Sous vide cooking requires you to put your food in a bag that is vacuum sealed and then put under water for a long period of time at a fairly low temperature to cook. Sous vide cooking produces restaurant quality results in your own kitchen. You can produce delicious, healthy meals that lock in flavor every time you cook. If you are not familiar with sous vide cooking you can head to our FAQ or our Resources page to learn more.
Home cooks use a range of bags for their sous vide cooking
The range of options include:
- Vacuum sealer bags
- Zip lock bags (commonly known as sandwich bags)
- Reusable bags
The sous vide community seems to be at odds about whether a vacuum sealer machine and vacuum sealer bags are absolutely necessary to cook successfully. In fact some sous viders prefer to use zip lock bags. To read more about these options, head to our recent article Zip lock versus vacuum sealer bags for sous vide cooking. But with a push to use less plastic, many sous viders are starting to explore more sustainable options. Here we are going to focus on reusable sous vide bags in this article.
What are reusable sous vide bags?
Sous vide cooking requires the food you cook to be placed in “food pouches” before it is immersed under water in your water bath. You can use reusable sous vide bags as your food pouches instead of plastic bags. You can use them in any sous vide water bath. This includes pots, in built water baths in sous vide water ovens (such as the SousVideSupreme Demi Water Bath) or polycarbonate containers. Reusable bags look very similar to vacuum seal bags. The difference is that reusable bags can be cleaned and used again and again.
Why do people use reusable bags?
Many cooks like to use reusable bags because they provide a healthy alternative to plastic bags. Reusable sous vide bags are a more environmentally friendly option too as they are not made with plastic like other disposable sous vide bags. Quality reusable bags contain no petroleum, no PVC and no latex.
How do reusable bags work?
Reusable sous vide bags are often self-sealing. They come in a range of different sizes which means you can choose the size or sizes that work best for you depending on your sous vide cooking requirements. Reusable bags work in the same way as other plastic bags you might use for your sous vide cook. You put your food in them before immersing them in water and cooking them in the sous vide style with either a sous vide immersion circulator or water oven.
Benefits of reusable sous vide bags
Reusable bags for your sous vide cook have the following benefits:
- They represent a great way to save money on Foodsaver bags or other vacuum seal bags
- They are an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bags
- That are often made with BPA free and FDA approved materials which gives you peace of mind that you are not preparing your food with any chance of toxins from a plastic bag leaching into your food
- You can use them for things other than sous vide cooking. We love any kitchen product that is a multi-tasker!
Some of the pitfalls of reusable sous vide bags
Depending on the quality of the reusable bag that you buy, reusable bags can be:
- A little tricky to get all of the air out of as the bag is made of silicone. If you cannot get all of the air out of the bag, you could rest a pot on top of it to keep it under the water bath
- Tricky to clean out. Many reusable sous vide bags say they are safe to be cleaned in a dishwasher but some don’t hold up well with this cleaning method. Many last longer when they are hand washed instead
- Tricky to open. The opening of some of the reusable bags can sometimes be more narrow than the rest of the bag
- More difficult to heat. Reusable bags are often thicker than a plastic bag. This means that the food in your food pouches may take a little longer to warm. You may need to experiment a little with timing your sous vide cook when you first start to use them
- Harder to extract food from depending on the shape and size of the food you have put in them
- Prone to fall apart or not seal properly after just a small number of uses (this is where buying from a reputable brand is important)
The list above looks long but this should not put you off considering reusable sous vide bags. When you know what to look for, you should be able to find a reusable bag that is just right for you.
What to look for in reusable sous vide bags
- Look for reviews of reusable bags that say the sliding bar/sealing zip at the top of the bag works well
- Only buy reusable sous vide bags that are made with food safe, FDA-grade PEVA material, and are PVC-free, lead-free & BPA-free
- Read reviews from others. You are looking for reviews that say the reusable bag is leak-proof. Ideally it will come with a double-lock closure seal to lock in freshness as well
- Make sure that the manufacturer or retailer confirms that the bags are temperature resistant
- It’s a bonus if you are able to be put the reusable bags in your freezer as well
- It is also great if the reusable bags are 100% pure platinum food-grade silicone. This means that they are safe for the freezer, microwave, dishwasher and boiling water
Our top 2 picks of reusable sous vide bags
Sous Vide Hub Pick 1
- They are made with FDA and SGS Food Grade silicone
- They’re temperature resistant and suitable for freezing
- You can buy them in a 4 pack with a few choice combinations ie you can buy a 2 large, 2 small pack or a 4 small pack or 4 large pack
Sous Vide Hub Pick 2
- These are self-sealing
- They are made with 100% pure platinum food silicone which means they are a healthy alternative to plastic
- These bags contain no petroleum, no PVC and no latex
- They feature an innovative air-tight, pinch-press seal (and can be used not just sous vide cooking, but also to keep food fresh for storage, travel or school)
To use these bags in your sous vide cook you simply fill the Stasher bag, slowly lower the bag of food into your water bath and allow air to escape from the bag. The bag will then vacuum around your food contents and you can then seal it.
Some helpful reusable sous vide bag hints and tips from real home cooks
We’ve come across a couple of handy hints from those who have extensive experience with reusable bags. Here are a couple of tips from those home cooks:
Tip 1 To make sure that the resuable bags are made of high quality silicone, pinch them. If they do not turn white when pinched it means that they are made with 100% high quality silicone
Tip 2 To clean reusable bags, turn them inside out and stretch them over a couple of pegs on your dish rack. That way you will get right into the corners of the bag and you will be able to clean it out completely
Photo credit: This article contains imagery from anovaculinary.com and Amazon.com
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