Why buy a torch for sous vide?
While previously they were only found in commercial kitchens and used by pro chefs, kitchen torches have become increasingly popular in recent years. In fact, if you want to tackle impressive desserts and sous vide, a torch is an essential kitchen tool.
For sous vide dishes, the finishing touch before you garnish and serve is using a torch. This allows you to sear and crisp up your meats to create that wow finish.
Since sous vide basically involves cooking food in water, there is no way to achieve an outside char without a torch. Using a torch allows you to create a crisp finish as you would in a skillet without overcooking and making the meat dry.
The high temperature of a torch can allow you to create a Maillard reaction. This ensures you have a brown, seared crust on your meat while the inside remains tender and juicy.
Features to consider when choosing a torch for sous vide
Here are just some of the important features you should consider before making your final purchase decision.
Safety of use
Since you’re dealing with extremely high temperatures with this handheld tool, it is crucial that it is as safe as possible to use. At the very least, your torch should have a finger guard and a safety lock. However, it is also worth considering how easy it is to adjust the flame and set the torch down during use.
There are three basic fuel sources used for sous vide torches:
Butane: This is a slightly cooler burning type of gas. It is typically used in smaller torches such as the Authenzo kitchen torch.
Propane: This is a popular fuel for kitchen torches. It can generate high heat while retaining a low price point. It also offers superb versatility.
Map-Pro: This is a propylene gas, which is a type of propane. It burns slightly hotter than regular propane, but it is more expensive. It does offer versatility, but some users report the sear quality does not reflect the higher price compared to regular propane.
Map-Pro replaced MAPP gas, which was discontinued back in 2008.
Max temperature and consistency
The temperature a torch can reach and evenly hold is crucial for sous vide. The higher the temperature, the faster the sear. However, if you want to use your torch for other cooking, such as baking, you will need one that can be easily adjusted.
Ideally, you will choose a highly adjustable model that can range from smoldering to high heat with a turn of a knob.
Consistency is crucial, particularly when charring meat. Your torch should be able to hold a consistent temperature for a longer or shorter period to ensure even searing.
For example, the Kollea Kitchen Blow Torch can reach temperatures of 2500ºf with an easily adjustable flame.
Size and weight
If you want to sear and char sous vide dishes, a small party torch that you would use to caramelize sugar in your desserts is unlikely to produce sufficient, consistent heat.
However, the torch needs to be small enough that you can comfortably handle it. There is no point in buying a large torch if you are unable to hold it safely during use.
You may be unfamiliar with the term torch “taste”, but it is a phenomenon that is attributed to the chemicals in the fuel for kitchen torches. This matter is a source of healthy debate in chef circles. Some argue that butane has more of a torch taste than propane.
However, you can minimize the chances of torch taste by diffusing the flames and allowing it to spread out rather than having one direct flame.