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sous vide
[soo VEED]
French for "under vacuum," sous vide is a cooking process in which food is encased in an airtight plastic pouch (typically vacuum sealed) and cooked for a long period of time at a (precise) low temperature.  

Using traditional methods of cooking, you might put a steak on a 750 degree grill, attempting to get the center of the steak to a perfect medium-rare temperature of 130 degrees, without cooking the outside of the steak until it's gray and lifeless.  To make it even more difficult, even when you take the steak off the grill, the temperature of the center continues to increase due to the heat of the meat surrounding it.

The magic of sous vide is that you cook the entire piece of meat at the precise temperature you like.  To cook a steak to the perfect medium-rare temperature of 130 degrees, you cook the steak in 130 degree water.  It takes a lot longer to get a steak to 130 degrees by cooking at 130 degrees, but the benefits are worth it.

1) It's impossible to over-cook.  No part of the steak can get over cooked.
2) The entire steak, from "coast to coast" is exactly how you like it.
3) Timing is easy.  I usually cook my steaks for somewhere around six hours.  If your guests are late, an extra hour (or three) doesn't make any difference.
4) The fat in the steak is always perfectly rendered.  It's absolutely amazing how great inexpensive cuts of meat turn out when cooked sous vide for six hours.  

There are many sous vide cookers out there.  I'm more of a do-it-yourself (cheap) kind of guy, so I built my own sous vide cooker for less than $40.  The fancy, $500 cookers have water circulators and tenth-of-a-degree precision, but from my experience, that isn't necessary.  For $40, you can make absolutely incredible steak!

Step 1: Parts

The heart of the sous vide cooker is a digital temperature controller.  You can easily find them on eBay for less than $25, including shipping.  Just be sure the controller you buy operates at 110V, and can display temperature in degrees Fahrenheit (if that's what you want).  http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=temperature+controller+110v&_sacat=0&_odkw=temperature+controller&_osacat=0&_from=R40

Notice how the controller has 8 screw terminals (second picture).
3 & 4 - These terminals give the device power to operate.
7 & 8 - The temperature sensor connects to these terminals.
1 & 2 - When the controller senses that the temperature is below the set temperature, it closes this relay.  When it's at (or above) temperature, is opens this relay.  We'll use these two terminals to route power to an outlet.

Other parts
Box - We'll also need an enclosure to put everything into.  I used a 4x4x4 electrical box I purchased at Lowes for $9.
Outlet - I like a single outlet.  I got this one from Home Depot for $3.  I had to cut the tabs a little to make it fit in the box.
C14 receptacle - This is a plug like you find on computers.  Get these from eBay, too.  They should be less than $1 each.   http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l2736&_nkw=c14+receptacle
C13 power cord - If you don't have one around, you should be able to pick one up for a couple of bucks.  Check eBay or MonoPrice.com.
#4-40 x 3/8" screws - You'll need a couple of screws to connect the C14 receptacle to the box.
14 AWG wire
Wire nut
3 female disconnects
- Optional, but very helpful
I made this exactly as instructed and it's completely awesome. Have since made three more for friends. I don't even know how to read an electrical diagram. I also made the vacuum chamber, also awesome, inexpensive, and highly useful. Will think of you every time I sous vide my sockeye!
<p>Has anybody found these temp controllers locally?</p><p>Home Depot, etc.</p>
<p>what about this controller? $27.5 sold on ebay.<a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/141553021483" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.com/itm/141553021483</a></p>
<p>UPDATE: I've received the electronic temperature controller from ebay and tested it out with my analog crockpot and it works pretty great as a sous vide machine. (See photos)</p><p>The PID temperature reading is accurate, and you can also calibrate it if necessary. (+-3.0 deg)</p><p>There is a bit of temperature fluctuation to be expected when using a crockpot, up to +- 0.5 deg (C) on 'low'', because the crockery continues to emit/absorb heat even after the heating element turns off/on. However, that's more than good enough for me. 63 degree eggs turned out perfectly runny, 64 degree eggs turned out with a nice yolk that barely holds together, and 55 degree salmon was lovely, although it could benefit from a couple of degrees less heat for a creamier texture. </p><p>Critiques:</p><p>1) When it came the contacts in the socket were not 'tight' enough so I thought it was broken. I just needed to tweak the contacts (without opening it up, and without powering it up) with a tiny screwdriver to make them contact my crockpot's plug better. Works fine now.</p><p>2) There are a lot of detailed settings to play with but only 4 buttons, so you really need the manual to figure out where you are in the menu of options. The manual is in decent english. But once set, you're good to go.</p><p>3) You must either set the gadget to work in 1.0 deg increments OR 0.1 deg increments. So if you want accurate control (eg set the crockpot to start heating when temp falls by 0.1 deg below target), then to set the target temperature you have to use the up/down buttons to scroll to the desired temperature in 0.1 deg increments. A little bit slow if you need to change the temp by more than 10 degrees, but you can just hold down the button as it scrolls up/down.</p><p>All in all, not bad for a $23 gadget! Would buy it again any day over a $200 immersion circulator.</p>
<p>Wow, that's a great find! I've already ordered one myself, and will update once we receive it and test it out. In the meantime we've done some sous vide cooking experiments, using just a styrofoam box and a digital thermometer. Worked great, although it requires some monitoring. See more here: <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Styrofoam-Sous-Vide-Salmon" style="">http://www.instructables.com/id/Styrofoam-Sous-Vide-Salmon</a></p>
That looks like it would probably work the same way. DIY gives you much more geek &quot;cred&quot;, but this controller will probably work, too.<br><br>Give it a try and let us know how it works for you.
<p>It works great. Temp reading is accurate. I think it's helpful to someone who know nothing about electric..</p><p>And save time</p>
<p>note, always have the switching on the hot, not the neutral. All netrauls should be common, and the controller be grounded. By switching the neutral, you could break the path to ground which is not an good idea when mixing electricity and water.</p><p>Be safe.</p>
<p>I decided to do this using a cooler, and I'm very pleased with the result. :)</p><p><strong>Parts list</strong> (with links for buying them in the UK):<br> &bull; cooler: &pound;19.99 if you don't already have one <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0001MQ8E4" rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0001MQ8E4</a><br> &bull; 4mm acrylic sheet big enough to cover your cooler: ~&pound;14 <a href="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200980451609" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200980451609</a><br> &bull; cup boiler: &pound;13.75 <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B007OVCSSU" rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B007OVCSSU</a><br> &bull; digital temperature controller with thermocouple: &pound;10.18 <a href="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/171472800127" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/171472800127</a><br> &bull; project box: &pound;3.75 from Maplin<br> &bull; 4W submersible aquarium pump: &pound;5.99 <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00LZNM770" rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00LZNM770</a><br> &bull; Sugru: 2 x 5g blue + 1 x 5g white to make colour-matched corner blobs that help the acrylic sheet to sit snugly on top of the cooler; and 1 x 5g white to hold the cup boiler in the hole in the acrylic sheet. <a href="http://sugru.com/" rel="nofollow">http://sugru.com/</a></p><p>Total cost: ~&pound;75. So not the &quot;under $15&quot; that some have claimed, but the &pound;75 does include the price of a cooler, and you might be able to find some of the parts cheaper elsewhere. Good luck!<br></p><p><strong>Method</strong></p><p>Put the acrylic sheet on top of the cooler, draw round the top using a Sharpie, then use a jigsaw to cut out the shape.</p><p>Use a 36mm hole saw (e.g. http://www.screwfix.com/p/titan-holesaws-15-piece-... to make the hole for the Cup Boiler, then fix the Cup Boiler in place using white Sugru. Put four big blobs of Sugru near the corners of your acrylic sheet to hold it snugly on top of your cooler. Leave it all for 24 hours for the Sugru to cure.</p><p>Meanwhile, connect up the electrics. The pump should run continuously, while the Cup Boiler should be controlled by the thermostat.</p><p>I also fixed the project box to the acrylic sheet by replacing the box's four corner screws with longer ones that go through the acrylic.</p>
<p>Very nice, one question though. Why did you choose to make an acrylic cover as opposed to just using the cooler cover?</p>
Simply so that I still have a functional coolbox as well as a sous-vide cooker.
<p>So obvious once you say it. </p><p>Any concerns with temp and the submersible pump? </p><p>What is the dead-band around the set-point of the thermostat? </p><p>Thanks</p><p>k</p>
<p>First pump lasted about six months, but the replacement seems to be doing better. Pot luck really!</p><p>By &quot;dead band&quot;, I assume you mean the range through which the temperature is allowed to fluctuate before the controller switches the heater on or off. For the controller that I listed above, it's 1&deg;C above or below the set temperature, so a 2&deg; fluctuation altogether. That works fine, but you can easily find a very similar controller with a tolerance of 0.1&deg;C. I used that in a duplicate cooker that I made for a friend.</p>
Very nicely done. I really like the addition of the submersible aquarium pump. Great work!
<p>Mine was much cheaper than $40. The temperature controller was $11 shipped on ebay, and I got the outlet for just over a dollar on amazon. I had wire and plenty of c13 power cords around. I just cut the end off of one and skipped the c14 receptacle. I also used a plastic container that came with sliced ham, but I plan on upgrading to something else when I come across the perfect container. My only gripe is the temperature seems to fluctuate a little more than I'd like- for instance if I set it at 129, it'll sit between 127-132. Still very cool and works really well.</p>
<p>Thank you for a great instructable!</p><p>I love the box from Home Depot, I think I will be using it for many other projects. I especially appreciated the templates. I did add a square for the box outline, split them into &quot;top&quot; and &quot;side&quot; and made a pdf (which will hopefully be attached). </p><p>The only other real change I made was to use a 1/4&quot; phono jack and plug so that the temp sensor is removable.</p>
<p>Jsano19 gave me this very simple wiring solution for my ITC-2000. Worked like a charm.</p>
I'm having difficulty with getting mine to work. I've followed your instructions, except I haven't used a c14 and have powered it directly from the mains. The digital controller seems to work - it gives a correct reading of the temp. I'm not sure if the relay is working properly though: there is no power going to my croc pot. The photos should show how I've wired it, if anyone can spot the mistake id be very grateful!
Ah figured it out be plunging the temp sensor in a cup of hot tea. The factory settings for my controller must be for an output appliance that cools. I just had to adjust the settings in the controller to &quot;H&quot; rather than &quot;C&quot;. Simple! It now seems to be working as expected.
Thanks for posting the solution. That bit of wisdom will definitely help the next person who experiences a similar problem.<br><br>Now get cooking! ;-)
<p>I robbed some parts from an old computer but the clock was from the info you gave. I felt like a lot of heat was coming off the top of our slow cooker causing the temperature to fluctuate more than it should have so I put a dish towel over it. Best steak I have ever had.</p>
Great work. Enjoy the steak!
<p>this was a really fun build. The instructable was dead-solid perfect. I've used it several times now and it works great. I found that it's necessary to put a couple of saucers on the bag to keep it underwater (I don't have a vacuum machine to empty all the air out of the cooking bag. I used Ziploc freezer bags to cook with. Click on the image to see the whole thing.</p>
You can get almost all air out by not completely sealing the ziplock bag as you slowly lower it into the water, then seal it.
<p>Nicely done. It looks great.</p><p>&gt;&gt; I found that it's necessary to put a couple of saucers on the bag to keep it underwater</p><p>Wow. That's a great tip.</p>
Great project!
<p>Did you use both ends of an extension cord instead of the outlet and receptacle? Very clever!</p>
<p>I built one of these and am having a blast working with it. Built it even cheaper, used an old computer power supply for the plug and the wiring! This wiring diagram was helpful. Just hook to the hot side not the cold side.</p>
<p>so did you hook to the hot side or cool side ur saying use hot but diagram uses cold</p>
Nicely done! The selection of the box certainly changes the &quot;personality&quot; of the project. I definitely like the personality of yours.
I Made my sous vide controller last week and I'm using a deep fryer. <br>Even if your instructions are created and simple, I had some trouble wiring all the connections. <br>I cocked a beef steak and some salmon perfectly and I'm going on experimenting other recipes. <br>Thank you for this wonderful Instructables<br><br>
<p>I used a fryer as well...did you have to keep resetting the heat everytime the fryer cycled back on?</p>
no I don't. The controller turns on and off the fryer as it gets the right temperature.
<p>How many watts is your deep fryer? I was thinking about using a Nesco roaster for more volume but at 1450 Watts it comes to around 13 amps, exceeeding the max amperage of the controller.</p>
My Fryer is 1200 W. But i don't understand anything about technical stuff :) <br>I just followed the instruction and the scheme to make the right connections, and it works.
<p>So simple to make, and so versatile! Used it with a slow cooker so far for amazing eggs and steak, and then plugged the heater in and used it for climate control :-).</p>
Very nice, clean implementation. Well done!
<p>Awesome project. I'm a bit confused about the wiring. Wiring diagram appears to be different than wire configuration in photos. Specifically, wires connected to pin 3 and 4 on temp controller. Which one is correct? </p>
Good eye! You can swap hot/neutral on pins 3 and 4 with no impact. So, either one is correct (but it would have been a better Instructable if I made the picture and diagram match).
<p>I was noticing that today as I was building this...bu I figured both 3 and 4 pins were basically the same...I went with what you typed, not with the pic..works great</p>
<p>I just made this..tried using it with my home deep fryer..works ok but when the fryer turns back on I have to reset the the temp. So it's kind of a pain in the butt..have to stay near the fryer to listen for the beep...I will try the slow cooker tomorrow</p>
<p>Works great with an 18 quart roaster oven. Did 30 pounds of brisket for 48 hours and it turned out as tender as a tenderloin steak! In 24 hours tough spare ribs just fall off the bones. Also ideal for maintaining the proper serving temperature.</p>
<p>Great tutorial! I want to build one for my boyfriend who's a non-believer of sous vide without having to shell out a couple of hundred USDs. We are here in the Philippines and our sockets are at 220v. Is there any difference on how should how I get parts?</p>
Be sure you get a 220v temperature controller. <br><br>Other than that, I don't know how 220v differs from 110v? I assume that it'll be wired very similar, but I don't know because I've never worked with 220.
<p>I am planning my build using a countertop food warmer <a href="http://www.webstaurantstore.com/avantco-w50-12-x-20-electric-countertop-food-warmer-120v-1200w/177W50.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.webstaurantstore.com/avantco-w50-12-x-20-electric-countertop-food-warmer-120v-1200w/177W50.html</a> or a roaster oven </p><p><a href="http://www.webstaurantstore.com/proctor-silex-32918-18-qt-roaster-oven-warmer-120v-1440w/41032918.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.webstaurantstore.com/proctor-silex-32918-18-qt-roaster-oven-warmer-120v-1440w/41032918.html</a> to allow for cooking more product. I believe the food warmer may have space to allow embedding the controller inside the box itself. If not, a smaller electrical box can be used to house the temperature controller and connected external to the food warmer/roaster oven.</p>
<p>Great tutorial! I want to build one for my boyfriend who's a non-believer of sous vide without having to shell out a couple of hundred USDs. We are here in the Philippines and our sockets are at 220v. Is there any difference on how should how I get parts?</p>
<p>I made this and it's wonderful! Took some experimenting but finally got it right on the third try. Thanks so much, burkelashell!</p>
<p>You sure polarity is wrong? Wired it as shown, put it together then checked polarity with a tester. Perhaps the image of the C14 is difficult to interpret. Are we looking at the front or the back? </p><p>Works like a charm and will probably make more. </p>
<p>Does that temperature controller remember the last setting? I was thinking about adding a programmable timer relay so I can have an auto on/off function, but that would only work if the temperature controller remembers the last setting after losing power.</p>

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