Ideas in Food Sous Vide Workshop at El Ideas

Our good friend Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food was recently in town doing some workshops and a collaboration dinner with Phillip Foss of El Ideas. One of the classes was focused entirely on sous vide. Alex and Phillip were kind enough to let me drop by to snap some pictures and take a few notes.

I was fortunate enough to arrive just as some delicious gluten-free cookies and chocolate cake were emerging from the oven as part of the morning’s gluten-free baking class. After some intensive “taste testing”, it was time to get the 300 series vacuum chamber set up. This was the first one to ever have left PolyScience and we wanted to make sure that all of the settings were ready for class. The guests started to trickle in and we began.

Alex said that when he and his wife Aki first started cooking sous vide, he refused to sear the exterior of the meat, not wanting to compromise doneness. As they pressed on, they explored numerous techniques including pre and post sears, blow torches, frying, pre and post seasoning and brining. As of late, I’ve become a big fan of cryo-frying myself. This is where meat that has been cooking sous vide takes a short dip in a bath of liquid nitrogen, followed by a slightly longer dip in a deep fryer. The result is a uniform sear with virtually no over cook. I shared my thoughts on this with the class and Alex had a great idea that produces a comparable result. He and Aki have had great success with frying chilled-sous vide meat until they’ve developed a nice crust, and then warming it through in a low temperature oven or C-Vap.

One of the things that they’ve taken a stance on is salting prior to sous vide cooking; they’ve found that salting meat prior to cooking tends to cure the meat as it cooks which can dry the meat out and lead to unpleasant textures. In lieu of seasoning meat directly with salt prior to cooking, Aki and Alex have turned to brining. It serves as not only as an opportunity to season, but also to add flavor and moisture. A quick brine is also beneficial for fish and seafood as it rinses the exterior and denatures albumen. Personally, if I am going to cook an serve, I don’t mind seasoning before cooking. If I’m going to cook, chill, and reheat, then I won’t season in advance unless I’m brining.

As a result of their trials, Alex and Aki have come to approach sous vide with a “low, medium, high” setup. 55°-57°C (131°-134°F) works well for meats and fish. It is also a great temperature for breaking down collagen over day-long cooks. 72°C (161.6°F) works well for eggs and 83°-84°C (181.4°-183.2°F) for most fruits and vegetables. This approach sounded incredibly strange to me at first, but after some thought it makes quite a bit of sense, especially in terms of efficiency. Also, this approach lends itself well as a benchmark to use when you aren’t exactly sure what time and temperature you want to cook at.

I’ve always cooked my vegetables and fruit at 85°C (185°F) or higher because pectin breaks down at 85°C (185°F).  In the workshop, 84°C (183.2°F) was a revelation. To illustrate this, Pink Lady apples were cooked whole at 84°C for about an hour. The result was a smooth, supple, and purely flavored apple that all the while maintained the crispness of a fresh apple. I was floored.

Sous vide is an empowering tool when combined with other techniques. Once you understand the fundamentals of cooking such as temperature, seasoning, tasting, and how to sear, sous vide will take your cooking to the next level. Alex and Aki take a very unique approach to sous vide cooking – definitely one worth exploring. I’ve been cooking sous vide since 2006 and I can tell you that I walked out of El Ideas brimming with new ideas…

Make sure to follow Alex and Aki along through their website www.ideasinfood.com and pick up their books: Great Recipes and Why They Work and Maximum Flavor.

You can visit Phillip’s Michelin starred restaurant, El Ideas, here: http://elideas.com.

For more pictures from the event visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/polyscience.cuisine.technology

New Sous Vide Perspectives

Although I’ve been cooking Sous Vide for over 10 years, I jumped at the chance to attend a CREA-sponsored class led by Bruno Goussault, the Chief Scientist at Cuisine Solutions, Inc. After all, how often do you get a chance to learn directly from the man often referred to as the “Father of Sous Vide Cooking”?

In my case, the CREA (Culinary Research & Education Academy www.lecrea.com ) hosted by Kendall College in November ranks right up there with Bruno’s workshop I attended about 8 years ago alongside Wylie Dufresne and his team from wd~50 and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s staff from his eponymous award-winning restaurant, Jean-Georges. I hope you get the idea that this was a big deal.

Bruno provided a wide array of thought provoking ideas. I’d like to share a couple of those takeaways in hopes that they will help and inspire you to further explore Sous Vide cooking and its many benefits.

To get started, it’s important to know that Bruno isn’t the kind of guy that let’s you take anything for granted. Instead, he challenges each student to think through all of the culinary ideas they’ve been carrying around and forces you to firm up those that haven’t fully gelled. No detail or idea is apparently too small or fundamental in his quest for culinary perfection.

For example, Bruno’s notion that we cook to “modify the functional properties of food” may seem incredibly obvious, but how many of us have actually thought it through? As we moved through the three-day program, that definition provided direction when evaluating how best to prepare a wide variety of ingredients that are seldom uniform.

We learned, for example, that game can be relatively hard to cook compared to domestic animals because of its elevated lactic acid levels created by physical activity. Consequently, Bruno suggests that we always separate the rabbits we want to eat from ones of the opposite sex at least one week prior to slaughter to eliminate the physical activity they are known to engage in. The more sedate rabbits will taste better than those that were active.

Similarly, not all beef is the same. The cooking times of American versus European beef is a good case-in-point. More specifically, European beef often requires longer cooking times because it is usually slaughtered older and because the US animals have been subjected to practices that increase growth rates and fat content.

Focusing on fish, Bruno suggests that the product should always be salted before cooking to block the unattractive release of albumin through osmotic pressure.

When Bruno prepares vegetables, he always uses an extended vacuum hold to draw air from inside their dense structures. He then adds some fat to absorb aromatics and flavor and cooks at 83C, safely below the 85C where he claims pectin becomes active. In the class we cooked all vegetables for 3 hours. He chills vegetables then re-heats them, even if serving soon after cooking, to retain the aromatic qualities.

Regardless of whether he’s cooking meat, fish or vegetables, Bruno chills the products by first subjecting them to ambient temperatures for 5 minutes, then to an ambient bath for 5 minutes, and finally to an ice bath. For meat and fish he theorizes the process allows re-absorption of fats and gelatin that would not occur if you go directly to an ice bath. In the case of vegetables, he believes that when you open a hot vacuum sealed bag you allow the “perfume” of the product to escape. By cooling the product and reheating to a moderate serving temperature such as 56C, you alternatively retain the aromatics.

Bruno notes that adding ascorbic acid as an antioxidant can help vegetables, especially artichokes, retain their color. Adding lemon will release ascorbic acid, but he warns against squeezing to avoid releasing citric acid. He suggests adding fructose or balsamic to fix the color of beets and other vegetables.

In all of our cooking we used probes to determine actual core temperatures. I personally have a love/hate relationship with probing, but it is the best method to truly understand core temperature. I was pleased that when I compared our PolyScience Sous Vide Toolbox iPhone/iPad application (  http://www.polyscienceculinary.com/sousvide-toolbox-iphone.php ), our predicted temperatures agreed with the probes. Unfortunately you can’t tell that to a health department inspector.

Bruno typically prefers what he calls “Step” Sous Vide Cooking. This is different from the way I have utilized the Sous Vide technique in which I generally have my bath within 1 degree of the desired core temperature. Instead, Bruno will start the cooking process in an 83C bath for a short period (typically 3-5 minutes) and then move the food to a bath set closer to desired core temperature.

I see some advantages to this “Step” approach. First, you kill surface bacteria. Additionally you create some textural variations that can make some foods such as cod or sea bass more varied and interesting.

The list goes on and will be the basis of future postings.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of Bruno’s classes you will leave with a much better understanding of how to cook Sous Vide with great results and safety.

Philip Preston
President
PolyScience

Left to Right: Philip Preston, Chef Jean Joho, Bruno Goussault

PolyScience a Big Hit at the 2013 StarChefs Congress

PolyScience exhibited at the StarChefs.com Congress in New York City last week, an annual gathering of chefs and other culinary professionals.  Since then, we’ve been reflecting on the many conversations we had in and around the event with both our old and new friends, many of which are culinary world creative leaders. 

Looking back at the first Congress we attended in 2006, Sous Vide was relatively unknown to the majority of the attending chefs. Now just seven years later, virtually everybody we talked with is either using Sous Vide cooking or is planning to do so soon.  The facts behind the growth are simple:  Chefs increasingly understand the many benefits the technique offers and recognize that it is the right addition to their toolset.  Or as we often heard from those same professionals “Sous Vide makes sense.”  

So, it’s clear that Sous Vide’s time has come and we’re pleased that PolyScience continues to be recognized for quality and innovationacross all budgets and needs. For example, this year we received the StarChefs Innovator Award for an unprecedented third time for our new 300 Series Chamber Vacuum Sealer.  Alongside the 300 we also showcased our Sous Vide Professional CREATIVE Series immersion circulator.  Both products were developed to provide a wide array of the home cook’s most sought after features at an affordable price.  Additionally, we let everyone know about our two new external vacuum sealers and our new Sous Vide® DISCOVERY immersion circulator that will be arriving in time for the holidays. 

Although we also highlighted products such as our Integrated Stainless Steel Systems and Sous Vide Toolbox™ app to help satisfy every Sous Vide need, we didn’t stop there.  Instead, we also showcased many of our other culinary innovations including The Smoking Gun®, the Anti-Griddle®, the Sonicprep and our Rotary Vacuum Evaporation System.  

We were gratified on what seemed like an hourly basis to be approached by presenting chefs and exhibitors with requests to borrow our equipment for their demonstrations and booths. Consequently, a wide array of PolyScience products was chosen over other brands by chefs for their demonstrations and work shops.  For example, our immersion circulators, vacuum sealers and the Anti-Griddle®, were used prominently front-and-center on the main demonstration stage throughout the 3-day event. 

Just a couple specific examples include chef Dirk Flanigan preparing venison with PolyScience Sous Vide products; chef Hector Solis requesting six of our Smoking Guns for his workshop to char ceviche; chef James Briscione using our Sous Vide Professional CHEF Series for hisInstituteofCulinary Educationdemonstration; and various Pastry Competition teams creating their entries with Anti-Griddles and more. We’re also pleased that other event sponsors, including Australian Beef & Lamb used our products to prepare their samples.

Thanks to everyone for your trust. We don’t take it lightly and will continue to work hard to continue earning it.  Please visit cuisintechnology.com to learn more about us.

Is the Next Food Trend Turkish?

We just had an opportunity to visitTurkeyand came away with sentiments similar to those of American chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain about the Turkish food scene. 

In keeping with the “wallowing in my own ignorance”,  let me say that any preconceived notions I might have had about Turkey being mostly about meat on a stick have been proved terribly wrong. Istanbul is a freakin’ foodie paradise. It’s downright brain bending how much good stuff is to be found at even everyday eateries—how difficult it is to walk down the street anystreet—and not want to eat everything in sight. Table service is stunningly good as well—something of a rarity on this scale.” A.B. 

The Turkish culinary world, whether regional, traditional or new, is outstanding and being supported by a wave of talented and inspired chef entrepreneurs like Mehmet Serhan ÖRS. 

Serhan, a formally trained chef, owns ÖRKA, the PolyScience distributor in Turkey, and is helping incorporate sous vide and other cooking concepts into both traditional Turkish and other cuisines of the area.  His offices, including a high caliber demonstration kitchen and adjoining educational facilities reflect an openness to new ideas and a firm respect for the past.  Serhan is clearly the man to ask how to make already outstanding traditional Turkish food more quickly and easily or what’s the best way to explore new recipe ideas with great local ingredients.

Is it Time for an Oil Change?

Fresh oil in your vacuum sealer ensures optimal performance!  If your oil looks cloudy, white or murky, it’s time for a change.  (Usually once per month, depending on usage)

 

It’s easy.  Just like your car, your vacuum sealer needs an oil and exhaust filter change from time to time.  To do this you will need a 2.5mm hex key to remove the rear panel so that you can access the pump.  Depending on your unit, you will need either a 5 or 6mm hex key to remove the bolts and open the pump.  To change the exhaust filter, you will also need a set of pliers and a flat head screwdriver.  Fill the oil so that the sight glass is between half and three quarters full.  Exhaust filters should be changed at least every 6 months depending on use.  See below for the handy step-by-step illustrated instructions.

 

Are you due for an oil change?  If you need additional information, we’re here to help.  Simply give us a call at (847) 647-0611 to order vacuum oil and/or a filter. You may also place an order for the oil through our website http://www.polyscienceculinary.com/, but the filters must be ordered over the phone.

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The Perfect 62°C Egg, In Less Time

Tired of waiting an hour for a beautiful 62°C egg?

Try 75.3°C for approximately 12 minutes. This technique for the perfect “Onsen Egg” comes from the Book, Great Recipes and Why They Work, by our friends Aki and Alex at Ideas In Food.

In the Book, Modernist Cuisine (Book 2, Page 242) the 3 main strategies for cooking Sous Vide are outlined. Options include setting the bath just above the final core temperature, setting the bath hotter than the target temperature and using two or more baths at different temperatures. Here we use option 2 to achieve a comparable texture to a 62°C egg much faster by raising the bath temperature and shortening our cook time. This technique yields a faster result, but requires more attention on behalf of the cook.

Now we’re ready for Brunch!

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The Smoking Gun: Beyond Wood Chips

 

When it comes to creating a unique gastronomic experience, many chefs and mixologists turn to smoke. Sneaking smokey flavors into unusual ingredients such as goat cheese, butter, ice and raw vegetables can really create an element of surprise for the guest. It’s often a question of “how’d they do that?” The answer, The Smoking Gun™ by PolyScience.

Most commonly, the flavors of smoke come from kiln-dried hardwoods. We often turn to applewood, hickory and whiskey barrel for smoke flavors that vary from subtle to aggressive. Many chefs and mixologists, however, are turning to more unusual ingredients like licorice root, vanilla beans, chicory, coffee beans, black peppercorn, oolong tea, ras el hanout…just to name a few.

Check out BBQ Master, Peter De Clercq’s recipe using chicory as a smoke element.

GRILLED SEA BASS WITH VANILLA POTATOES SMOKED WITH CHICORY ROOT
We’ve adapted this recipe from Peter’s book BBQ – A Party, available on Amazon.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1.75 lbs (800 g) Sea Bass, skin on and descaled, cut into four filets
2.2 lbs (1 kg) Yellow Fingerling Potatoes, peeled
7/8 cup (200 mL) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 pinch, Mace, ground
1 Vanilla bean
4 Leeks

Fish Marinade (Recipe Below)
Herbs for Fish (Recipe Below)
Herbs for Vegetables (Recipe Below)

For The Smoking Gun™

  • 2 t Chicory, finely ground

Fish Marinade

  • 2 Cups (0.5 liters) Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup (250 mL) garlic and fine herb oil
  • 1 cup / 2.5 dl basil oil
  • 1-1/2 Tbs / 20 g fennel seeds
  • 6 cloves of garlic, whole 4 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of lemon thyme
  • 2 tsp / 10 g curry powder
  • 2 tsp / 10 g oregano

Combine all ingredients and infuse overnight.

Herbs for Fish (Dry Rub)
Toast these ingredients in a steel skillet and grind the mixture in a coffee grinder.

  • 1-3/4 C (500 g) Sea Salt
  • 1⁄2 C (50 g) Dried Dill
  • 1⁄4 C / 25 g Fennel Seed
  • 1⁄4 C / 25 g Dried Parsley
  • 2 Tbs / 25 g Paprika
  • 1 Tbs / 12 g Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbs / 12 g Curry Powder

Then combine this with:

  • 1⁄2 tsp (2 g) Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp (4 g) Turmeric Powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp (2 g)Curry Powder
  • 1/8 tsp (1 g) Ground Mace
  • 2 tsp (10 g) Sea Salt

Herbs for Vegetables

  • 1-1/2 T (20 g) Ground Coriander Seeds
  • 1 T (15 g) Ground Cumin
  • 1 t (5 g) Mustard Seeds
  • 1-1/2 t (8 g) Black Peppercorns
  1. Boil or steam the fingerling potatoes. Mash into a puree and season with olive oil, pepper, salt and mace. Slice the vanilla bean open and scrape to remove the seeds. Mix vanilla seeds into the potato puree.
  2. Slice the leeks into 1-1/2 in / 4 cm sections and steam them until al dente.
  3. Rub the four sea bass with fish marinade and season with herbs for fish.
  4. Grill the sea bass for about 8 minutes.
  5. Rub the leeks with fish marinade and season with herbs for vegetables. Grill leeks alongside fish for about 4 minutes. Turn regularly to ensure even grilling.
  6. Serve the fish on a bed of potato puree and lay the leeks alongside.
  7. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  8. Cover dish with a glass dome and fill with chicory smoke using The Smoking Gun™.
  9. Serve. 

Photo is Property of Peter De Clercq, from BBQ - A Party

 

 


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Celebrate America’s Birthday & Save BIG on Bundles!

 

The Fine Print:

$599 CREATIVE Bundle (SAVE OVER $115.00)
Includes:
Sous Vide Professional™ CREATIVE Series
18L CAMBRO Tank & Custom Cut Lid
Smoking Gun™
Classic Smokehouse Wood Chips

$899 CHEF Bundle (SAVE OVER $115.00)
Includes:
Sous Vide Professional™ CHEF Series
18L CAMBRO Tank & Custom Cut Lid
Smoking Gun™
Classic Smokehouse Wood Chips

Or 10% off CHEF & CREATIVE Series, Smoking Gun & Wood Kits

Head on over to www.polyscienceculinary.com to check out our products. To order, please call 847-647-0611 or email culinary@polyscience.com Please note, discount only available via phone or email.

Special Bundle Offer and 10% Discount Expires 7/5/13 and is valid towards purchase of Sous Vide Professional™ CHEF & CREATIVE Series Circulators, Smoking Gun™ and Wood Kits only.

Domestic (U.S.) orders only. Sorry, no distributors or dealers.

 

 


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Keep It Clean: What to do when your circulator needs some love.

Does your circulator look like it’s been to the beach?

Calcium deposits can lead to burnt out motors and costly repairs. To clean your circulator of mineral deposits, simply run the unit with a 15% Distilled White Vinegar to water solution at 65°C/149°F for 20-60 minutes. If the build up is heavy, try a 10% CLR or Lime-Away solution.

Grease or food build build-up can also cause added stress on the pump motor.

Run the circulator at 72°C/161°F with a solution of dish soap and water to remove these deposits. We highly recommend running the vinegar solution at least once a month. If you are frequently cooking eggs, clean your circulator once a week.

For easy access to the CHEF Series heating coils take a look at our quick-access fasteners available through our website. These make removing the back panel a breeze. 

Have one of our 7306 models? This unit was originally designed for laboratory use where sous vide bags coming into contact with the coils wasn’t an issue. We have since developed a protective cage that prevents bags from coming into contact with the heating coils. That can lead to food loss and a huge mess in your bath (gross!), not to mention, the possibility of expensive repairs.

Visit www.polyscienceculinary.com to take a look at our quick access fasteners and protective cages. Keep your circulators squeaky clean! 

Check out this link to YouTube to view our Product Care Videos

 


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Ideas in Evaporation

Alex and Aki, at Ideas in Food, recently picked up a Rotary Vacuum Evaporator from us with some wild ideas brewing in their heads. While the concept of distillation isn’t new, culinary rotovap applications by chefs have only been stirring for the past 5-6 years.

Alex and I started discussing vacuum evaporation at a conference last year, but the thought wasn’t distillation, it was concentration. What if flavor concentrations could occur without cooking the product? Well, we distilled the alcohol out of a bottle of ruby port. On the receiving side of of the unit sat moonshine, reminiscent of grappa. Yes, we tasted it. It was blindingly horrid; and yes, we disposed of it. On the evaporation side was something truly beautiful: potential. The potential of the raw, non-alcoholic port redux showed us that flavors concentrate so well that we immediately saw flashes of apple butter, ketchup and much more. If anybody knows Alex, his flashes happen at strobe-like speeds. The spark ignited and Alex was off and running. We’re incredibly excited to see what Alex and Aki think up next. This is just the beginning.

 

Kombucha Redux

Check out the progress in their rotary evaporation adventures here:

 

 


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When Cooking Sous Vide, Food Safety Should be Your #1 Priority

When Cooking Sous Vide, Food Safety Should be Your #1 Priority

By: Philip Preston

The sous vide cooking method can provide tremendous culinary benefits in both home and professional kitchens. Most notably, the method allows users to control heat with extraordinary precision. In fact, no other process enables both chefs and home cooks to monitor temperature with such ease. However, as with any cooking method, technology alone cannot guarantee results if it is not used correctly.

Fundamentals of food safety are especially important when cooking sous vide because the easy-of-use nature that makes the method so attractive, may also create complacency among users. Consequently, even seemingly basic and logical kitchen safety steps should be reviewed by everyone involved to avoid potential problems.

  • Always use only the freshest ingredients.
  • Ensure hands, tools, and work surfaces are clean.
  • Move products directly from refrigerated storage to preheated baths.
  • Don’t overload preheated baths with cold products because temperature recovery times may be significantly lengthened
  • When undertaking cook-and-chill recipes, use an ice bath to chill rapidly.
  • If a bag becomes bloated, it could be a sign of bacteria spoilage and should not be used.

Taking safety a step further, PolyScience has developed unique software that models the thermal conductivity of proteins in both heated water and ice baths to help you make informed cooking decisions. More specifically, the PolyScience Sous Vide Toolbox iPhone / iPad Application is a practical tool for predicting core temperatures and provides valuable insights into pathogen reduction. Users simply enter the type of protein being cooked along with its shape, size, starting temperature, and desired core temperature, and the application automatically calculates the minimum cook time.

Although the software is already a truly remarkable tool that should be used by everyone cooking sous, we didn’t stop there. Instead, we continually seek new perspectives. Most recently, we enlisted the help of the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management’s O. Peter Snyder Jr., Ph.D., a leading food safety expert. Dr. Snyder concluded that the PolyScience Sous Vide Toolbox application “… is a professional aid to determining the time required for heating muscle foods in a controlled temperature water bath. Safety of a sous vide process is always verified by measuring the final core temperature of the food product with a temperature probe and meeting government food safety standards.”

 

Dr. Snyder has also provided detailed insights to help our customers even better understand and minimize sous vide associated food safety risks (see our website at: www.polyscienceculinary.com/DrSnyder).

 


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Risk Factors in Preparing Sous Vide Foods

Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management
670 Transfer Road · Saint Paul, Minnesota 55141 · USA

RISK FACTORS IN PREPARING SOUS VIDE FOODS

by O. Peter Snyder, Jr., Ph.D.

Sous vide products are foods such as meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables that have been sealed under vacuum in a low-oxygen-transmission plastic film pouch, and the pouch is immersed in a constant-temperature water bath and cooked for a time that provides adequate reduction of pathogenic vegetative bacteria and a desired tenderization.  Meat shrinkage in cooking meat, poultry, and fish does not take place significantly until the meat temperature is 130ºF or hotter.  Typically, the tougher the meat, the richer and better the flavor – but drier – unless these tougher cuts – briskets, flanks, and ribs – are cooked sous vide in a sealed pouch, where all of the juices are retained, and the temperature is low enough so as to not cause muscle shrinkage.  The foods cooked in this manner are generally thin, less than two inches thick.  Cooking times in a moderate temperature water bath can be a couple of hours in order to get the food center temperature to 130ºF or above.  People believe that cooking is for a desired quality.  Actually, the primary purpose of cooking is to pasteurize the food to reduce vegetative pathogens to meet a Food Safety Objective (FSO) that provides an Appropriate Level of Protection (ALOP) to assure safety.

There are no significant chemical or physical hazards associated with sous vide cooking.  The question is: What are the biological hazards?  There are two classes of pathogens in sous vide meat, fish, and poultry products – vegetative pathogens and spore pathogens.  Vegetative pathogens are destroyed as a function of time as temperatures reach 130ºF.  They are killed slowly at about 130ºF, with a 6.5-log reduction of Salmonella (the target organism) at 112 minutes.  At 140ºF, Salmonella dies 10 times faster, or 12 minutes.  At 158ºF, it is considered to be an instant 6.5-log reduction of Salmonella.

After the food is pasteurized – received a 6.5-log reduction of Salmonella – there are still the spore pathogens, specifically, Clostridium perfringens, Bacillus cereus, and Clostridium botulinum, which are not destroyed by pasteurization, but rather, have been activated.  So, when the hot food begins to cool and gets below 130ºF, spores can germinate and grow out.  Cooling from 135 to 41ºF in 6 hours (FDA Food Code cooling) assures that there is no significant spore germination.

Since most sous vide products are thin, cooling is not a significant risk.  Pasteurization is the critical control.  The only way one can know that proper times and temperatures have been met is to measure food temperature, which is done with a needle / thin-tipped thermocouple probe that penetrates the pouch.  First, a piece of sealing foam tape, specially designed to aid in the temperature measurement of sous vide products, is placed on the pouch. Then, the needle probe is directed through the tape, punctures the pouch, and is inserted into the center of the food to measure its center temperature.  It is crucial to assure that consumers of the food will not become ill due to Salmonella, E. coli, or other vegetative pathogens.  Therefore, the food must get an adequate dose of heat and time to reduce the vegetative pathogens by 6.5 log, which is further complicated by trying to take the center temperature of the meat, fish, or poultry.

Then why are there so few problems?  First of all, meats being cooked by sous vide are usually from inside cuts of meat (e.g., steaks), fish, and poultry, which are protected during the slaughter process and do not contain 100,000 pathogens per gram, as an outside cut (e.g., brisket, flank) would contain.  The surface of these inside cuts contains fewer pathogens, and their center is virtually pathogen free.  These inside cuts would have, for instance, 10 pathogens per gram.  Therefore, there are not many organisms to kill.  In terms of safe cooking time at 130ºF, 20 minutes is probably adequate, even though the regulations require 112 minutes for a 6.5-log Salmonella reduction at 130ºF.

Also inherent to the sous vide process is the length of time (e.g., 2 to 4 hours) in order to get the desired tenderness that the cook wants to achieve.  If there are foods that do contain high pathogen counts, any surface treatment would kill most of the vegetative pathogens, because the center does not have high levels of pathogens.  An exception would be cooking a ground product (e.g., spiced meat pate), whereby the pathogens have been ground into the middle of the food being cooked by sous vide.

In summary, sous vide cooking must be done carefully and precisely to assure that government standards are met.  Government standards, however, are very conservative, because pathogens on typical meat, fish, and poultry sous vide products are on the surface, which gets a longer cook time than the center.  The sous vide process leads towards adequate times at temperatures to get sufficient reduction of pathogens to assure that no customer will become ill eating the sous vide product.  Finally, the temperature of the cooked and cooled pasteurized food is critical, which should be 41ºF or less to assure that the very deadly C. botulinum does not germinate, multiply, and produce its lethal toxin.

 

Prepared for PolyScience  – Copyright 2013

 

 


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Guest Blog: Cuisine Solutions

Both Science and Flavor: How Sous-Vide Has Impacted American Restaurants

Considering its origins in a culinary niche, sous-vide’s expansion throughout the United State’s restaurant industry has been exceptionally rapid. Gaining its foundations as a French cooking innovation in the 1960s, it’s unsurprising to see why the method has caught on so fast with professional chefs and restaurateurs. That being said, it’s an exceptionally innovative, if not unusual, method whose emergence could be called anything but ‘expected’.

Sous-Vide is, as it was during its early days of commercial innovation, a vacuum-based method of food preparation. Not purely a cooking style as much as it is a distinct branch of food science, sous-vide involves precisely sealing the heart of a meal – be it lamb, chicken, or lentil – and subsequently allow the dish to immerse in its own ingredients. The method was first pioneered by a cadre of veteran French chefs, with a notable role taken by Bruno Goussault, and had begun to gain the attention of American chefs by the 1980s. Goussault himself was responsible for chartering Cuisine Solutions, which stands as America’s first major distributors of sous-vide products.

So, taking all this into consideration, what was sous-vide’s major appeal? One of the cooking method’s biggest selling points is that it simultaneously preserves food while augmenting flavor. One of the greatest challenges American restaurants have faced is working around the supply chain. Getting high-quality products, and working with fresh meats, are oftentimes contradictory aims. Even with refrigeration and food packaging having come as far as they have in recent years, there are plenty of situations where the resources at hand come up wanting. One of the myriad benefits of sous-vide is that the vacuum sealing process keeps freshness while also preserving flavor and texture that would otherwise be lost.

Both meat and vegetable preparations sealed through the sous-vide method spend their time prior to preparation actually benefitting from being under wraps. While clearly a food manufacturing method that’s intended for more serious restaurants, sous-vide actually allows the time lapse between production and meal cooking to enrich the food rather than deaden flavor. This is among the foremost reason that the sous-vide cooking method has caught on so swiftly with restaurants across the continental United States. Its ability to surmounts complications from the supply chain and transform these difficulties into a boon has sparked an industry-wide affection for the method.

Ultimately, it’s not difficult to see why a cooking method that was founded overseas only half a century ago has caught on so fast in the United States. America’s restaurant industry is both profitable and notoriously competitive, and exceptionally innovative cooking methods spread through our culinary industry like wildfire. To Sous-Vide’s even greater favor, it’s as pragmatic as it is innovative, which only bodes well for the preparation style’s growing popularity.

 


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On the Road with PolyScience

Over the past few weeks, we’ve found ourselves in Madrid, Manchester, Helsinki, Lyon, Orlando, Boston, Charlotte, New York and have even been able to squeeze in a few days in Sweet Home Chicago. We’ve been busy. Here’s the haps.

SIRHA 2013 – Lyon, France
We arrived in Lyon and got right to work. The Eurexpo was banging and buzzing with hammers, saws and forklifts as the booths around us took shape. Our booth went up and we were ready to go.

The SIRHA Expo is one of Europe’s largest culinary trade shows, pairing alongside the Bocuse D’Or and World Pastry Championship in the same complex. Needless to say, it’s a draw. This year, over 175,000 guests attended the expo. It’s a good thing we brushed up on our French. Cuisson sous vide? Thermoplonger? Oui!

NAFEM
The North American Food Equipment Manufacturer’s Show is one of the top equipment shows for the culinary industry. Every major manufacturer seems to exhibit at NAFEM, offering one-stop shopping when checking out everything you need for your restaurant. While sous vide equipment was not eligible for exhibition, PolyScience was there to support major manufacturers, Randell/Unified Brands, Vollrath and Montague, who featured PolyScience sous vide integration in their equipment. Special thanks to Michael Williams and Chance Hunt of Randell/Unified Brands for their Sous Vide Prep Table, which was on display in the “What’s Hot? What’s Cool?” new and innovative product showcase.

AAAS Show 2013
The American Academy for the Advancement of Science Show brought us to Boston a week after (name of blizzard). The snow was piled high, but not enough to hide Boston’s charm and beauty. We made our way to the John B. Hynes Convention Center to set up the booth. Since PolyScience manufactures both laboratory and culinary equipment, it felt fitting to showcase both, especially when you consider our special guest – Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures, The Cooking Lab and Modernist Cuisine. On Saturday, Nathan was kind enough to stop by the booth to sign copies of Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home for the lucky fans that stopped through. Later that day, Nathan gave an outstanding plenary lecture to nearly 5,000 attendees. The scope of the lecture focused on Modernist Cuisine, and with an audience of physicists, biologists, chemists, Nathan spared no geekery, including in-depth looks at Fourier’s law, conservation of energy, James Watt and several gratuitous high-speed video shots.

 


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Economic Benefits: The Cost of Sous Vide

We frequently get asked: What is the cost of electricity to run the Sous Vide Professional? So we performed some research and testing to find out for ourselves!

We used average costs of utilities in the USA as of September 2010 – electricity at $0.132 per kilowatt/hour and natural gas at $1.062 per therm.
There are two stages to the heat up/cook process when using the PolyScienceSous Vide Professional – initial heat up and holding (cooking).

During the initial heat up, more power is consumed as the unit heats at full power to reach the desired temperature.  The duration of this step can be greatly shortened by starting with hot water.  For our experiment, we started with cold tap water at 9°C (48.2°F).  Cost of initial heat up: $0.15.  Had we started with hot water, the cost and duration would be reduced by more than half.

We then vacuum sealed a 2lb beef tenderloin and allowed it to cook for two hours at 59°C (138.2°F).  Cost of 2 hours of cooking at 59°C: $0.06.  This makes our total electricity cost $0.21.
For more information about the cost benefits of sous vide, check out this post on our blog for a number of ways cooking sous vide can actually reduce costs of labor and raw materials. You might also find this case study by Chef Chris Windus interesting, where he discusses how sous vide has helped him to increase efficiency without compromising quality.

 


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Technical Questions

What water bath volume can be handled?
PolyScience Sous Vide Professional (120V & 240V) and the model Sous Vide 7306C (120V) control vessels up to 30 liter / 8 gallons. For larger vessels simply use 2 machines. That simply doubles the capacity and still provides flexibility to run 2 smaller separate baths if needed.
The Sous Vide 7306C with 240 Volt controls up to 40 liter / 10.5 gallons. It has a stronger heater with 1600 Watt.

What is the reason for limiting heating power with Sous Vide circulators?
The difference between all models available is small. The primary objective for an immersion circulator is to keep temperature constant and precise and not to heat water as quickly as possible. Higher heater power would bring other issues, like triggering fuses, larger footprint of the unit, higher cost and higher risks in safety.

How can I optimize the heating capacity of my Sous Vide Professional?
Apply the same thinking as you do for any other process when heating a large amount of water, i.e. cooking a large pot of pasta. Cover the tank with a lid or plastic wrap, insulate the vessel for example by stacking 2 Cambro tanks and creating an insulating air pillow.

Sous Vide FAQs

 


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Sous Vide Thanksgiving Turkey

Philip Preston, president of PolyScience, and Erik Williams, executive chef of MK Restaurant in Chicago, demonstrate cooking a turkey sous vide using the PolyScience 7306C Thermal Circulator.

 


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The Results: Sous Vide at Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

We love when we meet people that are curious and ask: “How can your equipment help our restaurant?”

One year ago in NYC at the StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress, we were asked this question by Martina Priadka, General Manager of the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. She was inspired by her team, Chefs Derek Moran (a sous vide veteran) and Chef Kristin Tyborski, to learn more about the benefits.

Not long after, they started to add PolyScience sous vide equipment to their kitchen and changed their menu. One year later, the results are exactly what we hoped for. We are especially thankful for this amazing video they put together, allowing us to share with chefs around the world.

Make sure to spend your next night out in Minneapolis at Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant.

If you would like to share your experience with PolyScience, please contact us.

Food Safety with Sous Vide Cooking

Table of Contents:

 
 

A: Sous Vide Cooking Process

As with any food process, sous vide requires specified food handling practices to prevent, eliminate, or reduce the food biological, chemical, and physical hazards to a safe level.

Three important aspects require additional attention:

  • When food is vacuum packed Vacuum-packaged food creates an anaerobic (oxygen-free) or reduced oxygen environment. With improper food handling, some of the most dangerous bacteria can grow, such as salmonella and botulism. Safe food handling and hygiene standards should always be maintained.
  • Food cooked at low temperatures for extended periods of time can cause bacteria to multiply rapidly. The longer food is in the “danger zone” — temperatures between 40°F and 140°F (4.4°C to 60°C) — the faster bacteria can multiply and the more dangerous they can become.
  • When food in pouch has finished the required cooking time, it has to be removed and served immediately, or rapidly chilled. Cooling must be less than 6 hours from 130 to 41ºF.

Carefully read and incorporate these detailed guidelines into your cooking method to assure safety in each step.  
Prerequisites to food preparation.

  • Make sure that the refrigerator is 41ºF or colder.  The colder the refrigerator, the slower the spoilage of ingredients.
  • Get an accurate digital food thermometer to check the temperature of the raw and cooked food to assure that it reached a desired end point.
  • Get the plastic pouches that the food will be packaged in.  Make sure that they are not contaminated.
  • Use detergent,  warm water, wash ,  and rinse the food contact surfaces.  Sanitize the surfaces with a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per gallon of water to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Be sure to separate the raw ingredient preparation area from the finished product area, or wash, rinse, and sanitize a surface when changing from raw preparation to finished food.

Sous vide processing. 

  • The basic steps of the sous vide process are shown in the following flow chart. Details to each step are provided below the flow chart.
Prepare the work area.  Put away unnecessary objects.  Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces, and store chemicals so that they cannot contaminate the food.

Get fresh ingredients.  Sous vide cannot make spoiled ingredients taste good. It amplifies the flavors and should only be applied to the freshest ingredients.

Trim, cut, and prepare ingredients.  Remember, the thicker the protein ingredient, the longer it takes to come to its cooking temperature. Less than 2 inch thickness is a practical maximum thickness.  Weigh additives carefully. Safe cook times can be calculated in PolyScience iPhone/iPad app “Sous Vide Toolbox”

Package / vacuum seal.  The purpose of the vacuum is to pull the plastic pouch film tight to the food for good heat transfer.  Check the seal.

Cook / pasteurize.  Reduce vegetative pathogens such as Salmonella 5 log (100,000 to 1).  Cooking / pasteurization begins about 130ºF.

Hold at cooking temperature until desired degree of doneness is achieved.

Cool fast enough to prevent the outgrowth of spores.

Cold hold meat, poultry, and vegetables at 41ºF to prevent the outgrowth of spores and slow growth of spoilage organisms.

Warm (reheating) and serve.

 

Set Up Sous Vide Professional and Water Bath

  • Clamp Sous Vide Professional to a stockpot or any other vessel. Fill with water up to maximum level, indicated on Sous Vide Professional.
  • To guarantee precise temperature control, refer to user manual for maximum water volume. For example the Sous Vide Professional CHEF Series has a maximum of seven gallons or twenty eight liters of water. A second Sous Vide Professional may be required to maintain the level of precise temperature control with larger volumes.
  • Set the Sous Vide Professional to desired temperature. Cover bath with lid or plastic wrap for efficient heat-up time and to avoid evaporation.

 

Get fresh ingredients; Trim, cut, and prepare ingredients. 

  • One must start with very fresh ingredients in order to assure that off-flavors from spoilage are minimal and are not amplified in the cooking method.  Also, by focusing on freshness, it will assure lower spoilage bacteria counts at the start of refrigerated storage so that the finished product will have a longer refrigerated shelf life.
  • It is safer if you use solid, not ground or punctured, pieces of meat, poultry, or fish.  When it is punctured, it becomes critical that, not just the surface, but the center of the food get hot enough for long enough to be pasteurized.
  • Since cooking is done in a plastic pouch, there is no loss of flavor volatiles in sous vide cooking.

Package / vacuum seal. 

  • The vacuum is not for flavor.  It is to have a good heat transfer between the water bath and the surface of the food.
  • Assure that food-grade quality plastic pouches that have not become contaminated in storage are used; 2-3 ml plastic is adequate. If zip-loc type bags are used, assure that they are heat-safe to the temperatures you will be cooking at.
  • Make sure food is refrigerated at 38°F (3.3°C) or below until ready to seal.
  • To ensure precise and even cooking, arrange pieces of food in the plastic bag in a single layer.
  • Check vacuum bag for proper seal before cooking.
  • As bags are sealed, check to be sure that there was no crease in the plastic and that the seal is uniform with an even fusing from one side to the other.
  • After sealing, immediately cook or refrigerate food at 38°F (3.3°C) or below until ready to cook (see storing tips on the following page).

Cook / pasteurize. 

  • Insert vacuum-sealed bag only when bath has reached correct temperature.
  • Follow time and temperatures guidelines and consider increasing cooking time if food has a larger diameter than specified in the recipe.
  • Cooking time increases by a factor of almost 4 times per extra inch. If you only double the time per inch, it will be unsafe!
  • In case you are not able to remove all the air due to limitations of your vacuum sealer, you can weigh down the pouch with a heavy porcelain plate to ensure it is fully submerged. This is important to ensure safe cooking results.
  • If you cook more than one vacuum bag, make sure they are not too close to each other.
  • Make sure to hold the pouch under the water so that it is fully cooked.  Food safety times and temperatures are based on center temperatures of the food.
  • Check temperature and sealed vacuum bag frequently during cooking process. A bag that suddenly begins to float, inflate, or leak is a sign of food-safety issues. Discard food and clean tank and Sous Vide Professional.
  • If during cooking in the water bath, the bag balloons and floats to the surface, a seal has failed, or the temperature is too hot and steam has formed in the package, or there is a pinhole.  The package must be thrown away, because you do not know if there was adequate heat transfer and pasteurization was effective.
  • Always measure the internal temperature of foods before serving. You can re-seal a pouch and continue cooking if necessary.
  • If you are making more than one pouch, a very smart thing to do is to sample the first pouch removed from cooking.  Take your digital thermometer and verify the center temperature of the food.  Also sample the flavor of the product.  If it needs more cooking, you can reseal the pouch and continue to cook.
  • If you are cooking fish to a temperature of less than 130ºF, there are parasite and vegetative pathogen risks.  Undercooked fish should have been frozen at -4ºF for 7 days to assure the destruction of the parasite, and the customer should be informed that undercooked food has some illness risk.

There will be two primary biological hazards in the meat, poultry, fish, vegetables or fruit that are cooked sous vide.

The first hazard is vegetative pathogens, and the regulatory target is Salmonella.  The goal is to cook the food in the pouch to a time and temperature to reduce Salmonella 100,000-to-1.  This will reduce the Salmonella from a maximum of 1,000 per gram in the raw food to 1 per 100 grams in the finished food.  Salmonella is used as the target organism, because it has been, and continues to be, a major cause of illness and kills an estimated 500 people each year.

The government-specified times and temperatures for this pasteurization are:

Center temperature

Hold time

130ºF

112 minutes

140ºF

11 minutes

150ºF

1 minute

155ºF

5 seconds

158ºF

instant (less than 1 second)

The second biological hazard common to the ingredients from the water and land farms are the spores, Clostridium botulinum [proteolytic (meat, poultry) and non-proteolytic (fish, seafood)], Bacillus cereus (cereal products), and Clostridium perfringens (meat, poultry, lentils).

When the food is pasteurized, Salmonella is reduced to an Appropriate Level of Protection (ALOP), but pasteurization temperatures have no kill effect on the spores.  Pasteurization just activates the spore.

IMPORTANT:
It’s a rule-of-thumb that if you cook below 130°F (54.4°C) there is an increased risk for vegetative pathogen and parasite development. However, food safety depends on a combination of temperature, time, pH level and the freshness of the ingredients. Extended cooking time pasteurizes food and reduces potential Salmonella to an appropriate level.

Hold. 

  • After the food is pasteurized, if the food is hotter than 130ºF, the spores cannot germinate and multiply, regardless of time.
  • One can hold / tenderize for 24 to 48 hours safely.  This is also a major feature of sous vide.
  • If the cooking temperature is 130 to 150ºF, there is an additional benefit.  The enzymes are very active, and the meat becomes very tender.

Chill.

  • At this point, the spore is activated (pasteurization has no kill effect on spores, it activates spores); so, cooling becomes a critical control procedure.
  • The target spore for cooling is Clostridium perfringens.  It must be controlled so that there is less than 1 to 10 increase in population during cooling.
  • To assure safety, cooling must be less than 6 hours from 130 to 41ºF.  This is easily done for most sous vide products if they are less than 2 inches thick in an proper ice bath.
  • The recommendation for a proper ice bath is: ratio of 1lb ice to 1lb product, topped off with cold tap water. Agitation will increase the effect of a rapid chill process.
  • It limits roasts to about 5 pounds.  After the cooling to 41ºF, C. perfringens cannot multiply, and the target spore for storage is Bacillus cereus for all food except fish.  Holding at 41ºF controls B. cereus.
  • For cooked fish, there is a critical limit of 37.4ºF to prevent the non-proteolytic C. botulinum on the fish from growing.  If cooked fish is to be stored after cooling, it should be frozen or held in ice at less than 37.4ºF, or served within 7 days if held at 41ºF.

Cold hold.

  • Before storing, label vacuum-sealed bags with expiration date and contents.
  • For practical purposes, if the preceding instructions are followed there is probably no significant reason to hold sous vide product for more than 7 days.
  • If the recipe includes inhibitors, such as salt or acidity, food can be stored up to 45 days, as long as temperature is meat and poultry is 41ºF or colder, or fish and seafood is less than 37.4F (3.0ºC).
  • Only spores or some surviving spoilage organisms can multiply, and temperature is the critical control.

Warm (reheating) and serve. 

  • Reheating is not for safety; it is a quality factor to meet consumer desires.
  • The food is safe if the preceding instructions are followed, and the food can be eaten cold from the pouch or removed from the pouch and browned and heated to suit the consumer.
  • When reheating cooked food, simply bring water bath back to desired serving temperature and apply time needed for core to reach temperature.
  • Always measure the internal temperature of foods before serving. You can re-seal a pouch and continue cooking if necessary.
  • If reheated in the bag, consider that spores or some surviving spoilage organisms can multiply. Temperature is the critical control.
  • A major safety advantage of sous vide is that it was pasteurized in the package, so there is no chance of contamination of the product by vegetative pathogens in storage after cooling.
  • Frozen, cooked foods must thaw under refrigeration (41°F or below) and reheated upon complete thaw, prior to consumption.

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B: Highly Susceptible Audience

Children, elderly and expectant mothers and those with compromised immune systems should not consume raw or undercooked foods.

Many temperatures listed on this website (www.polyscienceculinary.com) and within PolyScience Sous Vide Professional™ literature, manuals, applications and marketing include “threshold temperatures,” which are considered to be at the low end of FDA required cooking temperatures.

Anyone in these audiences should cook all recipes listed on this website or within PolyScience Sous Vide Professional™ literature, manuals, applications and marketing 2°C/4°F higher than listed in the recipe and for 5% more time (Calculator) to ensure proper cooking temperatures and pathogenic reduction. For further information of accepted safe cooking temperatures, please visit www.FDA.gov

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C: Further Resources

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