The Catch-All, all method, no discussion, Kool-Aid drinker’s guide to Sous Vide Processing

This approach to Sous Vide can be used for Beef, Veal, Chicken, Pork, and almost any other land or air dwelling prey.  It does not necessarily apply to fish or seafood.

  • According to the scientific evidence, proteins processed via sous vide do not benefit from anything in the bag (other than the muscle/protein/object itself); salt as desired.
  • Sodium ions are the only flavoring small enough to penetrate muscle.
  • Marinades, herbs, rubs, butter look cool, but do nothing.
  • Typical sous vide temperatures are not hot enough to cook garlic or any other vegetable products.
  • Seal your protein in the bag, using either chamber, channel, or displacement method. (Displacement method works well with Ziploc Gallon or Ziploc Quart)
  • Calculate temperature penetration times using Baldwin, the link to his guide is below, and make sure that core temperature is achieved. Processing continues for a minimum of 4 hours to achieve pasteurization, longer, depending on how much collagen you want to convert into gelatin.  Some processes require up to 72 hours for desired results (tenderness).
  • Set your PID controller on 129F-135F, lower ranges for boneless, higher ranges for bone-in.
  • Process your item.
  • Remove from tank, shock chill to 70F in cold water, add ice if desired, and refrigerate.  At this point, provided the seal is not broken, the product will keep a long, long time.  Weeks, as opposed to days.  You can also freeze it.
  • When you want to eat, remove the product from the bag and, if you must, at this point, you may marinade, rub, dip, coat, bread, whatever.
  • After drying the meat, painting with beaten egg white (albumins collect in the purge, you are merely replacing them) will cause seasonings to cling better than they would have in any other circumstance or by any other method.
  • Cook using conventional methods, just long enough to achieve the desired internal temp. 140F is “Mouth Hot”.

The debate about what should go in the bag with SV products, and whether or not it penetrates, has raged on, and will continue to do so. All the available scientific evidence insists that only sodium ions (salt, usually) are small enough to penetrate the complex and tangled matrix of proteins that we refer to as muscle. Flavonoids, and, even sugar, are just too large to go beyond the surface–many people insist otherwise and will continue to do so, because:

  • Flavor is a subjective thing, and
  • Surface treatments can be very effective.

That being said, with this assertion as an assumption, there are a few things to consider:

  • SV temperatures used for meat (129F-165F) are too low to cook most vegetables (183F).
  • This means there is no point in putting mirepoix in a Sous Vide bag, not only because it won’t penetrate, but because it won’t COOK.
  • There is evidence that putting raw garlic in the bag can create the risk of botulism. No actual case has been reported, but the garlic can give your end product an unpleasant, metallic flavor.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the bag has been reported to provide an “off” flavor, as well.
  • Acid marinades are believed by some to tenderize meat, mostly by accelerating the denaturing process, which occurs during cooking anyway. Again, the evidence insists that marinades offer no benefit to SV processing, beyond contaminating the purge.

But, don’t take my word for it. Here is an excellent article from the AmazingRibs website addressing the issue.