Joule: Sous Vide Review

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Sous-vide, is a method of cooking in which food is placed in a plastic pouch or glass jar, and cooked in a water bath, for longer than normal cooking times, at an accurately regulated temperature. The only reason I knew about the sous-vide method, was because I always see it being used on Master Chef! ChefSteps, the creator behind Joule, is making it easier for you to sous-vide at home! Joule is a device that circulates and heats the water, within a bowl or saucepan, producing that sous-vide effect. We got one to try out, so let’s cook some steak.

Joule is tall & circular in shape, it has an inlet at the bottom (magnetic base), and outlet just above it, a clip to the rear and a single push button at the top. Within the box, you get just the Joule and a small instruction book, the power cord is hard wired. I really like the packaging, it’s fun, quirky and I get the impression they got design ideas from a certain card game called Cards Against Humanity. Overall shape and size is very portable, compared to competitors I’ve seen online, and will easily store within a kitchen draw.  If you unscrew the magnetic base, you will see the orange propeller, that sucks the water up, pushing it out the outlet above. I imagine this could be handy for any blockages, spillages in the water etc.

Spec’s & Features:

– Size: 280mm x 47mm / 580g
– 1100 watts of heating power
– Max water temp = 98c / 208f
– Temperature accuracy is 0.1c
– Maximum bath volume = 40L
– Min/Max water depth = 38mm/203mm
– Bluetooth & WiFi compatible (2.4Ghz)

The Joule is controlled by an app, which is available of iOS  & Android for free. The app allows you to set up your Joule, run updates (yes, there was a firmware or similar update when I first used it) and the overall control of the Joule. You can either connect to it using the app, via Bluetooth or connect it to your home network. You will need the latter if you want to run any updates and/or truly control the Joule, even away from your home. Joule also has voice recognition, in case you have wet or dirty hands during the cook.

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The app blew my mind, it was fantastic. On the homepage, you are given several categories, such as different meats, or vegetable, dessert or ‘other’. Under each category is several recipes for you to choose from. Click on a recipe and an overview will appear, with a very nice video to show you what the end result SHOULD look like. You can then start the recipe, by gathering the ingredients and following the steps. Eventually, you will be asked to bag your ingredients and place them into the water bath. A plastic food bag is required, one of those with a zip lock or similar is recommended.

For this test run, I decided to cook steak, as I got excited by the ability to cook the steak, at a specific temperature and time, based upon the rarity I wanted. I went for medium rare, which predetermined the temperature and once I’d specified the thickness of the steak, it also set the duration the steak needed to be in the water. All the while, I’m scrolling through the different rarities of steak, as there is a video for each, which was mouth-watering.

Once I was connected to the Joule and set the parameters, I placed the steak into the water bath and hit go on the app. I used a tall saucepan, but you can use any tall’ish dish or container, just be ware of the temperature the water may get and the surface the dish is on. You also need to be aware of the minimum and maximum water levels but if you fill up with enough water to cover the outlet, I think you’re safe. If your bag floats, try and remove all the air from the back and/or stick a spoon in there (as per the instructions). When you hit go, the Joule will begin to heat the water to the desired temperature and when it does, it will send an alert to your smart device. When it tells you it’s reached the temperature, you then need to go into the app and set the timer. I didn’t do this, I just assumed that when it got to temperature, it will start cooking, which it did, but the timer didn’t begin. By the time I looked on my phone, I was 10 minutes In and it ruined my timings. Perhaps this could become a feature ChefSteps?

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During the process, you can see the water circulating, it’s overall very quiet and the water itself, didn’t get to hot for this specific recipe. 45 minutes had passed, I took the steak out and it came out medium rare / medium, which I was very pleased with. The problem with the steak recipe, was the searing before and after the water bath, steak cooks so quickly so a few seconds too long in the pan, could change everything.

Joule was very easy to use, and once set up, you just leave your ingredients to cook for 30, 60 minutes or longer, while you tend to other things. The app was amazing, the choice of recipes may become limiting once you’ve done a few, but how the recipes are showcased, with the videos, was superb. I’d like to think recipes will be added as and when. The results were positive, I got a very nicely cooked steak, which I enjoyed very much.

Joule is available now for £189 via Amazon, which is a little more than some competitors. I cannot comment on their performance, but the Joule is far more compact and better looking, plus I cant imagine the competitors have an app anywhere near as polished. For more info, visit the official Joule website.

I’m off to buy some jars and make some sort of mousse!

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