What is sous vide?
Sous vide is an innovative method of slow cooking food in a water bath. Fresh ingredients are vacuum sealed in a pocket and placed in water pre-heated to a specific temperature. Foods are cooked slower, at a lower heat and for a longer time, to enhance the flavour and texture of the natural ingredients.
Sous vide is effectively a much more clever and intuitive cooking method than using a bain marie or steamer, and a much healthier alternative to deep frying. And it gives melt-in-the-mouth results!
Virtually any food can be cooked in a sous vide water bath, as long as it is vacuum packed first. Popular sous vide recipes include steak, chicken or fish, but vegetables are also delicious cooked in a water bath.
Low temperature cooking: the science
Sous vide means ‘under vacuum’ in French. Raw ingredients – seasoned or alone – are vacuum sealed in a food-grade plastic pouch and cooked slowly by being immersed in the water bath at a controlled temperature.
Sous vide food typically cooks at between 50-70°C, from less than a few hours up to a couple of days. The precise temperature control of a water bath means that you can set the water bath to 0.1°C of the temperature that you want the core to reach.
Food cooked using the sous vide technique is mouth-wateringly good. Ingredients are effectively braised in their own juices, retaining their moisture and weight. Sous vide cooking vastly improves the taste and texture of cheaper cuts of meat.
What equipment do you need for sous vide cooking?
Sous vide cooking can be as quick and easy as steaming, as long as you have the right equipment. To start cooking restaurant-quality food at home, all you need is a Clifton bath and a vacuum sealer or pump. Simply seal your ingredients in a sous vide bag and immerse in the water bath, at a temperature and time suitable for the item being cooked.
Other sous vide equipment is available to complete the chef experience, such as a thermometer and probe to check the internal temperature of the food, tongs, double ended tasting spoons and micro tweezers.
View sous vide machines and chef accessories in our sous vide shop >
How was sous vide invented?
Invented in the 1970s by French chefs as a means of reducing food wastage, sous vide was quickly adopted by pioneering chefs for its many other taste, texture and aesthetic benefits.
As molecular gastronomy gained popularity from 2000, the sous vide method snowballed among top chefs who recognised the superior quality end result, and began using specialist equipment in Michelin starred restaurants.
Nowadays, most restaurants, hotels and gastropubs will have a water bath – and now a Clifton water bath is available designed specifically for the home chef.