The Swid by Addélice Review
I’m starting a review of the different appliances one can use to get started with sous vide cooking. I’m pretty confident now that I will be able to try out all of the major equipment available very soon. In the meantime I’m going to start with the SWID by Addélice, a young German company who created an impressive machine.
So get ready to delve into the meanders of sous vide cooking equipment..
At first sous vide cooking appears to the non-aficionados as a bad way of cooking things. It’s often associated with the dreaded supermarket ready meals and is not synonyme of great cuisine. I tried to remember what propelled me into the sous vide way and I can’t pin point the exact moment when I decided that I had to try. Cuisine always been for me a passion and a hobby. I think that I stumbled upon it more than anything. But when I was interested enough to want to get into it seriously I wind up looking everywhere for information about equipment and recipes.
For recipes, it was easy enough. Mostly, when you type “sous vide” and the name of an ingredient you end up with tens or hundreds of link to various websites and blogs. Equipment on the other hand is a bit more complex, in the sense that pretty much everybody is using a different way of cooking sous vide.
So now, you have to choose between unstirred water baths, stirred water baths, immersion circulators, PID controllers and other home made apparatus. All of them as foreign to the home cook as the next one. That’s where you start asking questions and that’s when you start getting too many answers.
Sous vide shouldn’t be something you choose to get into on a whim. except if you’re loaded and don’t mind burning hundreds or thousands of your inherited currencies. You need to be pretty sure that this is something for you, that you would enjoy and keep enjoying for a while. After reading pretty much everything I could get my hands on about the subject I realised that it was for me, that it was something I would enjoy and I would enjoy for a while so I decided that it was time for me to get into the hardware side of things. I already had a vacuum sealer for other domestic uses but I needed a way of cooking.
My first attempt at sous vide was quite miserable and yielded a disgusting result. I didn’t fully comprehend that the control of temperature was the crucial key to success. And though I could get away with using my Maginix deep fryer as a water bath. I stupidly assumed that given the fact that it could go as low as 60°C I could just fill it with water instead of the usual oil and drop a seasoned and vacuum packed sirloin steak into it and wait for an hour or so. The temperature variation on my deep fryer was about +/- 10°, mostly towards “+”. Let me tell you that the steak was the worse piece of meat I had for a while.
After that pathetic attempt, my determination wasn’t shaken up but it was clear that I was in dire need of a proper equipment. Yes, but which one?
Here’s the first installment of reviews, that I hope will help you make the right choice for yourself.
Review #1 – SWID by Addélice“The Swid is the world’s first immersion circulator dedicated for sous vide cooking”“Le Swid est le premier thermoplongeur au monde à être dédier à la cuisson sous vide”
This sentence is what you’ll read on the Addélice website. It come from the fact that most of the other immersion circulator on the market were designed for the scientific community as lab tools which were later hijacked by chefs to be used as kitchen equipment. Swid was designed with cooking in mind, for amateur or professional. The first thing that surprised me in a good way, was the size of the swid, it’s pretty reasonable and confirms the fact that the appliance was designed for the kitchen. It can be easily stored in a cupboard or a drawer.
It’s composed of two parts, the top part is the controller, where the precision electronics reside, the lower part is the immersed portion of the machine, where you have the heating element, the thermometer and the circulation pump that stirs the water. The head of the Swid has a nice finish and feels like it’s pretty well insulated, I wouldn’t recommend splashing the water around though. The heating element separated from the food by a protection cage, which is part of the body.
On that top part that you’ll find everything you’ll need to set temperature and cooking time, Addélice went with the “less is more” concept on that front and it’s not automatically a bad thing, after all the best food processors have only three buttons, ON, OFF and PULSE. It the same idea with the Swid, you have two displays, the top one indicates the temperature you want to cook at in Celsius, the lower one the time the machine will run for in Hours and Minute. Under these two displays you have the Up and Down buttons. they control both the temp and the time. Left of those the “mode” button which helps you move between temp and time, start the heating process and kick off the timer. On the back of the machine you’ll find the power attachment socket and the ON/OFF switch.
Here’s how it works. You decide to cook a piece of chicken breast. After prepping and vacuum packing it. You turn on the swid, the word addélice appears, split between the two displays and disappears to show the last temp selected. Using the up and down buttons you set the temperature. for your chicken let’s say 63.5°C then you press the “mode” button, the focus changes to the bottom display. You set the time you desire, once again you hit the “mode” button and the machine start to heat and stir the water. Depending on the original temperature of the liquid, it takes more or less time to get to the selected temp. Generally I thought it was quite fast, even when I used cold water from the tap. It is of course recommended to start with a water temperature as close as possible to the one you want. ie: My hot water tap is around 50°C . The Swid will let you know with a “bip!” that the target temp is reached, this is when you’ll drop your pouches into whatever container you attached the machine to and press and hold for a couple of second the “Mode” button a last time which will start the timer, then you walk away and leave the machine alone to do what it does best.
The Swid can be attached to pretty much any container you wish, I use it with a couple 5L stock pot and a 20L hotel pan as well as a 20L polycarbonate container. The bigger the container, the faster the temperature stabilizes, which makes kinda sense, a large volume of water changes temperature very slowly.
Weirdly the size of the Swid was a good surprise and a worry at the very same time. Yes it is small and that’s cool, but what does it mean in term of power and reliability? I decided to put it through several tests, including letting it run non stop for 72 hours and every time it performed beautifully, having to leave the machine running all day while I was at work was a bit scary and the first day I came back at lunch time to check on it, but then I got used to it. I also, and this is very sad, watched it for more than an hour straight to see if there was temperature fluctuations, (Told you it was sad) there was none, it stuck to 63.5°C all the way. The temperature can drop when adding food, but it gets back on target at a remarkable speed. The Swid has a fail safe that stops the machine if the water level drops to low, which will happen by evaporation.
I wanted to check the temperature of the water to make sure that the Swid wasn’t lying to me. I used two of my kitchen digital thermometers, that time I noticed that the temperature the Swid indicated was different than the one displayed by my two thermometers. I was a bit disappointed, actually I was downright pissed off and I actually contacted the guys at Addélice to share my concerns, they assured me that the Swid was calibrated with state of the art precision probes. I still had two thermometers telling me that the temperature in the water wasn’t the one the Swid was claiming it was, so I decided to continue investigate and tested again, this time using a thermocouple, I was happy I get the same temp on the swid and on the thermocouple. Now I know that I shouldn’t trust my kitchen thermometers, a thermocouple is way more accurate.
If I had to say something bad about this equipment it will be about the setting of the time. I would have maybe liked two buttons, one for the hours, one for the minutes, it would make setting time for 48 or 72 hours a bit faster. Another thing would be to be able to remove the protection cage to make the cleaning easier.
- Reaches temperature quickly.
- Price €449 Shipping included
- Good size for the home kitchen
- Noiseless, it is very silent.
- Very stable.
- Setting long cooking time could be faster
- Not being able to remove the protection grid.
The Swid is a very good product, it is not a gadget, but a powerful, efficient cooking tool. Its price of €449 makes it an affordable appliance for the kitchen, It’s very easy to use and can easily be stored. I really felt that I had a complete sous vide experience with this machine, and if you pair it with a good vacuum sealer, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. There is a new website dedicated to the Swid, Check it out
Bellow is a video from Jean-François at sousvidecooking.org showing the Swid in action, it’s in french, but the images are self explanatory,