" .
The most common questions about sous vide
Click on the question below (link) to go directly to the answer.
- Is sous-vide cooking safe (bacteria) ?
- Isn't cooking in plastic bags harmful to your health ?
- Do I have to flavor dishes differently with a sous-vide preparation ?
- What temperatures and cooking time will I keep ?
- How long can I store food after sous vide cooking ?
- How can I reheat dishes ?
- Should I add salt before or after the sous vide cooking ?
- Are there any ways to speed up the sous vide cooking process ?
- How do I get that nice brown color / crust after the sous-vide ?
- Why do I have to log data (HACCP for catering) ?
1. Is sous-vide cooking safe (bacteria)?
Sous vide cooking is very safe, but can also be very unsafe. It naturally starts with fresh products, working very cleanly in the kitchen and using a good vacuum. So only vacuum very cold products. With preparations above 62 ° C core temperature, you don't have to worry that much. Short-cooked products above 52 ° C that are eaten immediately are often no problem.
The risks are in long preparations below 62 ° C and all preparations below 52 ° C. For example, salmon is fantastic at 45 ° C, but use only top quality salmon for this and work very clean. It is best to give meat that you cook around that temperature a surface pasteurization.
2. Isn't cooking in plastic bags harmful to your health?
All vacuum bags and vacuum foils in our webshop are 100% suitable for the relatively low temperatures of sous-vide and are also tasteless and odorless. The vacuum bags and films are tested with, among other things, water, alcohol and fatty acids at different temperatures and times, after which they are certified according to the highest European standards. In addition, all our vacuum bags are row of BPAs and other plasticizers, and do not contain any chemicals that are harmful to health or (adversely) affect the taste. Your sous-vide dish is therefore not contaminated with nasty substances and flavors.
3. Do I have to flavor dishes differently with a sous-vide preparation?
4. What temperatures and cooking time should I keep?
Many lists on the internet indicate different times and temperatures. That is quite confusing. Equipment suppliers often go very high with temperatures, for safety reasons. Top chefs are often very low, which in turn can pose risks.
Still, many lists are correct, although of course you get a slightly different result with other choices. That is why it is important to find out what you think is a good result. That is why we advise to always log: write down your choices and your opinion about the outcome. Lists often assume an average thickness. So thinner products are ready earlier, thicker or folded products take many moldsand longer.
At SousvideKenner you receive our unique sous-vide table with temperatures and times for most dishes for every order of € 39 or more. This table has been compiled with the utmost care for the best results and contains times and temperatures for almost all products.
Preparing sous-vide for far too long hardly ever happens. But there are limits. A sirloin steak is no longer firm after 20 hours. And some vegetables can lose their color.
There is a difference between cooking and softening. Most preparations of, for example, vegetables, fish, eggs and meat are ready when the product is at the correct core temperature. If that is the case, you can safely let it cook for 1 or 2 hours, but that makes no sense: cooked is done. Meat (or octopus, for example) with a lot of connective tissue needs much longer: 6 to 24 hours. The meat becomes softer and creamier as long as you stay below 90 ° C.
This process is of course much faster at a higher temperature. So you can find 2 recipes for a citron: for example from 22 hours at 61 ° C and 7 hours at 90 ° C. Both give a good result, but only when you have made both recipes once can you make a good choice.
5. How long can I store food after sous vide cooking?
You can only cool back products that have been above 55 ° C core temperature. If you work with fresh and hygienic items, you can pasteurize most of them. You can then keep them well cooled in the vacuum for 3 to 4 weeks.
Pasteurization can, for example, be 16 minutes at 60 ° C or 5 minutes at 65 ° C. Note: the time only starts when the core temperature is reached. Not all dishes are therefore suitable for pasteurization: fish and red meat, for example, are almost always eaten immediately.
6. How can I reheat (regenerate) food?
It is best to regenerate sous-vide at the previously used temperature. That is a good idea for very long preparations such as whole pulled pork. For short preparations you do not always get along: you are busy twice.
You can freeze sous vide prepared products and put them frozen in the water to reheat them. The process then takes quite a long time and requires a lot of power. Thawing in the refrigerator may then be a more logical idea.
You can also color cooled products directly at a high temperature. Real heating should then be done again at a low temperature. Products retain moisture very well during sous-vide preparations. For example, if you regenerate at too high a temperature, vegetables will release that moisture again. And that's no fun.
Note: you can only cool products that have been above the 55 ° C core temperature. The rest should be served immediately. Example: Cook duck breast for 70 minutes at 57 ° C and cool quickly. Bake cold the next day on the cut fat side and let it become crispy. Briefly brown the other side in the fat and then bring it back to a core temperature of 55 to 57 ° C in the oven at 70 ° C.
7. Do I have to add salt before or after the sous vide cooking?
Popularly, you extract moisture by adding salt. However, tests show that salt retains moisture. In fact, by brining wet you add moisture! It is also nice to see the salt IN your product and not just ON your product. Pre-salted products are therefore tastier.
The structure can change slightly, especially if you cool fish or meat after cooking and keep it for a long time. Meat can then get a bit of a hammy texture, which not everyone likes.
8. Are there ways to speed up the sous vide process?
Yes, there are a few methods for that! The aim of sous-vide is to ensure that the product has reached the right temperature to the core. You can take a higher starting temperature of max. 4 to 5 ° C higher. That may not seem like much, but it is a lot on a small steak. It is ready about fifteen minutes faster if you preheat your sous-vide bath at 55 ° C and set it at 50 ° C when you put the steak in it. The water temperature drops for a while and you save that time. The product heats up to the core faster at a higher starting temperature because you have taken the lead.
Even larger products that need to cook for hours can even be heated a little higher for half an hour or an hour before setting the temperature correctly. This allows you to save an hour for example.
The fastest way, however, is to use a sous-vide thermometer. In combination with sous-vide tape you measure the core temperature, so you are never too busy. An additional advantage is that you can now also heat your water or steam 2 to 3 ° C higher than the desired core temperature. You get your product out exactly at the right time and it does not continue cooking because the difference with the ambient temperature is only very small. This saves real time!
9. How do I get that nice brown color / crust after the sous-vide?
A customer once hilariously put it: "After sous vide, my piece of meat looks like a bleached peat bog." Cooked meat is not a particularly tasty sight indeed. Fortunately, there are several ways to get that nice brown, crispy crust around your meat.
It is almost always wise to pat the product dry for a while. After that you can still use all kinds of preparations. For example, barbecuing, grilling, baking in the pan or coloring with a gas burner (also called chef's burner or cream Brûlée burner).
Almost always the goal is to bring about the reaction of Maillard : the product becomes tastier, more complex and more beautiful. Always make sure the product is thoroughly dry before applying a grease and applying heat. After all, water is Maillard's enemy and makes the coloring process take much longer. As a result, the product can very easily become too hot and continue cooking. Also be careful with the extremely hot flame (1300ºC or even higher) of gas burners that you do not burn the crust, because this not only ruins the taste but causes carcinogens that are bad for health.
With steak, for example, you can also let the meat cool a few degrees before you put it in the pan. The great thing about sous-vide is that meat doesn't have to rest after coloring, a few minutes is enough. Never let fried meat rest on a plate or wrapped in aluminum foil, the beautiful crust will disappear again. It is nice to have a rack in an oven at 65 to 75 ° C, preferably without air circulation.
10. Why do I have to log data (HACCP for catering)?
After cooking there are only 2 options. Option 1: You loved the result and want to reproduce it next time. In that case it is nice if you have noted all times, temperatures, thicknesses and flavors. Option 2: you want to improve your result next time. In that case it is also great if you have noted everything down, so that you can make targeted adjustments. A sensible cook makes a note of everything when tasting a dish.
In addition, there are also special sous-vide machines that, in combination with a core temperature sensor, make logging all important data very easy. An example of this are the Fusion Chef Diamond series of professional sous-vide machines for the catering industry.