I'm a newbie, but so far have successfully cooked my first dinner -- pork loin was fabulous! I've done a lot of online reading so far and have only come across one brief mention (somewhere) of adding insulation to your cooking vessel to help maintain bath temperature and reduce the workload on the circulator. I remember a picture of a large stockpot wrapped in a towel, but have seen many more pictures that show a "bare" pot sitting directly on a coutertop, often with no cover at all. I've also read about the importance of keeping steam from entering the Anova vents.
With all this in mind, I set up my first cook in my stainless steel large stock pot, set the pot on a thick wooden cutting board, and wrapped the pot in reflective sheet insulation (similar to dollar-store sun visors meant for car windshields.) I also cut a smaller piece of this insulation to put on the cutting board under the pot (maybe this step was not necessary). To insulate the top I cut a sheet of bubble wrap I had lying around. This seemed to do a great job maintaining the temperature, water level, and avoiding steam exposure.
But my questions are:
1. Since I see so many online pictures of pots with no covering or insulation, I wonder if what I'm doing is all that necessary when using my stock pot?
2. Soon I'll be switching to a 12 qt. Rubbermaid Cambro-like box and an Everie lid purpose-built for Anova. Will the above insulation routine be helpful, or is it not necessary with this type of box and lid?
3. Is there a problem if the food I'm cooking touches the bottom and/or sides of the vessel? Does it need to be totally surrounded by water on all sides? Is a rack of some kind essential to keep this from happening?
Thanks in advance for expert advice!