Opening bags during cooking

In the General Sous Vide Questions Forum
Is it safe to open a bag while cooking and transfer the meat (134) to another bag to a better seal? I had a bag which wasn't completely sealed or lost its seal after 12 hours

5 Replies So Far

Jim, when you say lost its seal, do you mean it puffed up slightly, a mix of gas and liquid or the bag became full of liquid? The former is quite normal and is just the formation of water vapour inside the bag, whereas the latter would suggest a leak. (Note: if the bag blows up like a balloon, this suggest microbial action, usually from some part of the bag not being fully submersed.)

If it is leak then, I don't see a problem in removing it and resealing. Douglas Balwin's tables suggest that the meat has been pasteurised (provided its not substantially thicker than 70mm, the maximum thickness he shows in his tables.)

If you do decide to re-seal, then depending on the contents, I'd be inclined to drain the water from the bag and then seal the original bag inside a 2nd bag, which should minimise potential contamination. Alternatively, you could take the meat out of the original bag and seal in a second bag, but you shouldn't let the meat hang around open at room temp, otherwise there's the potential for contamination. Either way you should cook the meat for at least the time to pasteurisation as per the tables.
Thank you Tony. I should have thought of the second bag! That way I may not have to remove the meat from the bag to dry it (paper towels) before re vacuuming and resealing. BTW the meat is Costco boneless short ribs.
There's a little trick to what you are suggesting. If you try to seal something when it's warm, you can start liquids boiling when you apply a vacuum. Generally you only want to vacuum bag items that are room temperature or cooler. Probably the easiest approach would be to carefully inspect the seal to insure that it is good.
Here's where it's important to clean your water bath walls whenever you are going to be storing the cooker between uses, and change out the water to keep flavors of your cooked item top notch. The temperature inside the cooker should keep microbial counts low during cooking. Yes, with sufficient cleanliness you can re-seal if you haven't dumped objectionable quantities of water into the bag. One more piece of advice: if it smells wrong, don't eat it.
What brand of bags were you using. I had some food saver bags open up after 10 hours at 174 F when I was cooking a brisket. I called food saver and they said that their bags were ot designed for much over 160 F. Sous vide supreme says their bage can go greater than 180. You said you were doing ribs. That is fairly hot right??

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