Sous vide FAQs

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About our products

At Clifton, we take pride in producing high quality products. The robust Clifton home water bath is manufactured alongside our professional range in our UK factory and has a two year warranty.

In the unlikely event that you experience technical problems, then you can call us directly on 01934 317000. We have a technical department that will be able to offer support and advice, and can help you get the best out of your sous vide machine. Our technical department may also be able to help fix your water bath over the phone.

Our warranty does not cover customer misuse, and these repairs may be charged.

The VS1 Vacuum Sealer has a one year warranty. If there are any technical problems then you can call us directly on 01934 317000. Our technical department will be able to offer support, advice and help.

Warranty does not cover customer misuse or liquid trapped in the pump.

What should I use to clean my water bath?

Clean your Clifton at Home® water bath with a damp cloth, gently wiping down the unit and digital control display. Do not use a scourer or brillo pad as this may scratch the surface of your bath.

Make sure to be careful with the digital display. Although your controller will withstand the odd splash of water, you must not immerse the unit directly into water. The water bath is not dishwasher safe.

How often should I clean my water bath?

Cooking sous vide is one of the cleanest ways of cooking with minimal washing up! We advise you to empty the water bath after you have finished using it each day. You can do this by using a small jug to empty the water load and wipe up the remaining water with kitchen towel.

Our 8 litre water bath has been designed for home use and can comfortably fit enough food portions to cook a family meal or prepare a week’s worth of food in advance. As an example, the Clifton at Home water bath will comfortably hold 6–8 120g chicken breasts, or a small joint of meat for your Sunday roast dinner!

It’s important to remember not to overload the water bath, otherwise the food items may not cook correctly.

You can purchase food-grade bags and vacuum sealer rolls direct from our online shop. We stock a range of different size airlock bags for individual food portions (such as chicken breasts), or vacuum sealer rolls to cook larger joints of meat.


 

About the sous vide technique

Cooking using a water bath is not the same as boiling food in a bag. The sous vide method of cooking allows you to cook at precise temperatures – that never reach boiling point, giving you complete control over the end result. You can also cook the same dish twice and get the same intense flavours, vibrant colours and perfect result. Sous vide takes the stress out of cooking, as foods do not spoil or overcook.

Sous vide food is simple to cook and safe to consume, provided it is cooked to a pre-calculated temperature and time, and basic food safety and hygiene practices are followed:

  • Ensure you have the freshest foods possible and of good quality
  • Always prepare your foods on a hygienic, clean work surface, using separate chopping boards and utensils for different food items to avoid cross-contamination, e.g. raw and cooked products
  • Store the food items in a refrigerator at 5 °C, or lower
  • Never start cooking your food items until the Clifton water bath has reached the required temperature
  • Always ensure you complete the full cooking time required for the item, finishing off in the pan if required

 
For more information about food preparation guidelines, please visit our page on sous vide safety.

Almost anything! Sous vide really does lend itself to cooking almost any type of food in the water bath. The technique ensures you do not overcook items.

Fish and meat become delicate and keep their moist appearance as well as intense flavour. Vegetables are delicious cooked sous vide, as you retain all nutrients and flavour in the vacuum pouch. All the goodness that is normally drained away from a conventional way of cooking is retained and the colour is vibrant.

The hassle really is taken out of cooking, ensuring consistent results time and time again.


 

Preparation

No, the vacuum sealer warranty is exempt if liquid is found in the pump. Liquid will damage the pump and ruin your machine.

You can manually seal a sous vide bag using the ‘seal’ button only. This way, you can seal liquid into the bag without using the pump. If there is any air in your bag, you should use the immersion grid provided with your water bath to cover your food and prevent the bag from floating to the top.

Another, more reliable method of cooking sous vide with liquids is to freeze marinades first and vacuum seal in the bag as a solid.

There are plenty of ways to add additional flavour to the bag if needed. Spice can be rubbed onto the food item before vacuum sealing.

Cling film and other forms of packaging are unsuitable for sous vide cooking as they’re not water tight and contamination will occur.

It’s important to seal ingredients in a vacuum using food grade plastic pouches and a vacuum machine. You can purchase food-grade bags and vacuum sealer rolls direct from our online shop.

No, it is not food safe to use zip lock bags, nor cling film, sandwich bags or zipping bags to cook sous vide. Instead, you can use vacuum bags or roll of vacuum sealer, designed especially for use with the VS1 Vacuum Sealer. Embossed with a small cross hatched pattern, vacuum sealer rolls help draw out the air more effectively during the vacuum process.

You can buy sealer bags, rolls and other vacuum equipment in our online shop.

Seasoning food before or after cooking sous vide is fine, but keep in mind that the sous vide process locks in flavours – seasoning that would normally escape when cooking in a pan or oven will be retained in the bag until the dish is served. If you add herbs, spices, marinades or stocks before the cooking process, the flavours are more intense as a result.

Eggs are one of the few items you do not have to vacuum before cooking sous vide, because they come in their own watertight shell! However, if you want to cook scrambled eggs sous vide, you will need to seal these in a vacuum pouch before cooking.


 

Cooking sous vide

Some butchers and supermarkets sell meats pre-vacuum sealed. The plastic is often thicker than the plastic airlock pouches or rolls that are designed for sous vide cooking, but it’s fine to put them directly into the sous vide cooker. Just make sure the meat is fresh rather than frozen.

Pre-vacuum sealed meats are often not pre-seasoned, so you might want to remove the meat, add aromatics and re-seal in a new airlock bag before cooking.

You may find that some light food items, such as salmon, tend to float during the cooking process. To ensure the bag stays securely under the water you can use the immersion grid which comes with your Clifton at Home water bath.

It’s important to ensure that the vacuum sealed pouch stays submerged, so that your ingredients are cooked evenly throughout.

Simply place the grid into the top of the bath and make sure the water level is above the grid. This will ensure consistently perfect results every time you use the water bath.

You can put different types of food into the same water bath to cook, as long as they are all intended to be cooked at the same temperature and are sealed in individual vacuum pouches.

Depending on the food item, you can experiment with cooking time. Slow braised meat joints can benefit from being cooked for up to 72 hours. Others may start to dry out if left that long.

Food items will not spoil immediately if left in the bath for longer than the required time, but over a period of time, like all cooking processes, they will begin to become firm, tough or even dry out.

The nice thing about sous vide is that it allows you time without spoiling, a few minutes longer here or there is not going to affect the food item at all – perfect if you’re cooking for a dinner party.

Find out more information about sous vide cooking times.

As long as you have followed your chosen recipe correctly and you have instructed your water bath to time your food item, then the Clifton at Home ® bath will indicate when your food item is ready to be removed from the water bath. To test that the core of the food item has reached the desired temperature, you could use a thermometer and probe kit.

Always follow safe, recommended recipes. Be mindful that not all internet recipes may be tried and tested, and consult our guide to cooking times and temperatures.

Yes! One of the main perks of sous vide cooking is that you can cook up a batch of meals to put in the fridge for later on, or to save for another day. This is ideal when preparing for a dinner party or another occasion when you need to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible!

We only recommend chilling and reheating sous vide food, rather than freezing.

If you have completed the full cooking process for food items and want to chill down and store for a later date, then you must ensure the food item reaches below 3 °C, within 90 minutes. Use a mixture of water and ice to bring your food bag down rapidly to 3°C or below. Typically, a mix of 50% water and 50% ice is ideal. Be prepared to add more ice if needed.

For best results, reheating, or regenerating, sous vide food is best done in a water bath. Set the temperature to 5°C lower than the temperature than you cooked it at; once the bath has reached the desired temperature place the food into the bath, still in its vacuum pouch. With chilled food, the time needed to reheat the dish is only about half as long as for the full cook time.

No. We do not advise you cook from frozen in the water bath, and there’s really no need to do so. The advantage of cooking sous vide, is that you can cook fresh food direct for serving, or cook your food item and chill down to reheat the following day. If you have frozen items you wish to cook in the bath, defrost fully before cooking or reheating.


 

Sous vide chicken

Why not check out our comprehensive guide to cooking sous vide chicken?

Many people have tried cooking or reheating from frozen using the water bath to varying levels of success, but we don’t recommend you try this, as it’s much more difficult to gauge when the food has reached a temperature that makes it safe to eat.

We’re often asked about brining chicken before sous vide. Soaking meat and fish in a 5% salt solution pre-cooking can help break down protein bonds for a more tender texture, but this is typically only used when cooking pork and fish. In our experience, sous vide chicken dishes are just as flavourful – if not more so – without brining first.

Yes, you can cook whole birds in a sous vide cooker including chicken, turkey (whole and crown) and goose, perfect for a roast dinner or Christmas lunch. The Clifton at Home® water bath comes with an immersion grid to ensure that the bird stays below the surface of the water, so there’s no need to spatchcock the bird unless for aesthetic reasons!

Prepare the whole bird by washing thoroughly and placing in a large vacuum seal bag. For an average sized chicken, cook at 65 °C for 6 hours. Larger birds will require longer in the water bath.

Cooking a whole bird can be difficult to get right the first time. For complete sous vide beginners, why not start out with a juicy chicken breast recipe?

For more information, check out our guide to cooking sous vide chicken.


 

Sous vide beef

For more in-depth information, we’ve written a full guide to cooking beef and steak sous vide.

When cooking steak sous vide, you don’t actually need to add anything to the bag, as it will cook in its own juices.

But to give your steak that little bit of oomph, try pre-searing in butter before vacuum sealing and cooking, cook with a marinade, or add aromatics to the pouch with a teaspoon of olive oil before cooking.

You could also add a bit of flavoured butter to the bag to enhance the overall taste.

Cooking times and temperatures totally depend on the cut, size and thickness of the meat. For tender meats and thin cuts, the texture can begin to change after just a couple of hours. Remove within 4 hours for best results.

For whole joints or tough cuts, it’s actually advisable to leave them in the water bath for longer, as the meat will become increasingly tender until it falls apart.


 

Sous vide salmon

Learn more about cooking salmon using the sous vide technique.

Cooking salmon using the sous vide method means that juices and moisture will release naturally once your salmon fillet is cooking in the water bath. If you want to benefit most from these natural flavours instead of applied spices you may want to add, soak your salmon in brine using a separate bag.

Brining your salmon in a separate bag beforehand should last around 30 mins for best results.

Cooking times and temperatures totally depend on your desired consistency, texture and flavour.

We prefer to cook our 80g portions of salmon for 20 minutes at 48°C for a soft and flaky piece of fish which has been cooked to perfection. However, it’s worth experimenting to ensure you cook the fish to your liking.