The term sous vide is French for "under vacuum", and that is precisely what the sous vide cooking process involves. Food of all types is typically vacuum sealed into plastic bags, and then cooked at very precise temperatures in a sous vide cooking bath over longer periods than conventional cooking methods. The lack of oxygen in the bag, and scientifically selected cooking temperatures allow chefs to achieve results not possible using any other method. Numerous other benefits also come from using the technique.


In the mid 1960's, the technicque gained popularity in France and in recent years it has become one of the most popular methods used in commercial kitchens. The reasons behind sous vide's popularity are simple.




Benefits For The Food

Food tastes fresher with more flavour locked in by the vacuum sealing process.


Fresh food colour is more vibrant and appealing, again due to the food not coming into direct contact with boiling water that takes colour away from the food.


Food is cooked more evenly due to the low cooking temperatures involved. Sous vide recipes typically call for temperatures at which the food being cooked "breaks down" but no more. By doing this, no part of the food is ever over-cooked. When this is happening inside a vacuum sealed cooking bag, the food cannot dry out.


More vitamins and minerals are retained. This is due to the vacuum bags sealing in the nutrients and the low cooking temperatures not destroying them during the process.


Benefits For The Kitchen

Results can be reproduced more readily as the low temperatures allow for a larger margin of error in cooking times. In a busy kitchen where time is prescious, sous vide allows chefs to concentrate on time-critical stations with the knowledge that they can't burn their sous vide cook. For example, cooking a piece of fish on a grill top requires precise cooking times with constant attention, and 2 minutes can mean the difference between perfection and disaster.


Due to the "set and forget" nature of sous vide cooking, it allows less experienced kitchen staff to manage the station, and therefore provides a cost benefit to the running of the kitchen whilst allowing the experienced chefs to work on more critical stations.


Food can be prepared and cooked prior to service and refrigerated, then re-heated as required, allowing for faster service during busy periods. Faster service means more dishes served, happier customers and obviously greater revenues.


Food shrinkage is reduced as the portion is sealed into the cooking bag and maintains it's volume far better than conventional cooking methods. This transalates into cost saving for the kitchen with smaller portions able to be purchased and served.


It's clear to see why sous vide is now the modern day must-have system for any commercial kitchen. Ratek Sous Vide offers you a range that will let you realise all of these benefits in your own kitchen, big or small.


You'll find a step-by-step guide to the sous vide cooking process over to the right.



The most popular sous vide cooking method is generally as follows :


1.  Fill The Bag
The food to be cooked, plus any marinades, herbs and spices are placed in sous vide vacuum bags allowing room for the bag to seal. *Note: Bags must be designed for sous vide/re-heating and rated to withstand the cooking temperatures.


2. Vacuuming

The sous vide bags are evacuated and sealed using a vacuum sealing machine. The bags may be refrigerated to allow flavours to infuse at this point.


3. Cooking

The sous vide bags are placed into the Ratek sous vide cooking bath which has been set at the desired temperature as per the recipe. The water temperature should be allowed to stabilise before the bags are added. Bags are left to cook as the recipe dictates.


4. Serve Or Cool

Once cooking is complete, food may be served immediately or taken for further finishing such as searing or baking depending on the recipe. At this point, food that is not to be served immediately should be cooled quickly and then refrigerated to avoid bacterial growth. This is often performed with a blast chiller or iced water. 

5. Refrigerate

Bags may be refrigerated, but not frozen.


6. Re-Heat
Refrigerated bags may be brought up to temperarture again by placing them back in the Ratek sous vide cooking bath at the cooking temperature prior to service.

7. Final Processing

Food may be removed from the sous vide bags at this point and often seared or grilled quickly to caramelise the surface or improve the appearance of the finished product. Food is served at this point.




Ratek strongly recommends the use of a calibrated independent digital food thermometer to test food temperatures inside the cooking bags to ensure food is safe for consumption.


You should be aware that a registered Food Safety Plan must be in place for your kitchen to use sous vide in Australia. Contact your local food safety authority for more information. An excellent resource has been publishd by the NSW Food Authority which discusses the precautions that need to be taken when cooking using the sous vide method. A copy of the publication is available for download below.