Food & Beverage Technology
DIY Sous-Vide Cooker

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A sous-vide immersion cooker is a tool used, generally in high end restaurants, to cook food immersed in water. I didn’t know what this technique was, but based on the pictures of the finished steak in Matthew Arbesfeld’s project write-up, I’m now a huge fan.

One reason why these cookers are not generally found in home kitchens is that they are priced, on average at around $2000, with low-end units coming in at roughly $300. Another reason why your mom or dad didn’t cook your daily fillet mignon using one of these, is that they take a long time to work. The boneless ribeye seen below was cooked at 56 degrees Celsius (133 degrees Fahrenheit) for 90 minutes.

final_slicing_steak

Matthew’s cooker is quite simple in design, using a temperature sensor and a solid state relay to allow a microcontroller to regulate the water temperature. Code for it can be found here. As the project deals with 120 volt AC current, and functions around water, a case was an absolute necessity. The design, made using Solidworks, can be found here, and it was 3-D printed. Alternatively you could always buy a NEMA-rated enclosure if you’re planning on not being extremely careful with it.

This project, besides instilling a desire for steak, makes me wonder if a Crock-Pot or other slow cooker could be modified to do something similar. For that matter, if you were going to build one yourself, possibly an industrial PID controller could do the same thing.

0 thoughts on “DIY Sous-Vide Cooker

  1. I built the version that was in the magazine a couple years ago. Water circulation is important to keep the temp stable, especially if you’re going to add food to the basin during the cook.
    Be careful where you put your cooking vessel, though: I broke a quartz resin countertop with a 48-hour lamb shank (and probably would have done so on marble or granite) due to thermal expansion: put your basin on blocks with air circulation, or on a large insulating foam sheet.

  2. As regards the crockpot question, there’s a commercial controller, the Dorkfood DSV, that does exactly that – allows you to use a crockpot as a sous vide rig.

  3. with cheese making, you need to hold milk at 80 degrees for 45 minutes, then 85 for 5 minutes, then 90 for 5 minutes, then 95 for 5 minutes, then 100 for 5 minutes, then 105 for 5 minutes, then hold it at 110 for 45 more minutes… I’m tempted to hack a crockpot to help with this (currently we use a water bath and two digital thermometers and a whole lot of warm water of varying temperatures) very labor intensive process. I am not sure though if these sous vide methods can go that low?

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Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

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