In the middle of a 48 hour sous vide cook only to find that water has got into your sous vide food pouch? There is nothing more frustrating!!!! So, can you re-bag and keep going with your sous vide cook.
Here we explore this common problem and what sous viders do when their sous vide food pouch springs a leak letting water in to their vacuum sealed or ziploc bags, or food juices out into their water baths.
What is sous vide cooking?
Sous vide in French means “under vacuum”. Sous vide is a cooking technique whereby vacuum-packed food pouches are submerged within a bath of precise water temperature for a precise time. At the end of this time, you will find yourself with restaurant quality food to create succulent meals in the comfort of your own home.
Are you new to sous vide cooking? If so, feel free to head to our Start Here section or FAQ page to learn more about how you too can create restaurant quality meals easily in the comfort of your home, any (or every!) night of the week.
Common Problem – Water in your sous vide food pouch
It’s a sous viders worst nightmare. You’ve had your food pouch immersed in your water bath for over 24 hours now. But you’ve noticed that there’s water in your food pouch. What the? When water gets into your food pouch your restaurant quality meal turns into well…a big mess.
Common causes of holes in your sous vide water pouch
There are a few common causes:
Common Reason 1: You put your ingredients into your water bath in their store brought vacuum sealed packaging
Tiny perforations you can’t see are often present in vacuum sealed store packaging. Whilst it might seem like a great idea to just pop the bag straight into your water bath, you might not see tiny holes that have been made to the vac seal packaging during transport to supermarkets and stores.
Plus, any label packaging can come off and get caught in your sous vide immersion circulator. So, always take your ingredients out of their store bought packaging and re seal them in either a vacuum sealed or ziploc bag.
Common Reason 2: If you are cooking something with a bone in it (like a roast), it might poke through your food pouch and create a hole.
If you are cooking meat with bones in your sous vide food pouch, wrap the ends of the bones with some parchment paper before you seal your food pouch and put it in your water bath.
Common Reason 3: Some sous vide food racks have sharp edges
If you use a sous vide food rack, make sure that you buy one with soft edges. If the rack(s) you buy have any sharp edges, your sous vide food pouch can get caught on them and “knick” your pouch.
Make sure you place your food pouches carefully into each section of the rack avoiding any sharp corners.
The argument for throwing away the ingredients if your food pouch springs a leak
Sous viders are torn on whether or not you should throw out the ingredients from a sous vide cook when your food pouch gets a hole in it. Here are some of the key reasons that sous viders throw out their ingredients and start again:
- Ingredients get water logged. For example, when water logged meat can have a MARKEDLY different texture to successfully sous vide cooked ingredients
- Whatever you’ve attempted to cook in your sous vide water pouch will probably have lost a lot if its flavor
- You can potentially foul your sous vide cooking element. That is, make your sous vide immersion circulator or precision cooker dirty. This can risk the way it works.
But wait, before you turf your potential sous vide masterpiece…
Before you toss your food vide pouch away with your water bath AND YOUR INGREDIENTS, check first to make sure that the liquid in your food pouch is actually water.
Meat exudes liquid when it cooks. Make sure that there aren’t just cooking juices in your food pouch, rather than water.
What to do if you need to start your sous vide cook again
Here are some tips for what you need to do if you need to start your sous vide cook again:
- Dump the water from your sous vide water bath, (that includes the pot or container you were using as your water bath) and sterilise your kit
- Clean your sous vide immersion circulator. The juices from your ingredients may have gotten into your kitchen gadget so you need to wash it well to remove any traces of food juices
- Some sous viders, if they catch the problem early enough, will simply transfer their food pouch contents to another bag, rinse their sous vide immersion circulator, change the water and continue cooking
Pro tips to make sure your sous vide food pouches don’t spring a leak
You are not Robinson Crusoe if you have experienced a perforation or hole in your sous vide food pouch.
Many sous viders have done this before you. Here are some pro tips to avoid making a hole in your food pouch before or during your sous vide cook:
- Double or triple seal your vacuum sealer or ziploc bag
- Choose high quality vacuum seal bags or ziploc bags. The thinner cheaper bags may not be able to cope with the cooking temperature you are cooking at. They are often thinner (due to cheaper manufacturing) which means the bags are more likely to get small holes in them than a high quality food pouch product
- If you use ziploc bags, they have a seam running down the side and so they are prone to break in your sous vide water bath
- Always re-seal your ingredients, even if they come in a vac sealed bag from the supermarket
Cleaning your sous vide immersion circulator if your food pouch springs a leak
A hole in your water pouch, either a tiny pinhole, can do one of two things. Or both. The best way to identify whether your food pouch has sprung a leak and that ingredients from your food pouch are leaking into your water bath, is that the water in your water bath changes color.
Of course the other tell tale sign that is that your food pouch will fill with more liquid. Even if you are going to re-commence your sous vide cook, you need to make sure that all of your equipment is clean.
Here is a link to the Anova website with some tips on how to clean your sous vide precision cooker Check your specific sous vide immersion circulator instructions for cleaning instructions specific to your brand.
Further Reading and Resources
We would love you to join our community, learn from others and offer your own hints and tips to make sous vide cooking even more special.