If you’re getting started with sous vide cooking, one of the first things you need to think about is how you will be sealing your bags of food. You have a couple of different options so let’s go ahead and discuss the question, do you need a vacuum sealer for sous vide?
The short answer is no, you do not. But a vacuum sealer can make your life a lot easier. And if you want to prep and pack a lot of sous vide pouches at a time, for freezer storage, a vacuum sealer is really the best option. But let’s start at the beginning and discuss cooking sous vide without owning a vacuum sealer, before we get into any pros and cons.
Ziploc Bags for Sous Vide
Here is one way to go if you don’t want to get involved with a vacuum sealer at this time. Get some BPA-free Ziploc freezer bags and use the water immersion technique to vacuum seal your bags. Check out our article Can You Use Ziplocs as Sous Vide Bags for more info on using Ziplocs. The important things to keep in mind are:
- Make sure the bags are BPA-free
- Get the freezer bags because they hold up better during the long sous vide cooking process
When using Ziploc bags, you’ll need to use the water immersion technique when getting your food pouches ready. This is a pretty easy process and you can read all about the water immersion technique right here. “Technique” makes it sound a lot trickier than it really is but the article tells you everything you need to know.
If you’re new to sous vide and you want to try it out before fully investing in equipment then this is a good way to go.
Using a Vacuum Sealer
My recommendation is usually to just go ahead and get a vacuum sealer because you can do more than just sous vide with it and you can make packs of food that will stay good in the freezer for months. (Ziplocs can do that but the food won’t keep quite as well as with vacuum sealed pouches.)
There are some things to know about vacuum sealers, however. Well, it’s really just one main key piece of advice that I will give you and that is don’t buy the cheapest one out there. Some of them just have atrocious reviews and you’ll end up throwing your cheap, broken FoodSaver out on the street one day like one of my neighbors did.
If you feel tempted to buy an inexpensive one, just wait and save up some money until you can buy something decent like this Weston. (If you must take a look at the cheap ones here they are right here.)
- POWERFUL, PRO PERFORMANCE Heavy-duty construction and 23”hg vacuum strength make this vacuum sealer powerful
- QUICK AND EASY Just press start It’s the perfect tool for preserving your prized catch or preparing your garden vegetables for freezing
- VERSATILE CONTROLS Vacuum seal food, marinate meats and remove air from vacuum canisters
- DESIGNED FOR CONTINUOUS USE Fan-cooled motor designed specifically for continuous, repetitive use without overheating
- FITS A VARIETY OF BAG SIZES Seal bags and rolls up to 11” across Compatible with FoodSaver* and Ziploc* bags
So to recap. Do you need a vacuum sealer for sous vide? The answer is no.
But vacuum sealers make food pouches that are sealed better, the bags are tougher and better suited to sous vide cooking, and they will keep better when storing in the freezer.