Sous vide cooking, or cooking a vacuum-packaged food in water, is one of the hottest trends in food processing today.
Although the history of sous vide cooking can be traced back to the late 1700s, it’s only become popular in the last few decades, mostly with high-end chefs. More recently, food manufacturers have become interested in sous vide cooking for its myriad benefits, namely, enhanced food safety and quality. The method is particularly popular among processors looking to meet the demands of the rapidly growing chilled prepared foods market.
As you can see from this Google Trends report, interest in sous vide cooking has more than doubled in the past five years.
Here are five major benefits of sous vide cooking for food processors.
Similar to placing a flame grill before the oven in a processing line, sous vide eliminates double-heating. Rather than having to cook the product fully, then package it, then heat it again for pasteurization, sous vide allows you to combine cooking and pasteurization into just one step.
This saves labor, since it’s all one process, and also improves the quality of the finished product, since you don’t have to add extra energy after the product is fully cooked.
Compared to traditional cooking methods, sous vide results in significantly higher product yield. The lower the temperature you use, the higher the yield will be. Some chefs report yield increases of as much as 20%.
This higher yield translates directly into increased revenue.
Sous vide cooking also produces better results in terms of taste and texture. Meats are cooked in their own juices, which means they come out succulent and soft, rather than dry and chewy.
In addition, sous vide products are consistently cooked. You don’t have to worry about differences caused by variations in thickness across the product or about the product being exposed to different temperatures in different parts of an oven, like you would, for example, in a batch process where someone kept opening the oven door.
Better taste and texture means higher quality, which is exactly what consumers want — and they’re willing to pay more to get it.
Concerned about Listeria and other pathogens? With sous vide, you don’t have to worry.
Here’s an illustrative example:
Suppose you supply a prepared meat product, such as pork carnitas, to a national quick service restaurant chain. Using the sous vide technique, the process would look like this:
As you can see, in this example, the product is never exposed to bacteria. There’s no opportunity for pathogens to get anywhere near the product. It’s protected by the plastic bag right up until it’s consumed.
Finally, sous vide cooking extends a product’s shelf life by eliminating the possibility of food becoming contaminated during storage. In fact, one study found that the shelf life of a sous vide product can be as long as 42 days.
If you’re looking to improve the safety and quality of your prepared food products, sous vide might be just the ticket. Read more about sous vide cooking from Unitherm Executive Chef Justin Donaldson.