Sous-vide Tips and Tricks
A few sous-vide tips and tricks to make cooking food perfectly, even easier.
Insulation and Water Loss
Ping-pong balls covering the surface of the water bath will help keep heat in the water and lower the rate of evaporative loss of water during cooking. A lit helps accomplish this too, though will not insulate as well, causing the immersion circulator/cooker to draw heating power more frequently to maintain temperature.
Towels wrapped around a metal pot container can help insulate and reduce power draw from your outlet. Neoprene wraps are also available for some plastic containers.
Sometimes a bag will rise to the top of the water if air is trapped in the with the food. As the water bath heats the air inside, the air will expand and raise the buoyancy of the bag and its contents. Some foods will off-gas, which means they will release gas/air into the bag causing the same floatation issues. Two simple solutions exist; the first being putting weight on the bag (or in it!) such as a bowl, utensils, plate, cup or jar. Some folks even go so far as to use a rock! The second solution is to clip the bag to the side of the container. Efficacy is mixed but can those are a coupe of options to try!
A sous-vide home cook should be careful to make sure the container they use and the surface it sits on will not cause a problem. Certain countertops may be susceptible to a hot metal pot sitting atop them for anywhere from a short cook to a long session.
I also recommend keeping a pair of scissor tongs on hand to remove bags from hot water baths. At 140°F it takes 6 seconds for third degree burns to begin. At 150°F only 2 seconds at that heat and adult human skin starts to burn. Anything above that (150-180°F) and you don’t want to make skin-water contact with the bath. Use the tongs if at all possible.
More tips and tricks to be added soon.