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Sous-vide is a method of cooking food slowly, at a precisely-controlled temperature. This article in the New York Times reports that this method is becoming more and more accessible to and widespread among home cooks. As I understand it, a typical home setup could be:

  • A large pot, full of water

  • An electronically-controlled immersion heater, immersed in the water, with its thermostat set to maintain a particular water temperature

  • Food, sealed in plastic bags or wrap, immersed in the water for a long time

As explained in the article, cook times could range from a short as an hour to as long as 72 hours, depending on the recipe.

Suppose one wants to use this method to have fresh-from-the-bath meat for Shabbat, setting everything up before Shabbat, and then removing and serving the meat on Shabbat.

Are there any Halachic issues that either would prohibit this scheme altogether or that need to be taken into account in implementing it?

I suspect that there could be issues related to:

  • leaving food under the care of an adjustable device, that you might want to fiddle with, and

  • causing the device to do more cooking as a result of removing the food from the water.

(Consult your own rabbi before implementing anything suggested here.)

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    How cooked is the food before Shabbat? (I don't know how long these things take. Are you talking like a 72 hour cook where it's almost done by candle lighting?) – Double AA Nov 20 '14 at 21:20
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    When I heard about this method of cooking, it sounded like the practice I've seen Sefardim do, of putting bags of rice and water in the Chamin (Cholent), and having it cook that way. -- see here for example: blog.thepeppermillinc.com/2014/05/… – Menachem Nov 20 '14 at 22:17
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    I'm confused. How is this different from cholent in a slow-cooker? – Daniel Nov 20 '14 at 22:54
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    @Daniel, the main differences, to my mind, are that the device I described uses a thermostat and that it's immersed in water that the procedure I described includes interacting with on Shabbat. – Isaac Moses Nov 21 '14 at 0:28
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    It would be funny if you could do this under Yad Soledet Bo. – Double AA Nov 21 '14 at 18:39
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In a shiur you can listen to here Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz discussed some of the issues involved with sous vide which is begun before shabbos. They are:

  • Shehiyah. Leaving foods on a heat source.

  • Garuf Vikatum. Loosely, this refers to treating the heat source.

  • Hatmana. Insulating the food.

All these points must be addressed as any one of these can make or break the allowance to leave the food on the heat source. See here for more on the subject.

Whether or not sous vide is problematic concerning any one of these issues involved a machlokes achronim (for ashkenazim).

We would have to rely on two leniencies of the Chazon Ish and ignore the Mishna Berurah in order to alleviate the Shehiyah and Hatmana issues. We would also have to rely on Rav Aron Kotler's opinion about garuf vikatum when covering the controls and ignore Reb Moshe Feinstein's opinion that the actual heat source must be covered.

(He didn't focus on psak for a sfardi, but he did say that the mechaber would not allow shehiya in this case as it is not mitztamek v'ra lo. Cooking it longer does not make the food worse.)

Considering all this he said he did not want to give a hetter to do this for shabbos. Over the last year he spoke to Rabbis Schechter and Sacks but they have not given him a ruling.

(The shiur actually focused on a slightly different situation for which Rabbi Lebowitz was lenient, but all these points were addressed directly as far as shabbos is concerned).

  • What about Kederah Chayta? Even R Henkin should agree this is fine since you never cook on high heat with sous vide. – Double AA Feb 13 '18 at 22:57
  • @IsaacMoses oukosher.org/halacha-yomis/… – hazoriz Mar 23 '18 at 15:00
  • @DoubleAA do you have a link or reference to this R Henkin? Thank you – Shoel U'Meishiv Nov 6 '18 at 7:58
  • @shoel if you remind me in a week or two I'll hopefully have a chance to look more carefully, but iirc it's written in the annual shul ezras torah luach somewhere that he felt kedera chayta doesn't apply with our ovens since we can cook so fast – Double AA Nov 6 '18 at 8:59
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From my research it would actually be a problem of Hatmana. The gemara talks about using Chamei Teveria to heat food/water on shabbos and says it is a problem. This is different than putting something in the cholent itself as there it is part of the cholent. Here the food is completely surrounded by the heating element which in this case is the water.

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    Where is that Gemara? Please edit in a more precise reference. – Double AA Sep 30 '16 at 15:58
  • Perhaps a solution is to use broth instead of water, and then serve the broth too for lunch. Or just designate the water for tea or something. – Double AA Sep 30 '16 at 16:00
  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for sharing your research here! Adding clear references and quotations would make this answer more valuable. Please consider registering your account, to enable more site features, including voting. Also, I suggest that you edit your profile and give yourself a name, unless 13452 is particularly meaningful to you. :) – Isaac Moses Sep 30 '16 at 16:01
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    @DoubleAA is there existing literature on food-as-matmin? – Isaac Moses Sep 30 '16 at 16:03
  • @IsaacMoses How could you ever put a kishka in the cholent? (I'm sure there is literature and there must be loopholes we can work with.) – Double AA Sep 30 '16 at 16:14

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