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Sous vide cooking, on the cheap

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  • Sous vide cooking, on the cheap

    I've been tempted to try sous vide cooking for a while but the price of a proper sous vide set up put me off. Then I recently discovered a guy in Adelaide who makes sous vide pid controllers that you linkup to a rice cooker, almost correto style.

    I was a little cynical that it could operate as good as a $1,000+ sous vide machine, but for $140 I thought I'd give it a go. Having tried it, I'm delighted to say it works great. I have it linked up to an $80 rice cooker, so the whole setup cost me $220.

    I'm not sure of the rules of linking to non-sponsor sites, but I'm happy to recommend them via PM.

    Cheers
    Jonathon

  • #2
    Does it use an osPID by any chance?

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    • #3
      Sous vide cooking, on the cheap

      It used the XMT7100 pid, which is a pretty cheap pid you can pick up online for about $30. Throw in a $3 thermocouple and you could build it even cheaper.

      Does make me wonder why some Silvia pids are so expensive, with even the $120 Silvia pids being considered cheap!

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      • #4
        The DIY sous vides that I have seen use a slow cooker.

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        • #5
          Sous vide cooking, on the cheap

          I've read that using a slow cooker, rather than a rice cooker, is problematic because the slow cooker isn't as reactive as the rice cooker, i.e. it doesn't heat up as quickly. But that's just what I've read and might be complete rubbish.

          I've also seen lots of Americans online use those large coffee urns attached to a sous vide PID...well at least it's better than using them to make that dark liquid they call coffee.

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          • #6
            I made myself one. I used a Sestos PID controller (was $40 with SSR and PT100 probe) which I put into a metal box (from Jaycar, I think). I paired this with a $19 rice cooker from KMart (the cheapest decent sized one I could find). The whole thing works quite well. I will probably get another to PID my silvia when it arrives - but I can't find the right probe to stick into a silvia easily.

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            • #7
              Hi All,

              My brother has been into this for awhile and raves about the results hence after months of rattling in my ear I have caught the bug. He has been using a temp controller and slow cooker as mentioned above. I have bitten the bullet and have just started my build of a sous vide "machine". As the temp variances are very minimal between different finishing results such as a medium steak to medium rare, fish, chicken or veg it is difficult to entertain with only one water bath. Combining this with my obsessive approach to everything I am in the process of building a three bath system to allow for multiple meats and / or "doneness". There is one point that hasn't been mentioned yet and that is water circulation. That is the one thing the machines such as the sous vide supreme has over the cheaper alternatives. As there is such minute differences in how the meat turns out based on small temp changes the circulation prevents the hot and cold spots hence a consistent result.
              I have bought all the materials except the esky which I get tomorrow. Each bath is costing me around $38 with a few extra dollars needed for jiffy boxes and a power chord per bath - so lets say $50 - $60. Each bath has its own 1.5kw heating element, submersible water pump for circulation and controlled by its own controller. While I am over the top, to run a basic system with a slow cooker or rice cooker would only cost about $30 - $35 for a temp controller setup and working.
              If people are interested I'm more than happy to post pictures of the build or PM for parts details.

              Cheers Bryan

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              • #8
                Sous vide cooking, on the cheap

                Originally posted by yabba View Post
                If people are interested I'm more than happy to post pictures of the build.
                Yes please!

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                • #9
                  Sous vide cooking is awesome. Great results and hard to stuff up.

                  I'm sure you guys already know this, but just in case you don't, please read up on "botulism" before exploring sous vide cooking - you could save yourself a trip to the hospital.

                  Happy cooking!

                  Gavin.

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                  • #10
                    guys, You dont even need the $50 PID for this.
                    For the temperatures of SV cooking .. 50-80 C ?.. the electronic temp controllers used for brewing and Aquarium control are ideal.
                    They hold +- 1C and cost <$20 complete with thermocouple and an inbuilt power relay. .. Ebay is full of them.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by blend52 View Post
                      guys, You dont even need the $50 PID for this.
                      For the temperatures of SV cooking .. 50-80 C ?.. the electronic temp controllers used for brewing and Aquarium control are ideal.
                      They hold +- 1C and cost <$20 complete with thermocouple and an inbuilt power relay. .. Ebay is full of them.
                      Hi Blend I agree that the temp controllers for brewing are good enough (that's my background) and mine are mid $20, two channel (heating and cooling). I have tried to find aquarium heaters but none I have seen go that high (well not officially). It would make life a lot easier than elements however I cant find any. I better get my contacts checked....

                      Cheers Bryan.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by blend52 View Post
                        guys, You dont even need the $50 PID for this.
                        For the temperatures of SV cooking .. 50-80 C ?.. the electronic temp controllers used for brewing and Aquarium control are ideal.
                        They hold +- 1C and cost <$20 complete with thermocouple and an inbuilt power relay. .. Ebay is full of them.
                        whether you need PID or just bang-bang control depends on the thermal inertia of your system and what sort of delays are inbuilt. a friend of mine does sous vide with a bang-bang controller (with deadband+hysteresis) and it works well for a slow cooker but doesn't work for a kettle.

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                        • #13
                          Sous vide cooking, on the cheap

                          Originally posted by Hildy View Post
                          whether you need PID or just bang-bang control depends on the thermal inertia of your system and what sort of delays are inbuilt. a friend of mine does sous vide with a bang-bang controller (with deadband+hysteresis) and it works well for a slow cooker but doesn't work for a kettle.
                          Yes the thermal inertia is hugely important, if you have a water bath at 53 degrees and you drop in a couple of steaks at say 11 degrees, then the water bath is going to drop by at least 1-2 degrees.

                          How quickly it gets back to your desired temp but not above it is very important, too long at even 1 degree above your desired temp can overcook the food.

                          A well-programmed PID will do this reasonably well, but I don't know anything about home brew heaters, are they that accurate in a short period of time? For example, can they take 15 litres of water from 50 degrees to 53 degrees in a couple of minutes but on the way to stabilising at 53 not take it over 54? (assuming some kind of water distribution in the tank)

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                          • #14
                            As I mentioned I was building a Sous Vide cooker. While I was originally going to build a triple cooker from a 100 ltr esky I decided that 3 x 35 ltr cookers would be better. Here is the finished cooker except for a grill over the element to stop the plastic bags touching them.

                            The element is 1500w and the pump is 200 LPH. I am letting some silicon cure so I should be able to test run it tomorrow. I will interested to see what the temp control is like.

                            Cheers Yabba
                            Attached Files

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                            • #15
                              Sous vide cooking, on the cheap

                              Looks very well done, great job.

                              Is the element home brew-specific or a general heating element? How does it go at holding a set temperature?

                              Is the controller a PID with some kind of intelligent control or a simple on/off thermostat?

                              Would be keen to see a parts list, my current setup is too small for large chunks of meat but your setup would be perfect.

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