What is a sous vide food pouch?
When you cook in the sous vide style you need to put the food you are cooking into bags. Some people use vacuum sealed bags. Others use zip lock bags. The debate about which method is best is a WHOLE other discussion for another day. So in a nutshell, sous vide food pouches are the bags you use for the food you put into the water bath for your sous vide cook.
Why do food pouches need to be submerged during a sous vide cook?
Whatever bag you use for your food, the food pouches need to remain immersed UNDER the water. Sous vide water ovens usually come with in built stainless steel racks to help keep your food under water. Other sous vide water ovens may come with a stainless steel rack as an separate accessory. This can be adapted to the particular requirements of your cook.
Here is what the stainless steel rack looks like in the SousVide Supreme Demi Water Oven:
Photo credit: sousvidesupreme.com
If you do not use a sous vide water oven for your cook, you can use an immersion circulator (sometimes also called a precision cooker). The immersion circulator is clipped to the side of a pot of water or a larger container if you are cooking a lot of food at once. In this case you need to find a way to keep the food pouches submerged or covered with water. You do not want them popping up to the surface of the water during your sous vide cook.
Tips for keeping your sous vide water pouch under water
Here are a few tips for making sure your food pouches stay submerged in water:
- Use a rack: Dish drying racks, file organisers and lid organisers can all help you to hold food bags in place, keeping them from drifting to the surface. Of course you need to make sure that any rack or organiser you use is made from a material that is suitable to be submerged in water without rusting or releasing any toxins into the water you are cooking your food in.
Here is an example of a very effective stainless steel rack from Lipavi that is perfect for sous vide cooking:
To learn more about suitable stainless steel racks, head to our article Top 3 stainless steel sous vide racks
- Weigh it down: A butter knife (or two) inside your food bag will keep it from bobbing up above the surface of the water. Food grade stainless steel utensils will not contaminate your meal. Another idea is to clip a bag of change or pie weights to the outside of the food pouch.
Here is an example of a food pouch being held down with a butter knife to stop it from floating to the water surface. (image from the Anova Culinary website):
- Use bulldog clips or binder clips: This isn’t a pretty solution but it is effective. We see clips of all shapes and sizes attached to the side of water vessels in sous vide cooking. You simply attach the food bags or pouches to the side of your pot or any other water container you are using for your sous vide cook.
Here is an example of sous vide food pouches being held in place by bulldog clips:
- Enlist your steamer basket: An inverted steamer basket keeps your food in place. It is heavy enough to hold your food pouch or pouches down. The perforations in it allow for good water circulation in your water bath.
Here is an example of an upside down steamer basket holding food pouches down (image from the Anova Culinary website):
It sure ain’t pretty!
Now we are not saying that the above solutions for holding food pouches under water are very elegant. They most certainly are not. But you must submerge your food pouches under water for your sous vide cook to be successful.
What other methods do you use to keep your food pouches under water during your sous vide cook? Share your tips and ideas with the Sous Vide Hub community in the comments section below.
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