Building a Sous Vide Controller

Testing Coffee Pot Sous Vide

My  search for a do-it-yourself sous vide controller took me to Etc Supply where a I purchased a Johnson A419ABC-1C 120/240V Single Stage Temperature Control and a Stopper Thermowell – 15″ Stainless Steel to protect the temperature probe from moisture.

I would advise against building the unit yourself as there is only about $10 saving from buying the pre-wired sous vide controller from the same company.  This is especially true if you lack a background in instruments and control as the instructions only make sense if you know what you are doing. If I had seen the pre-wired unit for $10 more, I would have bought it as I still needed to buy the plug.

Jumpers and Sensor Connection

The first issue is that the unit is preset to chilling mode and what is needed is the heating mode.  This is a simple adjustment  as the top jumper is repositioned.  In the same part of the box, the sensor is instal

Connecting the Hot Wires

In the very cramped bottom of the box, the electricity has to be connected and the hot wire jumped from the plug cord to the control side of the box.  The power out is the red wire on the left and the common is a shared connection in the box.

After the unit was assembled, I did a test run to insure it worked and then the first real run was made using the very tough eye off the round steak.  I used a marinade and learned that complex marinades are best avoided as any alcohol or vinegar are normally lost in grilling but any marinade adsorbed by the meat will remain with it in sous vide.

Drain the Marinade

The steaks were well drained because any excess moisture works against you to destroy the vacuum which is protecting you meat from the water.

The Reynolds Handi-Vac

I am using the Reynolds Handi-Vac which I find produces an acceptable level of vacuum as long as you drain the liquid from the meat and pat it dry with a paper towel.  The zip lock seal has never yielded in any of my trial runs. The unit including sample bags is available for under $20, For those who really care, the bags are made from Polyethylene which is the same plastic as milk and water containers.

In two hours of cooking the meat was overdone. It appears that the controller is a success but my first attempt at low temperature (125-130) sous vide sucks. The meat was overcooked and dry.  Seems the beer cooler cook is right about shorter cooking times.

Well my daughter has pretty much given me orders that she wants me to find an easy way to make ribs.  So sous vide will get at least one more try.

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3 Responses to “Building a Sous Vide Controller”

  1. The Literature of Sous Vide « Coffee Pot Cooking Says:

    […] many pre-built crock-pot controllers but I searched on my own and got an un-wired setup and built it myself. I noticed today that the company has a pre-built unit for about $10 more. Oh well, it was a fun […]

  2. Sous Vide Ribs – Nothing Better « Coffee Pot Cooking Says:

    […] for a rib recipe, the highly technical article on sous vide cooking showed up and now that I had a working sous vide controller, I made an investment in time to skim the technical manual on sous […]

  3. So So Chicken Sous Vide & American Sous Vide « Coffee Pot Cooking Says:

    […] any normal recipe, it is dry, tough and grainy. But what the heck, I still had some left over from my low temperature failure so I figured I’d give it a go by brining, adding olive oil and cooking it in the bag for 14 […]

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