Water displacement vs vacuum sealer

Hi all!

I’m new to sous vide and want to make the most of it. That being said, is there a big difference from getting an actual vacuum sealer machine compared to using a ziplock bag and water displacement? Has anyone tried both and would fervently advocate for purchasing a machine? I’d like to save on costs but if its necessary or makes a big difference, I’d get a machine. Is there any specific machine thats recommended?

I’ve only had my device for a few weeks, but I’ve gone with water displacement exclusively and have had terrific results. In my opinion, if it’s working well I don’t see a strong reason to invest in another piece of hardware. That being said, if you want to get into the game of going directly from frozen into the water, spending another $30-50 on a vacuum sealer wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I have an old foodsaver that I use for most of my cooks because I like going directly from the freezer to the bath, but I’ve used the displacement method on stuff like fresh fish with great results.

I have been using the Foodsaver vacuum sealer, for years, to store meats in the freezer, in portion sized packages. They keep forever, and are easy to thaw and prepare, on short notice. I swear by it.

This is not a plug, but America’s Test Kitchen’s magazine, Cook’s Country, recently reviewed vacuum sealers and they raved about the Weston Professional Advantage Vacuum Sealer ($189.99) (“Highly Recommended”). The Waring Pro Pistol Vac Professional Vacuum Sealer System was a “Recommended Best Buy”, at $69.95. The Foodsaver got a “Recommended With Reservations” rating, too, but I like my Foodsaver.

I think I could take a package of frozen food directly from the freezer to the tub or pot filled with cold tap water, bring everything up to target temperature together, and then start the timer. I’m hoping other cooks here will relate their experiences with this technique.

Why bring up to temp in a tub and not in an already-warm sous vide bath?

Ziploc vs. vacuum sealer? For sous vide alone both will work very well. Ziploc bags have the advantage in that they can be opened and re-sealed during cooking to test doneness, add items like spices or seasonings, and so on. You do have to be careful to not get water into the Ziploc while sealing it. For me, I went with the Weston vacuum sealer and could not be more satisfied. It works very well for sous vide, but has so many other uses for food storage. I especially like being able to portion proteins and veggies in individual meals and freeze them without worrying much about freezer burn. I used to do the same with Ziploc freezer bags but could never get nearly enough air out to completely protect against freezer burn. Disclaimer: I’m pretty klutzy so the vacuum sealer is very helpful.

I use a chamber style vacuum sealer and for Sous Vide it's total overkill.  For food storage it can be much cheaper.than a clamp type system as the bags are dirt cheap, $0.07 - $0.10 each compared to $0.50 - $0.70 for embossed bags / rolls and they are less expensive than the ziplock bags as well.  With this system I find the bags seal better and fail less frequently than the Foodsaver bags.  Please note that the bags for this system work prefectly for sous vide when they are left unsealed and clipped to the side of the pot / container especially when cooking at higher temperatures (150 f+) when the food may outgas causing a sealed bag to blow up and float.

I like the Foodsaver vacuum sealer but have tried the Ziploc bags and they work well too. What I like about the vacuum sealer is that there are many uses for it. I have the Mason jar adapters and use them often. The new Foodsaver also comes with zip lock bags that uss an attachment to pull a vacuum. I have also seen videos of a zip lock system that uses special bags and what looks like a little hairdryer running in reverse

I do both but like having the vacuum sealer for "bulk" cooks.  For instance, I will season, vacuum seal and cook a dozen steaks to 130F.  Then a quick ice bath and off to the freezer they go.  Later, I will thaw overnight in the refrigerator, come home and drop the package into a 125F bath until the sides are done and we are ready to eat dinner.  On to a screaming hot grill grate and a torch for the outside edges and three minutes later dinner is served.