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ChefSteps Joule Big Clamp

Published April 2019

How we tested

In sous vide cooking, food is sealed and immersed in a water bath set to a specific temperature. We love this cooking method because it's almost completely hands-off and it's incredibly precise. Plus, setting up a sous vide rig is pretty simple: You fill your cooking vessel with water, attach your immersion circulator to the vessel, and you're ready to go.

Our favorite immersion circulator is the Joule (which costs about $200.00), a compact circulator with thoughtful features such as Wi-Fi connectivity and a magnetic base. However, one of our few complaints about the design is that the included clamp is narrow and can only be effectively attached to vessels with walls that are less than 1 inch thick. To address this issue, ChefSteps (the manufacturer of the Joule immersion circulator) sells the Joule Big Clamp (priced at about $25.00), an attachment that replaces the Joule's standard clamp, allowing you to affix the circulator to containers up to 2.65 inches thick. We wanted to know if this accessory would make our top-rated immersion circulator even more versatile, so we decided to test it out.

Setup took only seconds: It was effortless to replace the Joule's included clamp with the Big Clamp. Also, we loved how the Big Clamp attached quickly and snugly to both the 2.5-inch-thick walls of our favorite cooler by Yeti and the 1.6-inch-thick walls of our Best Buy cooler by Rubbermaid. While the Joule's included clamp works well on almost any pot, pan, or storage container, the Big Clamp lives up to its intended purpose: It allows you to attach the immersion circulator to a large vessel, which is handy when cooking for a crowd or preparing a very large cut of meat.

Methodology

We tested the ChefSteps Joule Big Clamp by ChefSteps, an attachment designed to replace the included clamp on our favorite sous vide immersion circulator when cooking in larger containers. We tested the clamp on a variety of vessels we commonly use for sous vide cooking: 6- and 12-quart Cambro and Rubbermaid containers, a 7.25-quart Dutch oven, a 4-quart saucepan, and two coolers with 2.5-inch-thick and 1.6-inch-thick walls, respectively. To test the clamp's grip, we rattled each container and also nudged the circulator while the Joule was attached. Price shown is what we paid online.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*