Can I double bag?

Can I double bag the meat when sous vide cooking? I’m cooking a 10 lb. standing rib roast for dinner tomorrow. So I bought a store brand 2 gallon zipper bag. On the trial run, the bag leaked a bit and the water reached the meat. Poor quality zipper technology I guess but the only ones I could find in the 2 gallon size on short notice. If I double bag, the water is unlikely to get to the meat even if the outside bag leaks. Question is, does this interfere with cooking times or the internal meat temperature?

Yes. In fact double bagging is recommended for cooking items with exposed bones.

Water seepage will not impact your cook, the product can not reach higher than the temperature of the bath it is cooked in. It would water down the juices from cooking though. All cooking methods produce fluid during the cooking process but the closed system of sous vide processing means they are retained. This is good because they are a wonderful resource. Clarify them by bringing to a simmer and straining through cheese cloth or a coffee filter and the resultant essence of meat can be used to make sauce or gravy.

Remember cooking is by hdat penetration, so it is the thickness and not the weight which determines how long it will take to get your roast up to temperature.

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Here’s an extraction from the Wikipedia article about sous-vide:
“Sous vide, French for ‘under vacuum’, implies that food should be sealed in a plastic bag with all the air removed. An alternative method is to place the food in an open-sided plastic bag and partially submerge the bag into the water, forcing out the air. This method involves clipping the open side of the bag to the side of the pot to keep water from leaking into the opening. The goal is to have the food completely in contact with the hot water to assure even cooking while reducing off-flavors from oxidation.”

So, double-bagging would help to minimize the possibility of water actually touching the meat and also to keep out more of the air to prevent dreaded oxidation of the meat’s surfaces as it slow-cooks. Let us know how it turned out …

The meat was splendid, though, Much of it was undercooked. The recipe called for 6 hours at 130f but I guess that is not long enough cooking time for a 10 lb. roast.
But the double bagging worked very well. The juices in the inner bag made for a great reduction for au jus. It was a Happy Easter. Thank you for the note.

In my reading about sous-vide I’ve never encountered a cooking temperature below 131˚. Actually, a few degrees higher would be preferable (for a minimum of 4 hours) to ensure pasteurization against the growth of the botulism bacteria in the low-oxygen cooking environment. For your 10-lb roast I would have used a temperature of 133˚ for 9 hours. After that I would have rubbed the roast with olive oil, salt, pepper, preferred herbs, and then roasted it for 1/2-hour in a pre-heated 500˚ oven to brown it (uncovered and on a rack within a pan), and then let it rest for 20 minutes before carving. Clarified sous-vide juices could be added to any roasting drippings for a nice jus. I’ve also read suggestions to cut large roasts into 2 smaller roasts to ensure thorough cooking, e.g., a 6" x 6" x 6" roast cube could be cut with the grain into two 3" x 6" x 6" slabs that would then be sliced against the grain for serving dribbled with the jus.

130F is fine provided your equipment is accurate. Pasteurisation takes place as low as 126F but this wouldn’t leave much of a safety buffer.

Cooking by sous vide, actually cooking by any method, relies on heat penetration. This is impacted by thickness, not weight. You have not at any stage told us how thick your roast was. But after 6 hours, it is unlikely that it would be undercooked, ie at a lower temperature than the waterbath. More likely that it was less done (or more pink) than you expected. This is likely around the bones, which form a heat shield.

The the issue I had with a burst bag was all the fat attached itself to the Anova which meant extra work in cleaning .When the device only ever touches clean water then it gets annoying seeing all that scum on your device.

Rib roast is one of my favorite things in sous vide and now the only way I cook mine ( when under 6 lbs). Ive always shrink-wrapped mine but a double bag is good too if you submerse as mentioned before. I’ve always had the butcher cut the ribs off and tie it back on for roasting but in sous vide, I’ve learned to take the ribs out and cook the roast without them. I’ve found 131 degrees to be the perfect temp for med-rare and it is at least 1 hour per inch. I had a 5.6 lb roast on Easter and I did it at 131 for 5.5 hours. I crusted it in a 500 degree oven for 10 minutes. With the ribs on, I set the temp to 135 and it cooked to med -rare at the same pace, 1 hour per inch and then crusted in the oven.

I put the ribs in a saucepan and covered with water until the bones fell off. Removed the meat and bones, added some red wine, reduced and had a perfect au jus.

If you’re going to be cooking large expensive cuts of meat, I would highly recommend you get a vacuum sealer. I would venture to say that you could pick one up for less than the cost of that 10 lb standing rib roast.

  • And even if you aren’t, vacuum sealing allows you to pre-package for quick meal prep.

We’ve been using a Taylor timer/thermometer with a probe on a water proof heat resistant cable. We use zip-lock bags, insert the probe into the center of the meat, set the thermometer to the desired temperature, and turn on the alarm. The small opening of the seal is kept out of the water. So far all has worked well, including a rib roast for Christmas Dinner. This way we feel we get more accurate cooking than using the tables … except for boiled eggs!

That’s the original method of SV cooking from 40+ years ago. Then a strip of closed-cell foam tape was used where the probe entered the bag so the entire product could be kept submerged.

That technique was mostly abandoned when it was discovered that a combination of temperature and time resulted in consistently superior outcomes and enhanced food safety.