Vacuum Sealers & Sous Vide Cooking

If you keep across the latest trends in cooking, then you are probably aware of the sous vide method and may already be giving it a try.

Sous vide literally means ‘under vacuum’ – hence its natural affinity with vacuum sealers.

However the name is a little confusing. Sous vide is about cooking food at a very precise temperature for an exact length of time. Usually this means cooking things for much longer than you would normally expect and at a much lower temperature. This is done by gently heating food in a temperature-controlled water bath. 

To stop the water from flooding the food and washing away flavour, it is sealed in a plastic bag before it is placed in its heated bath. And the better the vacuum in that bag containing the food, the better the final result.

Chicken with vegetables in a vacuum bag for sous vide

Clearly, investing some cash in a decent vacuum sealer is an obvious consideration for your kitchen if you’re keen to get into sous vide cooking in a serious way.

It is not necessary to purchase a vacuum sealer machine the very same day that you buy your sous vide immersion circulator. In the short term, you can make do by placing your food (say, a steak) in a durable zip-lock freezer bag and then squeezing out as much air as possible before zipping it closed. Then pop it in its water bath and you will find that you can get surprisingly good results. It’s a cheap kitchen hack and it will get you through your first attempts at sous vide cooking.

However, if you’re serious about sous vide then this will clearly not be a sustainable long-term solution.

The great selling point of sous vide is that if you, a home chef, follow the cooking process properly, then you can prepare food to restaurant quality standards, time after time. It’s not just the quality of the cooking that is so impressive, but also the fact that it is so consistently good. It is a repeatable process for food excellence. If you want to know more about this, you can read more here.

The reality is that variations in how good the vacuum is around the food before even starting the cooking process will affect both the quality and reliability of the finished article. The day you add a vacuum sealer to your home kitchen then you will produce better, more reliable sous vide cooking. Full stop.

Sous vide precision cooker

Also, I have found that my vacuum sealer is one of those unusual pieces of kitchen equipment that, despite initially feeling like a gadget that would only be used infrequently, actually gets pulled out of the cupboard all the time. 

Its relationship with sous vide cooking is clear, but unlike many kitchen gizmos, a vacuum sealer isn’t a one-trick pony. Far from it. You’ll find yourself using it to vacuum seal left-overs for the fridge, to split up bulk shops of meat and veggies for the freezer and to save valuable space on your pantry shelves. 

If you’d like more information on the many ways that you can use a vacuum sealer machine, please see our article Why Buy a Vacuum Sealer? 

If you are serious about sous vide cooking, you need a vacuum sealer. And once you’ve bought a vacuum sealer, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

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