I have made a commitment to reduce my plastic usage this year. What are some options for cooking meats outside of one use plastic bags? Does using a different material like silicone change cooking, flavor, or timing? I buy meat from a butcher wrapped in paper to avoid the extra plastic and styrofoam wrapping, and it seems counterintuitive to then come home and use plastic to cook. I’m excited about my Sous Vide and I’m looking forward to the flexibility as well as the seemingly superior results to meat temps and textures, as well as flavors. Any positive input is appreciated.
I use the Stasher brand silicon bags that Anova released in partnership. They’re good and don’t impact the cook noticeably, but they are too small. I’ve not tried any others.
I use silicon sous vide bags i bought on Amazon. They were pricy, but worth it. They seal through the water displacement method. The silicon leaves no changes in the cooking. I like that seasonings, broth, vegetable can be added throughout the cooking process.
You could just use ziplock bags and keep reusing them. As long as you use the water displacement method you don’t need to use vacuum sealers.
The “rub” with reusing ziplock bags is that the edges are prone to failure. The freezer bags considerably less so, due to the thickness/durability of the plastic - but they will eventually fail (they weren’t designed as sous vide bags - we’re all just using them for that).
I still use the sandwich bags for fish fillets - as the cook duration is typically very short, so I can monitor to ensure there’s no breaches - but the sandwich bags are very prone to failure (had a couple items relegated to fajita’s in the early days due to that).
The silicon bags are designed for sous vide - they should have edges that are designed for hundreds of cooks.
Search for FoodSaver Ziploc bags at Amazon. There are multiple acceptable substitutes to the FS bags at significantly lower price. After a SV session we clean them out with soapy water, let them sit in VERY hot water for an hour or so, clean them again w/ soap, air dry them, and use them again. We typically get 3-5 uses from each bag. Does get aggravating but saves on plastic trash and keeps the bags healthy.
I use the Stasher bags for smaller things. Pro tip, for the quart bags you can fit them in a ziplock food saver bag to “vacuum” seal it. Just slide it in unzipped, zip the food saver bag and then vacuum with the attachment whole paying attention and shifting the bag so it doesn’t close prematurely. For the half gallon Stasher cut one foodsaver bag extra, extra long and then vacuum manual/pulse vac until the Stasher can be sealed and then release without sealing the foodsaver so you can reuse it bunches of times.
I’ve also got the SIOchef Premium Silicone Sous Vide Bags on order, I’ll try to remember to report back on that once I’ve tried them. But not sure of utility, because I’m interested in that one because I have a Mellow with a lid I’ve attached a suction cup hook to that I’m planning to use them with.
I have the SIOchef bags in two sizes and LOVE THEM - started with two and bought two more for bigger items after six months. They don’t seal, but then, they don’t have to - they’re tall enough to fold over the top of the pot, and as you lower the food into the water they’re easy to squeeze the air out of because they’re thin and flexible; they’ll also keep releasing air for that reason, if any’s trapped in the food, so food’s less likely to be a float risk. Vacuuming is a bit overhyped in sous vide (itself a misnomer) - what matters is not having enough air to insulate any part of the food from being cooked thoroughly. They include a pair of soft silicone zip ties (removable) for securing the bags to the handle of the pot or whatever you prefer.
I’ve been using mine for a year and change, and they’ve been durable and easy to clean, just invert over your hand and sponge off with some soap - they’ve been pasteurized by the cooking process. If you have to dry several, pop them inside-out over something tall (e.g. wine bottle). I’ve heard concerns about lingering odor or flavor - if I cook something REALLY INTENSE (uh, curry) and plan to do something delicate in the bag next (egg pasteurization) I sometimes pour a little vinegar in that bag and cook it alongside next time I cook another one with food in it, as a deodorizer, but I doubt that’s especially necessary.
At first I thought they were so soft they’d be flimsy, but I haven’t managed to damage any of them yet and I’m a bit of a lazy klutz in the kitchen (and have long fingernails).
Good on you for cutting your plastic use!