A few people had food safety questions in our messages and we’d like to address them. Sous vide techniques use an anaerobic environment and there are safety precautions to be taken.
Food cooked inside a bag sous vide must be cold when it’s sealed and then either cooked right away or stored in the refrigerator until ready for use. After food is cooked sous vide, it must be served immediately or quickly and thoroughly chilled in an ice bath within four hours of being in 4.4 to 60 C outside of cooking it inside the bath. It should then be kept very cold.
The modernized sous vide technique has been around since 1974. Since that time it has been refined and revised by scientists like Georges Pralus and Bruno Goussault who wrote extensive correct practices with time and temperature charts from food tests that yields SV dishes that are both safe and delicious.
Modern 3 Michelin star chefs like Thomas Keller and Joan Roca have also written books specifically on sous vide and low temperature cooking:
When cooking in this style, there are simple steps to take every time to make sure you’re doing so safely. The SV method, when properly done, effectively pasteurizes foods after a correct time and temperature is applied. Here is what we regularly do contrary to popular beliefs in SV on the web (like buying cheap meats).
1) Buy whatever you want to cook SV from reputable grocers and butchers. We want you to think about safety from the start. Get professionally butchered meats versus anything you might find packaged in plastic in a small deli (where you have no idea how long it’s been there). Doing this eliminates unclean food that may end up in the bag. This applies to everything you cook in the bag, including herbs.
2) Smell your food before and after bagging. Learn to detect off smells. The nose is one of the best detectors you already own.
3) Know the danger zone of food. 4.4 - 60.0 Celsius (40 - 140 F). Get ingredients cooking or either iced, frozen, or refrigerated below 3 Celsius, and never left out on the counter.
4) When bagging, add liquids or fats like salt brine, olive oil and/or butter to surround your food. This way, when completely removing air from the bags, the liquid also seals your food by enveloping around it with the added benefit of extra flavor. Bagged duck confit in duck fat is a great example. A chamber vacuum sealer is the best and most convenient way to bag food.
5) If cooking for a longer time (over 4 hours), consider searing (or just blanching) in a hot pan before bagging. This method adds flavor as well as killing possible bacteria spores that may be on the outside. The inside of meats and vegetables are sterile (unless it is already rotten which you will be able to smell). Cooking the outside helps to kill most bacteria with heat. When your food ends up at the desired temperature and time the food will slowly pasteurizes (our steak at 57C at 1 hour). If that particular food can’t be seared beforehand, gently sear (or blanch) it before serving — like in our video. This will add more flavor and effectively pasteurize the outside of your food.
6) Respect time and temperature of your particular ingredients. Beef, chicken, pork and lamb all cook differently. Our SV booklet and our site: www.bagsoakeat.com tells you the successful time and temperature of basic ingredients.
It has become second nature to all of us at Nomiku as we’ve been cooking this way for a while. All you need to do as a beginner is to consider these easy safety steps and take it from there. Understanding your ingredients and these rules can help to minimize the risks involved with microorganisms in SV cooking. Once you have tasted low temperature cooked foods, it is really hard to go back on traditional techniques.
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