How many people / food could I cook in a 5 litre capacity water bath?

In the Sous Vide Equipment Forum
Hi Guys,

Sous vide rooky here looking to explore the field a bit. I have an opportunity to get a good professional 5l water bath for not too much money, around half the price of a Sousvide Supreme. I was wondering how much food I would be able to cook with 5 litres. Would I be able to do dinner parties for say 4 or 5 people or should I really think about something larger?

Your expertise is much appreciated!



8 Replies So Far

5 liters of water is not very much. Why don't you put 5 liters of water in a pan and see what it looks like? Then imagine whatever food you are going to cook being put in that amount of water. Also, will your apparatus also take up room in your cooking vessel? I have been cooking sous vide since last Christmas and I prefer to have enough water in my pot so that the water can circulate easily amongst the food pouches.
Hi Elsie, thanks for getting back to me. I got impatient and went ahead and bought it. Just realized its 4 litres actually. It's a professional, super accurate Clifton waterbath like this so should perform pretty well (fingers crossed): According to their website the sousvide supreme demi does 12 x 115g portions of food, so I guess I'll be able to do around half, or about enough for two people I reckon. It'll give me something to test out for sure and if I get the bug I can always upgrade later...
That sure looks like an interesting water bath. Does it have a lid? I didn't see a price listed - do you mind me asking how much you paid for it? I love my sous vide set up - I have cooked quite a few things in it so far. I especially like steaks and scallops done sous vide. You can also make a killer Hollandaise sauce sous vide. In fact, it is foolproof. Have fun with it and please post a few of your experiments!

Doesn't it? Very mad scientist. It cost £135 from ebay: Has a loose fitting lid apparently but I'm sure I should be able to fix that. Thanks! I'm really looking forward to using it. Do you recommend a sealer as a necessity or can I get away with ziplocks and squeezing the air out?
It doesn't matter if the lid is loose, as long as it fits. It is only there to keep the water from evaporating. I have a Polyscience Immersion Circulator that I use with a couple of different sized stock pots, depending on what I am making. I use plastic wrap across the top of the pot to keep the water from evapourating.

I use a Foodsaver to vacuum pack my pouches. I have a setting on it that lets me seal stuff that I don't want to have squished, such as fish. However, zip locks work if you use the water displacement method. One thing I learned about that method is to place the bag you are going to cook the food in, into a bigger bag. That makes using this method easier.

Along with this website, you might also try eGullet. There is a wealth of info there on sous vide. Sous Vide Supreme and SV Cooking is another one. If you google Douglas Baldwin, he wrote a book on sous vide and has some demo videos. Also, Jason of this site has a couple of good books and in addition, will often answer questions. And above all, don't be afraid to ask questions. I sure asked a lots of them and folks are only too glad to help.

I take it you are in England?

Sorry for the late reply. Wow, a Polyscience eh. Very nice. Love the look of those but not ready for that kind of outlay, or indeed how much I'm actually going to use it in practice. While I love food and cooking I am naturally remarkably lazy and rather disorganized... Thanks for the tips! I think I'll start with zip locks and see how it goes. Presumably when you say double bagging, the second bag has to be sealed with water displacement as well. Good sites as well. Recently disovered eGullet, looks great! I am indeed. London based actually.
The Polyscience was a Christmas present. We are not normally that generous so it blew me away. To use the zip lock bags, place the smaller one with the food in it In to the larger bag. Immerse both in water and seal the smaller one. The larger one offers protection from water going into the smaller one. That is it's only function, you do not seal the larger one. You will see what I mean when you actually do it. Once you start cooking sous vide, it will be hard to go back to cooking some things any other way. Braising ribs are another thing that are marvelous cooked sous vide. They are very tender and yet because of the temperature they are cooked at come out medium rare ( which is the way we like them). Anyway, keep it touch and
let us know how you make out.


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