Reuse the water?

Can I reuse the water to cook in again? I hate to just throw it out considering we’re in a drought right now. Could I store it in a food grade plastic bin (I happen to have an extra one - 5 or 10 gal) and use it for the next time? I can’t think of why not. Thanks!

Yes you can reuse the water. I use mine for a few cooks then water plants with what remains. If you want to keep it for an extended time I would add a few drops of bleach to impede the growth of the pinkish bacteria. While mostly harmless it detracts from the meal.

If you cook anything that is in vacuum bags from the store or butcher be sure and remove any paper labels. One time I didn’t and the label came off in the cook and made a terrible sticky mess.

Great! Thanks for the info and tips. Now I won’t feel quite so guilty! I had an interesting chat with a butcher recently, and she said that the bags they vacuum seal meat in are not BPA free, so it’s strongly recommended that you re-bag them before cooking. 

@MEA credit to you for being concerned over water wastage. You can use bleach as John said, or pool shock is better, and the water stays good for a long time. Anova recommend removing the unit and drying it between uses, but I’ve had mine set up in a fish tank for the last few months with no ill effects. 

Don’t reuse! Never!

Bacteria developes in the water bath between usages as Karma confirms.
The bacteria may be dead, but their dead bodies and the toxins they have developed are still there!
If a vacuum pouch gets a very small puncture, the contaminated water will be sucked into the pouch and give the food a foul taste!
Chemicals will hardly help!

@JonnyScout I strongly disagree. What toxins? Can you name them and describe the mechanism by which they are produced? How long do you think it would take for them to accumulate to levels dangerous to people?

If your vacuum pouch develops a puncture, bacteria will be the last of your worries. Adding pool shock to the water will prevent bacteria developing in the first place, so no danger there, and even if the food gets somehow (VERY doubtfully but I will grant the possibility), pool shock is otherwise sold as a water purification additive and totally safe for human consumption. 

The world’s aquifers, our primary source of drinkable water, are depleting significantly. Large parts of the world are undergoing severe drought conditions. Suggesting that people throw away litres/gallons of perfectly good drinking water every time they cook something that’s been sealed in food-grade plastic is unwise, to put it mildly. 

If you really can’t stomach the thought of reusing the water to cook in, at least try to find some other use for it. Water the garden, flush the toilet, wash the dog, whatever. 
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There are many bacterias that can multiply in lukewarm water, and many of them makes the water taste bad. Some are even directly harmful to humans, like these:

Campylobacter 86 - 113 F
E.coli (Hamburgerbacteria or STEC) 68 - 120 F
Listeria 39 - 99 F
Salmonella 44 - 118 F
Toxoplasma gondi -  122 F
Yersinia 34 - 107 F
Observe that they need more temperature to die completely.
Where they come from? Because you cannot see them, it's not an easy question to answer. But we know they often are present on the skin of chickens for instance. Bacteria does not require a lot of nutrition, very little may be enough.
The water may be used for other things, but not in connection to food preparation. 

I did not reply to your question about toxins, let me quote Wikipedia here, but the litterature is considerable!

Bacteria generate toxins which can be classified as either exotoxins or endotoxins. Exotoxins are generated and actively secreted; endotoxins remain part of the bacteria. Usually, an endotoxin is part of the bacterial outer membrane, and it is not released until the bacterium is killed by the immune system. The body's response to an endotoxin can involve severe inflammation.

Toxinosis is pathogenesis caused by the bacterial toxin alone, not necessarily involving bacterial infection (e.g. when the bacteria have died, but have already produced toxin, which are ingested). It can be caused by Staphylococcus aureus toxins, for example

Your argument relies on naturally occurring bacteria contaminating food cooked when vacuum sealed under food grade plastic, in an environment that is pretty much guaranteed to kill them before they pose any danger or prevent their presence to start with. This is not a defensible position. You list bacteria that can exist in water and in fact do exist in water, and are consumed by millions of people every day, without giving any evidence at all that their existence in reused water when cooking sous vide can harm anybody at all, Just rattling off a list of bacteria that might possibly exist in water is not an argument. Plus, copying and pasting from Wikipedia is no indication that you understood the science behind what was written, something this generation’s graduates are beginning to realise at their own expense. 

Reuse your water when cooking sous vide. Doing otherwise represents nothing other than wastefulness and unscientific superstition.

It seems like you have not understood the argument. It’s very simple: If you leave the water bath so it cools in the room, it will get a bacteria growth. What kind of bacteria is difficult to say, unless you have laboratory in your home. If you warm the water again to the sous vide range, the bacteria most likely will die, after some time in that temperature. But the foul taste will be there caused by dead bacteria and the toxins they have produced. If a pouch punctures, it will suck in water and hence get a pinch of foul taste. This is not advanced science, it’s pure logic and has happened numerous time. 

This matter is very simple: if you cannot drink it, don’t use it. Fresh water each time. I have been in the food business too long to take any risks regarding cleanliness.

If you keep the water warm between the uses, bacteria will not develop. But if your argument for reusing the water is environmental, I am sure you appreciate that the energy you use for keeping the water warm is pure waste. But the water can be used for watering plants etc. That’s what most of the water in California is used for anyway.

This matter is very simple: if you cannot drink it, don’t use it.” So add pool shock. You can then drink it, even after many uses when cooking. 

That’s what most of the water in California is used for anyway” Citing how Californians use their water is hardly a good argument considering the challenges they’re currently facing due to poor water management methods. 

If a pouch punctures, it will suck in water and hence get a pinch of foul taste.” 1) How on earth would a vacuum seal pouch in a water bath puncture? The idea is absurd. 2) In the very unlikely event that a pouch punctures while cooking, you would discard the food without tasting it because it would have become waterlogged and thus inedible, so again, no foul taste. 3) Pool shock = no foul taste, even after multiple cooking reuses.

This is not advanced science, it’s pure logic and has happened numerous time.” If you’ve had pouches puncture numerous times while cooking sous vide, I suggest you take another look at what you’re doing wrong. 

Reuse your water when cooking sous vide. Doing otherwise represents nothing other than wastefulness and unscientific superstition…

With all of the plants to water I normally keep mine until my wife wants the kitchen cleaned up. I have always reused my water and have seen no ill effects. When I was using my bigger tub for cooking a while back I put a few drops of bleach in the water after the first cook. I would have felt safe drinking the water up to the point I watered plants with it.

It’s really odd that you say that pouches never have punctures. Even the pouches I get from the butchers have punctures from time to time.

I get leaks especially when some foodstuff are scratched of where the sealing is made. And very small ones in the corners of the zip lock bags.I think many sous vide users experience that.

And then the use of Pool Shock and Bleach. These products usually contains chlorine (typically 10% calcium hypochlorite). How do you find a safe level? Do you know that chlorine
in any form combines with the chromium and removes this protective layer of chrominum on stainless steel and
exposes the base metal and rust will occur over time? Your Anova contains many submerged stainless steel parts.

And what if you forget to put in the Pool Shock?

Frankly, this practice is not to be recommended.


@JohnnyScout, have you ever swam in a swimming pool? Did you drain all the water out afterwards, and then refill the pool from empty the next time you wanted to swim? Swimming pools contain orders of magnitude more bacteria, mould and fungus (let alone what kids also do in there) than a Sous Vide container ever will, yet we’re all happy to jump straight in, getting the water and whatever is in it into our mouths, ears, and eyes. It’s not uncommon to swallow some. How is this possible? That’s right, pool shock. Your backyard pool can stay un-emptied for years at a time if it’s properly treated, and nobody will think twice about diving in. It’s exactly the same principle. 

And what if you forget to put in the Pool Shock?” Strange thing to say. You only have to put it in once, and then it’s already in there.

It’s really odd that you say that pouches never have punctures.” No it isn’t. If you’re getting punctures then you are doing something wrong. I’ve been cooking vacuum sealed and ziploc bagged food Sous Vide for a few years now, both with the Anova and with the DIY rig I made before that, and not once have I had any water contamination due to punctures, leakage, incorrect sealing or any other reason. Not even once. In fact the first time I’ve even heard of it happening to anyone is when you said it happens to you. Have you tried purchasing better grade vacuum bags, and making sure there’s nothing sharp in the bag when you seal it?

But you know what? Even if it were to magically and mysteriously happen to me, I would be safe. You know why? Pool shock.

I think many sous vide users experience that.” Thinking doesn’t make it true. Sorry. Come back to me with statistics and evidence. 

Frankly, this practice is not to be recommended.” I tell you what’s not recommended - cooking in vacuum sealed pouches that you get from the butcher. Butchers don’t use BPA-free packaging, so by cooking in their packaging you’re running a real risk of health damage, rather than an imaginary one. Always re-bag stuff you buy from a butcher, and the added bonus is that the leaks in their packaging won’t matter any more. 

Reuse your water when cooking sous vide. Doing otherwise represents nothing other than wastefulness and unscientific superstition.

Why are we having to debate this? Surely ANOVA should be providing answers to basic questions like these. We need ANOVA to test water that has been used and reused and has sat at various room temperatures and to give us a science-based reply that is based on this machine. This is th manifacturer’s responsibility, I think. ANOVA obviouIsly doesn’t. Their official Information is scant. I’m sorry I didn’t know I would be so much in my own before I bought this thing. (I’m old and my husband is sick so I’m not needing to spend hours researching answers that should be readily available.)