Sous vide in the UK

In the Getting Started with Sous Vide Forum
A call to arms, are there any British people using this forum. I know of no-one, absolutely no-one in a large circle of foodie friends who had (a) heard of or (b) use sous vide. They are mostly vaguely aware of some sort of slow cooking as done by Blumenthal, but not sure what it is.

My point is, most of the SV community seems to be American as far as I can tell. Can't find an enthusiast for love nor money in Blighty, and I even spent an afternoon educating a professional chef when he saw me in clinic: 'Really, you can cook like that? It sounds amazing'.

Can someone restore my faith in British amateur cooking and tell me that they too are doing this? And as much I love my ribs, it'd be great to swap some traditional British recipes that involve some of the new wave of cooking techniques. For starters, I'll be posting a SV Sunday Roast with mustard foam and dehydrated meringue veg accompaniment (thanks to Jason for sorting the cooking time for the roast).

Replies eagerly awaited.


84 Replies So Far

Hi there. I'm in Cambridge in the UK, and I'm definitely an SV enthusiast.

As you posted, I was eating 48h SV braised venison shoulder with linguini for my dinner: diced shoulder, red wine sauce, mirepoix, bagged and bathed @ 70C for 48h, finished with a concasse of tomato, mascarpone and fresh parsley.

Great to hear from another Brit. That sounds very nice indeed, did you cook off the ethanol first? I've had some disasters with alcohol based sauces before I realised my error but haven't tried it with red wine.

Presumably a smattering of cooking enthusiasts in your neck of the woods? How did you get into sous vide, I found practically everything on line after watching the pig done in a hot tub on Fantastic Feasts? Not very much support for this and the amateur chef in this country as far as I have found, ended up buying a sous vide magic from the states. Having said that, one tiny shop in Edinburgh that randomly stock Sous Vide Supremes, albeit with £100 over the internet price added on. The shop owner said she kept getting asked why the breadmaker was so expensive.

Yes - I make the red wine sauce in the usual on-the-stovetop way (in this case from venison stock, caramelized shallots, 1/6 port, 1/6 madeira and 2/3 red wine, a couple of sprigs of thyme and rosemary, and a whole garlic clove), then allow it to cool and add it to the bag with the shoulder.

I started out doing it with ziplock bags and a pan on the stovetop, but graduated to a Clifton bath and a small Multivac. Largely inspired by regularly eating at Midsummer House, and then getting to spend a couple of days in the kitchen there.
Sounds nice. I've yet to try venison, local butchers here aren't great. Given your dinner above I think I'll make the effort to source some.

Similarly inspired by restaurant experiences at the Fat Duck, though sadly didn't get time in the kitchen there!

How do you find a 'proper' water bath? I have a rather hefty 29l preserve maker hooked up to a SVM which seems to work fine, I've always fancied something shiny and sleek though.
I'm in Coventry and bought a Sous Vide Supreme about 6 months ago. I've always been more willing than able as a cook and it certainly wasn't the panacea that I'd hoped it would be so, after about 4 hit-and-miss weeks I stopped using it. A couple of weeks ago I resolved to put some proper effort into it and I've just bought a couple of books to help me get going.
I look forward to any posts you might contribute.
DaveT - These guys will sell you some very good venison over the internet (Fletchers of Auchtermuchty)

As for a proper waterbath - several people will sell you the Clifton range, but I like the people at Russums. (and they'll do you a good price).

Darren - Sous Vide definitely isn't a panacea. You've still got to do all the work you always did to get (and keep) layers of flavour in the food; really, it just helps you to cook the meat perfectly every time, and, given the right times and temps, get really great texture from tasty but cheaper cuts. You've also got to be careful with food hygiene! Simple procedures (like checking the temperature calibration with a thermometer every now and again) are quite important.
Hi there, I'm in Surrey and started SVing a few months back - started with a coolbox, then graduated to a jam maker, and now have a 4-day-old Sous Vide Supreme taking pride of place in the kitchen. Tried loads of tough cuts, pork belly, pig cheeks (beautiful!), but the SVS gives the extra control to get tender cuts spot on.

last 5 evenng meals have been duck breast, fillet steak, Barnsley chops, lamb leg & SV'd chicken on the barbecue. Bit of a meat-fest but loving the experimenting.

Dave - I got my SVS from John Lewis - they do them for about £70 less than direct from the manufacturer. Still miles more expensive than it should be, but much more convenient than PIDs and wires everywhere. And that's the price you pay for being an early adopter...

Thanks for the replies, feel like I should be humming rule Brittania as I write now.

Darren: persist, for meats it has really changed my cooking but it should be thought of as just another oven/pan as the effort to brine, marinate and do nice sauces is still needed. May I make a couple of suggestions:

1. Chicken, IMHO now really worth the effort as can be dOne perfectly with traditional methods, large quantities or time dependant cooking not withstanding.

2 Red meats are really worth the effort but the cuts you will be going 'wow' at won't be your rib eyes and fillets (which will be cooked perfectly but largely unchanged), it will be longer cook times for tough roasting cuts. A piece of brisket transformed into flavoursome goodness with the texture of fillet it amazing. Likewise for cheeks, tongue, rubs etc

3. Yet to find a sv vegetable I'm that fussed about.

4. Eggs - everyone bangs on about them because they can be both fantastic and are cheap to play around with. If you wonder why so many restaurants to poached egg dishes, this is it.

Paul- how is the svs? Saw one in the aforementioned shop and thought it looked awesome. Loath to pay the Eades any money though as physicians either such poor physiology knowledge or willingness to ignore it in the pursuit of cash should be ashamed. See their protein power stuff for some appalling science. Having said that, the John Lewis page is now in my bookmarks :)

Matthew - venison place looks brilliant, some of their specialities particularly so. I know what I'll eating soon enough then.

I'll pop up the roast recipe later on today when time allows, the foam was particularly nice.

Excuse the typing, 1 month old wriggling his feet on the keyboard makes spelling and content less than perfect.
Dave - so far the SVS is a revelation - it's a lot bigger than I thought so even though it's a shiny way to sous-vide in the kitchen (my jam maker is still in the garage!), it takes up a lot of space, so will have to find a way to accommodate it without it getting in the way so much.

But the results so far have been fantastic - this was the fillet steak:

The wife hates rare steak but absolutely loved this. Chicken also takes on a totally different texture, and is all the better for it.

One thing, though - it leaked when it was turned off & on for the first few times. I think it's stopped now, but if it returns then I'll get in touch with JL and see if it's a broken gasket. Hopefully it's that and not a design flaw...

p.s. what's the best way to do poached eggs? Cling film?
p.s. did anyone know about / go to this event at the end of March? Couldn't make it myself, but there's obviously a bit of a movement out there...
Interesting, isn't it - I've got a friend who always murdered his steaks, and cooking him some sous-vide rump 'a point' totally converted him. Even the cherry-red colour typical of sous-vide meat didn't put him off (although carving and resting for a few minutes helps with that).

I do my sous-vide poached eggs in their shells, then crack them and do a quick dip in boiling water to firm up the white a little more and take on a more traditional shape, without affecting the yolk.
Hi There,

Paul Carney (above) got me into this. Bought a jam maker from Lidl and connected a PID controller to it. Works fine but it is a bit bulky. My favourite dish to SV is Waitrose Dovecote park rumpsteaks. It is a very good mature cut which is absolutely lovely.

I made the Christmas ham in it, which turned out very well, otherwise I am testing out recipies.

Thanks Anders.

So is Paul getting commission from LIDL for all the jam makers. Out of interest Paul, aside from aesthetics do you find the SVS better at cooking that the jam maker?

My one has a home made air circulation circuit in it and seems to do very well indeed at maintaing uniformity and precision, is it just shiny steel and size that are the plus points(though they are big pluses)

Lovely steak by the way.
Personally I think the SVS is better, just because of the precision (+/- 0.3 degrees); my jam maker only got within a few degrees of where I wanted it to go, and it was still a bit hit & miss. Anders has a proper PID controller in his, though, which makes it a lot more accurate - we've not done a side-by-side comparison yet...

But if you can get the same precision as an SVS with your rig, then I'd say the only benefit is aesthetic :)
Yeah the jam bucket has a Sous Vide Magic hooked up, good to about +/- 0.1 during cooking. Rather big, White and plasticky though.

Perhaps I can persuade the wife we really, really need another kitchen gadget? Shiny goodness?
Thanks to Matthew and DaveyT for the advice. I bought into Sous Vide because of the idea that it would transform cheaper cuts of meat but it hasn't worked for me. I did a brisket but it was the worse I've ever had. All the juice came out of the meat and pooled in a bulge in the pouch. I don't know how it happened but it was worse than any oven-cooked brisket. Luckily the person who was visiting for dinner is one of those who cremates his beef so he enjoyed it. Tongue is one of my favourites and I've had two goes at doing it Sous Vide but both barely touched it and I just ended cooking it the normal way afterwards. I realise now that it was just too low a temperature so even 72 hours wasn't going to do it. There just isn't the information out there for more inexperienced cooks like me and it's much more difficult to know how things are going when you cook this way - you can't poke it to see if it's getting tender for instance. I'm not claiming to be a culinary artist either but I seem to do it better with real-time feedback. If comprehensive time and temperature lists were available then SV would be great but for me it's frustratingly hit and miss at the moment. Still I'm going to stick with it.
Hmm, interesting as normally it's so reproduceable. Have you checked the bath temp with an external thermometer?

In terms of references, Douglas Baldwins book can be had from Amazon, I have to say I only ever now use this site's iPhone app, fantastic for quick time references and tips.
Thanks for the mention of our iPhone app, I'm glad you're enjoying it! And don't forget the same time and temperatures are in our book Beginning Sous Vide!
Payments to the usual bank account Jason ;)
Haha, big money to be made for sure ;-)

My wife and I would be most obliged if you would take the time to point out specifically where our science is so "appalling" along with any instances you've found in which our knowledge of physiology is so lacking. I would love to see any strong scientific evidence showing us the error of our ways. Should you be able to provide and such science - and by science, I mean exactly that, science confirmed by randomized control trials, not a bunch of pop books or observational studies. If you would be so kind as to show us the error of our ways, we would be more than happy to provide retractions for any erroneous material we may have published.

Thanks so much. Looking forward to your response.

Dr Eades,

Thanks for your reply. I think you're correct to point out that my earlier post is somewhat strong. My personal view on protein heavy dieting is that there isn't a strong evidence base to support the idea that there is any additional calorie deficiency, and hence weight loss, over and above that gained by eating less than normal that is gifted when following those diets. However it's not fair of me to make comments that are somewhat personal on a public forum, particularly when not knowing the individual, even if I disagree with their opinion.

Hence can I offer my sincerest apologies if I have offended you or your wife. It's fairly easy sometimes to use a name as an umbrella for a whole topic, and I think you probably took it in the neck for my general frustration with some of the dieting advice that is dished out to punters over here. There are something of an underclass of UK dietary advice gurus who wish to relieve people of their cash by any means necessary, and I've obviously unfairly lumped you in with this lot and shot my mouth off.

I obviously can't undo earlier wrongs but can certainly doff my cap and apologise for them. I should have been, and will be more civil and polite in future and use forum posts in the warm community spirit in which they are intended.

If you wish I can on my return from a impending job pop some papers through to you via your website to peruse in the spirit of friendly debate and critique, or perhaps we can leave it at agreeing to disagree and congratulating you on a rather splendid kitchen appliance which is ever closer to withdrawing cash from my bank account?


Hey DaveyT--

No problem. Your lovely apology is accepted in full with no hard feelings on my part. Thanks.

I'm always ready to engage in friendly debate, so I would love to see any papers you have. I've changed my views on nutrition over the years as the science has moved along, and sometimes I now read things I wrote in the past that are appalling in terms of more recent data. But, at the time I wrote them, they weren't so appalling based on the data at hand.

While I'm here writing, I'd like to clear up another common misconception, at least as it applies to me. My brief history: Having been thin all my life, when I reached my mid thirties, I suddenly seemed to balloon into an obese person almost overnight. I, like many people in that situation, tried first one diet then the next and lost and gained. I finally went back to my medical textbooks to try to figure out what was happening. I concocted my own plan, followed it, and lost substantial weight fairly quickly while clearing up a few other nagging medical problems. I was in a busy medical practice at the time, and my rapid improvement did not escape the notice of my patients. Many began clamoring for me to put them on 'my' diet, which I did. They were successful and over the next few years the complexion of my practice changed to one that included a lot of counseling and treating obese patients. To save myself some time, I put together a manual as a sort of guide for them, many of whom told me I ought to try to get it published. So, I sought out a publisher, found one willing to take a chance on an unknown author, got an expanded version of the manual published, and it ended up being a bestseller. And, consequently, my wife (my co-author) and I ended up earning a fair amount of money from sales of it. The point is, I didn't just decide one day that I wanted to make a lot of money therefore I should write a diet book. The book was an outgrowth of a number of years of hands-on patient care and an enormous amount of research trying to figure out the science of why the changes I saw in myself and in my patients had happened.

So, again, thanks for the nice note. I'll be happy to take a look at any papers you want to send. And I hope you get the chance to try an SVS.


Although the topic has wandered a bit, I'm yet another englishman who dies Sous vide cookery. Not a great deal, and not for very long - my first attempts took place about a year ago. However I don't know whethre I count as I live in France.

By the way, don't let anyone tell you chicken isn't worth doing sous vide. One of the reasons I was interested in starting was after eating some chicken at Keller's "The French Laundry" and being utterly gobsmacked.

Anyway, I don't know if this is encouraged or allowed, but here's a a recipe for chicken breast fillets archiduc, that is as easy as anything and which I feel is pretty good.

Supremes De Poulet Archiduc (sous vide)

4 chicken supremes; nb **
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Salt; (1)
freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
90 g onions; very finely chopped
boiling water
75 g butter
1/8 ts salt; (2)
1 tablespoon noble sweet paprika
150 ml poultry stock
75 ml port, madeira or dry white vermouth
200 ml thick cream
salt & pepper
lemon juice
2 tablespoon parsley; finely chopped

NB * chicken supremes are half breast fillets, (2 per chicken). For this recipe they are skinned, boned and trimmed.

Remove any skin, bones and sinew from the supremes. Trim, if needed and flatten. Each side in turn, season lightly with salt, pepper and paprika, and then rub with a few drops of lemon juice. Put each supreme into an individual sous vide pouch and seal sous vide. Measure the maximum thickness of the thickest fillet.

To cook, preheat the water bath to 64°C put in the pouches and cook
according to the following chart (after Baldwin
Thickness mm Time h:min
25mm -0h46
30mm -1h01
35 -1h17
40 -1h36
45 -1h56

Meanwhile, blanch the chopped onion one minute in plenty of boiling water and refresh. Drain well. In a thick bottomed pan with a lid, melt the butter, and sweat the onions gently with the salt (2) and paprika, covered, for about 10 minutes until the onions are tender and translucent, but not browned. Add the wine and bring it to a boil and allow to boil for a while to drive off alcohol and reduce the volume. Add the stock and bring back to the boil. Reduce till syrupy, taking care not to allow it to burn.

Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and return to the heat to boil down slightly until lightly thickened. Away from heat, start to correct the seasoning, adding a few drops of lemon juice to taste. Cool, or keep warm, depending upon how long in advance the sauce is made.

When ready to serve, remove the chicken supremes from their pouches and optionally brown them briefly with a blowtorch or in a hot pan filmed with oil. Add the cooking juices to the sauce, and bring back to simmering, reducing a little if needed, correct the seasoning.

Dish the chicken pieces on a serving dish (opt - cutting each into 5 or six diagonally) and nap each with a little sauce, pour the rest into a sauce boat. Sprinkle the supremes with a lttle chopped parsley and serve immediately, passing the sauce separately.
This dish is very good with rice - pilaff cooked in chicken stock, asparagus tips, green peas, & creamed spinach.

Serve with white or red burgundy.

Recipe IMH

Yield: 4 servings
Think you must be forgiven for living in France at the very least for swerving this thread back to it's original function. Was sous vide something picked up in France?

Great sounding recipe BTW
We do what we can!!

Seriously, I think that sous vide cooking has certainly been taken up more enthusiastically in the USA than in the UK for quite a number of reasons. Partly cost of course, but also because in general beef is less tender than many other meats, and the amount of beef eaten per head in the USA is the largest in the world, iirc. That implies a greater desire to make the most of it.

As for me personally... no. What happened was that after eating at "The French Laundry" I found I had to rethink entirely what I thought I'd known about several ingredients. It wasn't until quite a lot later that I found that the reason these ingredients (lobster, lamb and chicken) were so fantastic, was because they had been slow cooked sous vide.

Then about this time last year, I went to stay at La Chouette B&B not too far from us, where Richard, who had been a chef in the UK was cooking. We'd known his as customers at first and then as colleagues and friends. Anyway, he gave us some lamb best end cutlets cooked sous vide, and they blew my mind. So I determined to try to copy him. As I always do in such circumstances, I read a LOAD about it at first and then started up.

I've had one near flop with some beef brisket (short ribs/plat de côtes) which when cooked as Baldwin suggested became SO tender that they were falling apart. I wanted slices, not hash. All the rest has been really good, especially confit duck legs - a total doddle sous vide, foie gras mi cuit (which is what the technique was invented for) which was a triumph, and the chicken breasts.

I yet have to tackle pork, and come back to beef. I have a real urge to make some traditional British "spiced silverside" and cook it sous vide. I also want to work out a way of dealing well with chicken legs.

I agree that cost is a huge factor but mainly I think because our import taxes make the
most user friendly form factor, the sous vide supreme, so expensive. One has to be pretty happy fiddling to make the rest work.

I had a similar restaurant epiphany following a meal at the fat duck and the watching the hog in a bath roast done as part of blumenthal's fantastic feasts. Took quite a while to work out how to get started as all I could find were thus extremely expensive immersion circulators.

Have a go with pork, it's my least favorite meat (aside from pork belly, which is wonderful) but I'm now eating it more sue to the fantastic results with sv. Flavor brining seems to work quite well for me, normally I'd find a pork joint rather bland.

Were other UK foodies similarly inspired by a good restaurant or was it a magazine article?
Tieing two posts together - I got into sous vide because I wanted to cook something like the pork dish I'd had (often!) at Midsummer House...
Did a quick google, that looks a nice place. Your venison recommendation was great by the way, lovely meat.
We enjoyed the Fat Duck very much about 30 months ago. That said, the experience was as much about theatre and wit as it was about food, I felt. The French Laundry was - for me - much more of a gastronomic experience. I wasn't very impressed with the flavour or texture of HB's sous vide salmon, but that might have had as much to do with the liquorice jelly he put with it as anything else. However, we do cook HB, slow roast (truly slow roast, 20 hours at 60C in the oven after searing) and find it wonderful, so I'm not against him.

>Matthew. Would that be the roast pork neck by any chance? Sadly that's the sort of cut we don't get here. All becomes paté and Toulouse Sausages.

I can get the porky equivalent of best end of neck (from under the shoulder) very easily and I'd have thought that might well adapt to sous vide cooking pretty well.

I've got some from a farm pig, as well as chops and home made gammon. What would people suggest I start with for porky sous vide experiments? And if anyone can steer me to a recipe or make a few suggestions, I'd be a happy bunny.

This recipe adapted with a quick roast at the end works well. I still brine the pork as I think I just have an aversion to dry pork (partly why SV appeals). Standard pork neck worked well enough for me.

Quite agree the Salmon was a let down. There were some stand out moments though, particularly the finale of eggs and bacon ice cream which has been a hit when I've replicated it. Perhaps a bit less experimentation by him wouldn't go amiss? I particularly enjoyed the recent show where he tried to serve some sailors a fusion Japanese/British noodle thing instead of fish and chips. Did not go down well.
Thanks Davey, Looks well interesting! Nice looking recipe. I do sometimes brine my pig, though because we mostly get free range farm animals, they tend not to need it. Fully agree with you about dry pork.

So adapting that for sv? Remembering I'm ignorant about pork. Typically something like 24 hours at 75°C? Can cope with the quick roast bit.

Interesting that we should agree about the salmon. Like you I also lovedf the ice cream..

More generally, I think he is what he is because he loves playing with food. (I'd describe what he does as "playing" hoping to bring his guests with him, rather than out and out experiments. A very interesting cook. It'll be interesting to see how he evolves. In the mean time.... I want to play with pork.

I'd not do it over 70C - and as this is for carving rather than shredding, I'd go for 62C for 48h. You want your pork to be slightly pink (which is perfectly safe). Then it will remain moist.

Pork fillet you can do for about 25-30 min at 60-62 and it comes out beautifully.

At Dinner by Heston, the amazing wagyu-like iberico pork apparently only gets about 8 mins in the bath, at that temp, then gets blasted in the Josper grill. I've not tried that :-)

Agreed, 60-62 for 24-48hrs would be great. For me, below 60 is a little weird. Medium rare pork feels odd in the mouth.
Thanks very much you two. That's noted. And I agree with you, Davey. I can't get my mind round medium pork. I tried some once, and there was something about it I couldn't be doing with. Dunno what.
Not sure if you guys saw the question about cooking British game? Thought you might have some experience or ideas:
Another Brit just about to get into sous vide here - have had some reasonable attempts at sous vide on the hob, but my SVM is currently winging it's way to me so that I can do something with a bit more automation.

Curious as to what everyone uses for vacuum packing in the UK - I'm just using ziploc bags at the moment, but looking forward there seems to be a dearth of affordable vacuum packing machines in the UK.

On the clamp side, Foodsaver doesn't seem to be a big brand here as it is in the US, Lava is pretty expensive, and the Sous Vide Supreme vacuum sealer I'm afraid looked a bit cheap and nasty to me when I viewed it in John Lewis. Any recommendations on this front?

On the chamber side, Vacmaster seem to be the most affordable in the US but they don't seem to have an EU presence, and Eades are yet to offer the VP-112 on their site or in John Lewis. Any EU affordable alternative?

I've been using a rival seal-a-meal which I got from Lakeland. It was £39.99 with some bags as I recall. It is cheap and plasticky but has lasted a year of heavy use. My only quibble is that it has no setting to make it seal on demand during vacuuming, and instead runs on an auto setting. I've got around this now by squeezing the air out of liquid-containing bags either by, well, squeezing them or immersing them in water whilst I use the seal only function. It's a lot cheaper, but isn't as versatile as a chamber.

Thanks Dave. Do you find you get better results using a clamp style vacuum than just using a ziploc bag? It seems they pull such a low vacuum that they're not that dissimilar.

Was interested to see your guest post on the immersion circulator from I actually looked at that when I was researching, but could find no info on it whatsoever. I hope you'll keep us up to date. One question on the review - you mentioned at some point that it was good for 'quick' sous vide dishes - was that suggesting it's not good for longer cooking times, or just that you've not yet used it for that as you have your jam-maker setup?
I've tried the ziploc bag thing, not too enamored. The bags on the whole don't seem as tough and I found the pressure level pretty good, softer food I have to be careful with as it's easily squashed. The other reason I'd suggest some for or vacuum sealer, even a clamp, is for freezing. I've started doing cook-freeze to allow me to have a decent meal after work. Vacuuming helps to prevent freezer burn. Regarding cost, plenty of companies on eBay do rolls and pre-cut bags for a fraction of the price of the high street. They are made from the same food grade plastic as well.

Glad you found the review helpful, the precise reason that I sent it in was because there was no info anywhere and I wasn't too sure if their ratings were genuine. Happily it's a good little unit. My 'quick cook' phrase is as you say because I have a setup in the utility room which has a huge capacity for batch cooking over long periods and I suspect, though have yet to test, is more energy efficient due to being contained and having had some extra insulation added by me. Plenty of people do all their cooking with ICs as far as I can tell, but I don't fancy a kitchen full of steam and I have no plans to fabricate a fitted lid.

As it is, when I want to cook some eggs, reheat a steak or do a tender-meat cook such as pork loin, I can whip out the IC and have it going in a couple of minutes. Much less hassle than filling and cleaning a 30L bath. Also envisaging using it to cook elsewhere, hard to travel with a massive water bath. If you've got some spare cash have a punt.
Hi Lee,
I bought the Magic Vac clamp style Maxima (here's a link to a site selling it after having dipped my toe into vac packing with a cheapo one from QVC. It didn't last long, and we got a full refund for it, but in the short time we were able to use it, we were convinced that we'd find it useful. So we then looked out for something a bit more beefy. Never looked back. So we were more than half way there when we wanted to start sous vide cooking.
Longer term I still have a desire to go 'all the way' to a chamber vac, and the Maxima (and the I previously mentioned) eat a fair chunk into the budget to get a chamber vac at a later point. I do understand they're significantly better than the lower end units, but if I could 'get away' with using ziploc bags or a low end clamp vacuum, I'm in a better position to upgrade to a chamber vac once a reasonably affordable solution gets released in the UK (or I figure out how to get one of my US colleagues to help me get one from the US). I think I'm sold on getting some kind of clamp vac straight away though, on the basis of using it for freezing.

No-one using any kind of chamber vac at home in the UK then?

I hope you'll update your review on the IC as you use it a bit more DaveyT - it seems like a highly affordable solution if it's not flawed in some way. I can't even find a manual for it online, but presumably it has a PID controller built in? Do you know if the PID settings are adjustable? The ability to 'play' with the PID settings is one reason I went with the SVM as my initial purchase.

Don't think there will be many unless they've picked up either a lottery win or second hand chamber sealer on ebay.

The IC had a 'this is how you turn it on and adjust the temp' manual, but there isn't a way to alter the PID settings as far as I can tell. Have googled for the PID that is in it but can't find a manual. Don't think any of the ICs that are commercially made can be adjusted either, though in theory they should already be optimised. In practice, it heats up fast and the overshoot is negligible for cooking purposes so no particular desire to fiddle. Have noticed it needs to be set 0.5C higher than the desired temp to achieve a water temp that you want. Not too bad considering and wouldn't be a safety issue even if I hadn't checked.

Adjusting the PID settings on a SVM is far more relevant. As you're using a crock pot, may I suggest a fractional P value (i.e. less than 1) and a very low I value, regardless of what the autotune does. This allows faster ramp up time and also faster equalisation following the addition of cold pouches. I got sick of running for the kettle.

Yup, the chamber sealers are very expensive, but getting less so in the US, so hopefully we will follow that trend.

It could be somewhat churlish of me, but I have a bit more faith that the £800 IC's would be more accurately calibrated than a sub £200 unit. My thought was that if the PID controls were adjustable, then I could at least compensate for some inaccuracy.

Thanks for the tips on the SVM setting...I'll no doubt be back for more.
When you say calibrated, do you mean for temp or PID settings? There
are a fair few people who have found all sorts of SV units, including immersion Circulators, to be up to a couple of degrees off in their temp reading. I checked my SVM thermistor with a thermapen and it was spot on, as I said earlier this one was off 0.5C too low. Despite the temp fluctuating on the display, provided I offset the temp difference by adding 0.5C to the set temp, the water temperature fluctuates not a jot when the unit is running.

It'd be interesting if anyone could shed some light on what a polyscience unit acts like in comparison?
Hi, I've recently started SV cooking using a Grant IC and as a belated and rather too expensive birthday present to myself a Henkelman vac chamber sealer.

I look forward to trying the Chicken Archduc as I've cooked that conventionally several times.

How is the chamber vacuum sealer getting on Tony? Vast improvements to clamp methods?
My SVM arrived this weekend. A quick play with the PID settings (actually I only changed P to be 1, left the other two alone, and I seem to have about +/- 0.4C stability which is not bad - I might play around more a bit later, but I'm happy with this as an initial result.

First impressions are that this is [u]so[/u] much easier than a manual stovetop method, but that I need to rethink my perception of how 'big' the crockpot is - it holds a lot of food, but when bagging the food and trying to maintain a reasonable amount of water around it, it probably won't suffice with larger numbers of portions or pieces of meat. Maybe I'll take a look into the Lidl Jam maker...

Usual first tests done - eggs, of course, cooked @ 64C for a variety of times just to mess about. Results very reproducable, which was great. I do prefer a pre-boil though for the set white. A piece of rump steak at 55.5C for the pasteurisation temperature per Baldwin. Lovely - perfectly cooked, far better than I can do in a pan. Right now, a small piece of silverside/toprump and a little added butter, cooking at 55.5C for 24 hours just to see what happens.

The first two I did with ziploc bags, but as I was passing a Lakeland on Sunday, I couldn't resist picking up a Seal-a-Meal clamp vacuum, so the current piece of beef has been packed in that.

Thanks to all for the tips so far.

Hmm - wish there was an edit button. [u] apparently isn't a standard HTML tag. Oops. And the rump steak was cooked at 55.5C for the pasteurisation time per Baldwin, not temperature.
Okay, the small piece of beef was lovely, but I can definitely see issues with larger pieces, given the crockpot only has a 4.5L capacity.

Is this the LiDL Jam maker people have been referring to?

Not sure LIDL sell it any more as the link goes to a blank page. If it looks like this:

then yes that's it. If LIDL don't have it the one from westfalia had been fine for me. I had just the same issues with a slow cooker, I found there was quite a thermal gradient across the pot as well, particularly when there were a
a couple of items in it.
Link works for me - must be something to do with cookies or some such website gumph. It looks pretty much like that - let's try a screenshot link instead:

I think you mentioned in another post you use a bubbler? Is that more important given the larger capacity vessel? OH may well go mad if I add another plug to this setup, so it might have to be moved to a shed!
Yep, that is it. I imagine the tap would be most useful for drainage.

I do use a bubbler, sort of. It's a cheap air pump from a pet shop connected to some silicone tubing which I perforated, wound in a spiral through the mat that separates the heating element. Works really well, I'd suggest it's best when it's packed. Actually has minimal temp gradient when there's only one of two things in it.
Forgot to say, temp is stable after about 20 mins at desired temperature as otherwise there is a slight temperature gradient from centre to outside of the pot. I do use the bubbler during the inital ramp up to eliminate this, and then usually turn it off if there's only a couple of things in.
A trip to Lidl this lunchtime then - I think I'll wait to worry about the bubbler, but having the larger vessel available sounds worthwhile.

What kind of PID settings do you have set on your SVM for the jam maker?
P=3.5 I=518 D=16

Seems to work very well, impressed with the stability and lack of overshoots even with a very fast ramp up.
That's very useful info Davey. I've got my SVM, but am still awaiting the arrival of a plug to be able to get the output into my Lidl steriliser. I won't call it a jam maker as it's totally hopeless for making jam! I'll be getting that cable the day after tomorrow.

(Sorry to have been quiet recently. Frantically busy here after we got chosen as third best B&B in France in The Times.)

Many congratulations, can I assume that was awarded because your breakfast eggs are amazing ;-)

Glad it's going well, sure it's richly deserved. Do you happen to have a link to the article at all? We might need a holiday destination in France now we are locating to somewhere more Southerly.
The chamber vac machine is great to use and makes the vac packing of liquids much easier. I've used it successfully for creme anglais type sauces quite a few times now. I'm now searching round for other things to use it for :)

I've been looking out for the Lidl jam maker as a second SV machine, but it isn't stocked in my local Lidl, is it just a special product they offer?
Not a normal stock item, I couldn't get one and hence had to buy from Westfalia.

Chamber vac sounds great, unfortunately think my OH might club me if anything else odd appears in kitchen.
Can't give a link I'm afraid, because the Times is subscription only.

I don't know what the people here would think of me giving a link directly to my web site as it could well be construed as an abuse.

However, we can be found by googling for B&B La Souvigne Forgès! Not easily, because there are too many generic websites trying to cash in on B&Bs. (The egrave is vital. ALT plus number pad 138 gives the è symbol).

At long last I got the cable, and instantly started the Auto-tune process. After going through the process it holds the desired temperature to within plus or minus 0.1°C which is good enough for me. I might even be ABLE to make the "perfect" breakfast egg now.
Congrats again Ian, go ahead and add a link to your site, while we definitely want to limit shameless self promotion if something adds to the conversation I'm all for linking it up!
Hi Jason,

Thaks very much for giving me the go-ahead. I dare say that you have seen many forums/discussion groups where some people only contribute in order to puch some product/service. I've got a horror of that, tbh.

Anyway will get to me and you can use that to see photos of the place and your genial (hah!!) hosts, as well as find links to some 280 recipes, none of which use sous vide techniques - at the moment. I'm a little reluctant to put up recipes that might encourage people to take risks if they don't understand them.
Having had some good results with the crockpot, I'm trying to upsize my setup - but so far no luck on the jam maker as Lidl don't have it currently and Westfalia has my order on backorder, unlikely to be before end July.

I very nearly bought one of those immersion circulators a few minutes ago DaveyT, but my fingers weren't fast enough to do the necessary logging in on ebay before the auction expired. I know you were intending to use it for smaller setups, but have you tried it with a large container, as I'm thinking of it as another alternative.

And Ian, congratulations on the award, looks like a wonderful place.
Tried it with a 20L container and seemed to be fine. Have you thought about a freshmealsmagic as an alternative seeing as you've already got a SVM? Think a lighter one is coming out soon, Frank said about August, so shipping should be a little more affordable.

Also, would recommend powersnipe for ebay. Excellent tool.
The attraction of the immersion circulator was more that it could operate independently of the SVM, allowing me to have two things cooking at different temperatures.

I'm not sure powersnipe would have saved me. By complete coincidence I did the search on ebay about 15 seconds before the auction expired - I literally couldn't enter my login details quickly enough!
That was my thinking when I got it, didn't know if you'd planned for 2 separate cooking units.

For an update, had a replacement unit through for the circulator as the PID seemed to have been damaged during transit and come away from the housing. He did replace it when asked without any argument, took some time to do so due to shipping. The new unit is a little different but if anything seems a little bit better put together with some rough edges smoothed off, both figuratively and literally. Can send some pics if desired as it isn't quite the same as the picture up on ebay, though very similar.
Hi everyone, I just bought a Sous Vide Supreme Demi machine because I got an unexpected windfall and it's a method I've read a lot about. I cook a Sunday dinner for whichever friends drop by my house every week and I bought the sous vide in pursuit of the perfect roast beef. I'm not rich, I shop at ASDA or the market if I have time to get there. I've cooked roast beef every Sunday for my friends for at least 6 years, but the quality of beef in supermarkets is getting worse every year and although I think my roast potatoes are amazing and my Yorkshire puts have been perfected over years, the star of the show is the beef and I can't item it right anymore. Supermarkets like ASDA sell silverside and brisket usually, or some non-descript "easy carve" roast. I bought the sous vide with the hope that I can use it every week to make these cheap.joints into something better. I wish I could have the time and money to buy better beef, but I don't. If anyone has any tips iI'd be really grateful. I'm excited that my sous vide cooker arrived today but it need to pay its way!
Welcome to the world of sous vide!

Short version: When cooking beef, I think you definitely need to divide the cuts into two categories. You can of course mix the approaches, but the basic rule is that more time = more tender, but less juicy.

Bear in mind that this beef will be at your requisite 'done-ness' edge-to-edge. I've found that people who thought they enjoyed a rare steak hadn't realised that in a typical restaurant, only the very centre is a perfect rare, with the majority being medium-rare - they were much more comfortable with an edge-to-edge medium-rare than with a fully rare steak (and be careful, rare is below the 'safe-zone' for getting rid of bacteria).

Last tip before detail - buy a joint, cut it into multiple pieces and try different times / temperatures before you do a big piece. That way you can eliminate some approaches without wondering whether it was the specific piece of meat that differed in texture.

More detail on the two approaches:

The first approach, for cuts which are tender enough but you just want to get to a perfect 'done-ness' (say, medium-rare). For these, you want to make sure that any 'grissly' bits are removed, and the objective is to just get the beef up to temperature - I typically do beef at 55C water temperature for a nice medium-rare. A steak will only take a couple of hours (depending on thickness), but a joint might take 10-12 hours. Little to no tenderisation will take place, but the short (relatively) cooking time will also mean that very little liquid (and hence juiciness) comes out of the meat either.

The second type of cut is one where you need some tenderisation to make it edible. For this you need a long long cooking time, because the objective is to turn all that collagen into gelatin, which takes a long time at low temperatures. The downside of the long time cooking is that you will lose a lot of liquid, and hence the joint will become drier. So, you typically want a cut with a fair percentage of fat in it, as that fat will provide the extra 'juice' so that the joint won't become too dry.

For supermarket cuts such as silverside, which is typically sold very lean to be attractive to buyers but with that great big sheen of sinew, I've found the best way is to cut it out of the string or mesh that's holding it's shape, and trim away that sinew before cooking. I've even divided big joints up into smaller pieces if there's sinew running through the middle. I then season, vacuum seal and put it in the waterbath for a minimum of 12 hours or up to 24 hours. When it's ready, get it out of the bag, pat it dry and sear in a very hot pan, or with a blowtorch, then add final seasoning to taste.

For brisket, you're definitely talking a long cook - I think 48-72 hours. Don't trim away the fat or the sinew, just cook it for a long time (and make sure you're above 54.5C for this or you will be multiplying bacteria not getting rid of them). The meat will be drier, but hopefully the gelatin and the fat will give you a sufficiently juicy mouth-feel.

Way too much from what you liked when you try it!
LeeW, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a great reply. I am going to try brisket first I think, putting in the sous vide on Friday. I'll let you know how it goes!
Took a while to find this forum but here I am. I'm in the UK too (Edinburgh) and I have been playing with SV for a while. I have a Clifton bath and a "food saver" style vac packer. I would dearly love to get my hands on a chamber vacuum sealer so I can try the lovely recipes in Thomas Keller's book, but £2k is a bridge too far.

I have been trying to get my hands on something like the US VacMaster VP112 (@$600 in the US). I do travel to the US on business quite often and could pick one up there, but it weighs 50 lb and, of course, it would be 110V, so a big fat transformer (600W ~ 1kW) would be needed.(Excess baggage fees and transformer costs would probably blow the budget!)

Trawling on the website (they make the VacMaster)I found the User's Guide for the VP112 and it hints that there is a VP112EU (220-240V) version

Quote "VP112EU (220-240V) – Two types of electrical cords have been included with this machine – UK and EU versions. Select the appropriate electrical cord and properly insert it into the power outlet on the back of the machine and then plug the cord into the wall outlet. The LED screen on the control panel will read “OFF”."

So I emailed their customer support people asking for a distributor or retailer in the UK that could supply. Eventually, after prompting, they came back with the name of their "Asia Pacific / EU Distributor", a guy in Singapore. I emailed him asking for a retailer in the EU... sadly no reply after 2 weeks.

My guess is that they changed the transformer primary, sourced a couple of power cords and thought "job done"... then ran into the weeds when they discovered they need CE marking (EMC, Low Voltage, etc.) to allow import/sale in the EU.

Does anyone know more?
Thanks for the heads up P&B - I did a bit of searching myself, and although it's listed as 'out of stock', do actually have the VP112 (branded as their own) listed now for 650 GBP - a bit of a mean F/X rate, but still (I think) quite a bit cheaper than any other chamber sealer I've seen available in the EU.
Thanks for the pointer, LeeW. I notice it's £650 + VAT = £780 which is indeed a stiff markup on a unit that sells on for $660 (and I've seen it cheaper than that). I wonder if SVS are hiding a shipping cost in there since their normal shipping policy is >£50 ships free, but 50 lbs from the US won't be cheap.

Has anyone bought one of these from the site ? Was it a 240V model ? Was it CE marked?
Thanks for the pointer, LeeW. I notice it's £650 + VAT = £780 which is indeed a stiff markup on a unit that sells on for $660 (and I've seen it cheaper than that). I wonder if SVS are hiding a shipping cost in there since their normal shipping policy is >£50 ships free, but 50 lbs from the US won't be cheap.

Has anyone bought one of these from the site ? Was it a 240V model ? Was it CE marked?
Thanks for the pointer, LeeW. I notice it's £650 + VAT = £780 which is indeed a stiff markup on a unit that sells on for $660 (and I've seen it cheaper than that). I wonder if SVS are hiding a shipping cost in there since their normal shipping policy is >£50 ships free, but 50 lbs from the US won't be cheap.

Has anyone bought one of these from the site ? Was it a 240V model ? Was it CE marked?
Hi folks,
Just discovered this forum and hope it will be a big help in my endevours in Sous Vide.
I'm a recent convert to SV having seen Glynn Purnell (Saturday Kitchen) cook a Roe deer steak in SV style in just a pan of hot water and wrapped tightly in cling-film. As I eat a lot of game I decided to give it a go and was amazed at the result. Best venison steak ever!!!
As a hard up pensioner there was no way I could affort to buy the commercially available equipment (sob story over) so, with a bit of surfing the net for ideas, I converted my slow cooker to SV with a cheap temperature controller. It doesn't have the precise temerature control of the fancy expensive kit but it does very well. Add a second-hand JML food sealer and I'm all set.
Up to date I've mainly used my set-up for cooking game (duck breast, pigeon breast, venison etc.) and I am delighted with the results. Hope to get some more ideas via this forum.

Hamish L (Glenrothes, Fife)
Hamish, good luck with your set up. As you've found, you don't need an expensive set up to do sous vide. I would suggest that you get a good thermometer to confirm temperatures particularly if you are cooking in the 50sC range, which I think you probably are particularly for venison steaks.
Thanks for the tip Tony. I'll certainly do that.

Welcome to sous vide. Glad you're enjoying it, have you explored the sous vide magic controller? Relatively inexpensive and very flexible. Much less hassle than gut rot from a steak held too long at too low a temp anyway. I would otherwise concur and recommend a thermopen, they're great.

What is it you've had a go at so far? Salmon is relatively straightforward to do in a pan.

Thanks for the welcome and the encouragement. I did look at the "sous vide magic controller" but it was outside my budget, at least for the time being whilst I experiment. I went for a "Digital STC-1000 All-Purpose Temperature Controller" from ebay for around £18. Only 0.3 degree switching resolution but display resolution is 0.1 degree. A plastic case from Maplin, a mains socket from stock and a bit of cable and the whole lot cost around £25. I already had a couple of slow cookers. The socket means I can plug any suitable device in. I'm getting a temperature during cooking of + or - about 1 degree. I would need a lot of convincing that strict control within 0.1 degrees or so is absolutely necessary.

I'm looking into a decent thermometer to check accuracy (I can adjust the controller to compensate and correct). The thermopen looks great but the "posh" thermocouple device is again outside budget at around £50 so it looks like I'll be going for a cheaper thermistor alternative. I've done a rough check using my old meat thermometer and another cheap digital temperature sensor so I'm sure I'm not far off the mark.

I've only done small amounts of game and chicken so far. Recently did a pheasant by putting one breast and one thigh in each bag. About one hour at 66 centigrade and served with an orange sauce - DELICIOUS! I'm looking forward to trying a bigger joint or such for several hours. Not too sure about sous vide for fish as it's so quick and easy to cook by conventional means but maybe I could be convinced to try.

Got some great recipe ideas from this site and thanks to those who took time to respond.


Hi Hamish, I'm sure your set up will be fine for the vast majority of sous vide cooking. That temperature controller looks interesting, I haven't come across that one before.

The big advantage with cooking sous vide fish seems to be the ability to cook consistently at lower temps. There are some interesting recipes for salmon at mid 40C temps, not something you can do conventionally, haven't tried them yet but intend to soon.
Hi Tony,
Please let us know how you get on when you try your salmon recipe.

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