Some people think they need to spend all this money on different types of equipment just to get started with this method. Who has the time, or the space for that!? While a Ziploc will work fine, vacuum sealer is definitely preferred.
An Introduction to Sous Vide Cooking
The term sous vide is derived from French, and literally means “under vacuum” when translated. The sous vide cooking method is one that employs a mixture of vacuum sealed food and intense heat to bring food up to a safe, desirable temperature – and it gets used just as much in homes today as it would in professional or gourmet kitchens.
Sous vide was first used in restaurant cooking in the 1970s, but has increased tremendously in popular use. When complicated recipes or dishes cooked to perfection have to be delivered to tables in a hurry, sous vide preparation is the answer for many cooks and chefs.
Now that the term sous vide is more familiar in the average household, certain questions are not uncommon: can sous vide be done only in vacuum sealed bags like the traditional method demands, or can modern Ziploc bags be the answer for sous vide cooking at home?
Here are our thoughts:
Do you Need a Vacuum Sealer to Sous Vide?
Fortunately, a vacuum sealer is far from required for the casual Sous Vide home chef. Freezer bags or ziplocs will also get the job done, it just might be a tad more difficult. Although, they sure are nice to have!
With that said, bags are not the only way to Sous Vide food. Another good option is Mason Jars. In fact, I have an entire article on that here!
In terms of bags, using a vacuum sealer is the preferred method. However, regular Ziploc are an acceptable alternative, and even I will sometimes use Ziplocs myself. Just remember you can clean them!
What Does Vacuum Sealing Accomplish?
Simply put, a vacuum sealer sucks out all the air in the bag. This is excellent for food preservation and safety, as it does not allow stale air and bacteria to get trapped in the bag.
Not only that, but vacuum sealing protects your food from freezer burn.
Vacuum sealers are a great tool for storing food in bulk in the freezer for extended periods of time. This is perfect for Sous Vide as we can simply drop the frozen bags right into our Sous Vide container.
Vacuum Sealed vs Ziploc for Sous Vide Cooking
While both methods will work fine, the overall winner is Vacuum Sealed. If you are looking to get serious about Sous Vide cooking, you should definitely focus on using vacuum sealers and put those freezer bags back on the shelf!
One thing to keep in mind, I find vacuum sealer bags to be more durable than Ziplocs or freezer bags. Therefore when cooking for extended periods of time, I tend to grab the vacuum sealer.
I have to say, there have also been times where I accidentally did not shut the Ziploc all the way leading to water getting in the bag!
Also, vacuum sealers have many other uses besides the sous vide, so if you opt for a vacuum sealer I’m sure you will find it handy in other applications. You can even use a vacuum sealer to seal food in mason jars!
Below you will find the main pros and cons to using Ziplocs or Vacuum Sealers. For me, the main ones are that the freezer bags tend to float, and they are also too small sometimes for some recipes!
Vacuum Sealed Sous Vide
- Enables you to store food longer
- Prevents freezer burn
- Much less likely to float when in the Sous Vide due to less air being in the bags
- You can decide how large or small to make the bags, accommodating different types of foods.
- More durable than freezer bags
- More work required
- More expensive, as you will need a machine and dedicated bags
Ziploc Bags for Sous Vide
- Much more convenient
- Easy to find Ziplocs at any market if you run out
- Less Equipment needed
- Difficult to get the air out of the bag before Sous Viding – the water displacement method helps
- Limited by whatever the size of the bag is
- Need to make sure to buy quality bags
- Less Durable than vacuum sealer bags