Newbie Questions About my Set-up

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!

Let me try to answer your questions:

1 + 2) Insulation is definitely a good idea to save power but it’s not going to have any impact on the cooking itself. Covering the water bath is especially important as it reduces the amount of water evaporation, so besides the benefit of not having to worry about the water level dropping down (especially during long cooks), covering the water bath will save the most power in my opinion.

  1. I don’t think that it makes a difference if the bag touched the sides or bottom. I mean sure, you wouldn’t want the meat to be sitting completely flat against the side or bottom of the container, but that’s highly unlikely to happen anyway unless you weight down your food with something to makes it sit flat against the bottom. So far I haven’t found any need for weighing down the meat. It just sits at the bottom of the container with a small contact area. Don’t forget that the bag will eventually end up having juices inside which will help spread the heat evenly all around. As for racks, I don’t have one yet, but I am thinking of getting one… but that’s just for better space / layout management… Nothing to do with any concerns that the bags would touch the sides of the container etc.

I hope this helps a bit. Cheers!

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Many thanks, Z. Based on your advise, I guess what I’m doing is not overkill. I appreciate your taking the time to help me out.

Best Regards,

It is a good idea to separate the pot bottom from the counter top at least with a folded dry towel.

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This is something I always do but never gave it much thought. Good advice.

Yes, @RichardOL and @pegmo , it is a good idea to place your cooking pot on a towel or other insulating material (trivet, potholder, cutting board, etc.). Otherwise you could suffer from a damaged countertop such as what happened in this thread: Cracked Granite?

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@NateAnova thanks for answering this!