Do you like cooking up delicious meals at your home? If yes, you may have used pressure cookers to cook all kinds of meals quickly and at the right temperature.
Turns out, there’s another way you can cook up those tasty dishes. And it’s called sous vide. If you took French in high school or college, you might know it’s French for under vacuum.
Today, I’ll compare the sous vide machines with pressure cookers so we can understand their difference. By the end of this article, you’ll know how both of them work, and which one might be best for your kitchen.
Ready? Let’s start!
How Does Sous Vide Work?
Moving past the fancy word and its pronunciation, sous vide is the “art” of cooking your food at a low temperature, for a longer period of time.
It involves a sous vide cooker, an immersion circulator, along with a water bath or a bowl full of hot water. You’ll also need plastic bags and vacuum sealers.
You can set the circulator at the required low temperature and timer, and then place it in the jar of hot water. Next, you put your ingredients in the bags and immerse them in the water. The circulator will do the job for you, at its own sweet time.
Sous vide is a longer and slower process than pressure cookers. So it isn’t for people who like to just throw ingredients in the pan, turn up the heat and expect to be eating shortly thereafter.
A sous vide cooker typically costs over $500. So just a tiny bit pricier than a pressure cooker!
The Basics of a Pressure Cooker
Let’s move away from the low and slow to the high and fast, which is the pressure cooker.
This is an airtight pot made of stainless steel. And it uses high pressure steam to cook your food rapidly. It can reach up to 100 degrees Celsius when cooking your food.
If you’re not a patient person, then the pressure cooker is your perfect cooking companion. It’s similar to the sous vide method in the sense that it also uses water to cook your food, but in the form of steam.
Although it cooks fast, it doesn’t lose any of the flavors and also keeps your food tender.
You can find both electric pressure cookers and stovetop pressure cookers, and they also vary in terms of their price point. Normally, they have a volume ranging from 6 to 8 quartz.
No matter which variant you choose, you can buy a pressure cooker for anywhere between $50 to $200. Popular, high-end models would cost you around $150-250, even if you go for an electric one.
Is Sous Vide Better Than a Pressure Cooker?
The main difference between sous vide and a pressure cooker is the temperature and cooking time. Both methods are suitable for preparing delicious dishes at home.
It’s hard to tag one of them as being definitely better than the other. But there are some considerations that you can make.
First off, consider the cooking temperature of the meals that you cook usually. Many dishes require a certain temperature and time for best results. In this regard, sous vide is much better, as it uses temperatures like 135 degrees Fahrenheit, and amps up the heat gradually.
The immersion circulator is responsible for maintaining the temperature inside sous vide during the cooking time.
The food’s desired texture is another factor you should consider when comparing a sous vide cooker and a pressure cooker.
While methods provide you tender and delicious foods, with sous vide the juices aren’t released from the food. Since the ingredients are in a bag, the juices and spices are retained in the food.
On the other hand, pressure cookers tend to drain out the juices, leaving your food stringy.and dry.
Last but not least, consider the cooking time.
Another major factor you should keep in mind when choosing between the two methods.
By now, you must have gotten the idea that sous vide takes much longer to cook your food than a pressure cooker.
So, if you can’t wait too long for your meals, go with a pressure cooker. Otherwise, sous vide brings another level of tender and juicy dishes to the table (pun intended).
Best Method for Different Food Types
When choosing between two popular cooking methods, it all boils down to what kinds of dishes you can cook best with each one.
So it’s a great idea to compare both of them based on the various food types that we have:
Meat is one of the common components of our daily diet (Or is it just me?). And there are numerous types of cuts of meat that you can buy from the market.
With sous vide, you have the option of cooking all cuts of meat easily. And as it doesn’t drain the meat of its juices. So your dishes end up more tender and juicy.
Best of all, you can use sous vide cooking for tougher cuts of meat, such as the neck and leg pieces which have stronger strands of protein.
The cooking method breaks down the protein strands inside these cuts easily, making it very tender and easy to eat.
Other types of meat you can cook with sous vide include beef short ribs, pulled pork, and much more. You can use pressure cookers for this purpose, but they’re not as good for tougher cuts.
Everyone loves eggs, don’t they? Well almost everyone. They’re a staple food that we enjoy in various forms – boiled, fried, poached, etc.
Sous vide is great for cooking eggs as it allows you complete control over the consistency of your dish. Once you’ve gotten the consistency down to a T, you can cook them to perfection.
Sous vide cooking is perfect for eggs, and it makes them very easy to cook. Since eggs are already inside their shells, you don’t need to place them in a vacuum-sealed bag. You can simply put them inside the water and let the immersion circulator do its thing.
Rest assured, eggs and pressure cookers are a big NO!
Pork is known to be a bland and dry meat. And if you cook it using a pressure cooker, you’ll be stripping it of the little bit of juice it has.
On the other hand, sous vide cooking will help you make it tender and juicy. This makes it fun to combine with various types of dishes.
You can easily cook a wonderful rack of pork with the sous vide method. I’d recommend keeping pork away from the pressure cooker.
Lamb is another one of those tougher meats that can be difficult to cook. And with a pressure cooker you run the risk of making it dry.
It can also be left undercooked, and you can have trouble nailing down the exact time and cooking temperature.
Enter the sous vide cooking method, which allows you to carefully tread around cooking lamb cuts and cook it to perfection. Plus, the sealed vacuum bag allows the meat to really simmer in its juices and the added condiments.
Vegetables are one of the best things that you can cook using sous vide. And this is coming from a steak lover!
That’s because sous vide allows veggies to have that soft texture and wonderful taste that simply melts into your mouth.
Some of the best vegetables to cook this include carrots, beets, potatoes, salad greens, onions, and much more. You can use various herbs and seasonings to cook up your vegetables to perfection.
When it comes to beans, you’ll love the high temperature and quick cooking time provided by pressure cookers.
Beans need to be soaked for only one minute, and then you can cook them perfectly within 20-30 minutes. You can have a bowl full of soft and tasty beans in no time at all.
Stews and Soups
If you love stews and soups, you can make use of a pressure cooker to cook them properly.
You can cook most of them in 30-45 minutes, which preserves their wonderful taste and locks in the nutrients. Some soup types, such as vegetable soup, can be cooked in just 20 minutes.
Are you a fan of lentils? You can place them in your trusty pressure cooker and cook them for roughly 15-20 minutes. Make sure to season them with salt afterwards, that’ll keep them from becoming hard.
There are many other types of food you can cook with sous vide or pressure cookers. The cooking time and temperature for each dish will determine how you should cook it.
Can You Sous Vide Without the Machine?
After reading all about sous vide, you may be tempted to buy the machine and embark on a new culinary journey.
If you can shell out $500+ for a sous vide cooker without a second thought, go for it.
But let me tell you that you don’t need a sous vide cooker to cook with this method. You can sous vide without the machine. It’s not that difficult, really.
The basic function of a sous vide machine is to adjust the water temperature and keep it steady. To do that you need a large pot, ziploc kitchen bags, binder clips, and a cooking thermometer.
Prepare the Water Bath
Start by filling a large pot as much as you can without overflowing it. Make sure to leave enough space for immersing the food.
Place the Thermometer
Now place the thermometer inside the pot to monitor the water temperature constantly. It’s best to use a digital thermometer. That lets you see the temperature from a distance. Use a binder clip to hold the thermometer in place so it doesn’t fall in the water.
Heat Up the Water
Now, turn up the heat and make sure that the water reaches the right temperature. Make sure to maintain the temperature ±2 degrees Fahrenheit from the ideal temperature, so you can alter the heat if needed.
Seal the Food
Place the ingredients inside ziploc bags and seal them properly. The ingredients should be properly cut into portions for better cooking.
You can place the bag in the water and then seal it for a vacuum effect. Use the binder clip to keep your bag fixed on one side of your pot.
Cook Your Meal
The only thing left to do now is cooking your food according to the time specified in the recipe.
When the process is complete, gently remove the bag from the water. The food can break into bits if you handle it roughly.
Note – while this method works, it’s never quite as accurate as a real sous-vide machine which automatically keeps the temperature accurate.
Can You Put Frozen Food in Sous Vide?
Yes! One of the biggest benefits of sous vide is that you don’t have to worry about defrosting your ingredients when you remove them from the freezer.
When heat from the water comes in contact with the bag which holds the frozen food, it starts to quickly melt it and begins the cooking process. It doesn’t require any additional cooking time as well.
Sous vide is an efficient method of cooking that allows you to prepare various dishes without worrying about their texture or taste. Hopefully you now have a much better understanding of sous vide. And how it compares to pressure cookers.
Sous vide is great for healthy cooking, creating tasty and flavorful food. But it is slow. Pressure cookers are all about speed but overcooking can be an issue.
Both are suitable for certain types of dishes. I believe sous vide brings a certain finesse to your cooking though.
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Thank you for reading, and have a great day!