You have probably encountered this situation before: You lower your food into the sous vide bath, but it floats to the top. What do you do?
At the beginning of my sous vide journey, my food always floated, and it would result in undercooked meat.
Fortunately, I’ve learned a few tricks along the way, and in this post, I’ll share them with you. I’ll cover the main reason why your sous vide bag keeps floating to the surface and how you can prevent it.
Here’s why your sous vide bag keeps floating: There’s too much air
If your sous vide bag is floating, there’s a high likelihood that it contains too much air. This is commonly a problem if you’re using the water displacement method to seal your food since it isn’t as effective as a vacuum sealer.
But what can you do about it? Consider these two options:
Get a vacuum sealer
The easiest way to solve this problem is to get a vacuum sealer. It’ll suck all the air out of your bag and create the perfect environment for it to remain underwater.
You also won’t have to go through the tedious process of filling a large bowl with water to dip your sous vide bag into.
However, this is quite expensive. Entry-level vacuum sealers cost around $100, and if you want one with several settings and advanced features, you will have to pay more. This is where the second solution comes in.
Use an external weight to hold your bag down
If you don’t want to buy a vacuum sealer, you could use an external weight like a spoon or knife to hold the bag down.
I learned this trick when I was sous-viding meals in college but didn’t have the cash to buy a vacuum sealer. Attaching an external weight to your sous vide bag will keep it underwater, even if there’s still air inside.
So this is what you’re going to do:
- Attach a large binder clip to the bottom of your sous vide bag: This will connect your weight (kitchen utensil) to the sous vide bag. The binder has a hole to place your utensil through it.
- Take a spoon, fork, knife or any utensil with some weight and stick it through the hole in the clip: This gives your sous vide bag downward resistance so it doesn’t float.
- Place your sous vide bag in the bath: Once your weight is attached to the bag, place it in the tub. It should sink to the bottom. If not, it means your kitchen utensil wasn’t heavy enough, so try getting a heavier one.
- Use a chain mail scrubber to hold your sous vide bag down
However, if your sous vide bag is still floating, it means that your knife or spoon isn’t heavy enough.
This is why I’m a big fan of using a chain mail scrubber as a weight.
I normally use it to clean my cast iron pan and it’s always lying around in my kitchen. It’s quite heavy, making it perfect if a spoon or knife isn’t heavy enough to hold your bag down.
Why do sous vide bags get puffed up?
You might also notice that your sous vide plastic bags get puffed up when you place them in the tub.
This is due to there being air in the plastic bag. Maybe your vacuum sealer didn’t do a good job sealing the bag. Or, you used the water displacement method, which is prone to leaving air in the bag if you don’t do it correctly.
A puffed-up sous vide bag can create problems. Because parts of your meat won’t be in contact with the plastic bag, it’ll cause an unevenly cooked steak.
To avoid this, ensure that your vacuum sealer is working properly. And if you’re using the water displacement method, take it slow, and try to close your bag as late as possible so you don’t let air in.
Final thoughts on keeping your sous vide bags submerged
If you’re struggling to keep your sous vide bags submerged, consider buying a vacuum sealer and using it to remove air from the bag. This will ensure that it stays submerged.
However, if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can use the water displacement method to remove most of the air. If your bag is still floating, attach a large binder clip to the bottom and slide a utensil through the hole. This weight will hold your bag down even if it contains some air.