Sous vide cooking involves heating the water first until it reaches the target temperature as specified in the recipe you are using. The temperature is then maintained until the entire cooking period is over. The cooking time is set only when the target temperature is reached.
So can you put food in a sous vide while preheating?
Putting food in a sous vide while preheating does not matter but the total time for cooking should be calculated from the point when the water reaches the target temperature. The food added to the sous vide before preheating may cause temperature fluctuation and abnormal cooking time.
Sous vide cooking is all about cooking at the exact temperature that is recommended for a specific type of food. Some foods may overcook when put into the cooker while preheating because of wrong timing. Food that is put into a sous vide while preheating may not be prepared as required.
Possible challenges of adding food to sous vide while preheating
There are some challenges that are associated with putting food into a sous vide before preheating. Sous vide cooking is all about maintaining a specific temperature throughout the cooking process and for a specific period of time. This time is only recorded once the intended temperature of the water is reached.
Adding food to a sous vide while preheating would then lead to some challenges as listed below;
a) Wrong timing
The duration of the cooking process is recorded from when the target temperature for the specific food is reached. Putting food to a sous vide while preheating affects the duration of time that was set for that food to be cooked. This therefore leads to wrong timing as cooking may take abnormal time (too much longer time or unpredictable time expenditure)
b) Overcooking/under-cooking of food.
Some people may forget that they added the food into the sous vide while preheating and start the timing when the target temperature is reached. This food may overcook making it lose all its nutrients. It may also have a different taste from the expected one.
c) Temperature fluctuation.
The heat that is expected to boil water to the expected target temperature for the recipe may fluctuate when food is put into the sous vide while preheating. This is because the food may start cooking so early, consuming some heat energy.
Preheating a sous vide
Preheating is a three-step process that should be followed appropriately as follows;
I) Fill a water bath with water leaving some space for food. This space prevents the water from overflowing when the food is added into it.
II) Submerge a thermometer into the water bath to monitor the temperature of the water.
III) Your burners should be turned up to medium-low and record the temperature until the target cooking temperature specified in your recipe.
IV) Once the target temperature is reached, the food to be cooked is then put into the sous vide.
Warming the water slowly in Sous vide while preheating ensures that the water does not overheat and also makes monitoring of the temperature much easier. Using a very high temperature may be very fast but not steady.
Time taken by a sous vide stick to preheat
People interested in sous vide cooking may be required to buy sous vide sticks. This ensures that it maintains a steady environment during the preheating process and cooking.
It takes approximately 15-16 minutes for the sous vide stick to heat when the water is at room temperature. But the time can slightly vary depending on the specific type of sous vide stick. The size of the water bath can also affect the approximated time. The larger the water bath the longer the time it will take to preheat and vice versa.
If the food to be cooked is directly from the fridge, it will affect the overall temperature. If the water that was preheated was very little then the temperature will drastically drop. A medium amount of water will not be affected too much when cold food is added for cooking.
Reasons for sous vide preheating
i) The need for consistent cooking results
Perfect cooking results take a lot of time. With sous vide cooking, one is guaranteed consistent results.
ii) The need to minimize electric energy
Sous vide preheating eases monitoring and regulation of temperature. This will in turn help to minimize electricity wastage.
iii) Following specific time set cooking regulation on recipes.
Some food recipes require one to strictly stick to the time set for cooking in order to get best results. Sous vide preheating will make it possible.
iv) For learning purposes
One may not need sous vide preheating for a certain meal but they may be interested in investigating the criteria behind sous vide preheating, or they may just be proving something they saw online.
Frequently asked questions
Question 1: Is it a must to preheat water for sous vide?
It is not a must to preheat water for sous vide but it is recommended because it helps the cook overcome abnormal temperature fluctuations. If the cook is following a specific recipe the preheating is very vital.
Question 2: What will be the effect on meat when it is put to sous vide while preheating?
The meat undergoes all the temperature changes as the water preheats. Therefore, if the cook is following a certain recipe, he will have inconsistent results. There are also high chances that the meat may overcook. It may change its flavour and may lose its important nutrients.
Sous vide cooking requires preheating of water as one of its steps that are highly recommended. Some people think that putting food to sous vide while preheating is a way to save time in cooking but in reality they waste a lot of time.
Preheating water is highly recommended when using sous vide in order to obtain consistent results. It will also be easier to regulate and monitor the cooking temperature as instructed in the recipe you are using.