Is Sous Vide a Safe Way to Cook Food for My Family

When you watch shows like Masterchef, you notice that contestants have the chance to use some fancy kitchen gadgets. One particular piece of equipment that seems to be used often is a water bath in which food can then be cooked Sous Vide.

So, of course, you are probably wondering if you can also use such equipment. Suppose you can, then you are also probably wondering if Sous Vide cooking methods are safe or not. In this article, we aim to answer any questions you may have as to whether sous vide is safe or not. You may be concerned that the food will be cooked in plastic.

Is it Possible to Cook Food Safely When Using the Sous Vide Cooking Method?

It shouldn’t surprise you that most people are somewhat wary about using this method for cooking food. Generally, concerning cooking food using the Sous Vide method, concerns arise around three particular questions.

  • Can you cook food in a plastic bag safely?
  • Will cooking food at a low temperature be safe?
  • How secure is the vacuum sealing when you place plastic bags in a hot water bath?

As long as you follow the proper precautions when preparing food to cook in this way, everything should be safe. Below we are going to answer the three questions listed above.

Can You Cook Food in a Ziploc or Vacuum Bag Safely?

is sous vide safe

When it comes to cooking food using the Sous Vide method, you must use the right kind of plastic bags.

What Types of Plastic Bags Should You Use for the Sous Vide Cooking Method?

It is best if you use bags that can be vacuum sealed that are made from food-safe, BPA-free plastic such as polyethylene. Using ones that you need to vacuum seal ensures that plenty of the air inside the bags is removed.

However, if you cannot afford a vacuum sealer, you can instead use the kinds of bags you use to place food in for freezing. Certainly, Ziploc has a great range of bags you can use; just make sure you follow best food handling practices when using these.

What is crucial if you intend to use these types of bags rather than the ones that require vacuum sealing, they must be made from low-density polyethylene. Also, if you use Ziploc bags for cooking using a hot water bath, ensure that you don’t place them in water that has reached cooking temperatures of 158 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Putting them in water at or above this temperature can lead to the bag opening and water being able to mix with the food. Also, never wrap the food in cling film before placing it in a bag. The problem with cling film is that it is made from plastic containing BPA (Bisphenol-A). Once the cling film begins to heat up, it will release BPA in the form of gas which will then come into contact with your food.

Is Cooking Food at a Low Temperature Safe?

Concerns about cooking any food at a low temperature are justified. Any food that is left for several hours to cook at the wrong low temperature can result in the production of bacteria. This kind of bacteria can lead to all manner of illnesses through eating undercooked foods.

Therefore you must understand and recognize which low temperatures are dangerous to your health. So you will then be able to avoid them when you are cooking food using the Sous Vide method.

What are Danger Zone Temperatures When Cooking Food?

There are particular danger zone temperatures you need to be aware of that will allow bacteria growth to occur more quickly. This, in turn, will lead to spoiled food you are cooking. Regarding cooking food, temperatures between 39 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit need to be carefully monitored. This is because foods cooked at these temperatures are most susceptible to bacteria growth.

Food especially susceptible to danger zone issues includes cuts of meat, seafood, sauces, raw sprouts, cooked vegetables, pasta, beans, and eggs. Furthermore, to reduce the chance of bacteria growing while cooking food, sous vide do not leave, say, cuts of meat in the water for more than two hours.

It is best if you store food at a temperature below 39 degrees Fahrenheit and then cook it in a water bath at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. To avoid danger zone issues, remember never to allow food to cook in a Sous Vide machine for more than two hours.

Should I Worry about Cooking Food at High Temperatures?

Cooking at higher temperatures is acceptable. However, you must be careful about the bags you use when cooking at temperatures over 155 degrees Fahrenheit. It is best if you want to cook food at higher temperatures to use bags that need to be vacuum sealed. The great thing about these bags is that the plastic from which they are made is safe in temperatures of up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can use bags that you close using a zip, as not all of these are made equal. Unfortunately, the cheaper brands tend to be made with inferior materials and will soon start to fall apart when exposed to high temperatures.

However, if you intend to cook Sous Vide in water that reaches a temperature of no more than 195 degrees Fahrenheit, then Ziploc brand bags should be sufficient. These will not be affected by such temperatures.

What Should I Do To Ensure Food Is Safe When Cooking Using The Sous Vide Method?

sous vide cooking, low temperature cooking

All you need to do is follow these straightforward rules:

  1. Make sure you cook food at a temperature of 131 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Plus, give it enough time that the correct internal temperature has been reached and remains at this for at least 30 minutes.
  2. If the food you are cooking, such as salmon, needs to be cooked below 131 degrees Fahrenheit, then do not leave it in a hot water bath for more than two hours.
  3. For food such as tough cuts of beef, pork, or chicken that require cooking at over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you don’t have anything to worry about. However, you need to ensure that the correct internal temperature has been reached and that it remains at this for at least 30 minutes.

This is all that you need to do to help ensure that the growth of bacteria does not occur when you use this cooking method.

How Secure is the Vacuum Sealing?

You must be aware of the risks when cooking food in a vacuum. Unfortunately, there is a form of bacteria that thrives when little or no oxygen is available. One particular anaerobic bacteria that can prove harmful to your health is C.botulinum. This is the same toxic-producing bacteria responsible for people suffering from botulism.

However, as long as you cook your food at the right temperature, the risk of this bacteria forming is reduced. The chances of it forming are much greater when storing food after being cooked for extended periods. So, if anything you are cooking, including raw meat using the Sous Vide method, isn’t going to be eaten straight away, you need to store it correctly.

One way to ensure that you store such food correctly is after cooking, and you immediately place it in a bowl containing water and ice. After quickly dipping the sealed vacuum bags into an ice water bath, you can simply place it in the refrigerator or freezer to enjoy another day.

Placing it in an ice water bath ensures that the internal food temperature does not spend too much time in the danger zone, as discussed above. This will help reduce the risk of any potential dangers of harmful bacteria being able to grow that can happen when using traditional cooking methods.

Why You Should Use Vacuum Bags When Cooking Food Sous Vide

These vacuum-sealed bags are much sturdier than conventional bags where food can be stored. So the risk of them falling apart when you cook for an extended period is unlikely.

You can use two bags together a lot easier, which can prove somewhat tricky when using storage bags. You will find that the food will cook more evenly as most, if not all, of the air will have been removed from the bags. But when it comes to double bagging using storage bags, removing all the air can prove very difficult.

Ways to Help Reduce Plastic Use

The use of plastic bags when cooking food Sous Vide is vital. You may be concerned about just how much plastic you are using.

Well, here are just a few ways for you to ensure that you reduce your use:

  1. If you intend to freeze food after cooking it Sous Vide, then leave it in the same bag that you used as the cooking vessel. Then all you need to do is take it out of the freezer bag and place it in the water bath for about 2 hours to reheat the food to a safe level.
  2. Should you find any food left over, rather than throwing it away, simply place it back in the bag where you cooked it and reseal it. You must make sure that you seal it as close to the top as you can.
  3. Plus, also make sure to chill it as quickly as possible to ensure that the temperature of the food stays below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only will it help to keep the food fresh, but it also reduces the risk of you providing the kind of food preparation environment that may result in cross – contamination or growth of food poisoning bacteria.

Food Safety

When cooking food Sous Vide, food safety concerns are paramount. Here are a few Sous Vide food and cooking safety tips you need to know:

Cook Food at the Exact Temperature

To ensure that all types of pathogenic bacteria are destroyed, make sure that you cook food at a temperature of 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Check Your Sous Vide Circulator Twice

To ensure that the correct temperature has been reached in the circulator’s hot water bath, test it with a thermometer. If you can, it is best to ensure the water’s temperature is one or two degrees above the temperature quoted in your recipe. This will help to ensure that the food is then cooked right through.

Use the Right Type of Plastic Bags

Ideally, use the kind classified as being food grade bags, as these can withstand being used for cooking food in at high temperatures and storing food at low temperatures.

Is Sous Vide Safe? Conclusion

As you will see from above when answering the question is sous vide is safe, we would have to say yes. However, you still need to be careful, and as long as you keep in mind the things we have discussed above in this article, you shouldn´t have any real issues.

Indeed, when it comes to cooking food using the Sous Vide method, you can provide your family with delicious and healthy meals. This cooking method also helps to ensure all various minerals, nutrients, and vitamins fresh food contains are retained.

We hope you found this article helpful and allayed any fears you may have when cooking food Sous Vide. Yet we will still encourage you to conduct your research and come to conclusions when you try this form of cooking. We thank you for taking the time to read this!

Please leave us a comment below or even any helpful tips you may have that will ensure others can enjoy food cooked using the Sous Vide method safely.

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