Can I use sous vide to circulate cold liquids?

I’m new to sous vide and was wondering if it’s possible to use it to cool food instead of heat it. For instance, if I wanted to keep a liquid bath at 0 degrees F (-17.8 C), can I use the sous vide machine to do that?

I know the machine doesn’t have refrigerant in it, so I’d have to cool the bath with something else, but I need the temperature to remain at a constant 0 degrees and sous vide seems like it would be a really good option to circulate/maintain that temperature. I just don’t know if it can operate at such a low temp. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Even if you could cool the water to that temperature, I believe the APC can only be set down to a temperature of 32 F / 0 C and will attempt to heat the water up to that temperature if it is colder.

Understood. You’re right, I wouldn’t be using water in this situation since it would be solid at that temp, but I am curious if the sous vide machine can just be set to circulate without it trying to raise the temperature.

I’m not aware of a way to turn off that functionality since that is the main purpose of the unit (circulate heated water in order to maintain a uniform temperature for cooking). It seems like there would be other options better suited to what you want to do. Perhaps a submersible pump used for landscaping water features.

That makes sense, I’ll try looking into a few other options. Thanks for the input!

I would be really interested to see circulating water that is colder than 0 °C…

Salt water can be below 0C and still fluid.

Yes, I’m aware of that. And the conditions under which this might happen don’t occur in the container for an immersion circulator.

Eric, the Sous Vide technique cooks vacuum packaged foods in heated water. It’s a system that adds controlled amounts of heat and circulates it. it’s not possible to reverse its function.

Circulation is far from your particular need. Start with a decision on your means of refrigeration to attain and maintain 0ᴼF. That’s going to be your most significant challenge. Any simple mechanical agitator will circulate your liquid medium. You want something much slower than a SV circulator. Something that will just prevent stratification. A moving fluid adds heat to your system so go slow.

In my first home SV rig i used the smallest aquarium bubbler i could find to circulate the water in a slow cooker.

Thank you so much, I appreciate the input. I’ve been working on the refrigeration side of things because I know that that has to be separate like you mentioned. You do bring up a good point that the moving fluid adds heat, so it’s good to know that the SV circulator is probably too much for what I’m needing in this particular application.

Eric, in food processing there is about equal use of mechanical refrigeration and liquid nitrogen for quick freezing applications. They usually go at least a few degrees lower than 0ᴼF.

Most systems move the food through the freezing equipment rather than circulate the freezing medium, even in what would be considered small-scale operations.

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