In the General Sous Vide Questions Forum
how many of you home sousvidists are using thermometers and hypodermic probes, as opposed to just time-based 'recipes'?

recommend any?

could you just pierce the bag with say a Thermapen, and then reseal the wound with rubber tape?

8 Replies So Far

Weedy, I have a thin probe that I push through a strip of foam weather stripping tape. But I just leave that plugged into the data logger. so I haven't tried probing and removing the probe, but I think it would work. There is not much pressure differential to make it leak, and if you are putting fresh non punctured tape over the hole.

I don't use a temperature probe for sous vide cooking though I do for some regular cooking. I'm not sure what if any benefits there are if you are cooking to equilibrium which is how I tend to do my sous vide cooking.
well, if one wants to avoid 'over' tenderizing some delicate proteins, then knowing accurately what the real internal temp is is no small thing
From your reply, it looks like you weren't interested in differing views but looking for confirmation that the temperature probe approach is the right way to go.

I suspect that the majority of home sous viders will use either a recipe or the various tables that are available to estimate core temperature and cooking envelope times rather than use a temperature probe. One of the advantages of sous vide is that there is a wider time envelope of holding final temperatures to prevent 'over tenderising' food than conventional cooking methods.

Just to repeat, I'm still not sure what benefits there are to using a temperature probe when cooking to equilibrium. But I wouldn't criticise anyone who wanted to use one.
I'm very interested in differing views.

Are you?

Care to elaborate what you mean about "cooking to equilibrium" and how that relates (over time) to tenderness?

You're not suggesting that once a protein internally reaches the temp of the water bath, wall-to-wall, that it can't continue to change texture, or are you?

As I understand it there are 2 basic sous vide approaches: equilibrium and delta T.

The equilibrium technique is where you set the temp of the water bath to the desired temperature of the food (or maybe 1 or 2 degrees higher) and then hold at desired core temperature depending on the type of food you are cooking and your approach to reducing bacterial activity. So for 'tender' food items such as chicken breast or rib eye steaks that might be anything from 1hr to 6hrs depending on thickness, desired 'doneness', or whether you want to pasteurise the food. Douglas Baldwin's website has very useful tables for this. For 'tough' cuts of meat, the main purpose of the long cooking times at sous vide temperatures is to break down the collagen into gelatine, whilst keeping the meat at the desired level of 'doneness'. these times can be as long as 100hrs for oxtail, well in excess of pasteurisation times.

Delta t cooking is essentially the approach in conventional ovens where the temperature of the oven is greater than the desired final core temperature of the food. This is not a common approach for sous viders but I have seen it advocated for complex/multiple proteins for instance eggs, where the white sets at a higher temperature to the yolk. I think this is a specialist approach and not one I use.

I think you may be using the wrong term in tenderness, I think you are getting at what tends to be referred as 'mushiness' when the protein breaks done. I also think this wrong to see it purely in terms of time. Like a lot of things in cooking, tenderness is a function of temperature and time, and potentially other factors as well.

So, no I'm not suggesting that protein doesn't change over time but I think that in the context of the relatively low temperatures in sous vide cooking that there is a much wider time envelope of acceptability ranging in 10s of minutes for tender meat and hours for tough meat in comparison to conventional cooking methods.

I'm happy to debate any of the above, but can we make it constructive rather than pejorative? I don't claim to be a sous vide expert, I've done a lot of reading round the subject and have a little practical experience and am willing to share views and ideas, its then up to people to make up their own minds.
I'd quite like to keep it constructive, and actually friendly, which is, I assume, the reason we're all here.
Which is why I suppose I was surprised at your somewhat accusatory or critical tone.

I'm here to share and learn. Learning requires questioning.

so, moving on (can we?):

Yes, you're right I am referring to 'mushiness', although one might say that a steak gets more subjectively 'tender' as well in a bath at 130 degrees F for 4 hours relative to only 1 hour.

But sometimes, for me, time is the issue in and of itself.
I suppose I'd LIKE to know that something is 'done' when it's done, even though there is a window for which it can continue to sit in the bath without detrimental effects.

that's the one side.
the other side is the complexity added and issues of safety with piercing the bag.

I'm not at all sure if the temp probe is WORTH it to me yet.

it's why I'm still asking for opinions and experiences.

I seem to see a lot of pro kitchens still using probes... in part perhaps because it saves them time.

Weedy, I'm not sure where you see accusations, but anyway.

I've never worked in a pro kitchen but I suspect that even in a pro kitchen you wouldn't have lots of baths operating at different temperatures to cover everything, so, for practical purposes I suspect they might have 2 or 3 and use a delta T approach for some things requiring a temperature probe. I don't know, maybe a professional chef will answer that one for us.

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