Sous vide with racing stripes

We’re not going to question the logic that went into putting racing stripes on a slow cooker, but [Evan]‘s sous vide machine is the most professional one we’ve seen.

After [Evan] found a cooking book that went into the physics and chemistry of making a meal, he wanted to make some really good meals. Sous vide spoke out to him and [Evan] committed himself to building an immersion cooker.

After trolling around on the Internet, [Evan] came across a little gem on Make. The Make build was cheap – it was built around an off-the-shelf PID controller and thermocouples. [Evan] though about building his own PID controller, but time is money and he couldn’t beat the commercial version in features.

The enclosure was the most time-consuming part of [Evan]‘s build. It’s a 1/8″ sheet of aluminum cut and bent to the correct size. The sharp edges were filed down and joined with epoxy; definitely not the ‘normal’ way of building an enclosure. The color scheme is borrowed from this Renault – French cooking inspired by a French car.

As for [Evan]‘s results, he cooked a 5oz filet marinated in garlic, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper. This dish was flanked with some roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and sautéed broccoli. Our mouth is watering just looking at the picture, so we’re betting [Evan] did an excellent job.

Comments

  1. Mikey Sklar says:

    Sweet build. I like the racing stripe enclosure for the controller. What’s the bath enclosure made out of?

    I sous-vide daily with a open hardware kit (the yatc2 http://screwdecaf.cx/yatc.html ). I’d like to upgrade from a crock pot to a nicer bath like yours.

    • monopole says:

      I’d upgrade to a commercial rice cooker or steam table instead, The big problem with crock pots and immersion units are that they heat from the sides or the top and require a pump or bubbler to avoid a temperature gradient.

      A large commercial rice cooker (I use a AdCraft RC-E30) heats inductively from the bottom which means that convection keeps the temperature gradient far more uniform. More importantly, a rice cooker has several inherent fail safes. Worst case runaway mode for a rice cooker is that it boils down and halts, which is precisely what a rice cooker is designed to do in the first place.

      I still use a sintered alumina airstone bubbler with food grade silicone tubing to help convection. I also use the excellent Sous Vide Supreme rack:
      http://www.sousvidesupreme.com/product.aspx?productid=37&deptid=6&
      to keep my bags separate.

      I’m still confused by “he couldn’t beat the commercial version in features.”. Unless we are taking >$1,000 chem grade Polyscience units, most DIY rigs beat commercial units like a rented mule. My rig has rock solid +/- 0.1 deg C stability a removable water tub and more volume than a Sous Vide Supreme.

      In comparison the Sous Vide Supreme has horrid temp stability:

      and does not have a removable water tub.

      • Hackerspacer says:

        “I’m still confused by “he couldn’t beat the commercial version in features.”. Unless we are taking >$1,000 chem grade Polyscience units, most DIY rigs beat commercial units like a rented mule. My rig has rock solid +/- 0.1 deg C stability a removable water tub and more volume than a Sous Vide Supreme”

        No confusion at all. He bought an off the shelf PID temperature controller for probably $50. It works immediately. Building one, while not terribly hard, takes time. Building one as feature rich takes even more time – and quite possibly even more money if you screw up.

      • Hackerspacer says:

        Just a small note: epoxy contains Bisphenol-A (BPA). My preference is to avoid putting BPA on or around my food – where possible as BPA is a known endocrine disruptor and is banned in childrens toys. Polycarbonate contains BPA (as do many other things) so it can be hard to get away from.

        TIG or MIG welding works quite well for aluminum as an alternative to epoxy.

      • Eirinn says:

        Epoxy is one of those things you get checked for if you go through an allergen test and contact should be limited to an absolute minimum.

  2. zrzzz says:

    Technically awesome, but why so many sous vide builds these days? There’s so many other tasty methods of cooking food. Let’s see some barbecue smokers or bread makers or something. How about a candy boiler? Lots of temperature parameters going on there.

    • daenris says:

      Yes. I’ve been thinking about trying to build a vacuum boiler for candy making for awhile. Probably start with a pressure cooker rigged up to a vacuum pump and with a built in temperature gauge to monitor it. I’d also love to see a DIY chocolate tempering machine, and a method for measuring soluble solids in sugar solutions since commercial versions of both are extremely expensive. Unfortunately, I really don’t have the spare time.

  3. DeKay says:

    I just happen to have an inside round beef roast Sous-Viding in my slow cooker right now (58C for around 20 hours). I expect to be able to cut this usually tough cut of meat with a fork by suppertime.

    Here is how I put my rig together, though I’ve gone from a rice cooker to a big crock pot: http://madscientistlabs.blogspot.com/p/food-lab.html

    The problem with this build is that there isn’t any insulation to it. It will use a lot of power over a long cook, like 72 hour ribs. Crock pots or that cooler from a few days ago are a better way to go. A crock pot is big enough for most uses as well.

    monopole: I’d say you are right on pretty much all counts, but I wouldn’t ever recommend skipping some method of circulation no matter what the vessel. Otherwise you’ve got either temperature gradient or dead spots to worry about. Myself, I use a small submersible pump (http://www.princessauto.com/all-seasons/seasonal/pumps/electric/4270013-bilge-pump) with a wall wart power supply cranked down to around 3V. It is much quieter than an airstone and, because it agitates the water less, there is less evaporation. Better for longer cooks.

    Hackerspacer: if you read the article again, the food is sealed in plastic bags. Bags like Foodsaver bags are BPA free. I mentioned this in the last SV article HD put up a few days ago.

    zrzzz: Want to make bread? I use my PID, probe, and a fan to proof bread within a Coleman cooler. http://madscientistlabs.blogspot.com/2011/04/tartine-bread-tips-and-tricks-part-2.html

    My PID setup is probably my favorite thing in my kitchen. Everybody should have one.

    • Hackerspacer says:

      The epoxy that he used to join the aluminum together is what I was concerned about. You are correct that the food is in plastic bags and hopefully doesn’t touch anything else. But invariably, if something is nearby things that should not be touched they invariably will be. That’s why commercial food production or pharmaceutical production or beverage production or brewing is almost always done with passivated 316L stainless and not much else. You just don’t see things like paints or epoxy resins in the immediate vicinity of food or drugs or beverages because that means some of it will wind up in the product and be consumed. No good.

  4. Anton Seduvaille says:

    The articles here on hackaday have become less and less friendly over time. It used to result in some feel good to go to HAD, but nowadays you allways know that there will be something agressive about the author in some way.

    Why have you stopped celebrating diversity and hacking spirit?

  5. Coligny says:

    Those stripes are called “Gordini Stripes” and were the signature of Renault cars tuned by by Amede Gordini (motor engineer nicknamed the sorcerer). The most famous one was the Renault 8 Gordini in the 60′. Today the label has been revived in parralel to the Renault Sport lineup with the Renault Wind, Renault Twingo and Renault Clio Gordini. The car in the link is a Clio 2 sport 182, wearing the original R8 gordini paintjob but was not labelled as a gordini.

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