Sous Vide Air in Bag: What to Do?

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Have you ever tried cooking restaurant-quality meals at home? Well, it is nearly impossible unless you are an expert or a chef. But you can try the sous vide cooking method to prepare perfectly cooked food.

Not only does this method help you cook almost restaurant-quality food, but it also helps you control exactly what proteins and fats are in the final dish.

However, there is one problem with sous vide cooking. After sealing your food in the bag, you may see air in the bag, which can be an obstacle to perfect cooking. The good news is that you are not the only one facing this problem.

Sous vide air in the bag is a common problem. Even an expert chef may also face it. So, what to do if your sous vide bag has air in it?

You can use different methods such as arm method, water displacement, use recyclable vacuum seal bag, vacuum seal, use small meat pieces, rotating the bag, and extending cooking time.

Read on to get details of each method.

Recommended cooking temperature and times for sous vide process.

FoodTemperature (°F)Time
Beef, Veal, Lamb134 or higher1-6 hours
Pork134 or higher1.5-10 hours
Poultry134 or higher1-8 hours
Seafood126 or higher20 min-60 min
Vegetables18330 min-4 hours
Fruit18330 min-2 hours
Eggs16715 min-2 hours

What Happens If Air Gets In Sous Vide Bag?

What Happens If Air Gets In Sous Vide Bag

Air in sous vide bag is not a major problem. The air might delay the cooking process as heat is not distributed evenly. But, eventually, the heat will be okay as you cook for a longer time. Therefore, it is better to remove the air from the bag to cook perfectly.

Why Does Air Get In The Sous Vide Bag?

Why Does Air Get In The Sous Vide Bag

Air is a real issue in sous vide cooking. The air may get in the bag due to an imperfect seal, less dense food, and high temperature.

1. Imperfect Seal

The air might get in if you don’t seal your sous vide bag properly. Normally, the seal remains imperfect if you use the water displacement method to remove the aid from the zip lock bag. Experts suggest using a vacuum sealer machine to seal the bag.

2. High-Temperature

Continuous cooking at high temperatures may form vapor in the bag. In addition to that, air bubbles stuck in the food may also come out during the cooking.

3. Less Dense Food

Some food might float on the water even if you sealed it perfectly. If the food is less dense and lighter than water, it will not be able to take water pressure and float naturally. For example, if you sous vide a slice of bacon, you will see it floating. So, you may need to use sous vide weights to tap the bag and submerge it in the water.

Sous Vide Air In Bag: What Should You Do?

Sous Vide Air In Bag

When you first start using sous vide, knowing what to do when there is air in the bags can be daunting. So, how do you get air out of a ziplock for sous vide?

Here are a few tips to help you out:

1. The Arm Method

In this method, you need to put your food in a freezer-grade zipper and squish it to the bottom.

Then, lay it flat on a plain surface such as a table or counter and place one arm above the food, as close to it as possible.

Next, use the other arm to slide to the top to remove the air. Although it is not the best method to take out all the air, it works well for soupier foods, such as marinated meat.

2. Water Displacement

It has similarities with the arm method but works better than that. Put your food in a freezer-grade zipper bag to use the water displacement method.

Next, take a large container filled with water—Zip the bag all the way to close and keep a tiny gap. Put the bag in the water and make sure the zipper is out of the water. Submerge the bag until just the zipper line is above the water. Now, zip the bag and close it.

3. Use Vacuum Sealer Machine

The vacuum seal is the easiest and a sure shot. The sealer machine is made for this purpose only. So, you can easily vacuum seal anything you want.

The best thing about a vacuum sealer is that you will never face the air issue in your sous vide bag. And the bag will easily sink and provide you with a perfect cooking experience.

However, you don’t need to buy the highly expensive one. A standard model will work fine. For example, you can try the cheapest vacuum sealer machine from Foodsaver. You can use it for years.

4. Reusable Vacuum Seal Bag

Recyclable vacuum seal bags are mainly made for sous vide purposes. They are affordable, very easy to use, and eco-friendly.

The reusable sous vide bag comes with a small hand pump or electric pump, which you can use to suck the air from the bag.

The only con of using reusable bags is that they are tough to clean, especially if you put soupy foods. You will need to dish wash, rinse, turn inside out, and air dries it.

5. Use Small Meat Pieces

The perfection for sous vide cooking depends on the meat size. Using large meat pieces or irregularly shaped meat may not smoothen the sous vide cooking process—especially pork shoulder, brisket, or ribs. Try to cut them into small pieces to prevent air in your sous vide bag.

6. Rotate The Bag

Even if your seal is perfect, you may still see some air coming from the food in the sous vide bag. In such cases, you can rotate it several times during cooking.

As a result, water will circulate through the bag from different angles. Eventually, rotating will help appropriate heat transfer and ensure the food in the pack gets the necessary heat.

7. Increase The Cooking Time

The last thing you can do is extend the cooking time. If you see air in a sous vide bag, increased cooking time will give you peace of mind. Although the sous vide cooking takes time naturally, giving more time will ensure that the food is well cooked even if the bag contains air.

However, cooking time also depends on the type of sous vide cooker and container. If you are seeking a recommendation for a machine and container, we will suggest the SOUSVIDE ART Precision Cooker Kit and EVERIE Sous Vide Container cook any food perfectly.

What To Do If Your Sous Vide Bag Inflates Too Much?

What To Do If Your Sous Vide Bag Inflates Too Much

As you already know, having air in your sous vide bag is normal, but if you have too much air, the bag may float. You will need to use sous vide rack to submerge or re-bag it in such cases. You can also use sous vide weights.

You can also use a refrigerator clip with a magnet at the bottom part of the bag. If you use a steel container for sous vide cooking, it should stick to the bottom.

Moreover, you can also use a sous vide magnet made for this purpose only.

How To Prevent Air from Getting In Sous Vide Bags?

How To Prevent Air from Getting In Sous Vide Bags

It is better to take some precautions than take steps during cooking. You can use a large bag, so the foods in the bag get enough room when you remove air from it. You should not use a tight-fit bag.

If you use a vacuum sealing machine, double seal the bag to ensure no air can get into it. However, if you don’t have a sealing device, try the water displacement method.

Does Air in Sous Vide Bags Hamper The Cooking Process?

Technically, the air in sous vide bags doesn’t create any obstacle in the cooking process. The food will still cook evenly and will be just as delicious. However, the food will be cooked slower initially as air doesn’t transfer heat properly. Hence, you may need to adjust the time the food is cooked.

Does Sous Vide Have To Be Airtight?

Many people believe that sous vide must be airtight for it to work properly, but this is not the case. While an airtight seal is important for keeping food fresh and preventing it from drying out, it is unnecessary for the sous vide cooking process. But it is better to keep the bag nearly airtight, and you should avoid bubbles/ pockets.

Do Sous Vide Bags Need Sealing?

Sous vide bags need sealing for proper cooking. However, it is not necessary to seal the bag with the machine. Sealing with the machine will give you the optimal temperature in the bag. Still, you can use alternative methods to seal, for example, water displacement, reusable vacuum seal bag, and arm method.

Final Words

The sous vide air in bag issue is a matter of personal preference. Some people don’t mind the air in the bag, while others find it a problem. If you are one of the latter, you can follow the methods described in this article to remove the air from the bag before cooking. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what works best for you and your sous vide setup.

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