Common Sous Vide Problems Solved

I’m doing a 24 hour+ sous vide cook and my water keeps evaporating. 

If you are using an immersion circulator in your own pot or any other water container, consider using sous vide balls. These are balls that you place on top of the water to help insulate and decrease evaporation during your cook. You cannot use any old balls though (we know that these look very much like ping pong balls!). You need to use sous water water balls that are made from a food grade material. This means that they will not leach any nasties into your water bath or into your food pouches.

Want to learn more about the benefits of sous vide water balls? Head to our article by clicking here.

Alternatively if sous vide water balls are not for you, consider a sous vide container lid instead. There are some very popular water containers that come with custom lids. Just like sous vide balls, a container lid also decreases evaporation and helps to insulate your water bath.

My food pouches won’t stay below the water in my sous vide cook.

For a sous vide cook to be effective (and safe from the impact of nasties like e coli), the food pouches that you use need to be submerged under the water for the entire sous vide cook. If your food pouches will not stay under the water by themselves you need to find something heavy to weigh the food pouches down. To do this many people use stainless steel racks, vacuum sealed bags of food or other kitchen items to act as weights (ie butter knifes, upside down strainers etc).

Want to learn more about how to keep your food pouches submerged? Head to our article with our detailed tips by clicking here.

I am using more than one food pouch for my sous vide cook and I want to keep them apart. How do I do that?

Most sous viders tend to use stainless steel racks to keep their food pouches separated during their cook. In sous vide cooking, circulation of water in your water bath is essential for even cooking. A stainless steel rack allows for even water flow between all food pouches. It is very important you use a quality stainless steel rack to avoid both rust and contaminates leaching into your water bath.

Want to learn more? Check out the things you need to look for when purchasing stainless steel racks for your sous vide cook, by clicking here.

Do I have to use a vacuum sealed bag for my food pouch or can I use zip lock bags instead?

The sous vide community is divided on this. Many swear by proper vacuum sealing systems because they are the best way to get all of the air out of your food pouches. Other sous viders find that zip lock bags work just as well for them. Vacuum sealers can be expensive and that is probably the main reason people use zip lock bags instead. In both instances you MUST source bags from reputable companies to ensure that the plastic used is BPA free. If you plan to freeze food in those bags, you will also need to check that the bags are suitable for freezing.

If you are concerned about using plastic bags in your sous vide cook, you could also consider resuable sealable bags.

Want to learn more about vacuum sealing systems? Head to our article with an overview of what to look for in a vacuum sealing system by clicking here.

What to learn more about the many food pouch options available to you for your sous vide cooking – Vacuum sealer bags, zip lock bags, reusable bags and glass canisters? Click here 

Why won’t my vacuum sealer seal my food bag properly. It is super frustrating!

Some vacuum sealing systems don’t cope well when you have wet ingredients in your food pouch. It is super important that you source vacuum sealing systems that do cope well with wet ingredients such as bags from FoodSaver. Alternatively we have the following suggestion. Fill your food pouch with your food and sauce or marinade. Fold the top of the bag over and secure with a clip or peg. Put the bag in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Remove it once the liquid has started to solidify. The food pouch can now be vacuum sealed more easily. 

Here’s a clip that shows you How to seal moist foods with Foodsaver.

Here is a slightly older conversation thred from reddit specifically about vacuum sealing food bags containing wet ingredients. It contains some very detailed information about effectively sealing bags that contain liquids. Click here to read the conversation thread.

I’m worried that the temperature reading of my sous vide water bath is not accurate. How can I check it?

When you first get a new sous vide water oven (such as the Sousvide Supreme water oven) you may want to double check that the water is actually at the temperature displayed on the screen. Similarly if you are using an immersion circulator (also known as a precision cooker), such as the Joule, Anova, Gourmia or Sansaire, you may want to make sure that the immersion circulator is accurately displaying the temperature of your water.

Before you commence your first cook, we encourage you to use a separate tip sensitive digital thermometer to make sure that the water holds at a steady temperature. The temperature on the digital thermometer should match the temperature displayed on your immersion cooker screen. If your sous vide machine does not have a display screen, the companion app will display the temperature. Whilst no manufacturer wants to make a sous vide product that ISN’T accurate in holding water temperatures, there are sometimes quality assurance issues with products.

Want to learn more? Head to our article to see step by step instructions for checking your water bath and food pouch temperatures.

I am getting kinda lost on the whole freezing situation with sous vide cooking. Some people cook their meat sous vide and then freeze it. Others seem to freeze the raw meat straight away and then cook sous vide at a later date. What’s best?

Many people buy meat in bulk. Making the most of that meat is where true cost savings lie. Sous viders do one of two things when it comes to freezing meat:

  1. They cook the meat sous vide and then freeze it (cook, chill, freeze, defrost, heat, eat)
  2. They freeze the meat in raw form and then cook the meat when they are ready for their next sous vide meal (freeze, defrost, heat, eat)

Both methods work well. Many sous viders say that they cannot tell the difference between meat they have cooked sous vide and then frozen, and the meat that they froze and then cooked sous vide.

To read more about both approaches, head to our article Freezing sous vide meat.

I cooked all of my sous vide meals at the start of the week. I put everything that I cooked in the freezer. How do I safely defrost the food again so I can eat it?

There is some contention about cooking your food first and then putting it in the freezer. However many sous viders do subscribe to the cook – chill – freeze – reheat method. That is, they cook their food sous vide, chill it in a water bath and then freeze it. They then reheat it in a sous vide water bath at a temperature just below the temperature they used to cook it in the water bath in their initial cook. You can then sear, torch and pan fry to finish off your food as per usual (or just eat it without this final step). Hint: to keep track of the temperature you used in your initial cook, note it on the food pouch when you freeze it.

Help. I’m addicted to sous vide cooking!

It happens. Be assured that you are not the only person feeling this way. Once you start sous vide cooking it can be very difficult to stop. We encourage you to immerse yourself in the sous vide community so that you can benefit from the hints, tips and tricks of other sous viders around the world!!

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