The Simple Guide to Sous Vide Packaging

As the sous vide method of cooking gains traction around the globe, questions about packaging have arisen – and we are here to answer those for you! Welcome to Anova’s Simple Guide to Sous Vide Packaging. Spoiler alert: you DON’T need a separate vacuum-sealing machine to get perfect results with your Anova time and time again – but we’ll tell you all about it anyway!

Resealable Bags

Resealable, zipper-locking bags are a convenient and popular method of containment for sous vide cooking. Brands like Glad and Ziplock offer cost-effective, BPA-free options that are easy to find in most supermarkets or on Amazon. Stick with gallon-sized freezer bags for a durable and versatile option that our customers recommend for all types of dishes.

Why they’re great… cost effective, easy to find, convenient

Perfect for… just about anything you can sous vide, from scrambled eggs to meats, fish, and vegetables!
Handy tip… double bag your ingredients for longer cooking times, higher temps, or rigid materials (exposed bones, butter knives for weighting)

How to use Resealable Bags for Sous Vide:

Place your ingredients in the bag, use the immersion method shown in the video below or a straw to remove as much air as possible from the bag, place in the heated bath, and you’re cooking!

How to do the Immersion Method from Anova Culinary on Vimeo.

Bonus tip – There are lots of places you can recycle your plastic bags. Look for more information at http://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org for recycling within the United States)

Vacuum Sealer Bags

For years, home cooks have been under the assumption that you need a vacuum sealer to cook sous vide. Vacuum sealed bags are popular in commercial kitchens, but you don’t need them to cook sous vide. However, if you choose to go the vacuum sealing route there are more affordable options out there, one of the most popular brands currently being Foodsaver. There are plenty of other options out there from Weston, The Vak Shack, Black & Decker, and more. Oftentimes, you can use the vacuum sealing bags interchangeably across different brands of the actual vacuum sealing machine, but the machine is a necessary piece of equipment for this sous vide packaging.

Why they’re great… super sturdy, extend shelf life of both cooked and uncooked food, machine gets the most air out of the package

Perfect for… solid food items, foods with protruding bones
Handy tip… when filling with ingredients, fold the edge of the bag over a few inches to keep it clean and save material to fit into the vacuum machine

How to Use Vacuum Sealing Bags for Sous Vide:

We recommend folding over the edge of the bag to keep it clean before you start to put the food in. Then fill with your ingredients, checking with the vacuum-sealing machine manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you do not overfill. Overfilling can make it difficult to get a seal. Liquids generally also have special instructions in the user manual. Place open edge of bag into the machine as the manual recommends, close and lock the lid, and press the “vacuum” button. Usually, the sealing will happen automatically after the vacuuming, but it depends on the brand of the machine. Once it is both vacuumed and sealed, unlock the lid, remove food, place into preheated bath (or refrigerator or freezer for later use) and you’re cooking!

How to Use a Vacuum Sealer from Anova Culinary on Vimeo.

Silicone Bags

Silicone bags or pouches are the newest to the sous vide game though they have actually been around for a few years. With the ease of use of zip-locking bags and robust strength of vacuum sealing bags, we are already predicting that this reusable form of sous vide packaging is going to be a game changer! This is what inspired us to partner with the innovative new company stasher, who makes reusable platinum silicone pouches.

Why they’re great… very durable, reusable thousands of times, dishwasher + freezer safe, odor/stain resistant
Perfect for… everything, especially leftovers–just reheat the next day to the same temp for the exact same quality meal you enjoyed the first time
Handy tip… add 5 minutes to your cook time to make up for the thickness of the silicone & turn inside out to wash

How to Use Silicone Bags for Sous Vide:

Because these do not require any additional equipment, you essentially use these the same way as regular zip-locking bags. And as previously mentioned, the material is thicker and the methods to evacuate the air from the pouch are a hint different, though equally simple. Otherwise like the zip-locking bags, place your ingredients in the bag, use one of the methods shown below or a technique you find that works for you, and you’re cooking. (And follow this link to buy them through our site!)

How to Roll a Stasher Bag from Anova Culinary on Vimeo.

Stasher Bag Immersion Method for Delicate Items from Anova Culinary on Vimeo.

Glass Canning Jars

Glass canning jars are another wonderful form of sous vide packaging, especially for recipes that start off in liquid form (like sous vide egg bites!). Smaller jars with two-part lids work great. Hinge-clamp closure jars, which usually have a rubber seal and simpler one-part metal lids, also work just fine. What will NOT work are plastic screw-on lids. The heat of the water expands them too much and the fillings are quickly compromised.

Why they’re great… convenient, easy to find, durable, reusable, dishwasher & freezer safe, odor/stain resistant
Perfect for… grains and recipes that start out in liquid form, such as “baked” desserts or egg bites
Handy tip… “Fingertip tighten” the lids only, meaning leave them a touch loose to allow air pressure to escape during cooking; it is okay if they float or are completely submerges; plastic lids will not work

How to Use Canning Jars for Sous Vide Cooking:

Place your ingredients into the jar and attach lids to fingertip tightness, as demonstrated by the video below. Submerge your jars in the heated bath. Note: sometimes glass jars will float because the air still inside when you tighten the lid is more buoyant than the jar plus its ingredients. THIS IS OKAY. Your ingredients will still cook because they will be below the waterline, thanks to gravity.

What Is Fingertip Tightening from Anova Culinary on Vimeo.

Take a look at this fantastic blog post about cooking in jars for some new ideas, and now you’re cooking!

Wrapping It Up – Pun Intended!

We hope this guide has given you a little more insight as to your options when it comes to sous vide packaging. Cooking with Anova is easy and convenient, especially since you can package up your food with items you have already picked up at the grocery store. Do you have any other sous vide packaging ideas to share, #anovafoodnerd fam? Tell us in the comments!

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