One method of cooking that was once limited to professional chefs at high end restaurants is the sous vide method.
What exactly is sous vide?
Sous vide is a method of cooking that used temperature control to yield perfect results. It involves placing your ingredients in a vacuum-sealed plastic pouch and cooking it in a water bath.
You typically cook the food for longer periods of time at lower temperatures. The goal with this method is to cook the food perfectly even.
The water bath is set at the desired final temperature you want your item cooked at so there is no way for it to be over cooked. The trick to sous vide cooking is maintaining a precise temperature during the entire cooking process.
Is sous vide cooking possible with an Instant Pot?
Out of all off the Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cookers currently on the market, none of them were specifically designed with a function for sous vide cooking.
However the Instant Pot website does indicate that the IP-Smart can be used for sous vide cooking in a limited capacity.
To do so you must use the Smart Cooker app to calibrate the temperature so that it is consistent with your desired recipe.
This is necessary because the thermometer is at the bottom of the pot. So the temperature reading you get may not accurately reflect the temperature throughout the entire pot.
To calibrate your IP-Smart you have to set the pot to maintain a given temperature for whatever volume of water you will be cooking with then run the program.
After running the program use a thermometer to take the temperature reading of the water. Finally use the difference to offset your desired temperature.
What if you don’t have an IP-Smart?
If you do not have an IP-Smart and can’t precisely regulate the temperature of your electric pressure cooker, are there any other options?
Instant Pot sells an accessory designed to allow you to use only the removable inner pot for sous vide cooking. It’s the Instant Pot Accu SV800 Sous Vide Immersion Circulator.
This device can be clamped to either 6 quart or 8 quart inner pots to convert the pot into precisely temperature controlled environment.
It has a digital touch screen for programming, and can cook between 104°F and 194° F, for up to 72 hours. It also maintains your desire temperature within 1° F throughout the duration of the cooking cycle.
This device is light weight, and the portion that extends into the water bath is stainless steel and easy to clean. The upper portion is an easy to grip plastic. It is also very quiet so you won’t be disturbed or annoyed especially if your recipe calls for extended cooking times.
Your food will come out much more flavorful because it will be cooking in its own juices inside the bag. Also because none of the juices are allowed to escape your food will retain the nutrients.
You will not need any Instant Pot specific recipes for this device. Any sous vide recipe is compatible with the SV800. You can find information for pricing and ordering the Instant Pot SV800 here on Amazon.com.
Things to remember when Sous Vide cooking
- Because you will be cooking at lower temperatures it is important to cook your food for longer periods of time to ensure that any harmful bacteria is killed. Most harmful bacteria is killed at 130° F.
- Bags should be vacuum sealed before cooking your food, with the exception of eggs still in the shell.
- Make sure the bags you are using are BPA free. Most Ziploc brand bags will be suitable for sous vide cooking.
- You can find a Sous Vide time table for meats at the Instant Pot website.
Are there any other options for Sous vide cooking?
The SV800 is great options for those who already own an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker other than the IP-Smart and want to try using the sous vide method.
What about those who don’t want to pay nearly the same price they can get an pressure cooker for, simply for an accessory.
If you are in the market for a pressure cooker that doesn’t require an immersion circulator you can invest in the new Instant Pot Ultra which is currently on sale at Sur la table and on Amazon right here.
The Instant Pot Ultra comes equipped with a sous vide function, however is likely that it still won’t have the accuracy of a dedicated sous vide cooker, or immersion circulator. We will just have to wait an see once its available.
The Instant Pot Ultra is one of the first electric pressure cookers on the market to include a specific sous vide function.
The Instant Pot Ultra is ahead of its class in this aspect seeing that the other new high end electric pressure cooker coming out this year, the Fagor LUX 360 does not have a sous vide function.
Just like with the yogurt making function it is likely that eventually sous vide will become a common feature in electric pressure cookers.
What is your best option?
So if you are interested in trying out cooking with the sous vide method you have a few choices.
If you already have an Instant Pot IP-Smart your best bet is to attempt to do sous vide cooking with your current pressure cooker.
The method for calibrating your temperature is simple enough using the mobile app. You may have to perform the process a few times, but as long as the volume of water you use stays consistent the pressure cooker should be able to regulate the temperature precisely enough for successful sous vide.
If you are in the marked for an upgraded pressure cooker go ahead and get the Instant Pot Ultra. This is a top of the line product with all of the new features you would want in a pressure cooker, including a sous vide function.
Finally, if you are not interested in investing in a new pressure cooker and you don’t own the IP-Smart, the SV800 immersion circulator will be the best choice for precise sous vide cooking.