Can you cook in vacuum-sealed bags?
For this article, we will focus on addressing the query “can you cook in vacuum-sealed bags?” We will also discuss what can be cooked in vacuum-sealed bags, how you can cook in vacuum-sealed bags, where the technique originated, what are the benefits of cooking in vacuum-sealed bags, along with some limitations to bear in mind, if cooking with vacuum-sealed bags.
Can you cook in vacuum-sealed bags?
Yes, you can cook in vacuum-sealed bags, and there is in fact, a term that refers to this method of cooking. The technique is called sous-vide or LTLT (Low temperature, long time) cooking, and its aim is to preserve the integrity (taste, aroma, and juices) of the food.
The sous-vide requires that food be packaged in an impermeable bag, and all the air is sucked out so that the bag has the lowest volume possible. Food that is appropriately sealed is placed in a water bath at low heat, for a prolonged cooking period.
Cooking food in vacuum-sealed bags at high temperatures and for long periods of time, may cause the bag to burst (from the sudden increase in pressure) or to begin to break down.
You can simmer (sous-vide cooking), which is cooking in a warm water bath at temperatures beneath 80°C for up to four hours, boil (above 90°C) for up to 20 minutes, and cook in microwave-safe bags, so for up to ten minutes, provided there is a valve or puncture that will help release the food’s steam.
What can I cook in vacuum-sealed bags?
You can cook many ingredients in vacuum-sealed bags, ranging from vegetables, meats, desserts, eggs, grains, and more.
The sous-vide technique is recommended for eggs, pork, lamb, carrots, and cuts of meat that are on the more robust side (briskets, shanks, chucks), and for preparing infusions such as syrups and cured liquors.
Additionally, stocks, puddings, infused oils, condiments, and sauces can be prepared with this technique.
How can I cook inside vacuum-sealed bags?
Cooking inside vacuum-sealed bags requires that you research the parameters for your intended food first, so you know exactly how long and at what temperature to set up the heat source, have a bath with a thermostat at hand, and have sous-vide bags, along with your desired food, ready for use
Digital water baths are sold commercially, and these come with an integrated thermostat that allows you to control the exact temperature of your water.
Once the water bath is heated to the correct temperature (per your selected recipe), you can proceed to place your food in sous-vide bags, which are more resistant and specially designed to withstand cooking. It’s important to use appropriately sized bags and remove as much air from the interior as possible, as any remaining pockets can create a barrier between your food and the water.
When you’re ready, you can place your sealed food within the bath, and wait for it to cook for as long as your recipe deems necessary.
The resulting food will have its qualities preserved, with little to no loss of flavor, aroma, and texture.
Where did the technique of vacuum-sealed cooking originate?
Vacuum-sealed cooking or sous-vide, originated in 1970s France, though its principles date as far back as the end of the eighteenth century. In 1974, George Pralus, a french chef, noted that the technique came especially handy for preparing –foie gras– a dish that required a bit of dexterity in order to balance its appearance, texture, and amount of fat lost during cooking.
Years later, in the 1990s, a French scientist named Bruno Goussault researched the effects of temperature on various foods prepared in this manner, and he’d later go on to establish cooking parameters for several of these foods. In fact, it was Goussault who adapted the technique of using vacuum-sealed cooking with low temperatures, for prolonged periods of time.
What are the advantages of cooking in vacuum-sealed bags?
Cooking food products in resistant plastic packaging is a way to preserve the food’s original juices, aroma, and other organoleptic qualities that conventional cooking may dispense with.
Using the desired final temperature of the food (albeit for a prolonged period of time) prevents under and overcooking, as the temperature never exceeds the established limit. Additionally, the prolonged exposure of the food ingredients to the desired temperature assures that all pieces are cooked evenly.
Are there disadvantages to cooking inside vacuum-sealed bags?
The disadvantages of cooking in vacuum sealed bags are:
- Microorganisms present in food products such as meats and vegetables may not be completely killed off, due to the low temperatures at which the food is cooked. Food that will be cooked using the sous-vide technique may have to be pasteurized beforehand.
- Aesthetically- food may not appear as well cooked as traditionally grilled or seared food does The change in color towards brown–which occurs when foods such as meats and pieces of bread are heated beyond 90°C–, does not happen when cooking with the sous-vide technique.
- Heat can break down plastics and release chemicals that allegedly have effects on hormones, though this is still being researched for conclusive results.
In this article, we addressed the query “can you cook in vacuum-sealed bags?” We also explored the topics of what can be cooked in vacuum-sealed bags, how you can cook in vacuum-sealed bags, where the technique originated, what are the benefits of cooking in vacuum-sealed bags, along with some limitations of cooking inside vacuum-sealed bags.