Joule Sous Vide: Minimum Temperature and Ice Baths

If you’re an owner of a Joule Sous Vide cooker, you probably have noticed by now that the lowest temperature that you can set it to isn’t entirely preferable.

Maybe you like to use your sous vide machine for more than just cooking. Namely, defrosting, thawing, and chilling food. This is where a low temperature setting and ability to use your sous vide cooker in an ice bath really comes in handy.

In this article, you’ll see that the Joule minimum temperature you can set it to is 68°F (20°C). You’ll also be disappointed to hear that a Joule ice bath isn’t a possible solution to use your Joule for cooling or defrosting. Read on for details and an alternative sous vide machine to consider for your food chilling and defrosting needs.

four ice cubes in a row

Joule Minimum Temperature: How Low Can it Go?

The lowest temperature you can set your Joule to is 68°F (20°C).

Note that this is the minimum temperature that you can set your Joule to yourself. Joule can still read temperatures lower than this with its internal thermometer and report them.

The Joule minimum temperature comes up often, as customers also want to use their Joule for quickly chilling and cooling foods (or other things like bottles of wine). Unfortunately, Chefsteps (Joule’s original manufacturer) states that the Joule cannot be used for chilling or cooling. Additionally, there isn’t a circulation mode with Joule, so you can’t circulate water (like ice water) without the Joule also heating it.

Having a sous vide machine that can reach lower temperatures can be really helpful if you want to quickly cool something after cooking it, so you can store it in the fridge or freezer right away. It can also come in handy for speeding up defrosting or thawing meat, without having to worry about compromising quality or texture by defrosting it in the microwave.

If this is a feature that’s important to you, the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cookers have a much lower minimum temperature setting. Each of them has a temperature range of 32-197˚F (0-92˚C). I’ve done an extensive review of the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cookers here – check it out!

Can You Do a Joule Ice Bath?

Since Joule’s minimum temperature isn’t very low (68°F [20°C]), many have wondered if they can use their Joule in an ice bath to circulate their food in cool water for chilling or defrosting.

Unfortunately, the Joule isn’t designed for circulating chilled or icy water. The internal thermometer of the Joule will detect lower temperatures and will start the heater to raise the water temperature to the lowest temperature setting on Joule by default. As mentioned above, there Joule doesn’t have a circulation mode, so you can’t set it to only circulate (and not heat) ice baths.

While a Joule ice bath isn’t a possibility, you can do this with the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cookers.

Joule Max Temp: How High Can it Go?

On the other end of the Joule Sous Vide temperature range is how high you can set it. The maximum temperature you can set your Joule to is 208°F (98°C). 

Since the Joule max temp is pretty high, Chefsteps recommends against running your Joule at this temperature for long cooking times. The Joule has to work really hard to get to and maintain this high temperature, so you run the risk of overworking and damaging the device.

This is where accessories that improve insulation of the water bath come in handy. Things like sous vide container lids and insulation sleeves are perfect for preventing heat loss, so your Joule doesn’t have to overwork itself to keep water baths hot. You can read more about why insulation sleeves and lids are useful here.

In Summary

The Joule Sous Vide temperature range is a topic that comes up often amongst Joule owners. While the Joule max temp is pretty high, the Joule minimum temperature is a feature that could be improved upon.

Most agree that Joule’s minimum temperature setting is a downside of this otherwise topnotch sous vide device. Coupled with the fact that you can’t use it in an ice bath, I recommend considering getting a different sous vide machine that will allow you to chill and defrost in addition to cooking foods if such features are important to you.

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