Sous-vide is a wonderful cooking technique, but it’s not an ideal option for anyone tight on either budget or space. Our ‘prosumer’ water bath (the SousVide Supreme) is the size of a small microwave and has a list price on the wrong side of £370. Even disregarding the price angle, kitchens are already groaning under the weight of numerous popular appliances; the need to find space for a bulky water bath next to the toaster, the food processer, the stand mixer, the blender, the microwave, the deep fat fryer, the rice cooker, the juicer and the slow cooker rules out a traditional sous vide machine even for many who can afford it.
Hang on a minute… the slow cooker… the slow cooker is half-way to a water bath already; it’s a large container that can heat liquid (such as water!) for hours at a time.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a small device that could convert an existing slow cooker to a sous vide water bath by way of accurately controlling the temperature of the water inside? Well of course, that’s where Codlo steps in.
Official product image; my Codlo in our Kitchen (don’t look at the un-grouted tiles!)
Codlo is one of those ideas that’s really obvious once someone else has had it, not to mention done all the hard graft in getting it to work. This clever device turns your slow cooker – or rice cooker, or tea urn, or anything else that holds and heats water – into your very own sous vide water bath. Essentially Codlo is a small plug-in gadget with a temperature probe which allows it to turn the power of the attached appliance on and off and on in order to achieve and maintain your target temperature. That’s the theory but how does it work out in practice?
Codlo and glass slow cooker (image provided by Codlo, mine was completely out of focus!)
The short answer is, remarkably well.
In the name of science, we cooked two identical steaks (here’s my guide to cooking steaks sous vide) – one in our SousVide Supreme and the other in our venerable old Breville slow cooker attached to the Codlo. After cooking one steak in each bath, we fried them together in the same pan for exactly the same amount of time before tucking in to a delicious dinner, each of us eating half of each steak. We genuinely couldn’t perceive any difference in the end result; texture and level of cooking were identical.
That’s not to say that the Codlo-controlled Breville performs identically to the SousVide Supreme. Firstly, it takes a little longer to come up to temperature – but that’s understandable, as our slow cooker is a 290W model and we ran it on Low (we will try the High setting next time) whereas the SousVide Supreme is rated at a much higher 550W. Given that sous-vide cooking is usually a long process, adding an extra 15 minutes at the start isn’t a big deal for us. Of course, this difference also depends on what appliance you plug the Codlo into – a more powerful appliance will likely reach temperature just as quickly as the SousVide Supreme.
Also worth noting is that the temperature in the Codlo-controlled Breville takes a little time to settle; it (deliberately) sails past the target by a couple of degrees, drops below it when the food is added and gradually heats back up again. However, once it’s settled at the target temperature – around 10-15 minutes on our slow cooker’s Low setting – it’s rock steady, varying less than the SousVide Supreme. And the food seems to be none the worse for wear because of that initial temperature variance. The makers of Codlo advise us that the device adapts to each individual cooker it is attached to so these times will likely vary depending on the appliance you use.
In addition to the Codlo controller, there is also an accompanying cookery book – Codlo Sous-Vide Guide & Recipes – full of information on the sous vide cooking technique, on temperatures and times for different types of foods and lots of tempting recipes. This would be useful not just to Codlo users but to anyone starting out in sous vide cooking and I’m hoping to share a recipe or two from the book soon.
Codlo does everything it promises, turning inexpensive equipment we already owned into a functional sous vide water bath, with results that equal our bulky and pricy prosumer alternative.
Kavey Eats received a Codlo for review purposes. Codlo is priced at £119, available here. This is an affiliate link, please see blog sidebar for further information.
Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!27 Comments to "Cooking With Codlo | The Space Saver Sous Vide"
Sound like a pretty handy gadget to have in your kitchen Kavey.
Really clever and works very well. I will use the High setting next time which will probably eliminate the slow speed of coming to temperature as well.
Aaaah – this is a friend of a friend’s project! So cool to see it in production! A great and comprehensive review 🙂
Met Grace and Xi to collect the review Codlo, was very nice to hear more about the project. Have been following since the kickstarter and was just about to purchase one via that when Sous Vide Supreme offered me their model, so I went with that at the time, but was always keen to do a comparison like this.
Looks like a fabulous alternative to a bulky sous vide. It’s a gadget small enough to get away buying without it being noticed by the OH *coughs * 🙂
Ha haaaa, good point! Yes you can slip this in quietly!!!
As I think I told you some time ago, I got a similar device all the way from Western Canada, That one requires tuning to the apparatus which you want to use for very low temperature cooking (which you erroneously along with everyone else – call sous vide). However, once tuned it holds a temperature of ±0.2℃. I use an aquarium air pump as a stirrer which help with large volumes. It was difficult to adapt to use here in Europe because all the pluggery was USAian.
So that makes the Codlo quite interesting for the UK market.
It’s worth mentioning that these devices only ever work with “dumb” heaters. Some rice cookers and slow cookers are micro-processor controlled, and then no thermostat of this type can work with them.
Ian, I certainly remember you talking about this in the past. You might remember that I did my degree in French, so am perfectly aware that “sous vide” means “under vacuum” and therefore OUGHT to refer only to the bagging up element rather than the water bath / low temperature element of the process. Indeed, I refer to “sous vide water bath” above as well as just “sous vide”. However, the term “sous vide” on its own HAS, in English, come to refer to the water bath cooking technique as a whole, indeed it listed in English dictionaries as such these days, so my use of the term in the blog post is deliberate. The link in the first sentence takes people to my previous post which clarifies exactly how the technique works. It’s another of those cases where the meaning of foreign language terms shifts after they have been borrowed. 🙂
Yes one of the strengths I ought to have mentioned was that Codlo have invested a lot of time in researching international requirements and you can buy versions for UK, USA, Australia and Europe. They have also designed the Codlo to adapt to difference devices when it is plugged in, which makes it very versatile.
And good point on the dumb heaters versus controlled devices, I imagine you are absolutely correct that these would not be suitable.
I just got a Codlo for my slow cooker but I’m struggling to get the right kind of bags to use with it. Really want to try doing sous vide eggs. It’s a nice looking piece of kit and very simple to use. Perfect for this slow cooker obsessive!
You can use any heat-resistant food-grade plastic bag (so that you know it won’t leach BPA etc into the food) — I think most food / freezer bags are suitable since you are expected to put hot food into them, and of course they shouldn’t be leaching anything into the food.
Because we use a vacuum sealer machine, we have to use the more expensive bags that are made for the machine, sort of ridged so the machine can suck the air out easily. But if you’re manually sucking the air out and sealing, I would think regular food ziplocs will be easiest.
Interesting! Having never tried a sous vide, or anything cooked in one, I don’t really have an opinion on it (yet), but I’d be willing to have a go. It seems rather a dear price, this gadget, but intriguing nonetheless!
I think it depends what you compare it to. There’s no question you can jerry rig your own home-made controller together for less, and use it with your slow cooker / rice cooker, just as the Codlo is used. Of course, that’s not a project all of us would take on! I understand that the Codlo also has some clever algorithms to learn and adapt to the appliance it’s used with, which I don’t think a jerry rigged solution would provide. It’s also a very nicely designed piece of kit with proper safety / endurance testing, which is something I’d be worried about with a home-made version. For me, the price comparison is against the domestic retail sous vide water baths such as the SVS one I already had, and the Codlo is pretty competitive against that.
Good idea … but … basic sous vide baths are now about £80-£100 so this needs to be under £50. Here’s my blog from 2011 of how to do the same thing … http://www.thewildgarlicblog.co.uk/2011/05/diy-sous-vide-waterbath.html
Yeah, there are loads of blogs on the web on how to create your own. I did look at doing so but wasn’t really comfortable with it. For those who love tinkering, it’s definitely the cheapest option. I was surprised when I read your comment on £80-£100 sous vide water baths, but just found one on Lakeland’s website — looks like there are more options at more competitive price points than when I got my SVS less than a year ago. But the space saving point still applies, and I would add that the Codlo has been very vigorously tested, and feels very well produced which gives me confidence that it will last and that it won’t damage the appliances I use it with.
i have one of these, it’s fab. I couldn’t be bothered with another huge bit of kitchen kit that had to be dragged from the garage every time I wanted to use it and this plus my rice cooker and compact vac sealer sit happily in my kitchen cupboard and therefore get used. I’m happy to pay the £99 for that alone, but it is so easy to use and the results so reliable that it’s a joy, so an extra bargain in my eyes.
Yes, I totally agree. Our SVS is a huge huge thing and lives in the lean-to as we’ve no space in the kitchen for it. It may well be sold onwards now we have the Codlo!
Couldn’t you reduce the warm-up time by using warm water from a kettle or something?
Brian, probably, but it was only 15 minutes or so… and I’ve since been advised to use the Slow Cooker’s high setting which would no doubt reduce it significantly.
Fair enough – sous-vide’s not really for the impatient, after all.
Good point! 👍
I’ve been looking into some of the cheaper options on the market and reviews seem to suggest they only hold temperature to +/- a couple of degrees, which is too much of a variance for sous vide water bath cooking, in many cases.
Hello I’m reporting back on my first use of the Codlo and my first venture into sous vide cooking. My descision to purchase this was based on Kavey’s review and a desire to branch out into sous vide cookery without having another large piece of equipment in the kitchen.
I used my slow cooker as my rice cooker is too small. Cold water went into the slow cooker and was switched to high with the temperature set at 56.5. Firstly I put the steaks (one was rump and one was sirlion purely because that was all there was) in ziplock type bags and used the cold water method to seal them. The water in the slow cooker took a very long time to get to the correct temperature but got there eventually. I put the steaks in (.probably around 1-1.5cm thick) and set my timer for half an hour. After that time checked on them and they looked good but not done yet. I put another half hour on the timer. In the meantime I made homemade chunky chips and a brandy au poivre sauce and started to cook them to go with the steak. I took the steak out after about an hour and finished it off under the grill just for a bit more colour and rested it. It was a perfect medium rare.
The things I have learned are:-
1) Start earlier with the water and maybe use hot water from the kettle so the temperature is achieved sooner
2) The cold water trick worked although it may be worth investing in a compact vacuum sealer.
3) As has been stated sous vide is not for the impatient
4) May be I should have switched the slow cooker to warm after the correct temperature had been achieved
In summary the Codlo is a nifty gadget and anyone who wants to cook this way and doesn’t have space for any more large pieces of kitchen equipment (me) would do well to invest in one. For myself I think I will purchase the cook book that accompanies this purely to learn more about the technique and what I can cook with it. I for one recommend it. Thanks Kavey
Romaine, thank you so much for taking the time to let me know how you got on. I’m so pleased you like the Codlo too and that it’s given you a way to try sous vide water bath cooking without buying a big bulky gadget!
I already own no less than 5 slow cookers and a vacuum sealer, so it seems to me that I now need to get a Codlo to go with them. I’ve been intrigued by sous vide cooking for a long time but haven’t had the confidence or the equipment to give it a go. Perhaps I will sometime soon 🙂
Oh wow, FIVE? That seems excessive! If you buy a Codlo after reading my post, do please use my link over in the sidebar! 😉
I just had another 2 delivered for a project too, so now I have 7 ! And there is only me to feed here. I must be bonkers!
Oh my goodness Kevin, you’ll be slow cooker boy forever now!!