Last year was my first year teaching. When I received my schedule for the year, they had added “food science” to my list. I think my eyes grew about five times.
After my freak out, I did what any teacher would do, I went to find out what the state required of us to teach the students and then began looking for fun ideas.
That was when I came across a must have for not only my classroom but also my kitchen… a sous vide machine.
This machine was invented for the medical field and here's a short explanation on how it works: The water stays at the same temperature (that you set) the whole time. For the medical field this means that the blood doesn't change temperature and, therefore, what the scientists are looking to find is able to be found because the blood was the same temperature that they needed it as.
For foodies, this means that you can start a meat out at the perfect temperature. For example, a medium steak in the center should be finished at one hundred and sixty degrees. Everything in between might be warmer.
With a sous vide machine, we set the water temperature for one hundred and sixty degrees and the entire steak will go in an airtight zip lock. Once the steak gets up to that temperature, it will stay there no matter how long you have it in. If you are one who loves the sear of the grill, take it out once it's up to temp and you're ready to add it to the grill to sear.
Now that the machine has been explained, it's time to look at the different ones on the market and decide which one would work best for you and your family. Without further ado, the machines:
Top Sous Vide Machines
Hamilton Beach Sous Vide and Crockpot
I chose the Hamilton Beach one to be the first because it is dual purpose. I actually saw this one in action a year ago at BlogHer Food. It is pretty neat. One of the reviewers noticed that it doesn't stay up to the temperature that it says but others have said theirs works great. Another thing to note is that the water goes up to four inches deep and sometimes you might need a little more.
The two things I do like about it is that you can use it as a slow cooker (though with my experience make sure you get a liner) and they have an area that holds the meat. Many of the other sous vide machines we will look at requires purchasing clips to go on the end of the container you put the machine in.
I promise you many of them will look at lot different than the one seen here.
The ChefStep Joule one was ranked number one by a gentleman who knows his sous vide machines, even naming himself the sous vide guy. He gave it a ten in three out of four categories. The other category was performance, for which he gave it a nine. His reasoning? The whole thing is run from your phone off a wifi signal.
For many of us, this would be a big deal. What happens if our phone dies or if the wifi connection gets lost? We live in an area where our data is spotty at best so naturally, this might be seen as a problem to some.
Another thing to point out- this is where I will say the rest of the machines look different. They are not completely enclosed and you do have to clip on the food you are cooking in order for it not to float to the top! You will also need your own bowl, which shouldn't be too hard.
This one comes from a personal friend of mine, Sarah. She's pretty awesome if I do say so myself. And she knows her sous vide stuff. A cookbook company sought her to write a sous vide recipe book! So if you are sold on the idea of an easy dinner that even the worst cook cannot destroy, then check out her website.
As for her recommendation of the Nomiku machine, it seems that others who have purchased it, are happy with it as well. The first review I found on Amazon talked about purchasing it directly from their kickstart campaign and raved about how wonderful the machine worked, cooking him the perfect steak in about two and a half hours.
It seems like there are mixed reviews on customer service though, one said it was great and another said they had issues. There are always various factors to customer service though, as we all understand!
This one has wifi ability but it also works in manual mode as well, so that really bumps it up in my book.
Anova Culinary WiFi
The Anova Culinary Wifi is the machine that I am buying. I won't lie, I am a bit bias- anytime Williams-Sonoma comes out and says this is a good machine I go, “Okay, I'm down. Headed to Dallas right now.” I trust that company and they trust Anova.
And Mrs. Whit has me fully convinced that this machine must be in my kitchen by the end of the month so I have time to perfect my usage of the machine before Thanksgiving rolls around. She mentioned it makes “the best turkey” and even goes on to describe how great her Mason jar creme brulee turned out.
One customer commented that the machine has issues with steam when the water gets too hot. The solution is to cover the vent holes so it does not come into contact with the steam. The only other issue I read about was the wifi giving them fits but like the Nomiku, there is a manual setting on this one too.
Added bonus with the wifi setting? If you don't know how to cook something, there is a chance the app will have the recipe ready for you.
The PolyScience Chef is more for the professional chef, someone who plans to use their sous vide machine on a daily basis, or needs to cook big batches. It does double the amount of water and, therefore, food.
And it was the first.
Another thing, for those that are concerned, this one I know is made in the United States. Yeah for that!
I have to be honest though, it would not be my first choice simply because the price is over seven hundred dollars. If I got super serious about this style of cooking, maybe. That's still a big maybe; however, I do want their vacuum sealer.
It is just as pricey but so far it is the only vacuum sealer that I have found that allows you to vacuum liquids in with the solids.
The only complaint from people who have bought this machine seems o be that the app interface is not as nice as the Anova. Another person stated that their counter top got too hot and separated from the machine so if you purchase this machine, I recommend setting it on the oven or somewhere that the counter won't get too hot.
The Sansaire machine is another one that I had heard was great and this was why I decided to add it to the list. Unlike many of the others, this machine does not have a wifi connection and it also does not have a timer. This means you have to stick to your old faithful timer, which for many of us is no big deal. I read from another reviewer that if you have an insulated larger capacity bucket, the Sansaire will work wonderfully for cooking large batches. I don't know if I would do that on a regular basis though.
The only complaint I read about on the newer versions is the clip to hold the machine in place doesn't always want to stay on.
Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven
Like our first one, the Sous Vide Supreme Demi water oven has dividers that allow you to put your food in their own little compartment which I think is quite handy; however, the Hamilton Beach version looked similar to a crockpot (which I liked) and this one just looks bulky.
Not to mention it only serves one purpose. If I was going to have one that was not as portable as the Anova or Sansaire, I would choose the Hamilton Beach over this one for those two reasons.
That all being said, this machine does have a four and a half star rating from Amazon and one reviewer noted that they had good customer service, so that is a plus.
I'm not saying it's a bad choice, it just wouldn't be my first choice.
I love the fact that you get an up close picture of the Kitchen Gizmo's sous vide machine because the price is great if you are kind of iffy as to whether or not you want this machine. Coming in at just under a hundred dollars, this machine has no phone connectivity- so everything is done manually.
Yet there are not many complaints from reviewers about this machine. Even the only person who gave it a four star did not state why they did. If I wasn't so sold on the Anova, I would definitely purchase this one.
No matter which machine you go with any of these machines would be a great choice and for different reasons. For the novice who just wants to get their feet wet, the kitchen gizmos would be great. For the person who knows they are going to use it often and wants the wifi ability, the Anova is a good choice, for those who plan to use it at their restaurant, splurging on the Polyscience CHEF machine is the way to go.
Each of us has our own desires for our machine and each of us will get great results. So, if it's for you let me know what you cook up and I'll be back soon with my own Sous Vide recipes!