Reasons to buy a container instead of a steel jar or a plastic bag
Containers made of polycarbonate are ideal for sous vide cooking compared to metal pots and plastic bags. While the former poses a problem because the metal is a conductor of heat, the latter tend to contain BPA, which is known to be harmful to health. Polycarbonate has a high heat tolerance of 210F and it will ensure uniform cooking. In addition, a container is transparent as opposed to a metal pot, and this will make it easier for you to keep an eye on the food.
Polycarbonate has lower thermal conductivity compared to metal, resulting in it tending to heat faster, leading to better energy efficiency. Containers tend to be lightweight and can be easily transported from one room to another. You can also clean them easily due to the smooth surfaces.
How to choose a real container for sous vide
When buying a sous vide container, be specific about your needs. Looking for a specific set of features can make the process of marking much easier. There are different price ranges available in the store and by setting a budget you can 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 is determined by your cooking needs. There are different sizes so you can choose the one that best suits your family. The sizes start from 8 liters and go up to 12 and 18 liters. If you know you are preparing maximum meals for your family and friends, choose a 12-liter container.
Also consider the height of the container. Ideally, it should be 8 inches deep so that the food and any other accessories you may need fit perfectly in there.
Traditionally, metal pots and pans have been used for sous vide cooking, but they are not ideal if you want the best results. Metal, which is an excellent conductor of heat, causes waste of time, fuel and energy. You may think that any pot or container can be used for sous vide as long as it can hold the contents, but this is not the case.
Do not use an ice cooler or bathtub as they may not be able to survive the heat. The best material for containers or immersion circulators is polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate can withstand heat at high temperatures and is lightweight.
Multifunctional use of your water tanks
The water tanks for your immersion circulators can be multifunctional. You can store food in the containers when not in use with the immersion circulator. Polycarbonate containers are lightweight and you have no problem taking them on and off the shelves. Some models have a rectangular shape that allows 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 coating vs liquid balls
You must cover the container during the cooking time.
You can buy a matching lid that fits the sous vide container perfectly and seals it 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 discrepancy.
Plastic wrappers for food can cover the container and help reduce water loss. However, it can be difficult to seal them in place. Each time you want to add some water, seal it again.
Ping pong sous vide balls have become incredibly popular and they can cover the entire surface of the water bath regardless of the shape and size of the container. They float on the surface and prevent evaporation.
How to choose the right lid that fits your immersion circulator and water bath?
The right lid can make a whole difference during sous vide cooking. Some tanks for immersion circulators come with lids fitted to them. As a result, the lids fit perfectly and there is no space left on either side.
If you do not want to go through the hassle of choosing a separate lid, go for a container that comes with a lid. If you have purchased a container without a lid, you will need to hunt for a lid that fits the measurement of the hole in the container. Preferably, take it to a store and have it measured so you are not mistaken.
Tip: how to keep the heat inside a container
The water bath in the container tends to lose heat on evaporation. To save energy, try to keep the container as warm as possible at all times. This is why you need a lid that keeps the heat from escaping. As the steam rises, it gets trapped under the lid and then drips into the food.
By keeping warm, the lid allows for more uniform and even cooking. You can also choose plastic wraps or table tennis balls if you want to catch the steam.
Alternatives: cooking with induction-ready pots
If you are looking for an alternative that works 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.
Le Creuset-covered enamel steel pot and Staub 1102687 Round Cocotte Grenadine are excellent choices. Both come with lids and can be used for your immersion circulators. They have a variety of sizes to choose from.