We’ve discussed smaller water baths previously, so for this post let’s switch focus to the big baths that can handle some serious meals. These are the slightly unconventional, but incredibly useful, sous vide setups that allow for making larger meals, multiple recipes, or feasts to feed the masses. Some of our Dorkfood family members have even made things like suckling pig or full racks of ribs using these baths.
Some of the commonly used bath appliances we covered under a previous post do come in larger sizes, but here we are talking about the really big baths. There are a few general ways in which these can be made, but two of the more common are using 5 gallon buckets and insulated coolers. These larger cooking vessels often take a bit of ingenuity, as they don’t come with built-in heating elements. Many Dorks have had success pairing immersion heaters, usually used for aquariums (like the Finnex), with the DSV for heating their large water baths.
5 Gallon Buckets
These large buckets are popular with home brewers and readily available in stores and online. The buckets are simply large containers, so an immersion heater will come in handy for heating this bath up to the desired temperature. Because of the amount of water, this and any other large bath will take longer to heat up to temperature than the smaller versions.
The size of the bucket, while ideal for holding all that water, may not be great at evenly distributing the heat. Indeed, due to the size and the sheer amount of water, you may find that hot and cold spots form in the water bath. As mentioned with the larger of the more common appliances, an easy test for this is to give your water bath a stir – if the temperature changes by more than a degree, circulation should be introduced. This will help keep your temperature consistent and your food evenly and safely cooked.
One important thing to note here is to keep the probe away from direct contact with the heating element. The heater may get far hotter than the water around it and the probe is not guaranteed past 200˚ F.
While these containers can come in smaller sizes, large insulated coolers can be made into ideal sous vide water baths for extremely large meals. Not only can the large insulated coolers hold a lot of water, they have built in heat/cold distribution. Essentially, when a Dork hooks up a heating element to the DSV and lets the water bath come to temperature, the insulated cooler will maintain that temperature with far less effort on the part of the DSV and the heater. This means less power cycling and leads to a savings in energy.
Just this past year in Arkansas, Dorkfood was honored to sponsor a tent at the Camden Daffodil Festival’s Championship Steak Cookoff in partnership with the folks at Let’s Talk BBQ. We used the insulated cooler method of cooking sous vide to serve up over 100 perfectly cooked steaks to a hungry Cookoff crowd. The steaks and the fair were a huge hit and showed off the greatness of combining meat, sous vide, and the DSV.
Learn more about the Dorkfood DSV, or tell us about your own sous vide setup in the comments.