12 Dec My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets, Part 1
I like kitchen gadgets and equipment, but my husband LOVES them, and is always bringing home some new gadget or knife to try. I will write about many of those, but I wanted to first tell you about my favorite one. It is a chamber vacuum. “A what?” you might be saying right now, and you wouldn’t be alone, as it does not usually grace most people’s homes. You have probably seen the ubiquitous vacuum sealers, and may very well have one. A chamber vacuum is similar, but instead of using textured bags to allow the vacuum to pull the air out of the bag, a chamber vacuum removes all the air from a chamber, including the bag. Then, it seals the bag, so you get a “cryovac” sealed pack.
This difference may not seem like much, but it greatly expands what you can seal. In a normal vacuum sealer, you can basically seal dry items, as it has to pull the air through a textured bag and any liquids in the bag would get sucked out and end up in the vacuum (you can get around this by freezing the liquid first, btw.) With a chamber vacuum, you can easily seal soups, meats in a marinade, stocks, sauces, etc.
We use large models everyday in our restaurants, and I use mine at the house often enough to warrant keeping it. When I’m cooking a BBQ Contest, I use it to seal meats after I have trimmed them and keep them fresh. I use it to make “quick pickles” as the vacuum will pull the pickling liquid into the vegetables quickly. It’s great for when I make a sauce and have some leftover, I simply bag it, seal it and freeze it. To reheat, you can simply put the bag into some boiling water for a few minutes, or pour out the sauce into pan and heat as normal.
If you cook sous vide, it’s absolutely perfect. I cook more and more things sous vide at the house, so if you’re moving into this area it may be worth looking into getting one.
So why doesn’t everyone have one? First, they’re rather heavy and bulky. You need a large kitchen or a nice space in the garage to have one. Secondly, they’re relatively expensive, so if you don’t do a lot of cooking it may not be worth it. Models for home use are usually available around $450 on sale, which is not inexpensive for something you may not use often. I will tell you mine has paid for itself many times over however, both in saving food and in saving time, as it allows me to prep sometimes weeks ahead.