Sous Vide Plastic Bags 101 + Reusable Alternatives

Sous Vide cooking is a great way to make restaurant-quality meals at home, but using the right equipment is essential.

If you’re not using the right sous vide bags, your food might not cook evenly or taste as good as it could.

Our complete guide to sous vide plastic bags will teach you everything you need to know about choosing the right bag for your meal. We’ll help you choose between zipper and clip top bags, between reusable and disposable bags, and between different materials like plastic and silicone. With our guide, you’ll be able to cook perfect sous vide meals every time.

Are Plastic Bags Safe to Use With Sous Vide? 

The simple answer to the question is yes, but it’s a little more complicated than that. You’ll need to find the right kind of plastic bag, and you’ll also want to pay attention to how you use it.

A study and some other research got people to suddenly start pitching their plastic containers in the trash. These studies have shown that some chemicals leach out of certain types of plastic when exposed to heat or force.

The studies don’t mention sous vide because the conditions are different than with vacuum bags. The only thing that would be leeching into your food is water, which is completely harmless.

For some people, it can be difficult to get past the need for reassurance. Many people are concerned about chemicals in plastic, so they want to know whether cooking with sous vide bags is safe. That’s why we recommend checking the Ziploc website and their claim about the sustainability & safety of their products.

All Ziploc bags are BPA- and dioxin-free which makes them pretty safe to use. BPA and dioxin are the chemicals that many consumers fear when utilizing plastic. So next time you buy a plastic bag for your sous vide, make sure to check for the BPA or dioxin-free label.

How Often Should You Replace Your Sous Vide Plastic Bags?

How Often Should You Replace Your Sous Vide Plastic Bags

Before diving into the question, it’s important to understand why this is asked.

It seems like plastic is everywhere these days. Many people are looking for ways they can reduce how much plastic they use, especially if that means reusing something instead of throwing it away after one use.

Generally, you can reuse most plastic bags if they are not heavily contaminated. But is the same true for sous vide cooking? Not really.

An important note before moving on: This article only covers single-use bags for water bath sous vide cooking. It does not apply to freezer storage or ANY high-heat cooking like frying or grilling.

Why sous vide bags need to be replaced:

Sous vide, the method of cooking food submerged in a water bath at a precisely controlled temperature, has taken off recently because it’s such an easy and fool-proof way to create incredible dishes. It also conserves liquid like no other cooking technique. People have cooked a year’s worth of dinners in their dishwasher!

Sous vide requires vacuum sealing bags to remove all the air from the space surrounding the food, and it usually calls for cooking that food in a sous vide plastic bag. The single-use sous vide plastic bags are sealed with all the air removed (a vacuum is created inside the bag). This ensures that no water from the sous vide bath can enter the food chamber.

One big downside of this method is how many plastic bags it uses (think of all those sous vide zip-locks!). But even worse, what about when you’re done with them? That’s where most people get hung up on.

Why can’t you reuse sous vide bags?

While some plastics are more durable than others, a single-use plastic bag’s one and only job is to hold liquid for a single use – during cooking.

If you reuse that same bag for something else, it will have held onto all the smells of the food cooked in it previously.

Signs your sous vide plastic bags need to be replaced:

No one wants to have food that doesn’t taste right, so let’s talk about the signs it’s time for new sous vide plastic bags.

The first sign is obvious: If your bag breaks, you need a new one. The second sign comes after cooking fish or other protein in them – tiny pinholes can develop on the inside of the plastic after cooking, and this is also a good time to toss it.

And finally, if you ever find you can’t get rid of that “plastic” smell or taste no matter how many times you clean your sous vide bags, they are so contaminated with other foods that they will never work for sous vide again.

Zipper vs. Clip Top Bags

Sous vide bags with zipper tops are perfect for sous viding ingredients that stay moist underwater, but don’t have juices or liquids they need to hold in.

On the other hand, clip-top sous vide bags are more versatile because you can use them for dry products as well as liquids – just seal the bag right after filling it.

Lastly, if you want a truly airtight bag, clip top ones are your best option because the zipper top on a sous vide bag with a zipper is not made to be completely tight on all sides.

Do I Need To Use a Sealer?

In most cases, yes. The movement of the water bath during cooking can cause air pockets in your food chamber. If not sealed with a sous vide sealer or clips you will have some major problems with your sous vide experiment!

The best choice for a sealer is a hand-held one that automatically sucks out all the air from your bag.

Sous Vide Plastic Bag Alternatives

Sous Vide Plastic Bag Alternatives

So, you might be wondering, are there any other alternatives to plastic bags that are just as good or even better than sous vide bags? Anf the answer is yes!

For general water bath sous vide applications the best alternative to the classic zip-lock bag is a silicon bag. They are ultra-durable and can be washed and reused over and over again. Even though silicon sous vide bags are more expensive than classic zip-locks, they’re totally worth it over time.

Another alternative to plastic bags for sous vide is glass jars. However, it isn’t a perfect solution. Unlike mason jars, plastic or silicone bags allow you to remove air. It helps food cook more evenly, plus the thin walls of plastic or silicone bags conduct heat rapidly.

So, after all, mason jars are not ideal for all dishes. And the process of using sous vide or immersion cooking with them is inconsistent. On the other hand, mason jars are excellent for sous viding baked goods, soups, sauces, preserves, beans, and other sous vide dishes that need a lot of liquid.

Mason jars are excellent for storing food because they’re easy to clean and sterilize, stain- and odor-free, and ecologically responsible. Many people are now developing sous vide recipes specifically for mason jars, making preparation much easier than ever before.

Last update on 2024-03-01 at 06:59 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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