How to Clean a Sous Vide Machine
A sous vide machine does not have many cleaning issues, as food cooked inside it needs to be kept in vacuum-sealed pouches inside a water bath. A sous vide machine’s digital and electrical unit should never be rinsed or immersed in water.
Everyday, after you are finished cooking, take a clean, damp, soft and absorbent cloth and slowly wipe the interior as well as the exterior of the machine clean, and let it dry. Besure to use a clean cloth and regularly wash the cloth.
What to do if the water keeps getting dirty
The water bath of a sous wide machine usually contains about 8.5 liters or more of water, and it is not feasible to empty out such large volume of water every time. Usually, if you are using vacuum packs of standard quality, and have properly sealed the food pouches, and if the cooking time and temperature do not exceed the recommended time for that particular food, then the water will remain clean as nothing will come out of the pouches.
1. Always ensure that the water in the bath is clean; never cook even in very slightly contaminated water. Clean water will be odorless, colorless, and transparent, if you detect smells or see some particles or globules, then it is time to clean your unit.
Be sure that the vacuum pouches and vacuum sealer you have bought are of standard quality. Usually, most firms recommend the vacuum seal packs and vacuum sealer along with their machine, so when you buy a sous vide machine, it is advisable to buy the recommended items and always replace them with the same standard quality, never substitute with any readily available cheap product.
2. Always follow the temperature and time chart while cooking. Each food category will have its specific suitable time and temperature for proper cooking. Excessive exposure to heat for a longer duration than recommended can cause the food to secrete harmful substances which can permeate through the seal and contaminate the water.
3. Change the water if required fill the bath with fresh tap water and add vinegar to it and run the machine without food, then completely rinse the water and allow the machine to dry.
What to do if the machine gets scaly
In many places tap water is generally hard, full of minerals, and overtime your sous vide bath can become scaly due to deposition of substances dissolved in the hard water.
To prevent your machine from becoming scaly, you can run the machine with only water and some vinegar (around 20%) at a sufficiently high temperature of about 150° Fahrenheit for one or two hours.Vinegar, being acidic in nature, will dissolve the scale; also it is an organic acid and not a very strong one, so it does not corrode the bath.
Other substances that can be used as a cleansing agent are 10% food-safe calcium/lime/rust remover, orapple cider vinegar. Always use an organic cleansing agent, never use a harsh chemical variety.
After having run the machine with cleansing agent solution, rinse the water and let the machine thoroughlydry, and after it has dried, wipe it with a soft, absorbent cloth.
It is also important to note that certain materials promote scale formation more easily than others, so it is important to buy a machine made of scale-resistant material.
Cleaning food particles and other debris
It is very unlikely that your sous vide machine will collect food particles since the entire food is cooked in vacuum-sealed pouches. Prepare the food for packing in a place sufficiently distanced from your cooking machine; avoid cutting, shredding, and marinating too near the machine. Do not overload the packs just ensure that they bear the right weight, and place them carefully on the food rack inside the machine.
If due to some unlikely reason, food particles or other debris get stuck in various parts of your machine, such as the heater element or pump impeller, then just follow the instructions manual for removing the safety covers or fasteners of these parts, and thereafter clean these parts by slowly brushing away the debris with a soft toothbrush.
If the debris sticks, then you can also clean these parts with a damp cloth or also by immersing in clean water. Clean slowly and carefully do not scrub, wring, pull or apply force, or use a coarse material for cleaning. While doing such operations, your machine should always be unplugged. After cleaning the parts, let them dry and replace them properly.