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Sous Vide beer cooler method

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Compare What is Sous Vide in a beer cooler:
This method is best for testing out Sous Vide without the need for buying expensive equipment. The equipment needed in this techniqe is something the average household has all ready.
The beer cooler method is only suited for steaks, fish and poultry. You can not cook a roast Sous Vide in the beer cooler because it can not hold the required temperature for long periods of time. 1.5 hours is about the most time it can hold the temperature.

You will need the following items:
  • Beer cooler
  • Freezing bag
  • cooking thermometer
køletaske sous vide

The beer cooler has to be of a relative good quality. It has to be able to hold the temperature for at least 1.5 hours, and have a tight fitting lid.
The freezer bags has to be able to withstand 60 degrees Celsius. If in doubt contact the manufacturer.
Cooking thermometer. Any kind that tolerates water will do.

How to:
First you need to "vacuum seal" the meat. Put 1 piece of meat in a freezer bag. Now you need to get all of the air out. It is possible to suck the air out, but not everyone would think this method is sanitary. Another method is to slowly lowering the bag into a bowl of water. The water will press the air out of the bag and now it is possible to tie a knot on the bag.
Preparing the beer cooler.
If you are lucky, you have sufficient high temperature in your tap water and can use that. Otherwise it may be necessary to boil some water to reach the temperature required. Fill the beer cooler as much as possible. The more water the more stable the temperature will be.
It can be a good idea to overshoot the temperature with a degree or two, so if you want to have 56 degrees you can go up to 58 degrees to take in effect that the meat is cold and will lover the water temperature a little.

Now all the elements are ready for the Sous Vide beer cooler method. Simply put the bags of meat into to beer cooler and place the lid on top. Wait until the meat is done. It can be intriguing to take the lid of to see what going on down there, but this is not advisable because you will let out heat each time.
Now the only thing left is to unpack the meat, dry it of with a paper towel and sear the steak or chicken breast on a smoking hot cast iron skillet for 30 sec on each side.
Now you can enjoy a perfectly cooked steak or chicken breast. Please notice that it is not necessary to let the meat rest for 5 minutes after searing.

Conclusion:
The beer cooler method produces as good a result as a commercial bought waterbath when it comes to steaks, chicken breast and fish.
+ Cheap way to try out "Sous Vide"
+ Readily available equipment

- More work
- Less control
- Not usable for cooking times beyond 2 hours
- Freezer bags are not ideal for sous Vide.

Notes and pictures:
Steak
Salmon

The following pictures show the differences between a steak cooked Sous Vide in a waterbath and a beer cooler.

Steak with smoke salt and pepper.
Steak

Steak in the freezer bag, getting submerged to get the air out. Lowering of the steak

The steak has been "vaccum sealed" Note the bobble in the top of the bag. This is to keep the steat in the top of the beer cooler where the water is hottest. vacuum seald steak

Steak floats nicely in the beer cooler.
floating steak.

Steak to the left made in a commercial waterbath.
Steak to the right made the beer cooler way.
Steaks

Ready for the skillet.
Ready for the skillet.

Seared and cut to show that the texture and colour is the same..
Compare.



The following pictures show the differences between a salmon cooked Sous Vide in a waterbath and a beer cooler.

Salmon vacuum sealed.
Vacuum sealed salmon

Cooked salom. Note the amount of albumin.
Mi suit salmon

Salmon to the right made with commercial waterbath.
Salmon to the left made with the beer cooler.
Compare salmon

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