Reasons to buy a container instead of a steel pot or a plastic bag
Containers made with polycarbonate are ideal for sous vide immersion cooking as compared to metal pots and plastic bags. While the former poses a problem because the metal is a conductor of heat and the latter tends to contain BPA, known to be harmful to health. Polycarbonate has a high heat tolerance of 210F, and it will ensure consistent cooking. Moreover, a container is transparent, unlike a metal pot, and this will make it easier for you to keep an eye on the food.
Polycarbonate has lower heat conductivity as compared to metal as a result of which it tends to become hot faster, leading to better energy efficiency. Containers tend to be lightweight and can be easily carried from one room to another. You can also clean them easily because of the smooth surfaces.
How to choose a right container for sous vide
When you are buying sous vide container, you will have to be specific about your needs. Looking for a particular set of features can make the process of selection much easier. There are different price ranges available in the store, and setting a budget will allow you to make the best choice for yourself. You should definitely consider the following when trying to choose sous vide container:
The volume of the water bath
The volume of the water bath for sous vide will be determined by your cooking needs. There are different sizes available, so you pick the one that suits your family the best. The sizes begin from 8 quarts and go up to 12 and 18 quarts. If you know that you will be cooking maximum meals for your family and friends, then you should opt for a 12-quart container.
Also, take into account the height of the container. Ideally, it should 8 inches deep so that the food and any other accessories you might use can fit in there perfectly.
Traditionally, metal pots and saucepans have been used for sous vide cooking, but they are not ideal if you want the best results. Metal, being an excellent conductor of heat, causes wastage of time, fuel, and energy. You might think that any pot or container could be used for sous vide as long as it can accommodate the contents, but that is not the case.
Don’t use ice coolers or bathtubs because they might not be able to survive the heat. The best material for containers or immersion circulators is polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate can resist the heat of high temperatures and is lightweight.
Multi-purpose usage of your water containers
The water containers for your immersion circulators can be multi-functional. You will be able to store food in the containers when they are not being used with the immersion circulator. Polycarbonate containers are lightweight, and you will have no problem taking them on and off the shelves. Some models have a rectangular shape which allows for easy placement on flat surfaces.
You will be able to fit in the containers anywhere in the kitchen. When you invest in a container for your immersion circulator, you also get a compact storage option.
Comparison: Lid vs plastic cover vs floating balls
You must cover the container during the cooking time.
You can buy a matching lid which will fit the sous vide container perfectly and seal it off completely. Lids can reduce evaporation and ensure better cooking. However, a large number of polycarbonate containers do not come with lids. When you try to buy a separate lid, there is a chance that you will end up with a mismatch.
Plastic food wraps can cover the container and help to reduce water loss. However, it can be difficult to seal them in place. Every time you want to add some water, you will have to do seal it all over again.
Ping pong sous vide balls have become incredibly popular, and they can cover the entire water bath surface irrespective of the shape and size of the container. They float on the surface and prevent evaporation.
How to choose the right lid matching your immersion circulator and water bath?
The correct lid can make a whole lot of difference during sous vide cooking. Some containers for immersion circulators come with lids customized for them. As a result, the lids fit perfectly, and there is no space left on either side.
If you do not want to go into the trouble of choosing a separate lid, you should go for a container that comes with a lid. If you have a bought a container without a lid, you will have to hunt for a lid that fits the measurement of the hole in the container. Preferably, you should take it into a store and get it measured so that you make no mistake.
Hint: how to keep the warmth inside of a container
The water bath in the container tends to lose heat with evaporation. If you want to save energy, then you should try to keep the container as warm as possible at all times. This is why you need a lid that will keep the heat from escaping. As the steam rises, it will get trapped underneath the lid and then drip back into the food.
By keeping in the heat, the lid will allow more consistent and even cooking. You can also opt for plastic wraps or ping pong balls if you want to trap the steam.
Alternatives: cooking with induction-ready pots
If you are looking for an alternative that will work with your immersion circulators, you can use induction-ready pots. Traditionally, these have been used for sous vide cooking, and you will get used to it.
The Le Creuset Enamel-on-Steel Covered Stockpot and the Staub 1102687 Round Cocotte Grenadine are excellent choices. Both of them come with lids and can be used for your immersion circulators. They have a range of sizes that you can choose from.