May 29, 2011
by Ross Goldenberg 

Almost every serious home cook I know (and a lot of professional ones too) has an immersion circulator at the top of his or her gadget wish list. As discussed in a previous post on Dulce De Leche, an immersion circulator heats a water bath to a specific temperature and maintains that temperature with precision (often to 1/10th or 1/100th of a degree). The result is a cooking medium that allows for precise control and in turn perfectly and consistently cooked foods (see the picture of my steak below).

Perfectly cooked steak courtesy of my Polyscience Sous Vide Professional.

Immersion circulators, however, are a significant investment. The most popular models sold by Polyscience run $800-$1000 and are the same models used by restaurants professionals. The Sous Vide Supreme is geared to the home cook, but still costs $300-$400 and is not as full featured as the professional models.

Seattle Food Geek: DIY Sous Vide Heating Immersion Circulator For About $75
Seattle Food Geek: DIY Sous Vide Heating Immersion Circulator For About $75

There’s an old adage that says out of desperation comes opportunity. And that seems to be exactly what blogger Scott Heimendinger did. Using parts he bought on the Internet, a little elbow grease and many months of tinkering, he built himself an immersion circulator for under $75. And the good news is you can too!

Scott has documented the entire construction process in his blog. This DIY build is so impressive that Make magazine published plans and a full parts list earlier this year. You can read the article here (subscription required).

I have not yet tried my hand at this immersion circulator homebrew but hope to someday.

Author’s Note: Scott’s blog has a lot of great articles on other foodie topics such as DIY prosciutto, the Modernist Cuisine cookbook, and food photography. I highly recommend it.