For years I have been curious about the near-mythical “Sous Vide” cooking technique, which advocates claim makes turning out restaurant quality meals as simple as dropping a bag in a pot of water. When I first looked into it, the equipment was either expensive and rather crude, or very expensive and industrial sized, and I didn’t pursue it any further. Recently I happened across an article discussing the technique and showing a new generation of equipment aimed at home use which is relatively small but capable, and after some investigation decided that a mid-range model was within my kitchen tool budget. In it’s most basic form, the typical unit consists of an immersion heater, a circulation pump, and a thermostat, and the market is full of options in the $80 – $250 range. I selected a Gourmia GSV140P based on a combination of price, reviews, and features. I didn’t see where wifi or bluetooth would be overly useful in my situation, but I did like the higher power and circulation capabilities it offered relative to some less expensive models.
It arrived ready to go, so I decided I might as well test it out with something simple. My first thought for a container was my slow cooker pot, but it turned out to be too short for the unit to clamp to. Next I tried the pot from my electric pressure cooker, and it fit nearly perfectly. I also tried a large storage container, and while it did fit from the height perspective the volume was much larger than I needed.
Since I could clamp the unit on the side of the pot with the pot still in the pressure cooker base, I was able to add water into the pot and use the pressure cooker to start heating it while I did other things. I had a bag of boneless / skinless chicken thighs in the freezer, so I pulled one out, dropped it in a pot of cold water for a few minutes to give the seasonings at least a partially thawed surface to stick to, seasoned it with sliced garlic, marjoram, and chili flakes, then vacuum sealed it (a freezer bag could also be used).
Once the chicken was ready to go, I turned off the pressure cooker, plugged in the immersion pod, and tried to turn it on. The buttons on the control screen appear to be capacitive and do not have a tactile feedback, so after several unsuccessful attempts I gave up and read the instructions, where I found that to turn it on you have to hold your finger on the power button for 4 seconds. Not overly difficult, but a bit counterintuitive. When it powered up it gave a readout in degrees C, and another look at the instructions told me the very straightforward process to switch it to degrees F (which is what the temperature guidance I was using was based on). Setting the target temperature and time was a bit more intuitive. I was expecting a very gradual temperature increase, but once the heater and circulator kicked in the temperature rise was surprisingly quick. Although there was a sound of moving water, it was relatively quiet and there was very little motor noise. After dropping the sealed chicken thigh in I found that it still had enough air in it to float, so the closest thing to hand was a small weeding hoe that I hadn’t yet used and it was pressed into service as a hold-down weight. Then I went off and did some other work around the house.
The guideline I was using said that I’d need at least an hour from a frozen start but I could leave it for up to 3 hours with no loss in quality, so I waited until I was ready to eat a couple of hours later before turning it off and removing the chicken. As promised by the sous vide advocates, it was pretty much perfectly done and the flavors from the seasonings had spread throughout the meat, though it was patterned on the surface from the vacuum seal.
In summary, on the basis of my first use I’m very pleased with the Gourmia GSV140P Sous Vide Immersion Pod, and I’m looking forward to using it more as I explore the field of sous vide cookery. After the initial power-up I now know how to use it, and find it very easy to use.