There are multiple ways in which you can prepare food. Cooking, drying, frying, sous viding, you name it. Some of the more fancy cooking gadgets are expensive. Here is a short guide for you, so that you can enjoy all the benefits of inexpensive Bluetooth sensor technology in your kitchen. For example, I will tell you about how you can master sous vide cooking with just basic kitchen equipment and a smart environmental sensor.
How to dry food?
There are many ways to increase preservation time and to reduce the risk of throwing away out-of-date food.
One of the oldest techniques is food drying. Removing water avoids both the growth of microorganisms and food oxidation. Meat and fish are usually cured. In this process, salt is used to absorb water and to dry the food. Salt also has anti-microbial properties. For fruits, mushrooms, or vegetables, heat is usually used to evaporate the water.
What is the correct temperature for drying food?
To preserve nutritional properties, it is important to keep the temperature low, under 60° C, so the food does not cook. This is one of the best ways to enjoy mushrooms from the forest or apples from the garden, all year long.
In addition, this process is easy to set up at home with a basic oven and a Bluetooth RuuviTag sensor. Place the food and the sensor in the oven and set an alert on the Ruuvi Station app to prevent the temperature from exceeding 60° C. The measured relative humidity will first increase because of water evaporation. Set an alarm to be notified when the humidity inside the oven is back to the room’s normal humidity level, at which point the food will be dry and ready.
From drying food to storing it in fridges
Drying is a very old process of preserving food. 14,000 years after this process first started, Sir Ferdinand Carré invented the fridge, fortunately! The basic idea of the fridge is to reduce the temperature in order to slow down the cellular metabolism of microorganisms and therefore increase the storage shelf life of food.
Did you know that the internal temperature of the fridge may vary up to 8° C between the bottom and the top? Different types of food should be stored in different areas of the fridge to avoid the risk of spoilage and to increase their shelf life:
- 0° C – 3° C: raw meat and fish, dairy products
- 3° C – 6° C: cooked meat and fish, cooked vegetables, sauces
- 6° C – 9° C: raw vegetables, eggs, drinks
A fridge usually has the capability to display the temperature, but it’s normally measured from a very specific place inside the fridge. By using RuuviTags, it is possible to track precisely these colder and warmer areas and to store food accordingly. It is possible to monitor several sensors simultaneously on the app and distinguish them easily by giving them different names, for example, “fridge door” or “crisper”.
Some old fridges do not even display the temperature, in which case the RuuviTag is even more critical for maintaining proper temperatures and food preservation.
How to smoke food at home?
Do you know how cold smoked salmon is made for Christmas dinner?
The fish is first cured with salt and sugar, to enhance preservation as we saw in the first part. This process also gives it a firm texture. Then, the salmon is moved to the smoker, where small wood pellets burn slowly and create the required smoke. To prevent the fish from cooking and microorganisms from proliferating, the temperature is kept below 20° C.
The smoke itself contains antiseptic elements which increase the preservation of the salmon even further. Experts’ secret is to use different types of wood like oak, beech timber, or pear tree to subtly modify the final taste of the fish…
Here you can find a more cohesive list of different woods used in smoking.
Setting up a DIY smoker
The next question is how to set up a DIY smoker at home and avoid buying industrial salmon? Great smoker designs are available on the Internet, and it will not cost you more than €50 to get started. First and foremost you will need a box, it can be anything from an old fridge to a smaller box.
Place a pellet burner at the bottom. Then place a RuuviTag Bluetooth sensor next to the fish to monitor the process remotely. Set an alarm in the Ruuvi Station app if the temperature exceeds 20° C. Then just let the smoking process begin and allow it to go on for several hours.
We would like to warn you, however, that once you have tried a homemade smoked salmon, you will never be able to go back to a regular store-bought smoked salmon! You will also get addicted to smoked cheese, smoked meat, or anything else you can process with the same smoker.
How to sous vide at home?
In its most basic essence, cooking is nothing more than increasing the internal temperature of an ingredient until it reaches a specific temperature where chemical changes occur.
When cooking a steak, the oven, pan, or bbq are heated up to a very high temperature, way higher than the targeted internal temperature. The heat then passes rapidly from the surface into the meat. Because it is impossible to see inside the meat, it is very hard to know when exactly the steak is ready. Who hasn’t ever over or undercooked a steak?
The concept of sous vide cooking is to bring water to a specific temperature, the one we want our steak to be cooked at, for example, 56° C for medium-rare doneness. The meat is then enclosed in a vacuum bag with some spices and herbs and put in the water. It will then slowly cook until it evenly reaches the desired temperature. It will never get overcooked because the meat cannot get warmer than the surrounding water.
Are you worried you will not get the crispy and golden crust on the outside? Here comes the final step. Once the meat is cooked, just sear it on a warm pan in some garlic butter or throw it on a bbq to get the crust and smoky taste we are all looking for.
Our sous vide cooking video from YouTube
Professional sous vide cookers can be found on the market. They automatically regulate the water temperature, however, they are expensive and take a lot of space in the closet.
Homemade sous vide machine with a smart sensor
How can you then create a convenient and cheap sous vide machine? The answer is simple: by using a RuuviTag Bluetooth sensor (of course) and any regular cooking pot. By placing the sensor in a vacuum bag and inside the pot, you can monitor the water temperature. By using the Ruuvi Station mobile app it is easy to set alarms so that the water does not move away from the optimal temperature.
RuuviTag proves to be the ideal ‘utensil’ we should all have in our kitchen drawer. You’ve just read in this article a few examples of its several use cases in food preservation and cooking, but the only limit is your imagination and creativity! Baking or pizza enthusiasts are probably already thinking about monitoring their dough raising process with the sensor…
You can find a pizza dough recipe as well as a sourdough bread recipe in our blog.
I mentioned three different things you can do in the kitchen with a smart environmental sensor. These are:
- Sous vide cooking
- Drying food
- Smoking food
Ruuvi offers environment measuring sensors that can monitor not only processes like cooking, but also your most valuable possessions at all times. You can find many more examples of use cases on our web site above!
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What is sous vide cooking?
Sous vide cooking involves heating certain ingredients in water in a vacuum plastic bag. By doing this, you can ensure that your food cooks at a constant temperature and does not become overcooked. It also enhances food flavour by keeping all the ingredients inside the vacuum sealed bag.
In what temperature should I cold smoke fish?
Approximately 20° C is the perfect temperature for cold smoking fish.
Do I need a sous vide cooker to cook sous vide?
No! You really do not need this expensive and bulky machine in your kitchen. You can achieve the same result with a waterproof Bluetooth sensor, like the Ruuvi Tag, which will allow you to keep a constant temperature.