Is a vacuum sealer really necesary?

I am new to sous vide and just picked up an aonva. I was wondering how important it was to get a vacuum sealer? Iv seen a lot of videos and read a lot of people just use zip lock and do water immersion. Can i just be able to do that or am i taking away from not using a vacuum sealer?

Yep, I don’t use a vacuum sealer at all (now mind you, I’ve only been doing this for a few months myself) :slight_smile:   The zip locks work just fine, provided you’re good at getting the air out. :slight_smile:

Thanks. Iv’e been doing the stick a straw in and suck the air out of the bag method. Seems to be working. Thanks again sir!

Make sure you are using the thicker bags. The cheap weak ones have been known to fail. Also if you are cooking vegetables at a higher temperature watch the bag for leaks. I use both and have not seen any difference in the results.

Don’t use them for high temperature or long duration cooking. Most newer bags are micro-vented and will start to fail in minutes (small vent perforations under the zipper which will let water leech into the bag- if you have some ziploc bags in your kitchen go look at them).

Any of the big companies selling zip-lock bags will tell you not to do it (don’t take my word for it- shoot them an email) and that they cannot be held responsible if you were to poison yourself with their bags while using them in an unintended manner.

Yes you can use them, but when you get serious about your cooking you will get a vacuum sealer and use “food safe” (lets just call them “safer than ziploc”) bags. I know that’s not going to be a real popular answer, but I’m too old and set in my ways not to tell it how it is. Haha
Good luck.

@Snow, good points (re: micro-vented) - for any long cooks I’d always use freezer bags as they’re thicker and more durable.  Yes, I’ve had the small sandwich style fail - they’re quite flimsy and prone to failure.

Suggesting that the vacuum-seal plastic is of a higher / safer quality is really just a bias / opinion - unless you can point to a study that’s actually been done?  (I think it unlikely that it would be)

Lots (maybe more than you like) information about this topic can be found here:

One possible option I think for the longer/high temperature cooking is to use the bags they use for sealing, that shoudl be safe? Just use water immersion techniqe for the vacuum?

Would agree that the chowhound discussion is a good place to start (and you will find my views greatly expanded on there). I wouldn’t argue with anyone that is here all the time to answer questions from new folks anyway. Just my opinion. Fair enough.

> @lordbodom said: > One possible option I think for the longer/high temperature cooking is to use the bags they use for sealing, that shoudl be safe? Just use water immersion techniqe for the vacuum?

Those bags are much more expensive and the zip sealing is definitely a convenience in case they sink. Best to look for a sale of a food saver where there are a lot of bag included:)

I mostly use Ziploc because it is easier and much cheaper. I am not tempted (any longer) to try and reuse them which is a safety issue as well. I do use the food saver if I am cooking ahead to refreeze.

I have used both and had success with both. I had some bag failures with the ziplocs but not many. I was able to find an older vacmaster chamber vacuum sealer on ebay for $400. I got lucky and like most chefs…love playing with my new toy…even if it is a used old toy.

Vacuum sealers aren’t necessary thanks to the immersion technique, but they are very useful in other regards, and I would regard one as a kitchen essential if you’re economy-minded. In particular, bulk purchasing produce such as meat and then vacuum sealing individual portions before freezing is very helpful. Vacuum sealing massively prolongs shelf-life (fridge or freezer). They are an investment but in my ever so humble opinion, a worthwhile one. 

I also would never sous-vide vegetables in zip-loc bags, the higher temperatures needed to cook vegetables properly often cause zip-loc bags to fail, plus I have concerns about the higher temperature causing undesirable chemicals from the bag plastic to infuse the food. 

Buying a vacuum sealer has additional advantages next to use it just for sous vide cooking. I use one for storing and freezing food as it stays good for longer periods (depending on what you want to freeze up to months longer) and it avoids freeze-burns of your food which damage the structure of the food itself.
The average food-saver vacuum sealer will costs around € 100 - 150 here in the EU. Also good to note is that there’s a difference between vacuum bags (just for sealing - freezing - reheating) and cooking bags used for the same. Cooking bags can be used op to 120 degrees Celsius whilst the typical freezer bag can only be used up to 40-50 degrees before seals can start to break and start leaking. Depending on where you buy the bags, the cooking bags are actualy cheaper as opposed to the freezer bags.