Sous Vide Terminology

Sometimes terms are thrown at us in the midst of a sous vide conversation. When I first started with sous vide cooking, a lot of terms popped up a lot question marks in my head.

Below are some popular terms. With the terms are basic definitions so you have a general understanding of them.

If you have more to add (I’m sure I’ve missed a few), feel free to add them in the comments.

Water bath - You know that pot or container full of water where you put your Anova stick into? Yeah, that’s the water bath!

APC - Anova Precision Cooker

Ice bath Feature - Also known as a delayed cook, it’s a feature within the app that helps with keeping your food at a safe temperature until you’re ready to cook. You can learn more about the ice bath feature in the app from this blog post.

Shocking - Once your food is done cooking, remove it from the bath and drop it into a container with cold, icy water. This helps with rapidly reducing the food’s internal temperature. This is helpful if you want to have a longer sear or safely store your food for a long time.

Danger zone - This is when food sits in an unsafe (low) temperature for an amount of time. More about what that danger zone is can be found in A Practical Guide to Sous Vide by Douglas Baldwin.

Searing - Taking food and cooking it over very high heat, usually just the surface of the food, to achieve the Maillard Reaction. Check out our guide and examples of how to sear your food.

Batch cooking - Cooking a large quantity of food at one time to eat across the next few days

Sous vide - Sous vide literally means “under vacuum” in French, which refers to the process of vacuum sealing food in a bag, then cooking it at very precise temperature. Learn more about what is sous vide cooking.

Under vacuum - See definition for “sous vide.”

Doneness - When food is cooked at the desired temperature (medium rare, medium-well, medium, well-done, etc). Not sure what kind of doneness you’re looking for? Check out our time + temperature guide.

Vacuum sealer - It is a machine that vacuum packs, which is a method that removes air from a package prior to searing.

Immersion method - If you don’t have a vacuum sealer machine, you can use the immersion method in order to remove the air from the bag. This is done by using the pressure of the water to force the air out of the bag. This is also known as the “water displacement method.”

Water displacement method - See definition for “immersion method.”

Silicone bags - These bags are typically made of 100% pure platinum food grade silicone. They can be reused and are considered to be a more sustainable product than sealable plastic bags.

Cooking vessel - A container filled with water, or liquid - can be a pot, a sink, a cooler.

Reverse searing - A cooking method or technique that utilizes low temperatures and a longer cook time. This is typically executed with an oven or a closed grill.

Multicook - An Anova app feature that gives you the ability to control multiple cookers at once.

Insulation - Adding material to prevent the loss of heat. Materials include ping pong balls, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and a lid. Read more about ping pong balls (also known as sous vide balls).

Frankencooler - Coolers that are transformed into really effective sous vide containers. Want to make one? We have a DIY guide.

SV - Sous Vide.

Maillard reaction - It’s responsible for giving your foods that delicious golden exterior and amazing flavors. Specifically, it’s a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, with the addition heat.

Lactobacillus - It’s a type of bacteria that can be found in in fermented foods like yogurt. It also lives in us.

Douglas Baldwin - A food scientist who is known for his very nifty guide called “A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking.”

Vinegar Bath - A way to clean your Anova Precision Cooker. You set your Anova in a bath mixed with vinegar and water to clean any build up. Here’s how.

IC - Immersion circulator

Thermal equilibrium - when the product being cooked reaches the same temperature as the water bath. With sous vide, this is the maximum temperature that the product will reach. (from @Ember)


Hi @AlyssaWOAH

Thanks for the very informative list of definitions.

One thing that confused me was your definition of “Reverse Searing”. I always thought it meant searing your meat prior to cooking SV instead of after thus helping to impart more flavour during the slow cook process and killing off and surface bacteria/microbes that may cause spoilage during a very long cook.


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I was also confused by the definition of “reverse searing,” since there were a couple of different definitions thrown around on the interwebs. I saw it being used in both in the context of a pre-sear, like you mentioned and from the cooking technique I explained above. I recommend this read - it really goes into it.

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Nice post Alyssa! Thanks!

Thermal equilibrium: when the product being cooked reaches the same temperature as the water bath. With sous vide, this is the maximum temperature that the product will reach.