We have all spent a good deal of time thinking how we can use Gadgeteer to improve the world around us. Everything from cars to televisions, almost anything can be improved by adding a little more…flavor. However, can Gadgeteer be used to actually add more flavor to a terrible cut of meat? Well, @ Duke Nukem took it upon himself to do the research. Armed with what he confessed was the worst cut of pork chops imaginable, he created a Sous-vide style cooker using his crock pot, a FEZ Raptor, a Thermocouple and a Relay X1.
Lets see how he did:
While he may not have been able to save a terrible cut of meat, he did create an amazing cooking tool that would make a decent cut of meat extraordinary. Read the original post to learn how he did it and how you could make one yourself using the extra FEZ parts you may have laying around: https://www.ghielectronics.com/community/forum/topic?id=15258
Actually I was thinking about adding something that watched power usage so when it leveled out you would know the meat was heated through and hence done (ie only ambient heat loses). A wireless temperature sensor would work if you sealed it in the bag, but I had a pile of chops in there, so putting a sensor in each one was more then my Scottish nature could handle. I will be repeating this experiment as I was quite pleased with the results, but I’m getting a vacuum sealer first as I think that would make the most difference as the Gadgeteer controller worked rather well.
This is great. An important feature that you will want, given your setup, is temperature history. The biggest difference between this and a professional setup is temperature swing. On a forgiving piece of beef if may not matter. If you want a 64C egg, a half a degree swing will change your results. So it would be useful to see your actual temperature history vs your temperature goal. It would help optimize your PID algorithm, but more importantly you can see what happen to your food.
One minor tweak that may make a difference in your temperature stability is adding a circulator. It could be self-contained battery/aquarium pump unit that you just drop into the crock pot when you need it.
@ eolson great minds must think alike as the test version of this uploaded temperature to Open.Sen.se so I had temperature charts, but as I mentioned in the other thread I was worried about overwhelming my data upload rate for Open.Sen.se so I took it out, but in the version I used I tracked the min/max temperatures once I hit my cook temperature so I knew that my cook temp was safe and I also put in an alarm if the temperature fell below limit temperature and this saved my butt when I found out that the crock pot I was using when turned off (ie the controller decided it was hot enough) didn’t turn back on when the controller turned the power back on, so the alarm alerted me to this ‘feature’ of the crock pot. So at the bottom of the screen there are 2 numbers 134 and 149 and those are my min/max temperatures after I hit my targeted cook temp of 145.
The crock pot wasn’t bad for consistent temperature around the pot as the stoneware liner wasn’t too bad at ensuring even heating (had a bit of latency as I turned off the power when water temp > target temp, so I’d change that a bit next time), but using the manual gauge I did notice a small but measurable temperature gradient from bottom to top of the water level so a circulator would help with that. The max temp was influenced a bit by me moving the sensor around and at different depths, so if I left it at one place the temperature range would have been less (the min was me being slow to respond to my alarm and then figuring out what the heck was going on as my test crock pot had a purely manual switch that turned when I powered it, so I wasn’t expecting this pot to work differently). If I was doing eggs where I needed finer control over the temperature I would use my smaller crock pot (the pot used to cook the chops was rather huge as I had a pile of chops in there) as hopefully it would give me a better consistent temperature throughout the pot. It sounds like it would be a good additional experiment so I’ll have to give it a go and see if it works. I’m a scrambled egg kind of guy (with lots of fresh cracked pepper), but the wife thinks she is a eggs connoisseur, so I’ll have a pretty fussy tester for this.