My first trials using the new test sled was with the aluminum bead bed and relied on my previous experience using the Sous Vide Art in water.  Alas, that experience including over cooking two New York steaks for my first trial, but it provided an initial set point, that enabled me to follow up with two absolutely perfect medium rare New Yorkers using the machine, as well as some tasty carrots, asparagus, and spiced Asian pears using a pot of water on the stove top, controlled using an immersion lab thermometer. 

Using that previous sous vide ground work, I started the trials using the aluminum sous vide beads based on the information gleaned.

Thank you Mary at Cascade Scientific for the aluminum beads I used to conduct these metal bead sous vide experiments.  Ya’ll brothers an sisters wishing to experiment with aluminum bead sous vide or covet them for your lab, may I suggest that you check out their goodies at


Test # 1A.  For a first trial, I was eyeing the two nice pork chops Grayfox had defrosted for breakfast, but bowed to her panic, and decided to start with carrots. 

I heated the beads to 82C/180F and prepared some baby carrots by lightly coating them in olive oil and sprinkling with sea salt, before vacuum sealing.

I had previously run carrots in a 82C/180F water sous vide bath at 10, 15, and 20 minutes to establish their cooking rate to perfection and found 20 minutes about perfect, so elected to run the aluminum beads at that temperature and cook for the same 20 minute duration.

In watching the beads heat up, I note that because they don’t circulate like the water with convection, so I periodically stirred them to keep heat more uniform as I searched for the correct dial setting on the simple rheostat pot control using a mercury lab thermometer as reference. 

What happened with the first test?

Sooooo, the bottom line with the carrots is that 20 minutes was not long enough.  They were tasty but still more el dente than the samples from the same batch of baby carrots, cooked in a water bath at the same temperature and duration.

Test 1B:  Using test 1A as a baseline, I ran a second batch at 82C/180F for 30 minutes.  I lightly oiled them with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt before vacuum packing.  I judge it to be about equal to 20 minutes in a water bath at the same temperature.

Test 1C:  I ran 1 Asian pear at 82C/180F for 99 minutes, with honey, white wine, butter, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and coriander.  It was not as full ripe as the ones that I ran in sous vide water bath at the same temperature for 90 minutes, so the el dente comparison is not apples and apples, but were done enough and as tasty. 

Test 1D:  I ran two separate bags with an Asian pear in each.  One was full ripe and the other was still firm.  I ran the same recipe as Test 1C on the ripe one, except I reduced the juices afterwards, before pouring them over the cooked pears.  I ran them at 82C/180F for 90 minutes and produced about the same doneness as at the same temperature and duration in water.

The second pear I bagged with a mixture of Amaretto syrup and white wine and cooked for 2 hours at 82C/180F.  A completely different flavor profile, but both delightful.

Spiced Asian Pears

Test 1E:  I established that 45 minutes at 56C/133F in water produced a letter perfect medium rare New York steak, using the Sous Vide Art unit.   Based on the carrots taking 33% longer in the beads, than in water at the same temperature, I ran these sirloins 33% longer and alas, they were badly overdone.

Of them all, this was our least, but Miss Layla, our 3 year old GS female’s favorite recipe.

Test 1F:  I reran Test 1D, but ran for 45 minutes and it too came out a perfect medium rare. 

I also patted the steak dry and salted it after sous vide cooking this time, before cross hatch searing it in the panini press.  That dramatically increased the Maillard caramelizing effect, adding more flavor. 

Sirloins at 45 minutes at 56C/133F

Panini Press

My favorite thus far, but my Le Cordon Bleu chef friend suggested that I take it a step further and change the grill plates in my panini press with the flat plates, to see if increasing the surface area of the sear adds yet more caramelized flavor.  

He also provided this link to more information about cooking steak sous vide:

Cooked 45 minutes at 56C/180F with nicely caramelized surface

Perfect Medium Rare

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