Sous Vide Ziploc Bags — Important Tips for Safe Use

When you’re getting started with sous vide and you’re deciding on equipment, one thing to consider is what kind of bags you’ll be using. If you want to avoid the purchase of a vacuum sealer you do have the option of using sous vide Ziploc bags.

Let’s take a look at the info you need if you’re going to use this method, since there are some important safety and logistical concerns.

Sous Vide Ziploc Bags

Ziplocs are an easy way to go for sous vide since they are cheap and readily available.

But you can’t do everything with Ziplocs and you need to know what the limitations are. In addition, Ziploc sous vide bags must be made of the right kind of plastic. Get the freezer bags like these.

Pros

  1. Like we said a second ago, you can get Ziploc bags anywhere. I find the best deals on Amazon vs buying them at the grocery store.
  2. Ziplocs let you avoid the purchase of a vacuum sealer, so if you want to keep costs to a minimum or if you just don’t like owning a lot of stuff, Ziplocs can work. It’s also a way that you can keep costs down while you try out sous vide cooking at home; if you get into it, you can always pick up a vacuum sealer later on.
  3. Cost per bag is super low compared to other options.

Cons

  1. You have to make sure you’re purchasing the right kind of zip-top bags for sous vide cooking. You need to get BPA-free bags, so stick with the Ziploc brand because these are food safe. Discount brands are not the way to go when it comes to plastic that will come in contact with your food. The freezer bags are the ones you want.
  2.  The bags have limitations. You don’t want to use them for any cooking above 158 degrees F. This is because the seams can fail and your bag can come apart in the water bath.
  3. You also need to keep your cook time under 6 hours. This may not be a hard and fast rule but we’re had some users report some bad experiences with cook times longer than that.

Sous Vide Water Immersion Technique

When using Ziploc bags rather than vacuum-sealed bags, you’ll have to get the air out of your bags using the immersion method. It sounds more complicated than it actually is. If you want a more in-depth discussion of this technique we have an article about it right here.

First, pack your food into the bag.

Leave the top open and slowly lower it into a large container of water. It can be your cooking bath but I don’t like doing the immersion method with water that’s cooking temperature.

You’ll be getting your fingers close to the water during this process and I really don’t like getting burned. Things happen so I like using water that’s not very hot for this.

As you lower the bag, the water pressure will push the air out of the bag. Once you get to where you’re just holding the top of it above the water surface, you’ll carefully seal it up.

Conclusion

Ziplocs are one of the options you have available to you when preparing to sous vide. There are also reusable silicone bags that you may want to check out.

Read more on sous vide Ziplocs and alternatives here.

Ziplocs can work well for sous vide as long as you follow these guidelines. Most importantly, make sure you get the right bags so that you’re not exposing yourself to toxic chemicals that can leach into your food.

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