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Buying sous vide bags all the time can get expensive real quick.
It’s also not the best thing for the environment. So, you might be wondering if you can reuse sous vide plastic bags.
This article will cover everything you need to know about reusing sous vide bags. This includes factors to consider, how to properly clean them, and what to do if you can’t afford to buy them every time.
Why Should You Reuse Sous Vide Bags?
There are a few benefits to reusing plastic bags. It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
Bags Can Get Expensive
A set of 20 sous vide plastic bags can cost between $10 and $20. This might not seem like much, but if you eat two to three sous vide meals per day and each bag costs one dollar, your expenses will really begin adding up.
Let’s say you eat three times a day. You’ll need to spend $90 on sous vide bags per month. After one year, it amounts to over $1000. This is before you even start buying food and sous vide equipment.
But if you can reuse your sous vide plastic bags a few times or use mason jars instead, you’ll save a lot of money. You can spend this money buying better steaks, fish, and vegetables.
It’s Bad For The Environment
If you’re conscious of being environmentally friendly, you might be wondering where all this plastic is going.
However, it’s quite easy to reduce your plastic consumption with a few tips. In addition to recycling all your sous vide plastic bags and reusing them when possible, you want to cook liquid foods like soup and sauces in mason jars. You can even infuse alcohol in your mason jar. Check out our guide here! – The Ultimate Guide To Sous Vide Alcohol Infusions
Also, you may want to consider getting silicone bags because it’s more ocean-friendly than plastic.
Can You Reuse Sous Vide Cooking Bags?
You can reuse sous vide bags if you’ve used them for fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and sauces. But for food safety reasons, you should not reuse bags that contain raw meat, fish, and eggs.
To reuse your plastic bags, clean them right away with water and soap.. You want to scrub the inside and outside. Once it’s clean, flip it inside out and seal your next meal. After a few rounds, you’ll notice the color of the bag starts to change, and you can’t clean it anymore. This is when you should recycle it.
But there are several other factors to consider when deciding if you should reuse sous vide bags.
Factors To Consider When Reusing Sous Vide Bags
The most important factors to consider when reusing sous vide bags are:
Types of sous vide bags
How well you clean your sous vide bags will determine if you can use them multiple times.
If you’re planning to reuse your plastic bags to cook vegetables, then pour some cold water in it with soap. You can even add 10 parts water and one part bleach and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
I like to fill the bag with soap and water, zip it closed and give it a little shake.
Once it’s cleaned, thoroughly wash it with water to remove all the soap and bleach (optional) and reuse it.
Although these methods ensure the cleanest possible bag, they won’t guarantee it’s free of pathogens.
Foods should always be cooked over 140°F to kill bacteria. This is because bacteria thrive in temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. If you’re slow cooking a meal for several hours and cooking it below 140°F, then avoid reusing the plastic bag.
Type Of Sous Vide Bags
Specific sous vide bags are made to be reusable. Many companies create durable silicone bags that are tough enough to be reheated multiple times without breaking or leaking.
Most are also dishwasher safe and don’t contain harmful chemicals. These bags might be more expensive, but it’s cheaper in the long run because you won’t have to buy bags all the time.
The only issue is, you’ll need to clean it thoroughly. And even with the reusable bags, you can’t cook meat in it more than once.
But you don’t need plastic bags to sous vide food.
How To Cook Without Sous Vide Bags
If you want to use less plastic when cooking, consider using mason jars when possible. Although it won’t be effective when cooking steaks and chicken, it’s perfect for sauces, soups, beans, and other foods that contain a lot of liquid.
Mason jars are easy to use, clean, and don’t produce any waste that’s harmful to the environment.
To cook with mason jars, set the sous vide circulator to your desired temperature. Next, pour the necessary amount of water, fill the mason jar with your sauce, yogurt, cheese, or soup, and put it into the sous vide bath. Once it’s finished, use a cloth to remove the jar, pour, and enjoy.
Repurpose Your Sous Vide Bags
Even if you’re cleaning your sous vide plastic bags with bleach or rubbing alcohol, it doesn’t guarantee a pathogen-free surface. So instead of taking the risk to reuse them, why not repurpose them?
When making lunch before going to work or school, you can use sous vide bags to store it. Put your sandwiches, meats, and veggies in the bag, seal it, and put it in your lunch pack. This keeps your lunch fresh.
If you have a garden and it’s snowing, use your sous vide plastic bag to cover small and fragile plants. The thick plastic also creates a small buffer of air that keeps them warm.
If your sous vide bags are big, use them to line the inside of trash cans in your bedroom or bathroom. I suggest leaving some old sous vide bags near each bin in your home, so when it’s full, you can empty it and quickly grab a new bag.
There are many creative ways to use old plastic sous vide bags around the house. You aren’t limited to just cooking.
Is Sous Vide Bags Safe?
Cooking food in sous vide plastic bags is 100% safe.
Plastic tends to wear out over time, and the chemicals that it releases can be harmful to our bodies. For example, water bottles contain several dangerous chemicals like BPA.
Consumption of these chemicals cause hormone imbalances, birth defects, and cancer.
Fortunately, all major manufacturers avoid BPA and other harmful chemicals when producing sous vide bags.
Also, plastics used to make bottles aren’t found in sous vide bags. It’s carefully constructed and meant to withstand heat over 212°F, which is boiling point.
Reusing Sous Vide Bags: Yay or Nay?
Reusing sous vide bags are an effective way to keep your expenses low. It’s also environmentally friendly, which is a bonus.
You can reuse sous vide bags when using them for fruit, vegetables, and sauces. However, avoid reusing them with steak, fish, and other meats.
When reusing plastic bags, wash it well with water and soap. This removes as many pathogens as possible. Turn it around and seal your next meal. If you’re cooking meats in a sous vide bath, repurpose the plastic and use it around the house. You could line your bins with it or protect fragile plants during a storm.