Great for the price!
Summary : At $299 this is PolyScience's lower end sous vide immersion circulator. The design and quality of the construction matches their higher end models. The smaller heating element increases the heating time.
Sous vide is growing in popularity with each passing month and there are more and more websites devoted to sous vide recipes popping up all the time. On top of that, the market for sous vide machines have really heated up with many different companies producing their own version of the sous vide immersion circulator. PolyScience was one of the first companies to develop a sous vide immersion circulator for the home cook. The concept of this device is that it clamps onto a container filled with water to create the bath. This allows many containers, including pots, coolers and other food containers, to become a sous vide water bath. These immersion circulators are great as well for people who do not have a lot of counter space, since this can be packed away when not in use.
PolyScience has a number of different models of sous vide immersion circulators and this, their newest, is also their cheapest. The PolyScience Sous Vide Discovery Immersion Circulator is now their entry level model and likely built to compete against many other sous vide machines that have hit the market over the past 6 months.
The design of the Discovery Series is sleek, clean and simple. The outer casing is made of a durable plastic. The power switch is on the back, next to the power cable and just above the clamp. The unit has an 750 watt heater and has a maximum temperature of 208F (98C), with a temperature stability of ±0.1F (±0.07°C). The recommended volume capacity is 20 litres (5.3 gallons), which is more than enough water to prepare a sous vide feast! The pump for the machine cycles 6 litres (1.6 gallons per minute).
The bottom of the unit has slots to allow the water into the device to be heated and then circulated throughout the water bath. You can see the heating coils at the bottom of the unit.
On the front of the sous vide immersion circulator, there is both the min and max lines for water volume. It is important to make sure that the water does not go above the max line even after the vacuum sealed bags have been added. If there is not enough water the machine will not work and will display an error on the screen.
The control panel is very easy to use. There are 5 buttons allowing you full control over temperature and time. The upper right button cycles through the options (setting the temperature in Fahrenheit/Celsius and setting the length of cooking). The + and – raise or lower the setting. The play button starts the machine and the stop button stops it. That is it, but that is all you need!
The LED screen shows the actual temperature of the water, the temperature setting, the timer setting and there are little icons showing if the heater is on or the water pump is on.
The clamp is both large and solid, allowing the immersion circulator to be attached to many things that can hold water. I often use a large stock pot, but a rectangular cooler or a polycarbonate canister will work as well. Just make sure that the clamp is on tight so the machine does not wiggle during operation.
I was curious to see how the Discovery Series would perform against the more expensive Creative Series, both by PolyScience. The test was to see how fast each machine could heat 12 litres of water from 86F to 140F.
The Discovery Series took 39 minutes to get to 140F while the Creative Series reached the temperature in 23 minutes. So, the Discovery did take longer to get to temperature, but once it got there, it held the temperature as well as the Creative Series. The slower heating time is really the only aspect of the Discovery Series that does not perform as well as its more expensive brother unit. It makes sense, considering the Discovery Series has a 750 watt heater and the Creative series has a larger 1100 watt.
The first food I prepared with the PolyScience Discovery was some boneless skinless chicken breasts. We make these all the time because they are perfect for wraps, pasta, salad and more. The temperature was set for 147F and the Discovery cooked the chicken perfectly.
The next food I cooked in the Discovery was some chicken wings. This was the first time I cooked wings in a sous vide water bath. I got the recipe from Modernist Cuisine at Home where they recommend cooking them in the sous vide and then throwing them in a deep fryer for a couple minutes to crisp up the skin. The temperature was set for 149F and the wings cooked for an hour. I then put them in the deep fryer to crisp up. Delicious, and the Discovery worked great again.
My last test was a much longer cook. Ribs in the sous vide are incredible and I use a low and slow cook in the water bath. I cut them into individual rib portions and tossed them with some bbq sauce and brown sugar. Then I sealed them in a food safe bag and threw them in the water bath. The PolyScience Discovery was set for 160F and the ribs cooked for 18 hours. Yes, they cooked that long. I set it up in the evening and went to bed. I woke up in the morning and the Discovery was still going , holding the temperature and circulating the water. One thing about long cooks like this is that, if there is no lid, the water will evaporate over time. So, it is important to make sure that there is enough water in the pot/canister so that it does not evaporate below the MIN line.
After the 18 hours of cooking sous vide, the ribs were then brushed with more sauce and broiled in the oven for a few minutes. They were incredible!
Every single product that I have tried from PolyScience has shown that they make quality products. The PolyScience Sous Vide Discovery Series is no different. The construction of the machine is very well built and there are no loose parts (something that I have noticed from other brands). This machine is built to last. Sure the smaller heating element increases the heat time, but really, that is the only negative I can find with this product. At $299 it is in the middle of the pack for immersion circulators, but I still think it is worth it to spend a little extra to buy a product from a company like PolyScience.
Pick up this, or other products by PolyScience, at their website.
Disclaimer: PolyScience provided me with the Sous Vide Immersion Circulator. They did not pay me for this review and the views expressed above are my honest reactions after trying the product.