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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sous Vide - Vacuum Pouch Insight

When I first received my Sous Vide Supreme, it came with their vacuum sealer.  Note: they've since come out with a vacuum chamber sealer, but it's too expensive for me - I hope it's chump change for you!  I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out how to use the vacuum sealer without sucking fluid out of the meat and into the vacuum.

You do not want to suck fluid out of the meat and into the vacuum!  It will coat the inside of the vacuum pouch, preventing the ability to heat it enough to seal the bag, and it can destroy the vacuum motor, air seals, and will harbor bacteria, so don't do it!

I was very frustrated by this.  I did a lot of searching on the web, and found some insight, which I'm going to present here as well as have some links for you.

In using the vacuum sealer that came with my machine,  there are several approaches (this works for any type of FoodSaver vacuum sealer device):

  • If the meat contains a lot of fluid, then place it into the refrigerator to chill it enough so the fluid is more viscus and will move slower, hopefully it will take so long for it to move to the top of the bag while sealing that it will have sufficient time to draw the vacuum and seal the bag before the fluid coats it.
  • Make your bags longer, and place the meat as far away from the sealing point as possible, so the fluid will have further to travel before it gets to the area where you are sealing.  Longer distance to travel = longer time to get there.  Making my bags longer helped a lot.
  • Tilt the front of the vacuum machine up, so it creates a hill to climb for the fluids.  This won't stop the fluid from climbing because of the force of the pressure flowing out of the bag and into the vacuum sealer, but it will take longer, and longer time to travel helps.
  • Place a folded up paper towel between the meat and the seal point so it will absorb the fluids.  Hopefully, it will absorb enough so none is left to get to the seal point.  Or, it just might slow the fluid down long enough in its travel.
  • Freeze the fluid into cubes and drop into the pouch to seal.  They won't unfreeze fast enough to cause a problem.
If none of those methods work, then switch to a Zip Lock Freezer Bag and use the Water Immersion method.  This involves placing water in a deep bowl, deep enough to hold the water and most of the Zip Lock Freezer Bag.  Close most of the Zip Lock Freezer Bag (leaving one end open to let air escape from the bag), then slowly immerse the bottom of the bag into the bowl containing the water.  Tilt the Zip Lock Freezer Bag so the open end is at the top, then immerse the bag.  The water will exert pressure on the side of the Zip Lock Freezer Bag, forcing the air out.  Just before water will flow into the Zip Lock Freezer Bag, finish sealing the bag.  Here's a video of a person doing this (about 2:00 minutes into the film).  

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