Sous vide (literally “under vacuum” in French) is a cooking method that’s been around for decades, but only recently has begun to take off—thanks to some more affordable devices and a renewed interest in high-end culinary cuisine.
Earlier this month, Electrolux unveiled plans to release a combination steam oven-and-vacuum sealer that will make home sous vide cooking quicker and easier. The move is an ambitious one, and will be limited to European markets—at least at first. But with success, it could pave the way for heightened interest in this unique cooking style.
Here’s how sous vide works: Food is vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag—meat, pasta, vegetables, and seafood are all game. The package is then submerged in warm water—roughly 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit—and cooked for many hours. It can also be steamed in a similar temperature range. Due to the lengthy preparation and low heat, the method is more comparable to BBQ than roasting or baking. The low heat alters the chemical makeup of the food while it cooks, making for extremely tender meat and flavorful vegetables. It takes time, yes, but the idea is that it ensures a uniform cook that would be impossible to achieve with a grill, stovetop, or conventional oven.
Despite its use in some of the top restaurants in the world, the real reason sous vide has failed to catch on is its nearly prohibitive expense: Decent vacuum packagers run for at least $500, and the cookers also cost a few hundred dollars.
Electrolux’s combo sous vide oven is likely to be expensive, but is slightly more accessible in that it combines the two processes into one built-in appliance that can also be used as a conventional oven.
“Steam technology in general, and sous-vide in particular, are excellent examples of how we can leverage our professional heritage to introduce new features and types of products which cater to the growing interest for cooking among consumers in the premium segment,” said Jonas Samuelson, head of Electrolux Major Appliances, Europe, Middle East and Africa, in a press release.
But will it be enough to make sous vide a household style? We certainly hope so, but we’d be foolish not to think twice.