Josh P. Miller
I am known to go the cheap route whenever possible, so while learning to cook sous vide I have to admit I eyed my Ziploc bags and wondered what would happen if I replaced vacuum-sealed bags for resealable ones.
They seal out air and they are made from thick plastic. They should work in a snap, right?
Many people say that Ziploc works great. I have to agree since I have never had any problems with using Ziploc bags, either. They didn’t melt, I didn’t die and nothing caught on fire. Still, I had nagging questions.
Too much air?
Some believe that ziploc bags don’t remove all of the air resulting in less penetration of any marinades and — worse — bacteria growth in the food while it’s cooking. Is it true?
Probably not. Research has found that it is the temperature you cook and store the food at that prevents bacteria growth, not the vacuum sealing. Plus, if you want to get all of the air out of the bag without a vacuum sealer you can use the Water Displacement Method to get the best results. Here’s how:
Fill up your vessel with water.
Fill your Ziploc bag with the ingredients and close the zipper almost all of the way.
Submerge the bag in the water, leaving just the zipper exposed. Pressure from the water will force the air out.
Zipper the bag closed.
As an option, you can use clothespins to clip the zipper to the side of the vessel to prevent it from falling in.
Sous vide tips and recommended tools
Will chemicals leach into the food?
Another worry is that the chemicals from the plastic may leach into the food when heated, since a study and some other research got people to suddenly start pitching their plastic containers in the trash. That may be so, but it isn’t any more likely than with vacuum bags designed for sous vide cooking — they are made out of the exact same kind of plastic.
To be on the safe side, stay away from any plastic baggie made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC). A little research on the company’s website should tell you what the bags are made of. High-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene and polypropylene are the safest plastics to cook with. Thankfully, that’s what Ziploc bags and most other zippered bags are made of.