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In Sous Vide for the Home Cook Douglas Baldwin gives a recipe for broccoli. In brief, blanch the broccoli, cool in an ice bath, then vacuum seal as a single layer in a bag with salt, pepper, and butter.

Except this does not work with an external (non-chamber) vacuum machine. Even after draining the broccoli for ten minutes, the vacuum machine sucks so much water out of the bag that it fills the entire water reservoir in the machine, and starts being sucked into the pump. Then you curse, cancel it, dump out the water, and try again, about ten times. And still, the bag refuses to seal, because it won't leave the heater on long enough to evaporate the water that's preventing the seal.

Eventually, I figured out that hitting the vacuum button again, followed immediately by the seal button, would trick the machine into turning the heater back on, even though it hadn't cooled down yet, and finally got the bag sealed. (And, amazingly, it appears it may still work, despite having sucked water through the pump)

I suspect this isn't a problem at all with a chamber vac, but it doesn't seem like a book for the Home Cook should require a $1200 vacuum machine.

So, is there some trick to seal broccoli using a $40 external vacuum machine?

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honestly, sous vide broccoli isn't worth it to me. it cooks very quickly the traditional way and is easier to do IMO. Especially because of the extra blanching step to prevent the outgassing effect. –  Brendan Jan 29 '13 at 16:18
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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm sorry that you're having problems with my book. I think the problem is that you're adding water to the pouch. In the recipe, step 4 asks you to:

Vacuum-seal the broccoli, butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large pouch so that the florets are in a single layer.

This will crush the tops a bit, but it will be much easier to seal. Sorry again.

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I'm not adding water to the pouch... But maybe I need to drain it out of the broccoli better (they're quite full of water after blanching and putting in an ice bath, of course). I'll try putting them through a salad spinner. –  derobert Oct 24 '12 at 20:05
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Running them through your salad spinner is a great idea, I think! –  franko Oct 24 '12 at 22:16
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Ah, okay. When I use a clamp-style vacuum sealer with wet food: I make sure there's at least two hand's widths between the food and the edge of the pouch; put the open end of the pouch into the sealer, lock it shut, and then hang the bag over the edge of the counter; then I begin sealing and press the seal/stop button as soon as the water being drawn towards the sealer is about an inch away. If the seal doesn't look very good, I usually do a second seal between the first seal and pouch's open end. –  Douglas Baldwin Oct 25 '12 at 3:41
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+1 For being Douglas Freakin' Baldwin! –  Eli Lansey Oct 25 '12 at 10:54
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@DouglasBaldwin - Welcome to the site! You might be interested in the other questions we have about sous vide cooking: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/sous-vide –  KatieK Oct 25 '12 at 15:55
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Could you cool the broccoli, drain, and then freeze it a bit until solid enough to avoid the liquid problem, then vacuum seal it as usual?

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Possibly, though I'm not sure what that'd do to the texture. Freezing isn't generally kind to fresh vegetables. –  derobert Oct 24 '12 at 19:19
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Your problem is to seal something with some water content left using a edge sealer.

On my sealer I have two buttons, one for vacuum sealing, it will start to suck and suck and suck all water and choke ....

I also have one button for only sealing, without vacuum, all it will do is start to seal.

I can press vacuum and seal just after each other, so in your situation I would have the bag hanging down, I would press the vacuum seal, then when almost all air (not all) is sucked out I would press the seal button, after a bit of practice you can get the machine to seal without much water leaking into the machine.

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