A delightfully geeky way to cook a delicious egg


In the upcoming MAKE, Vol 25, we have an article by Scott Heimendinger that shows you how to make a sous vide immersion cooker. What is it? It's a machine to slow-cook food (sealed in a plastic bag) in a water bath at a precise temperature.

We've put the complete article up at Make Projects.

From the intro:

Most sous vide (soo-veed) cooking machines are commercial models that cost north of $2,000, and the first "home" version, the countertop SousVide Supreme, is priced in the neighborhood of $450 (not including vacuum sealer), which is still a steep investment for something that essentially keeps water warm. I decided to build a better device on the cheap. Behold, the $75 DIY Sous Vide Heating Immersion Circulator! By scrapping together parts from eBay and Amazon, I created a portable device that heats and circulates water while maintaining a temperature accurate within 0.1°C. And unlike the SousVide Supreme, it mounts easily onto larger containers, up to about 15 gallons, for greater cooking capacity. The water is heated by three small immersion heaters and circulated by an aquarium pump to keep the temperature uniform. An industrial process temperature module controls the heaters, and an eye bolt lets you clamp the entire apparatus to the rim of a plastic tub or other container. To cook sous vide, you also need a vacuum sealer, which this project does not include. I bought a good one new for about $112.

From the "Kitchen Tests" section:


To reveal the power of sous vide, cook an egg in the shell (no plastic needed) at 64.5°C for 1 hour. This yields an amazing transformation: perfectly soft whites, not runny or rubbery, and a yolk with the consistency of a rich pudding. It's impossible to achieve this through any other cooking method, and it's spectacular the first time you experience it.

I expanded on this amazing transformation by breading the yolks and quickly deep-frying them to add a crunchy shell. See my recipe here.

Make Projects: Sous Vide Immersion Cooker


  1. It turns out that you can get a texture like that on a deep-fried yolk without doing any of the sous vide stuff — just freeze it in a sphere mold first.

  2. I enjoyed a perfectly cooked order of eggs benedict at a country club the day after Christmas. The chefs were very excited about their sous vide immersion cooker, and with just cause. My only problem is that it is a rather unattractive set-up and looked out of place at the buffet. Melikes the idea of getting this going on in my own place on the relatively cheaps.

  3. vacuum sealer? To pair with a DIY, scrap-built, dirt cheap cooker? Bah! Take a ziplock bag, put your food in. With the bag open, slowly start to dip your food into the water, until the water is up to the seal. Close the bag. No air in the bag, no vacuum sealer required. Sure, might be a bit more of a hassle, but it’s worth $100!

    1. The point of the vacuum sealer isn’t simply to remove the air from the bag, but to remove the air from the food as well. Doing so changes both the way in which the food cooks and also it’s texture. As well as quickly forcing marinades and seasonings into the food.

  4. I just started collecting parts for one of these several days ago after reading Scott’s page on the subject. Glad to see it hit Make and boingboing!

  5. For a lot less effort, you can buy yourself a PID controller and use a cheap rice cooker to set up a sous-vide cooker. I use this controller:


    It’s a bit pricier than this solution but comes with the probe you want and auberins makes really solid stuff. The rice cooker is well insulated so it’s pretty energy efficient.

    I do smoked brisket that’s frozen in the vacuum pac, and then in the sous-vide at 190 degrees until it’s nice and tender. If you do temps like that you need to break the seal on the vacuum pack as the food will put out a lot of vapor.

  6. No plastic needed? Then how is the egg vacuumed?

    Or if it isn’t vacuumed, how is this different from “boiling” the eggs at a lower temperature?

  7. Jules Verne Did it First:

    verne In his book “Off on a comet”, science fiction author Jules Verne shows that he was actually aware of the possibility of “boiling” eggs at a temperature lower than 100 °C. He has correctly observed that water boils at lower temperature in high altitudes, and that on a fictional comet of appropriate mass, water will boil at 66 °C. The temperature is wisely chosen, because by keeping eggs at 66 °C, you really can’t do anything wrong. From the last paragraph of the excerpt it seems that the eggs were not fully cooked after “a good quarter of an hour”.

    The skillet was duly set upon the stove, and Ben Zoof was prepared to wait awhile for the water to boil. Taking up the eggs, he was surprised to notice that they hardly weighed more than they would if they had been mere shells; but he was still more surprised when he saw that before the water had been two minutes over the fire it was at full boil.

    “By jingo!” he exclaimed, “a precious hot fire!”

    Servadac reflected. “It cannot be that the fire is hotter,” he said, “the peculiarity must be in the water.” And taking down a centigrade thermometer, which hung upon the wall, he plunged it into the skillet. Instead of 100 degrees, the instrument registered only 66 degrees.

    “Take my advice, Ben Zoof,” he said; “leave your eggs in the saucepan a good quarter of an hour.



  8. Hand pump vacuum sealer for about half the price mentioned:


    I used mine today to vacuum marinate a stew I was preparing. Had it for a couple of years and still works fine. I like the fact that it doesn’t require any electricity.

  9. Technically sous vide means “under vacuum” so if you’re doing an egg in the shell you’re just doing low-temperature slow-cooking, not sous vide. Even when using a sous vide cooker.

  10. A friend of mine is into the molecular gastronomy side of things. After reading Heston Blumenthal’s book he tried cooking beef at 50°C for 24 hours, then browning it with a blowtorch before serving. The results, he says, were spectacular. Never tried it myself, but he swears the difference in taste and texture is astonishing.

  11. A few years ago, I thought I had invented sous vide cooking when I came up with this idea for minimizing the grey ‘overcooked’ layer for steak cooking:


    When I later read about sous vide, I smacked my forehead. I had once again barely missed the mark. Well, barely in this case meaning more than a century, I suppose.

  12. I used a crockpot and a DIY immersion circulator (PID+2x heaters+pump) for a year or so before buying a Sous Vide Supreme. While the SVS doesn’t have a huge capacity (11.5 liter), nor a proper pump-driven circulator, it does do a good job of maintaining ±1ºF of the target temperature, it’s easy to clean, it’s dead quiet, and it looks better on the counter than a bunch of scientific equipment hanging out of a lexan tub. At some point I may upgrade to a proper lab-grade circulator but right now, if I had $1500 to burn, I’d spend it on a chamber vacuum sealer for making compressed fruit/veg and stick with the SVS for the cooking.

    Regardless of the equipment you use though, sous vide is great fun to geek out on and makes some damn good food. I’ve done 2-day shortribs that came out as tender as filet mignon and cost 1/6 as much. We also eat more fish than we used to, since it’s so easy and fast to oil-poach in a water bath. Now if someone would just write a comprehensive and definitive guide to sous vide cooking in the vein of Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking”, I’d be happy. Thomas Keller has a book called “Under Pressure” that has some great SV recipes but it’s more of a cookbook than a food science book. McGee and Herve This both cover SV to some extent in their work but there does seem to be a gap in the market for a comprehensive SV reference book.

    1. The book you’re waiting for is Modernist Cuisine, out of Intellectual Ventures’ labs. Be prepared for an enormous price tag, which does not include the cost of adding a wing to your kitchen in which to store the multiple volumes.

  13. what exactly is stopping you from getting a pot of water to a 64 degree simmer and just plopping an egg in?

    1. Exactly 64C? Do you want to sit there watching it, fiddling with the burner, pouring in a little ice water when you overshoot the temp, etc? Probably not. The goal is to hold a temp that is exactly right, to cook, but not overcook. The reason the SV Supreme is $450 is because it is a lot more that a thermometer and a heater, it’s several, calibrated at several temps, and a controller than understands how it will tend to overshoot, as well as using convection.

      But I’m waiting for the price to come down.

  14. It’s the only way I do steaks and my set-up cost $0 (Of course you do need a digital thermometer.)

    Filling up a beer cooler with hot water from the tap gets me extremely close to my magic number 127F. I boil a kettle of water to tweak it. Next I drop my thick steaks into a ziplock and suck the air out. You can double bag or duct tape if you want. Incredibly it loses only about a degree an hour. I might top up the cooler with another shot of boiling water from the kettle after a couple hours.

    Although it does break it down and create a very tender steak the real beauty is the guarantee of perfect cooking and more crucially the timing. Once the steaks go on the grill your timeline for dinner is locked. With the beer cooler sous vide method you can chat and eat cheese until 3 minutes before you want to eat. Then its a quick sear (don’t forget the sides) and you are good to go. I chuck ’em in hours before and it definitely makes things easier.

    1. Be forearned – this temperature controller is just a thermostat, not a PID controller. The difference is important to maintain a consistent and stable temperature within a narrow range (ex. 0.1C).

  15. Sous-vide is amazing. I refer you all to the Serious Eats blog, where J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has been dropping knowledge for a spell now. I especially recommend his steak article with the moisture index:


    That beer cooler hack is great, and I have used it numerous times in the past. I do want a circulator though, as it can be tricky to keep the temp correct–items from the fridge cool the water and need to be accounted for, and some coolers are better than others at maintaining temp. I can get mine to stay between 130° and 140° with some effort.

    Zip-Loc makes these really nice vacuum bags with a little pump. Refills available too. I got mine at the grocery store, they can probably order one or two if not normally stocked.


  16. I’ve had a fascination with molecular gastronomy for quite some time. But one thing that concerned me was the concept of cooking these meats for such a long time at such a low temperature.

    I originally started this post asking how safe this was… but then I discovered the fascinating reading of Thermal Inactivation D- and Z-Values of Salmonella and Listeria innocua in Fully Cooked and Vacuum Packaged Chicken Breast Meat during Postcook Heat Treatment and Thermal Inactivation of Salmonella spp. in Chicken Broth, Beef, Pork, Turkey, and Chicken (PDFs).

    Essentially… as long as the center of the object is cooked longer than an hour at 55C, 8 minutes at 60C, or 10 seconds at 70C, you should be relatively safe (at least, for the bacterias Salmonella and Listeria).

  17. The description of the egg (soft white and yolk like pudding) sounds a lot like the kind of texture you’d get with a hanjuku egg, a sort of soft-boiled egg popular at ramen restaurants in Japan.

  18. Cheapest option for the beginner? a small broiler oven.

    I have been using ours for many years for one of of my specialities, a particularly mean garlic brisket, which I season, wrap with aluminium foil, and cook *outside* for at least 12 hours at around 80 C / 176 F. The thing is so delicious and tender that it’s hard to believe I am using the cheapest available cut of beef. Doing this outside of the house is vital for peace, since the first time I did it, it turned out that a housefull of garlic smell overnight is not really that pleasant – I guess that’s where the hermetically sealed plastic bag can come in handy…

    Anyway, another discovery: chicken done this way is a waste. It turns into a soggy paste. Maybe the trick is a lower temperature. I am right now trying the 64.5 C eggs.

  19. I second the Sous Vide Supreme.


    I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that sous vide is the next big revolution in home cooking, and the SVS is about as easy as it gets.

    Some of my articles on the topic:


    As far as chemicals leaching from the bag, polypropylene is inert at temperatures below boiling.

    Chicken (white meat) needs to be done at around 62C / 144F. Dark meat can stand somewhat higher temps – 68C / 155F.

  20. I’m surprised to only see one mention of the crockpot system. I have been doing Sous Vide meals for the last six months with a setup that cost me less than $50.

    – Temp Controller (kits available) – $26 in parts – http://screwdecaf.cx/yatc.html
    – West Bend Crockery Crockpot – $17 (Amazon)
    – Yard Sale Vacuum Sealer – $5

    Every week I will do a few easy meals with this sous vide setup. Like everyone else I enjoy making fish, eggs and steak, but the most enjoyable dish is parsnips and carrots. Adding a small amount of sugar, butter, and salt with a temperature of 183F for a few hours makes the best damn veggies you have ever tasted.

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