If you’re a fan of MasterChef or any other cooking show, you’re probably familiar with the sous vide method of cooking. If you’re not, it uses a warm water bath to cook food in a vacuum-sealed bag. It seems to be very much a love it or hate it method among professional chefs and amateur foodies alike. Some people love the ease of which you can slip your chosen food into the water and leave it to cook to melt-in-mouth perfect. Others say that this method produces a texture that’s more slime-in-your-mouth than melting.
Currently, sous vide machines are common appliances in professional kitchens. However, it’s not so in people’s homes. However, there is a chance that could change in the not-so-far future. The way that we cook in our homes, much like the way we do everything else, is bound to change. Although many people love to relax by spending time in the kitchen, some prefer to be in and out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, producing quality, nutritious food in a short time isn’t always easy.
People love anything that will speed up the cooking process or make it easier. It could be a gadget to chop vegetables or an appliance such as the microwave oven. Nearly every home has a microwave today. Even so, they mystified people when they were first introduced. Sous vide equipment could experience a similar journey to the microwave oven. At first it may seem strange and new. But eventually it could become a permanent and accepted fixture in nearly everyone’s home.
So what are the benefits to sous vide cooking? Microwaves are excellent for heating food speedily, but a sous vide machine is intended for slow cooking. One of the things that could make the equipment an addition to the family kitchen is that it makes it much harder to get food wrong. For example, cooking fish and meat can be difficult without undercooking or overcooking it. You can go from not yet done to overdone in a split second, due to high heat that’s difficult to control. With a sous vide machine, the user has complete control over the temperature at which they cook their food. They can choose a precise and perfect temperature for cooking their meal. So anyone can produce restaurant-quality food at the touch of a button.
Cooking food in the vacuum bags means everything cooks in a humid environment. There won’t be any results with undercooked centers and overcooked edges. The juices of whatever you’re cooking, be it steak, fish or even vegetables, will stay in the bag, adding to the flavor and locking it in. Sous vide cooking may take longer than a microwave. However, it creates great food with little effort.
Of course, there are some criticisms about cooking with sous vide equipment. Many chefs are critical of the textures it produces, especially if food is cooked at the wrong temperature, for too long or perhaps not enough. Sous vide machines also don’t brown food, which needs to be fixed by searing whatever has been cooked before serving. And one criticism that many professional chefs have is that putting food into a vacuum-sealed bag and dropping it into a water bath isn’t proper cooking.
However, that matters little to the average home cook. Some people might enjoy cooking a meal from scratch. Still, many more want something nutritious as quickly as possible. And, failing that, they’ll have something of almost no nutritional value that will fill them up and take hardly any time to prepare. That’s why people have microwaves in their homes. We might never be willing to go for the nutritious and tasteless liquid formulas some people have tried to create. We still want our food with minimal effort though. Sous vide might not be convenient in the same way that a microwave is. Even so, they still make cooking more simple.
In a way, they’re more like a slow cooker or crockpot than a microwave. They cook food slowly, making it more difficult to either over- or undercook anything. You can put in your meat, fish, eggs or whatever you choose at a precise temperature and for a precise time, then go away and do something else. It may take time, but it’s a time when you can get on with something else, whether it’s housework or sitting in front of the television.
The big question is, will there ever be the demand and affordability for people to have them in their homes? Currently, they’re a common sight in professional kitchens and on cooking shows. A couple of years ago, having one in your home may not have seemed that likely. Since then, the market has grown. Smaller and more affordable sous vide machines have become available, such as the SousVide Supreme. Professional units are large and would take up a large proportion of your kitchen. Newer and smaller machines for the home are about the size of a bread maker or a deep fat fryer. They’ll fit neatly on anyone’s kitchen counter, and they cost the same as many other appliances. You don’t even need a vacuum sealer, as you can seal your bag by lowering it into hot water and watching as the air is expelled.
Just like with the microwave, it’s natural that people might have safety concerns about using a sous vide machine. Cooking in plastic might not immediately sound safe to some. But if you use food-grade, BPA-free plastic bags, it’s a perfectly safe method of cooking. And what about germs? We worry about the temperature of some our food more than others in case of contamination from certain pathogens. For example, it’s essential that chicken is cooked through and the juices running clear. Sous vide equipment makes it easy to cook these foods at the ideal temperature to kill off anything nasty.
If you make the comparison between microwaves ovens and sous vide equipment, you may find that the latter comes out on top. It might not have made its way into everyone’s kitchen just yet, but it produces far superior food to microwaves.