The Alchemy Machine

So juicy and moist! Yum

Yes, I’ve named it The Alchemy Machine. I suppose I better paint that on. But anyway, it’s also known as a water immersion cooker. However, they who give titles call it sous vide, although that is only the vacuum method used for preparing the food for cooking.

I can’t even remember how I started this quest to create a sous vide machine. I must have stumbled across it doing some meat research. Yes, I research meat a lot. I’m fat. It’s ok.

My inability to spend $500 on the newest sous vide machine for home sent me down a path of design, which was both infuriating and rewarding at the same time. It’s not easy building something full of holes and making it water-tight. The first relay used simply couldn’t handle the amount of amperage gobbled up by the heating element. So, entered the Beefcake from SparkFun and JB Kwik slathered all over the holy parts. Hopefully, I can change the element if it ever burns out!

So, those were the minor disasters, and I’m still waiting for another relay to control the pump, as it is just running constantly right now. That’s no good, but I can live with it in the meantime.


I programmed it to have multiple timers: delay-cook, countdown, and cooking time timers. It will heat from 100-180 degrees, adjustable via reprogramming, although I’m not sure why I would ever go below 130. Pump control when not cooking, to pump out water. A loud and obnoxious buzzer. It uses the Atmel861a MCU and multiplexes the display using 595s.


Delicious meat, of course. The egg test was a disaster. Who cares. The first meat in the testing cooking phase, running heat by hand, was chicken breast. It was the most tender breast I’ve ever eaten. It was finished by deep frying for 30 seconds.

The second experiment was flatiron and ribeye. WOW, was it like butter. The hard-to-cook flatiron was perfect and beefy.

The third experiment was pork tenderloin. I’m going to stop right there before I cry.

The fourth experiment was cheap chuck roast. Here is where the alchemy comes in to play. It was cooked at 135 for 24 hours. Oh my goodness, it turned from lead into gold. Who knew you could turn chuck into prime rib? I sure didn’t.

This little project (well, big enough to cook a whole prime rib or turkey if I want) was rather rewarding and the meats cooked with it over the years will be wonderful. The next experiment will be 48-hour beef ribs. Those will be medium-rare and AWESOME. This build did take a bit longer than I hoped, but it was well worth it. Next up, coffee roaster!