Buying Sous-vide? What is the best sous vide device for me?
You've recently heard enthusiastic stories from your friends about cooking sous vide, and now you want to buy a sous vide. Which sous-vide device is best and should you buy? In this article, we explain the characteristics and differences of both and help you make the right choice.
There are roughly two different types of sous-vide devices:
- sous-vide sticks
- sous-vide water ovens
What is a sous vide stick?
A sous-vide stick , is also known as a sous-vide circulator, sous-vide (circulation) regulator, sous-vide immersion heater, water bath heater or water bath thermostat. They are relatively compact devices that you can place in a (suitable) water bath. This water bath can, for example, be a storage box or a large pan, as long as the water level is sufficient for the minimum and maximum immersion depth of the stick. A good and affordable entry-level model is the Ziva Sense sous vide stick .
A sous-vide stick basically consists of a thermometer, heating element and a water pump with propeller. The thermometer compares the temperature of the water bath with the set temperature and switches the heating element on or off based on this. The water pump ensures even heating of the water through circulation and turbulence.
The biggest advantage of sous-vide sticks is that they are compact and therefore take up relatively little space when you store them. However, during preparation you still need a water bath / reservoir / large pan, which is sufficiently deep for the minimum immersion depth of the sous-vide immersion heater. As a reservoir you can use, for example, a bucket, large pan, a cool box and a storage box (as you can find at the large household chains at an affordable price). Keep in mind that the container you are using can withstand the temperature at which you want to cook and that the outside can get warm or even hot (especially important if you have children).
Advantages of sous vide sticks
- Compact and easy to store
- Very flexible in use due to variable reservoir
- Relatively advantageous for larger reservoirs (15 liters and more)
- Relatively large power compared to size
Disadvantages of sous vide sticks
- Less easy to keep clean
- Less energy efficient and more evaporation (to be solved with insulating balls)
Top 3 sous vide sticks
There are currently many different devices on the market, unfortunately also many devices that are not very reliable or accurate. That while accuracy is just as important for consistent sous-vide results and food safety. Reliability is even more important because there is nothing worse than discovering in the morning that your sous-vide stick has failed and you can throw it all away. There we have specifically done something with the Ziva Sense vide sous-vide stick and this is one of the most reliable sous-vide sticks in our range that is also very cheap. SousvideKenner only sells good quality sticks and we have already made a selection for you of the best sous vide sticks that are currently available.
Sous vide sticks are ideal for the smaller kitchen due to their compact size. Although they are less easy to clean, this is not a problem if the device is not used daily. In most cases, it is sufficient to simply rinse the sous-vide circulator with clean water after use and to treat it occasionally against limescale. Most sous-vide sticks are easy to disassemble.
The biggest advantage is the relatively large capacity compared to the price. And a standard sous-vide stick can easily handle a reservoir of 20 liters, and for a reasonable extra cost you can sit on 40 liters, which is ideal for large barbecues where you want to pre-cook 40-60 portions. As a reservoir you can use a large pan and for a few euros you can already buy a 20, 30 or 40 liter storage box which are excellent en can handle many portions (useful at parties, dinners or barbecues, for example).
If you want to limit evaporation, floating sous-vide insulation balls are an excellent solution. These balls prevent up to 90% of heat loss through evaporation because they prevent contact between air and water. And if you want to prevent the walls of the reservoir from getting hot, you can, for example, wrap it with bubble wrap, which also improves energy efficiency. However, in most cases (short recipes) this is not a major drawback.
What is a sous-vide water oven?
A sous-vide water oven is also known as a sous-vide water bath or sous-vide machine, and in some cases sous-vide steamer when using steam instead of water. A sous-vide water oven is basically a sous-vide stick with an integrated reservoir, and works much the same. The advantage of water ovens is the greater efficiency, mainly because of the insulation of the reservoir. As a result, the water heats up faster, the temperature is more stable and the walls do not get hot (safety). If you have the space, you are therefore ready in one go: you no longer need an (insulated) reservoir, and no insulating balls or lids. However, the price is often relatively higher for larger reservoirs.
A sous-vide water oven heats and circulates the water in a completely different way. The whole bottom is a heating element and the thermal convection properties of water ensure the circulation; therefore no water pump is required (except some hybrid water ovens). Here too, a thermometer compares the temperature and switches heating on or off.
Advantages of sous-vide water ovens
- Energy efficient and quiet
- Easy to clean (smooth surfaces, few / no moving parts)
- Safe to use because the walls do not get hot
- Always good (natural) circulation, unless the bath is extremely full of portions
Disadvantages of sous-vide water ovens
- Takes up much more space (similar to a deep fat fryer or bread machine)
- Relatively inexpensive for larger reservoirs (from approx. 12 liters and more)
Sous-vide water ovens are useful when you have enough space in your kitchen and appreciate a particularly low noise level and high energy efficiency. The energy efficiency is especially an advantage when you use longer cooking times (for example 40 hours). The insulated walls make the device safer because they do not get hot so that is a consideration with children.
However, most water ovens are quite limited in content and therefore the number of servings (or size of product) that you can fit. If you want more liters, you will have to pay (relatively) more, while a sous-vide stick is much more flexible and usually offers a larger capacity for an equal price. On a barbecue with 10 people, for example, we found the volume of a 12-liter container too small for the number of servings (30) that we wanted to prepare; also because an overfilled reservoir can adversely affect the circulation and thus the cooking of the product. It has to be said that this is an exceptional case, and will not occur quickly when preparing a meal for a handful of people.
What do you need for sous vide?
- a sous-vide stick and a water reservoir. You can also use a pan or even a bucket, but we recommend a polycarbonate sous-vide water bowl .
- or a sous-vide water oven .
- a vacuum machine and vacuum bags or vacuum foil . Although this is not strictly necessary, we definitely recommend using a solid vacuum machine for a much better, more consistent sous-vide result. You already have a vacuum machine for less than 60 euros and it is worth the money.
Would you like to start with sous-vide at an affordable price? Buy a sous-vide discount bundle!
Our Ziva Sense-sous-vide discount bundle is by far the most advantageous sous-vide starter set; composed with care by our team of sous-vide experts. Knowledge makes the difference!