Sausages in a commercial establishment

I’m looking to introduce a sous vide sausage to the breakfast menu of a cafe, the reason for this is to cut down on order to serving time with the sausages taking by far the longest time to cook from raw, plus I always feel a good sausage(relative) and bacon makes a big difference to the experience

I have looked about and believe sous vide could be the best way forward to achieve this, the sausages are an 80 to 90 percent meat gluten free version that are quite thick compared to a standard cheap sausage

So the idea is to batch cook them sous vide method then brown them on a hot griddle as and when required

I have a few questions regarding this.

First of all is there any tips on how many per bag I can fit in (ie what gap should I leave between each sausage before I seal) I’m also assuming that they be place horizontally in the bags to maximise water flow. Is there a technique to evenly space them?

Is it possible to use reusable bags for this?. Not just as a cost saver for myself but also to reduce waste

Any answers to these or questions I should also have asked would be most appreciated.

Oh, I have purchased the pro and a 12 lt sous vide container with lid for experimenting with

Here’s a few planning questions for you to consider before you start bagging those sausages.

Production planning always begins with your sales forecast to answer the basic question, - what’s a batch?. How many portions do you sell in a week, or maybe in day in a high volume operation with a long row of rocking chairs out front?

To begin you will probably want to do your processing once a week if your container is big enough. That’s so you can SV advance cook other menu items during the week such as Pork Chops and Chicken portions, even vegetables which could become your distinctively unfair competitive advantage along with your delicious SV Smoked Turkey Thigh Sandwich with Come-Back Sauce on the side. I recommend cooking those sausages to Pasteurization for safe extended refrigerated holding. Be sure to date and label every bag.

Also to determine a batch size consider your storage capacity, - and refrigerated or frozen? Bags are available in a variety of sizes so do a small test batch. Then you will know how many sausages fit in a bag and about how many portions you can process at once in a full batch. Pack sausages flat in a single layer for even cooking. No spacing is required.

Reducing waste by employing reusable silicon bags is admirable, but you might want to consider your business case for being admirable. I’ve not found them to be cost effective. Silicon bags are costly and there is the added expense of scrubbing them clean after each use. Silicon bag seals are their weak point. If you use them consider leaving some empty space at the top and clip the bags to the sides of your vessel to keep the seals above water surface while the sausages remain submerged. That will also result in ample water circulation.

If your sales volume warrants, during service warm and hold the bagged cooked sausages at a safe temperature, but not so high as to overcook them. I strongly recommend continuously monitoring their holding temperature with a remote-sensing thermometer. (Thermo’s Chef-Alarm is an example, but there are significantly less expensive similar ones available.) Finishing for service to order will be quicker with warm sausages as all you need to do is pat dry, brown and serve.

If you serve thickly sliced high quality bacon you might want to SV test cook a batch for evaluation.

I’d find a vacuum machine that does labeling. Ensure you have a process where you record and save data from your recirculator. There are HACCP focused sous vide machines out there. I have not looked at the Anova for a commercial use, but I suppose its possible. I’ve used Sammic gear and would be comfortable with them because they make commercial gear. There are many others.

You have probably already done this, but quantify exactly what you think you will save in money based on the time, loss, quality, space, opportunity etc factors. Sausage would not come to my mind first for sous vide, but I don’t run a kitchen that serves sausage. If my bagged sausage is precooked and I use sous vide to bring it to temp and hold for the breakfast period I’d guess that the advantage is higher quality product since it wont dry out. It’s more sanitary because I am not holding it in a hotel pan. But I’m now bagging portions or batches and have a new process and new costs. Maybe you have staff that eat your sausages. Bagging them and tracking them would help with loss.

I’ve used counter steam table units to bring product to temp in vacuum bags without sous vide machines. A pid controller on a 1400w counter steam table (with faucet helps) can probably help hold safe temps for bagged goods for less money.

Thanks for your response,
With regard to the production planning this Is a total unknown, I should have probably clarified the the premises is not yet open and is a new cafe in a new location so there are no historical figures to go on, covid has significantly delayed the building and opening of it, due to the social distancing and the floor space I have for the aprox 28 covers it’s just not financially viable to open until covid is either over, or the uk government comes up with longterm permanent procedures, fortunately my income is not effected and the outgoings on the premises I can comfortably absorb until it does open, so while twiddling my thumbs I am looking to plan the systems of work within the establishment which I will scale up or down over time depending on sales and trends, I’m also not a trained chef, my experience lies in managing public houses and front of house of various other food establishments

I take your point on the reusable bags so will just get a few to experiment with at home .

My hazyness comes with regards to the chilling of the pasteurised food(sausages) my initial thoughts were to cook pre service on the day and hold in a bain Marie once the sealed pack was needed, Im not familiar with how long you can keep pasturised sausages chilled for and whether reheating from chilled will effect/defeat the purpose of cooking the sausages this way in the first place.

E. thank you for clarifying your café’s planning details.

SV sausages cooked to Pasteurization and immediately, rapidly ice-bath chilled will keep refrigerated safely longer than you would believe. Select only the menu items that will have sufficient sales to make advanced cooking worthwhile. I don’t recommend you SV cook - hold daily in a small volume setting. To be effective batch and advance cook all menu items that will benefit from the technique. Correct reheating preserves quality. Quality advanced food production demands rapid chilling and gentle reheating at or below its SV cooking temperature. Before opening you must batch test every menu item you intend to SV process just as you would in your Café. That means batch package, SV cook, rapid chill, store, retherm, brown, serve, and evaluate.

Plan on having freezer space for ice and refrigeration space for cooked menu items. I like to use ventilated baskets/trays for product storage to maximize space utilization. Too many kitchens store air.

I will send you a few more ideas not related to SV.

That would be great thanks, and believe you me there is no space for air at all, kitchen is tiny

Well, you will enjoy having the maximum revenue producing area then.

Small kitchens can be a challenge but not impossible if you are creative. Think of a railway dining car kitchen if they still have them. That’s my model for space efficiency. I’ve done things like using fold down counter tops over sinks for a vacuum packaging and work area, but not the hand washing sink.

Use your menu to plan the equipment list and all items to be stored. You can’t afford space for single purpose tools and equipment. Are you allowed to do your SV cooking off site?

Keep well.

Recommended reading. Baldwin’s Pasteurization, cooking and chilling time tables are most useful.

No, I believe it will complicate matters with the local eho