Sous vide vacuum sealer is a word you’ll often see if you ever do any of Sous Vide cooking. You see the term used so often because as you may already know it, sous vide cooking involves a vacuum seal.
Why Vacuum Seal?
One of the major reasons the Sous Vide method uses a vacuum is to provide a humid cooking environment. Such an environment is the best way for the heat to transfer to the food, providing a perfect cook and safe temperature. Another reason is that storing food in a vacuum is the best way to prevent long-term food decay.
Is it Necessary?
While you may think that food must be vacuum sealed to safely cook it Sous Vide style, that is not always the case. Sometimes you may use a canning jar. However, one of the most popular alternative methods is to use a top sealable bag like a Ziploc. The bag can remain open but must be fully submerged to help force out all the air; most of the time, there is no reason not to close the top though. You’re able to do this because, while vacuum seal is one of the three essential elements of the Sous Vide method, proper cooking temperature is what matters most. Because a Sous Vide cooker can keep very precise temperatures, the vacuum seal is usually only necessary in certain situations.
Despite the fact you can use a Ziploc bag, there are various advantages to using a vacuum sealed bag.
- Peace of Mind: using a vacuum sealer ensures that a high-quality bag and airtight environment are giving you the best, most consistent cook possible.
- Better Storage: vacuum sealed bags can be stored much longer in the freezer and ensure that no air or microbes will contaminate the food.
- More Flexibility: Most experts agree when you cook veggies with the Sous Vide method a vacuum sealed bag works best. It maintains all the nutrients and ensures a perfect, juicy cook.
- More Durable: Many Ziploc bags begin to break down (or the seal at the top fails) at around 158 °F (70 °C). If your food requires a cooking temperature higher than that, you should use a vacuum sealed bag.
What is the biggest advantage of using a Ziploc bag? The biggest advantage for Ziploc bags is the fac they are so much cheaper compared to vacuum sealer bags. If the price is not your primary concern, using a vacuum sealed bag is your best option. While it’s not necessary, it generally yields the highest quality results with the most consistency, especially with vegetables.
To get a vacuum seal, you can use a Foodsaver vacuum sealer, but there are other brands as well. For beginners, the Foodsavers’s lower-end models are rated quite well, is lower in cost, and they’re very easy to use. If you’re not concerned about ease of use, or you believe you are more of an expert then consider a more fancy option. Heck, you can even opt for a chamber vacuum sealer.
Options to Consider
Some options to consider include:
- Seal-a-meal. This is a very inexpensive alternative to lower-end Foodsavers. This vacuum sealer gets the job done. There is nothing fancy about it, and you don’t pay for either. It’s basic, but it works.
- Foodsavers. The lower-end models start at around $50. Higher-end and fancier models can cost well up to and over $150. To be honest, the basic model is enough for the job. Getting a more expensive model has some neat features, but they won’t really make the process any easier.
- Vacmasters. The are the high-end vacuum sealers. Be warned though, these are a lot more expensive than the other two options. You do get what you pay for though. These things are built like a brick and they are well worth the price if you plan to do a lot of sous vide cooking and just vacuum sealing food in general.