There are a number of people out there that do not like the thought of cooking their food in plastic bags. We will cover the safety aspects later, but the bottom line here is that sous vide cooking produces incredible results because it is all about temperature control and cooking times. The plastic bags are just required to produce a vacuum seal.
There are occasions where you do not need to use bags. You can use glass canning jars to cook yogurt, custard and other foods. When you are cooking eggs, they can stay in their shell as this is the perfect vacuum sealed packaging.
Is Cooking Sous Vide With Bags Safe?
The answer is almost certainly yes if you use the right kind of bags. You may have read stories in the media or have read studies, where cooking in plastic is not a good idea. The thing is that these reports hardly ever tell you which kind of plastic has been used.
There has been a fair amount of research in this area, which has confirmed that cooking with food quality bags is fine. These bags are made from low density polyethylene, high density polyethylene or polypropylene materials. So when you are choosing your sous vide bags, you need to make sure that they are made of these materials.
The truth is that most sous vide bags comply with this. The layer inside is almost always polyethylene, and if you chose bags from well known brands then you will not go wrong. A number of manufacturers of these bags have proven that there products are totally safe for cooking.
Don’t be tempted to just use anything that you have in your kitchen, as this could be dangerous. Avoid any kind of cheap plastic wrap. This wrap is usually made of polyvinyl chloride, and this can release plasticizers which are harmful into meat and cheeses when cooking at temperature. There have been quite a few cases of people suffering harmful effects when they use this plastic wrap in microwave ovens. It really isn’t worth taking the risk of saving a little money on the right cooking bags. You have been warned.
There is no way that we can completely guarantee that there are absolutely no health risks from suvee cooking with food grade plastic bags. The evidence is there at the moment to support the safety of this method of cooking, but who knows what will be discovered in the future? If you feel totally uncomfortable with this, you can cook food sous vide with canning jars. We believe that there is no risk using the food grade bags. You are probably at more risk by eating a fast food burger.
Not everybody will convert to sous vide cooking for a number of reasons, and one of those might be safety. There are no safety risks as far as we are concerned but that is fine. The results that can be achieved with sous vide cooking are amazing, and we believe totally safe if you use the right bags and cooking temperatures and times.
What About A Vacuum Sealer?
A lot of sous vide cooks use best chamber vacuum sealers and swear by them. The translation of the French “sous vide” means “under a vacuum” so this would seem to make sense, but the truth is you do not need an expensive vacuum sealer to get good results. When you are getting started it is best to invest in a high quality suvee cooker review, and you can use zip lock bags for cooking your food. Sometimes this is better than vacuum sealed bags.
When Should You Choose Proper Sous Vide Bags?
You can actually use proper sous vide bags for any of your cooking. The bags have very strong seams that are designed to withstand high temperature cooking. If you intend to cook at over 70°C or 158°F then they are the best and safest option.
You can vacuum seal these bags too. They are the only recommended solution when it comes to cooking a number of braised meats that need to be cooked at high temperature. If you intend to cook vegetables or beans then they will also be safe for this.
There is no sous vide cooking occasion where you shouldn’t use sous vide bags. They are suitable for everything. If you do have a best sous vide vacuum sealer then this will help to keep your food fresher for longer.
How About Zip Lock Bags?
The main advantage of zip lock style bags is that they are easy to find and inexpensive. Having said that, always go for the most robust type of zip lock bags. You can purchase large zip lock bags (up to one gallon), which means that you can cook several items of food in one bag.
You can use these zip lock bags with complete confidence to cook chicken breast, fish fillets, steak, burgers and pork chops. You should not use zip lock bags for high temperature cooking, as the seams of the bags can fail and your food ends up in the water. Avoid using zip lock bags for cooking at 70°C (158°F) and above.
Can You Cook Sous Vide With Canning Jars?
Yes you can, but you need to know a few things first. What we are talking about here is glass jars that are used for pickling and canning. They are readily available, and can be used many times for cooking unlike bags.
If you want to cook sous vide foods that need to set such as yogurt, custard and pate then canning jars are an excellent choice. It is possible to cook other foods sous vide using these jars, but the jars do not conduct heat as well as the food bags will, so the cooking times need to be extended.
If you want to try this then cover your food items in cooking oil first. You will need to experiment with cooking times to see what produces the best results. You do not want to plan a dinner party and then have to serve up food that is undercooked. This will not do your reputation any good or that of suvee cooking!
In order to get the best sous vide cooking results you will need a high quality sous vide cooker. One of the best on the market is the Sous Vide Supreme Demi Water Oven so please read our review.