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Sous vide shortribs without full vacuum: issues?


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13 replies to this topic

#1 Bojana

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 02:58 AM

I got some gorgeous Wagyu shortribs last night that I was going to vacuum seal and cook for 72 hours as per MC recipe. Now my crappy edge sealer has not been able to create vacuum, not even close. I see pockets of air in the bags.

Can I go ahead and cook them still? Can I ruin them because of some air presence? Alternative is to go beg in the neighborhood someone with chamber sealer (butcher, fancy restaurant around the corner etc) if they would seal my bags for me.

Your advice much appreciated,


PS I have never made shortribs before, where I live that cut is very uncommon so I already went through a lot to get them, I really do not want them ruined.

#2 Twyst

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 04:01 AM

According to modernist cuisine at home to be completely safe you have to be able to pull a full vacuum on items you are going to sous vide for really long periods. That being said, I have been cooking things like shortribs and other tough cuts for a few years now using nothing but my edge sealer without incident as have many others.

#3 Bojana

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 04:11 AM

I am concerned that your edge sealer is much better than mine and pulls close to vacuum. Mine is really crappy, visible air pockets, I bet the whole thing will float.

#4 nickrey

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 05:23 AM

Why not use a ziplock bag and use the water displacement method? That will remove all of the air and negate the issue.

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#5 Bojana

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 07:43 AM

MC@H says not to use ziplock for long cooking times.

I solved the problem: around the corner from my house there is a 2** restaurant. I just went there and asked if they would seal it for me. They were so kind to even top up my bags with jus de veau!

#6 rotuts

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 09:45 AM

good neighbors, those !

#7 dcarch

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 09:58 AM

Sous vide does not mean vacuum in reality. It means airless.


#8 gfweb

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 10:53 AM

I usually use zip lock bags with all the air expressed by the immersion method.

#9 KennethT

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 02:06 PM

If I'm doing something with no liquid in the bag, I usually use the zip lock bags that have the one way valve and the included hand pump. I was sick of having to dig out the food saver every time I wanted to seal one or two bags (I have very limited counter space). I find the displacement method works great if there's some liquid in the bag, but sealing something that's dry always leaves an air bubble for me. then again, the nice thing about ziplocks is that you can always open the seal, let out the airbubble (once it's surfaced to the seal area) and reseal while keeping the package under the water line.

#10 OliverB

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 02:33 PM

you'll be just fine, MC@H is overreacting IMO. You're not supposed to pull a vacuum like crazy, you're supposed to remove air so the bag does not float and the heat can get in there evenly. You're not removing air to remove oxygen (no household vac machine does that), you want the food in the bag to have direct contact with the hot water. Water transmits heat a lot better than air (or you could sv in the oven) and that's what you want. If there's so much air that it floats, try again with a new bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can and squeeze some more while the machine runs. You'll be fine.

For most things the water displacement in a ziplock bag is perfectly fine. If your bag floats up a bit, put something on it, a fork, spoon, nut cracker, what ever is handy. It's not about the perfect vacuum (which doesn't exist) and the complete absence of oxygen.

I have not read much in my MC@H, but I'm surprised they say that. Every other SV book I have lets you go with the ziplock bag for most, food saver or similar for everything else.

Not a single one of the home machines pulls anything close to a strong vacuum by the way, you don't get that with a butcher shop/restaurant machine either. If I recall correctly from 30+ years ago, a complete vac is impossible to achieve? Anyway, you'd just squish everything to a mush if you could get it :-)

Get a different machine eventually, maybe use the water displacement together with the machine, make a longer bag, submerge the food, attach to machine and run, even a crappy machine should suck out enough air, since most should be gone from the little nooks and crannies of the food that way. Just don't drop the machine into the water.
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#11 pbear

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 10:15 AM

Yeah, the comment in Home about ziplocs being unsafe for long cooks had me scratching my head. I assume there are some set of facts under which it's true - perhaps the floater scenario - but it would have been nice for them to explain. Does MC?

#12 gfweb

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:03 PM

The ziplocs that have no "zipper", just a double ridge, have never failed me. As long as the meat is in full contact with the bag it'll cook fine. Or if it is immersed in a liquid in the bag...no problem (I often do corned beef this way).

You can't freeze it very long without vacuum because it will "burn".

#13 dcarch

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:23 PM

Not sealing the bag has the benefit of testing to see if the cooking needs more time.

You can also reuse the bag many times.


#14 paulpegg

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 09:29 AM

You could always use a ziploc with the water displacement method and then seal that bag in a regular bag for long cooking times. If the ziploc leaks you are still protected and you are in no danger of pulling liquid into your Foodsaver. Put some weight in the second bag to keep it deep in the bath.
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