I would like to try out sous vide, but I don't want to invest in the gadgets, until I have tried it and decided I want to keep using it. So I have thought about the best way to try it with no budget. Online, one of the method suggested is to use a beer cooler and zip bags. Would it also work to use a thermo bottle (a bottle, which keeps your tea / coffee warm) for this? I recently used my thermo bottle for 12 hours+, in the winter, and even after 12 hours it provided fairly hot tea. Would this work or would it be too small as container? I am pretty sure, that it could hold the temperature well. Or would it be better to simply use a pot on the stove and stir occasionally? I am not trying to achieve amazing results here, just to get a taste of the technique and see if it really is beneficial for me.

  • What do you want to cook? Do you have a reliable way to measure the temperature of your cooking water? – moscafj Jan 7 at 22:51
  • I have several thermometers, one water thermometer for baby bath water and one water proof cooking thermometer. Other than that no. I don't know what I want to cook, I will cook whatever I can, using my no budget method. – user1721135 Jan 7 at 22:52
  • The thermo bottle will continue to cool off (especially if you put something cold into it, unless you're adding heat to it ... and have a way to control that heat so it doesn't heat up too much) – Joe Jan 7 at 22:53
  • Yeah, this is probably going to be tricky, but once I achieve equilibrium, I just need to shut the lid and it will be good for hours probably? At the beginnging I can stir it and check / correct the temp. – user1721135 Jan 7 at 22:54
  • Run a test. fill thermos with water at 90°C. Wait 10 min. Check temp. You'll lose heat fast at the start because you have to heat the interior glass. Then once every half hour or so for 4 hours. That should give you an idea of the cooling rate. Remember that that strip of steak, or whatever you eventually slip in there will also take up heat to reach equilibrium temp. -You can mitigate these troubles by changing the water 10 minutes after adding your cooking bag. – Wayfaring Stranger Jan 8 at 0:43

I don't think a thermos bottle will give you enough room to cook much of anything. However in principle, it could work. It would be better to use a cooler. This old Serious Eats article explains everything. Of course, that was written 8 or 9 years ago, when immersion circulators were very pricey. You can get them now for as low as $99 US.

You won't need 12 hours (and I wouldn't recommend any long duration cooks without an actual circulator). You can easily cook a steak (even in a pot in the kitchen sink with running hot water if your water heater puts out high enough heat) in an hour. You could also do this on the stove top, controlling the burner and monitoring the water temperature, but a cooler will retain the heat and you will be pretty good for a cook of an hour or so.

I've been using sous vide for at least 10 years. I don't use it for everything. It's one of a set of kitchen tools. However, I do find it useful. Given the current price point, I would say it is worth the purchase. Plus, then you have the most control, with less monitoring...plus the ability to experiment with much longer cooking times (which impacts texture of proteins).

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