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In a recipe, I have to pressure cook vegetables in mason jars in duck fat. I don't have a pressure cooker but I do have an Anova Sous Vide Immersion Heater - can I use that instead?

Any other factors I should be considering, or alternate methods to pressure cooking?

UPDATE:

  1. Place vegetables in 500ml / 16 oz Mason jar no more than 3/4 full, cover with duck fat. Screw lid on jar tightly, and then loosen 1/4 turn to allow expansion of air during cooking
  2. Pressure cook at a gauge pressure of 1 bar/15 psi until tender, about 20min
  3. Strain duck fat through sieve and reserve
  • This sounds rather similar to the French confit method (slow cook in fat, and then let the whole thing set up & solidify, and stash it away) ... which is traditionally done around 200°F, which the Anova can do ... but it'd be better for holding them temp once the fat's already heated up. And there's the issue that if something calls for pressure cooking, there's typically a reason for it. If nothing else, you'd have to greatly adjust the cooking time. – Joe Oct 19 '15 at 17:17
  • It would be helpful if the OP could update to share the recipe to clarify what is actually intended. – NadjaCS Oct 20 '15 at 22:08
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If this is a recipe that will be served immediately, you may be able to use an alternate cooking method. If the reason is to store in your pantry, NO, do not use any method other than pressure cooking. From Pressure cooking Wiki

The standard cooking pressure of 15 psi was determined by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1917. At this pressure, water boils at 121 °C (250 °F).

You need this higher temperature to safely process certain items for storage.

From Fresh Preserving.com

When preserving vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood, safety is key. To keep what your canning safe to eat, and fresh tasting, you’ll use the Pressure Canning method which heats the contents to 240º F eliminating the risk of foodborne bacteria. You should also know that if even you’re mixing high acid foods with low-acid foods you must use the pressure canning method

  • This is a good point. I was assuming this is a recipe for serving immediately, not preserving, but that is probably not a good thing to assume. :-) – NadjaCS Oct 19 '15 at 17:05
  • moscafj, The temperature at which pathogens in spore form are destroyed is well above the boiling point of water. Unless the jar and its contents have been fully sterilized, it will not be shelf stable. – Sean Hart Oct 19 '15 at 18:45
  • @SeanHart and others...I stand corrected!! It is precisely the combination of veg and oil that is the concern for the risk of botulism. If, however, this were going to be used in the short term, Douglas Baldwin explains that, after sous vide and rapid chilling, the product will be safe: below 36.5°F (2.5°C) for up to 90 days, below 38°F (3.3°C) for less than 31 days, below 41°F (5°C) for less than 10 days, or below 44.5°F (7°C) for less than 5 days See: douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html#Safety_Pathogens_of_Interest – moscafj Oct 19 '15 at 19:05
  • @Debbie M. I don't think this is entirely true. It is a factor of temperature over time. In commercial production lines with accurate temperature control you can use much lower temperature over a longer time to the achieve same result without destroying food textures etc – TFD Oct 19 '15 at 22:36
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    @TFD this is where I was headed with my earlier comment (which I retracted). Everyone reading this should look at the Baldwin link I referenced above. While we can take care of most pathogens with longer times at lower temps in a water bath, botulism is always a concern when considering longer storage. Baldwin describes how to manage the risks. – moscafj Oct 20 '15 at 2:15
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Assuming, as Debbie notes, that this is not a recipe for preserved food, yes you should be able to, but I'm not sure it is the best/only option available to you. Choosing the substitute method should be based on what your best judgment tells you is the reason the recipe author chose the original method. (BTW, including your recipe in questions like this will help get you better answers faster.)

Most things you cook in a pressure cooker can also be cooked on the stovetop or in the oven as well with modifications on time and temperature, or, yes, adjusted to be cooked sous-vide. (Full disclosure -- I haven't yet tried sous-vide. I do cook a lot with pressure cookers, and frequently adjust and adapt my recipes so I can use my pressure cooker.) I think using a boiling water bath (if you have a large enough pot, such as for home canning) might be closer than sous-vide to the pressure cooker-canning jar method, but sous-vide should probably work, too. If you do want to do sous-vide for this, just use a reliable time/temp guide for the specific veggies in question.

Cooking in a pressure cooker increases the heat above boiling so if the recipe is expecting the duck fat or the vegetables to do something specific at a higher heat then this would not happen in the lower temperatures of the sous-vide method. If you need the higher heat to get the fat to penetrate the vegetables, for example, you might be better off oven-roasting at the same temperature.

I doubt this is the case. I suspect they are using the pressure cooker for decreasing the cooking time, although that depends on which vegetables and how long in the cooker. But use your judgment here -- if a recipe from a reliable source requires you to go through the hassle of setting things up in a canning jar in a pressure cooker for a very short time, then cooking speed IS NOT the reason, and probably sous-vide isn't the right choice as a replacement.

Cooking in a canning jar will prevent browning and caramelization; sous-vide would give the same results in this respect, as would cooking in a canning jar in a boiling water bath.

NOTE: Without having read the recipe, I am guessing that it is likely that the recipe is only partially cooking the vegetables in the pressure cooker and completing the cooking in another way with the rest of the ingredients. In that case, you'll need to adjust your cooking time accordingly for whatever substitute method you use.

  • Hi @NadjaCS i've updated the question with the original recipe. i believe the vegetables are meant to be cooked confit in the duck fat and be stored only for a few days. if thats the case, how long and at what temp should i cook the vegetables using the immersion heater - with or without the mason jar? – bouncingHippo Oct 21 '15 at 1:54
  • If you store it in the fridge and for only a couple days then the food safety concerns should go away. I find that a pressure cooker usually halves the cooking time for longer-cooking foods, so in the mason jar in a boiling water bath, probably 40 minutes. If sous-vide just check times for the specific vegetable. I think the fat won't change that much. – NadjaCS Oct 21 '15 at 2:03
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Have you considered using the micro-wave instead?

ChefSteps (which are very fond of sous-vide) seems to prefer this.

Quick and Easy Vegetable Confit

  • hi i've updated the original recipe, its for a modernist turkey stew – bouncingHippo Oct 20 '15 at 23:01
  • @bouncingHippo now I am really confused. Are you cooking the veg. to be part of a stew that will be consumed in the short term? Or...are you canning veg. in duck fat for long term storage? – moscafj Oct 21 '15 at 0:49
  • hi sorry to be confusing, the veg are to be cooked confit in duck fat. it should be edible for the next 2-3 days – bouncingHippo Oct 21 '15 at 1:51
  • @soegaard im a huge fan of ChefSteps btw! also, i've got a phobia using the microwave ever since i used it to microwave a towel with essential oils and it ignited - in the microwave! – bouncingHippo Oct 21 '15 at 1:55

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