I haven’t reviewed many products on my blog but I’m always happy to do it, specially if they’re closely related to my cooking. Sous vide cooking can be daunting specially if you have never done it. It requires gear which isn’t necessarily cheap. Immersion circulators are becoming more affordable these days but still are in the $200 range. I remember when I started cooking sous vide a few years ago, these would easily go around $1000 which is why I decided to build my own from scratch for less than $100 but thats a story for another time.
Spend, spend, spend…
So.. you have the water heater, now what… dang!… now you need bags and a vacuum sealer…. ok, you’re looking at another $100 if you’re considering getting the cheaper ones. I’ve been cooking sous vide for a few years now so I’ve invested some money in it. I own a chamber vacuum sealer which I love. I have my rolls of sealable baggies that I can cut to fit my needs etc. It adds up.
Are vacuum sealers necessary? well…
I recently lived in Vancouver for about 2 years. It wasn’t going to be a permanent move. So I left most of my things back in LA in storage including my “fancy” vacuum sealer. I did take with me my immersion circulator, got there… got a pack of ziplock bags and off I went sous vide’ing again. Nothing really changed. I continued to cook sous vide recipes like I had back in LA. The quality of the cooking was the same. I used the water displacement method maily. I didn’t even miss my “fancy” vacuum sealer” all that much. Fact is, sous vide cooking doesn’t necessarily require fancy vacuum sealing technology. A sealable food grade plastic bag and a tank filled with water will do the job really well as long as you keep air pockets to an absolute minimum.
Why get a vacuum sealer then?
Because of a much better vacuum. Thing is… any pocket of air inside the bag increases the potential of pathogen reproduction, specially if you’re cooking for more than a few hours. Water is a much better heat conductor than air…like a LOT better. If you want to have a safe sous vide experience then minimize those air pockets to a minimum because they remain below safe cooking temperatures for a lot longer than recommended in some cases and bacteria can and will reproduce. I actually use water or oil inside the bag sometimes to make sure there are no air pockets and always eat the food right away or cool it down fast and store it in the fridge a coupe of weeks maximum. A chamber vacuum sealer makes the job of handling liquids a lot easier too but still, with a ziplock bag and some patience you should be able to pull it off and stick to safe cooking practices.
A better alternative to ziplock bags.
If you’re about to get into sous vide cooking you’ve probably already seen a number of brands offering sealable bags with a hand pumps. Actually years ago I was using the ones from ziplock. I stopped though. They weren’t reliable enough and air would easily get into the bag after a few hours of cooking… they weren’t really designed for sous vide cooking so I have nothing bad to say about this or any ziplock product. I was just misusing these bags. I still use their regular bags all the time.
FoReal Design Sous Vide Bags.
I’ll be honest. I was pretty skeptical before trying this out. This is the first time I would be using a system like this and I was expecting well… the usual: Bags that don’t seal well and let air in. I didn’t go easy on these guys during my testing either. I put them to the test. High heat and long cooking temperatures. I tried a number of settings. Cooked garlic confit which required 85C for 7 hours. After washing the bag I reused it and cooked potatoes at 90C for about 2 hours. The bag sealed again and performed just as well as the first time. Then I decided to do a somewhat tough cut of beef which required an overnight 12 hour cooking time at around 56C. Again, the bag took it. There was a bit of air in the bag the next day but nothing alarming. Not bad after some considerable abuse. Check out this product on amazon! Also, if you email Jason.firstname.lastname@example.org you can get discount coupons. Recently, in a brand new bag, I cooked a porterhouse steak. The bone didn’t pierce the bag and the result was outstanding. One of the things I enjoy about the bags is the way they “hugs” the food much like the foodSaver material does. A bit stretchy which is great. I washed the the bag and now it’s ready for another use. Love ’em.
Would I recommend this to sous vide enthusiasts?
Absolutely. I wish I had had this thing when I first got started with sous vide cooking. The vacuum is pretty good. The bags are easy to use and reliable after a number of immersions and can sustain long cooking times and high temperatures well. They’re easy to wash too. If you want to explore sous vide cooking without committing money into buying more expensive vacuum sealing gear this is a great alternative. Please, leave your thought in the comment section below! Also, if you’re a seasoned sous vide cook, these bags are pretty handy specially for traveling and cooking away from the comfort of your kitchen. Happy sous vide’ing guys!!!!
Almost forgot! What’s in the bag???
10 Vacuum Bags. 10.25″x11″
10 Vacuum Bags 10.25″x13.5″
4 Bag Holding Clips.
2 Bag Sealing Clips.
1 Erasable Pen.