Sous vide cooking has become an increasingly popular technique in recent years. This low-temperature, precision cooking method involves vacuum sealing food in plastic pouches and then submerging the pouches in a temperature-controlled water bath for an extended period of time.
While plastic pouches are commonly used for sous vide, many home cooks prefer to use glass jars like Weck jars instead. But can you safely use Weck jars for sous vide cooking? Below we’ll look at how to use Weck jars for sous vide, the benefits and potential drawbacks, and tips for success.
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How to Use Weck Jars in Sous Vide Cooking
Using Weck jars in your sous vide setup takes a few extra steps compared to using plastic pouches, but it’s still fairly straightforward. Here is the process:
1. Preparing the Jar
The first step is to ensure your Weck jars are in good condition with no chips or cracks. Wash the jars, lids, and rubber sealing rings thoroughly before use.
Make sure to use Weck jars specifically designed for canning or vacuum sealing. Regular glass food storage jars are not suitable for extended sous vide cooking.
2. Filling the Jar
Add your food ingredients to the clean Weck jar. How full you fill the jar will depend on the recipe, but leave at least 1 inch of headspace at the top. This allows room for the food to expand as it cooks.
For sous vide cooking, raw meats and vegetables are typically seasoned or marinated before going into the jar. You can also add sauces, herbs, and other ingredients for flavor.
3. Sealing the Jar
Once filled, seal the jar with the glass lid and rubber ring according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The vacuum seal is key for maintaining even heat distribution and preventing leaks or explosions.
For an added safety precaution, you can use cling film or aluminum foil to secure the lids before clamping them shut.
4. Placing the Jar in the Sous Vide Bath
Gently lower the sealed jar into your preheated water bath. The water must cover the entire jar for proper heat circulation.
Maintain consistent water temperature and suggested cooking times based on what you are cooking. Refer to a sous vide time and temperature guide.
5. Finishing and Serving Your Dish
Once cooked, carefully remove the hot jar from the water bath. Remove outer coverings and serve the food warm directly from the jar, or chill it rapidly in an ice bath before refrigerating.
For storage, the food should be transferred to a clean container. Do not store food long-term in the sous vide jar due to health risks.
Benefits of Using Weck Jars for Sous Vide Cooking
There are a few advantages to using glass Weck jars instead of plastic pouches for sous vide:
- No plastic taste – Food cooked in glass jars will not take on a plastic flavor from the packaging. Glass is neutral.
- Visually appealing – Serving food in glass jars makes for an attractive presentation. You can cook and serve fancy layered meals in a jar.
- Better flavor – Seasonings and sauces infuse into the food better when vacuum sealed in a jar rather than a plastic pouch.
- Reusable – Weck jars can be reused repeatedly for sous vide cooking after washing. Plastic pouches get disposed after one or two uses.
- Versatile – Weck jars allow you to sous vide cook foods that are not typically vacuum sealed like eggs, fruit, and vegetables.
- Easy storage – Leftovers can be stored and refrigerated or frozen right in the Weck jars.
Potential Drawbacks of Using Weck Jars for Sous Vide Cooking
However, there are some downsides to be aware of when using canning jars for sous vide:
- Not shatterproof – There is a risk of glass jars cracking or breaking in the hot water bath, especially if going from fridge to hot water.
- Lid sealing issues – It can be tricky getting an airtight seal on the lids. Cracks or imperfect seals mean no vacuum and uneven cooking.
- Size limitations – Weck jars come in smaller sizes than typical sous vide bags. Large cuts of meat or big batches may not fit.
- Potential contamination – Food is not sterile when stored in jars after cooking. Plastic pouches allow extended fridge storage.
- Not dishwasher safe – Weck jar lids and seals need to be hand washed carefully to avoid warping and damage.
Successful Sous Vide Cooking with Weck Jars
To make the most of using Weck jars for sous vide, keep these tips in mind:
- Stick to tested recipes and cooking times specifically for sous vide in jars.
- Preheat jars by letting them sit in hot water before filling them to prevent cracking.
- Allow time for thorough cooling before refrigerating. Don’t place piping hot jars directly in the fridge.
- Maximize flavor by seasoning contents generously or adding marinades, herbs, and spices.
- Use the right size jar for the amount of food to allow proper heat circulation.
- Check jars for air bubbles and ensure lids create a tight seal before cooking.
- Prevent jars from rattling against each other or the sous vide cooker. Use a rack or weighted bags.
- Avoid quick temperature changes to prevent cracking jars. Slowly lower them into and out of the water bath.
With attention to these details, Weck jars can be a great vessel for sous vide cooking at home.
What Other Containers Can Be Used for Sous Vide Cooking?
While glass Weck jars work well, there are other suitable containers that can be used for sous vide cooking besides plastic bags:
- Mason jars – Wide-mouth mason jars with vacuum sealed lids can be used similar to Weck jars. Start with hot jars.
- Glass containers – Any heat-safe borosilicate glass container with an airtight lid will work such as Pyrex.
- Silicone bags – Reusable silicone bags are an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic bags. Seal with clamps.
- Metal tins – Stainless steel tins or small pots with tight-fitting lids can be used short-term.
- Parchment paper – Delicate foods can be wrapped in parchment or butcher paper pouches and sealed with tape.
The container used depends on the food being cooked and your individual preferences. Weck jars, mason jars, and reusable silicone bags provide versatility for home sous vide. With careful sealing and temperature monitoring, they can yield delicious sous vide results.