HOWTO: Ultra-cheap Sous-vide



I'm a keen cook, and I've wanted to experiment
with sous-vide
forever. But "proper" sous-vide machines cost a fortune. So I was
quite excited when my son pointed me to a Kickstarter for a cheap
sous-vide, Codlo. The
basic idea here is to use a slow cooker or a rice cooker for the
water bath and an external thermostat to switch on/off the mains
supply.


I was about to fund this thing when I realised I already had
everything I needed to make my own at a fraction of the cost. How?
I'd already bought
an STC-1000
thermostat

(US
version
) for a wine cellar I'm building (that's another
story). And I already own a slow cooker (which I don't use, because
I don't really go in for slow cooking) - a Russell Hobbs 14586 (no
longer available, but there are many alternatives, for
example, Morphy
Richards 48710
).

The thermostat is overkill,
because it does both heating and cooling, and for this purpose you
only need heating. But it is cheap. So, given those two ingredients,
all you need is to wire it up. Probably the simplest way to do this
is to use two extension leads (or one computer power cable and one
extension lead) - here's
a long but
thorough video showing how to do it
. Of course, for sous-vide
you only need to wire up the heating circuit. Also, if you don't
mind having to plug it in twice, you can avoid most of the soldering
and heat-shrinking - or all of it, if you
use Terminal
Block
.


(Terminal
Block
).

The other ingredient of sous-vide is vacuum packing. Sadly, I missed
another perfect Kickstarter
, but I've found you can get away with just
sealing freezer bags almost completely closed, then almost
completely immersing them in a bowl of water (obviously without
letting the water in!) to drive out most of the air, and sealing
them before you take them out of the bowl.

So there you have it, sous-vide for a total cost of about £40
($60) and about half an hour of fiddling. All that's left is to
start cooking things! The web has plenty of sources for times,
temperatures
and recipes.

By the way, please be careful: mains electricity and water don't
mix! Finally, do note the safety advice.

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