Sous-vide cooking involves sealing food in a vacuum-packed bag and cooking this in a water bath at a precise temperature. The bag makes sure the food’s natural juices, moisture and flavours don’t escape – keeping the food tender.
We tested the sous vide by cooking pork chops for 4 hours and a chicken breast, salmon and beetroot for 1 hour. It did a very good job of cooking beetroot: while this was slightly undercooked, it was easy to cut for salads. The sous vide wasn’t so good on the other cooking tasks: the pork chops were slightly chewy and a little dry and the chicken breast was slightly undercooked.
The slow cooker test consisted of 2 tasks: shredded chilli beef and beans cooked for 5 hours initially and then for another 2; and corned beef cooked for 8 hours. The corned beef was fairly tender – but even after the extra 2 hours, the chilli beef and beans were still undercooked.
You need to be organised to do sous vide. For example it takes about 50 minutes to heat the water from 24°C to 83.5°C. As well, since different foods cook at different temperatures you can’t cook meat and vegetables at the same time. You also need to add some finishing touches afterwards – most meats cooked in the sous vide need a quick sear at the end of cooking to brown and caramelise the outside of the meat.
Ease of use
The Duos was easy to fill with water – it needs to be filled to the maximum level so the food sits under the water.
The instructions were reasonably comprehensive and included some recipes and a very basic temperature and cooking-time guide. But because sous vide is a new way of cooking we think you need more detail.
The Duos was very easy to clean. After using the sous vide you simply tip out the water then wipe dry with a soft cloth. The removable pan and lid are dishwasher-safe but the stainless-steel exterior may require a little more attention.
You’ll need to invest in a food sealer to use the sous vide – and, like all bigger appliances, it’ll take up space in your kitchen.
- The Duos is reasonably priced for a 2-in-1 appliance that gives you a slow cooker with the bonus of sous-vide cooking.
- We’ve previously tested the Breville The Sous Vide Supreme. We were impressed by the Breville (giving it 4 stars) but at $1000 it’s not a must-have and doesn’t double as a slow cooker like the Sunbeam.
Sunbeam Duos Sous Vide and Slow Cooker MU4000
Rating: 3 stars
Need to know
The Sunbeam Duos has a 5.5 litre cooking capacity and comes with a non-stick cooking pan, electronic temperature control and a countdown timer. It also comes with a “pouch rack” that separates the bags for more even cooking. The sous vide has a 40°C to 90°C temperature range (with a 1° increment selection); the slow cooker has low, high and auto “keep warm” settings.
Food safety and sous vide
If food is cooked or kept in the “temperature danger zone” (5°C to 60°C) for long periods, food-poisoning bacteria can grow. The bacteria has to be there in the first place – which is often the case with chicken.
On the other hand if food’s cooked in this temperature zone for short periods, it could be undercooked and not kill the bacteria.
To reduce the risk of food poisoning, food that’s cooked sous vide in the “temperature danger zone” should be cooked thoroughly – but it shouldn’t be cooked (or kept warm) for more than 6 hours. As well, any pieces of meat should be the same size and weight.
Sunbeam doesn’t recommend sous-vide cooking for pregnant women, small children, elderly people, or people who have an immune deficiency.