Can You Sous Vide Without Plastic?

Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives to enable plastic-free sous vide cooking. With some adjustments to techniques and equipment, you can still achieve the benefits of sous vide like precise cooking, evenly cooked food, tender meat, juicy chicken and flaky fish, without generating unnecessary plastic waste.


Sous Vide Products I Use Every Day

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Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
$99.00
$125.25
$24.99
$59.95
$18.99
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
Anova Culinary AN400-US00 Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 12.8" x 2.2" x 4.1", Black
$99.00
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
Anova Precision Cooker Container 12L
$125.25
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
IMPRESA [10 pack] Sous Vide Magnets to Keep Bags Submerged & In Place - Sous Vide Accessories to Stop Floating Bags & Undercooking - Great Alternative to Sous Vide Weights, Balls, Clips, & Racks
$24.99
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
Anova Culinary ANVS01-US00 Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, Includes 10 Precut Bags, For Sous Vide and Food Storage
$59.95
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
Wevac Vacuum Sealer Bags 8x50, 11x50 Rolls 2 pack for Food Saver, Seal a Meal, Weston. Commercial Grade, BPA Free, Heavy Duty, Great for vac storage, Meal Prep or Sous Vide
$18.99

Last update on 2024-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Why Is Plastic Commonly Used in Sous Vide Cooking?

Plastic bags have traditionally been the go-to choice for sous vide cooking for a few key reasons:

  • Plastic forms an airtight seal around food when vacuum sealed, preventing water from entering the bag and affecting cooking.
  • Plastic bags conform closely to the shape of food, allowing for efficient heat transfer from the water.
  • Plastic is cheap, convenient and widely available.
  • Most plastic bags are BPA-free and considered safe for food use.

However, there are some concerns about using so much plastic for sous vide cooking:

Health Concerns

There is ongoing research about the potential for plastic bags to leach chemicals into food during extended cooking times and higher temperatures. This could pose health risks, especially with lower-quality plastic bags.

Environmental Concerns

The sheer amount of plastic waste generated is problematic. Single-use plastic bags are very difficult to recycle and often end up in landfills or oceans.

Alternatives to Plastic Bags for Sous Vide Cooking

Here are some of the top options for bagless sous vide cooking:

1. Silicone Bags

Silicone bags provide an airtight, waterproof seal like plastic. They are reusable, durable and better for extended cooking times. Silicone is considered food-safe and inert.

2. Glass Jars

Glass jars allow you to monitor food visually during cooking. They are reusable, eco-friendly and ideal for smaller items like eggs or mason jar meals. The lids ensure a tight seal.

3. Stainless Steel Containers

Stainless steel containers are durable, reusable and conduct heat efficiently. Some options have screw-top lids or press-on lids to seal in moisture.

4. Vacuum Seal Bags Made from Safe Materials

Some companies make sous vide bags from materials like EVOH instead of plastic. These provide a barrier while being recyclable and less likely to leach.

5. Reusable Sous Vide Bags

There are reusable bags made of food-safe materials like silicone that can be used repeatedly with a vacuum sealer.

How to Sous Vide Without Plastic: Tips and Techniques

Switching to plastic-free sous vide cooking requires some adjustments:

1. Choosing the Right Alternative Material

Consider theProperties of materials like heat tolerance, whether items can be vacuum sealed and visual appeal. Glass and silicone work well for most cooking applications.

2. Ensuring Proper Seal and Temperature Control

Test jars, containers and bags to ensure an airtight, waterproof seal during cooking. Monitor water bath temperatures closely.

3. Adjusting Cooking Time and Temperature

Materials like glass and steel may require slightly adjusting cooking time and temperature compared to plastic.

4. Monitoring Food Safety

Use care when reheating food to safe temperatures after cook. Don’t allow contamination during storage.

Conclusion: Is Sous Vide Cooking Possible Without Plastic?

Eliminating plastic from sous vide cooking is absolutely achievable with reusable bags, jars, and stainless steel containers. Adjusting techniques can still give excellent results. The alternatives make sous vide cooking much more eco-friendly and sustainable while reducing health risks associated with plastic. With some trial and error, you can adapt your favorite sous vide recipes to be completely plastic-free and zero waste.

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