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Written by Gary Logsdon

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Title: Mellow Sous Vide Machine Detailed Review

Mellow and phone

Mellow is the first sous vide machine which can also cool the water bath as well as heat it. This definitely sets it apart from all other sous vide machines on the market. Their press release states that, "Mellow is perfect for busy food lovers - a sleek and innovative addition to the kitchen countertop controlled by your smartphone. It incorporates a built-in refrigeration system that keeps food fresh until it is the exact time to start cooking, allowing consumers to load it up at breakfast and come home to healthy and delicious food ready to eat for dinner."

I was able to spend quite a bit of time with a Mellow that was provided to me by the company. This allowed me to run some objective tests on the unit as well as using it to cook a few items as well. I hope his article will help you better understand the Mellow, its strengths and weaknesses, and if it might be an appropriate investment for you.

This is a fairly lengthy article but you can jump to those sections you may be most interested in using the following Table of Contents:

Table of Contents

Basic Mellow Specifications

The table below lists the basic specifications for the Mellow provided by the vendor. Please refer to this as necessary as I highlight some of the specifications.

Basic Specifications
Parameters Mellow
Height 15.8" (40.3 cm)
Width 6.6" (17.0 cm)
Length 12.5" (31.7 cm)
Weight 17.4 lbs (7905g)
Min Immersion Depth 3.375" (8.57 cm)
Max Immersion Depth 7.125" (18.1 cm)
Min/Max Spacing 3.75" (9.52 cm)
Has Timer Yes
Voltage 110-120 VAC
Wetted Part Material Polycarbonate Tank
Remaining Material Polycarbonate
Cord Length 33" (83.32 cm)
Cleaning Tank can be removed
Price $400
Made In China
Performance Specifications
Parameters Mellow
Lowest Temperature 39°F (3.9°C)
Highest Temperature 194°F (90°C)
Temperature Variability 0.1°F
Temperature Granularity 0.1°F or 0.1°C
Has Circulation Pump Yes
Can Direct Pump Output No
Maximum Water Capacity 1.3 gallons (5 L)
Heater Output 1000 Watts/140 Watts Cool
Amazon Rating NA
Amazon Review Count NA
User Interface
Parameters Mellow
Display Type Multi-color LED
Buttons None
Other Inputs None
Connectivity WiFi
Smartphone Control iOS and Android
Has Bluetooth No
Has WiFi Yes
Has LCD No
Info And Recipes In app
Benchmark Results
Parameters Mellow
Room Temp Start Time 15:50*
Hot Tap Start Time 3:40*
Low Temperature 140.7*°F
Low Temperature Maximum 140.9**°F
Low Temperature Minimum 140.5*°F
Low Temp Variation 0.4*°F
Temp Rise Time 11:30*
High Temperature 182.7*°F
High Temperature Maximum 182.8*°F
High Temperature Minimum 182.5*°F
High Temp Variation 0.3*°F
First Hour Power Use 0.28* kWh
Total Power Use 0.57* kWh
Sound Adjacent 65H/74C dB
Sound 12" Away 56H/60C dB

Mellow Performance Specifications

Title: SO-VIDA Sous Vide Container Sleeve

Introduction

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We do our best to keep our readers informed about new modernist cooking-related products. This often includes equipment such as sous vide machines and containers. In this review we are looking at a sous vide accessory, which I believe is the first of its kind. It is the, "Sous Vide Container Sleeve" by SO-VIDA. The company provided us with the product so we could do some testing and a review.

Table of Contents

Description of the SO-VIDA Sous Vide Container Sleeve

The SO-VIDA Container Sleeve (Sleeve) is designed specifically to be used with the Rubbermaid 12-Quart container. The Sleeve covers all faces of the container except for the top and is constructed from 5mm neoprene (wetsuit material). This provides two primary functions: the first is to help keep the heat of the water in the container and thus reduce the amount of energy required during the sous vide cook. The second is to protect the work surface your sous vide container is sitting on, due to the prolonged heat transmitted from the base of the container.

Objective Evaluation

As an engineer, I tend to first look at new products from an objective viewpoint. Therefore, I thought it would be worth running some sort of a benchmark to determine the effectiveness of the Sleeve from an insulation perspective.

Heating Benchmark Description

In order to best determine the impact of the Sleeve, I decided the benchmark needed to be run for a relatively long period of time and at a high temperature. Moreover, the benchmark needed to be modeled after a typical real-world cooking scenario. I chose a time and temperature of 165°F (74°C) and 24 hours respectively. This would be perfect for cooking a chuck roast to braise-like consistency.

The Heating Benchmark consisted of the following steps:

  • Start with 8.45 quarts (8 L) of water in a 12-Quart Rubbermaid container at room temperature, ~75°F (24 °C)
  • Turn on the Anova circulator with the target temperature set at 165°F (74°C)
  • Record how long it takes for the water bath to reach the target temperature
  • Record how much power it takes to reach the target temperature
  • Record the power consumption up to 1 hour, 2 hours, and after 24 hours
  • Record the temperature variation during the entire 24 hour period
  • Record how much water was lost due to evaporation during the experiment

The benchmark was run on four different configurations of the Sleeve and container covers:

Jason - insert the four pictures here in some manner

  • With the Sleeve on and a cover of sous vide balls
  • With the Sleeve on and a plastic lid cover
  • With the Sleeve off and a cover of sous vide balls
  • With the Sleeve off and a plastic lid cover

Benchmark Results

The results of the four benchmark tests are summarized in the following table:

Jason - insert the table here.

The water bath does reach the target temperature slightly faster when the Sleeve is on.

The amount of power consumed over the 24 hour cook is reduced by an average of about 30% with the Sleeve in place.

The type of cover used in the benchmark had the greatest impact on the amount of water lost to evaporation, with the sous vide balls losing nearly four times as much as the lid. However, the presence of the Sleeve also reduced the water loss slightly.

Subjective Evaluation

By its very nature a subjective evaluation is much more difficult to do since it basically comes down to your own personal opinion and taste. Here are my thoughts from a subjective viewpoint:

  • The Sleeve's construction is high quality. All of the seams are nicely finished and appeared to be quite strong.
  • The blue piping adds just enough contrast to convey a classy image, while at the same time provides a good-looking finished edge around the top and handle openings.
  • The "SO>VIDA" logo is reasonably understated.
  • The Sleeve fits snugly around the Rubbermaid container, never sliding down the sides.
  • Since many circulators have black on them, they match nicely with the black color of the Sleeve.

Advantages

Aesthetic Appeal

Sleeve corner dsc 1259 Sleeve island dsc 1216

In my opinion, the greatest advantage of the SO-VIDA Sous Vide Container Sleeve is its esthetic appeal. This feature will be most important to those of us who leave our circulator and water bath setup all the time and ready to go. It simply adds a little more "class" to the kitchen.

Since I don't empty my water bath after each cook, occasionally it gets looking a little less than "pristine". So having a cover and the Sleeve on the water bath is a definite improvement to the ambience of my kitchen!

Reduced Power Consumption

As mentioned above, the Sleeve reduced the amount of power consumed during our benchmark cook by approximately 30%. There are two factors to keep in mind, however, associated with this advantage. The benchmark pretty much represents the maximum power savings you might experience and it shows a savings of a little more than 1 kWh. Shorter cooks at lower temperatures will have much smaller power savings. And in general, sous vide cooking is relatively low powered. Moreover, the average cost per kilowatt-hour in the US is about $0.12, so don't expect the Sleeve to pay for itself anytime soon.

Reaches Cooking Temperature Quicker

The presence of the Sleeve does decrease the amount of time it requires the water bath to reach the target temperature. But as you can see from the chart above, in the benchmark the decrease is in the order of 1 to 3 minutes, depending upon the lid that was in place. On those days where you are in a rush, this difference might be important to you, but typically it's not a huge deal.

Protects the Work Surface

This advantage depends heavily on what you have your water bath sitting on. There are certainly some work surfaces, especially those with laminated wood, that could degrade over time due to exposure to lengthy periods of high temperatures. In those cases this could be in important advantage provided by the Sleeve.

100% Money Back Guarantee

SO-VIDA provides a Risk-Free Satisfaction Guarantee on the Sleeve. So I would recommend giving it a try to see how it works and looks in your kitchen. Since the review rating on Amazon is currently 4.8 stars on 66 customer reviews, I'm guessing the vast majority of folks are happy with their purchase.

Disadvantages

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Other Ways to Achieve Similar Advantages

Clearly there are other ways that we can achieve the same advantages that the Sleeve provides. In some cases they are less expensive and more effective as well.

For example, simply using towels to insulate the water bath you can provide even better insulation. Unfortunately, as you can see from the picture, this approach does not have the aesthetic appeal of the Sleeve.

Harder to Keep in Eye on What's Happening in the Water Bath

Perhaps it's just me, but especially when I am doing a long cook, I have the habit of glancing into the water bath occasionally as I walk past it. This just assures me that the protein being cooked is still completely under water and that the water level is sufficient. This is more difficult to do with the Sleeve in place, but I have found it just takes another few seconds to pull the sleeve down a few inches to peek inside.

SO-VIDA Sous Vide Container Sleeve Summary

The SO-VIDA Sous Vide Container Sleeve is a unique and useful accessory for your Rubbermaid 12-Quart water bath container. The presence of the Sleeve on the water bath does reduce the amount of power required, especially on a long and high temperature cook. It also accelerates the amount of time it takes to get the bath to the target temperature. However, the impact of these is relatively small when the entire cook is taken into account.

So for me the major benefit of the Sleeve is the impact it has on the aesthetics of the water bath in the kitchen. If you're like most cooking enthusiasts, when you have friends in for an amazing meal, you also want your kitchen to look impressive as well. The SO-VIDA Sleeve will definitely help you accomplish that goal - but I'm afraid you will still have to wash those dirty dishes in the sink!

If you have experience with the SO-VIDA Sous Vide Container Sleeve, I would appreciate you sharing it in the comments below. Thanks.

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This article is by Gary Logsdon, my resident equipment tester, researcher, business partner, and most importantly, my Dad. He loves diving into the nuts and bolts of different pieces of equipment, researching what works best, and sharing that information with you.