how can I avoid crushing the edges when vacuum sealing meat
Asked by Jonah on Sunday, October 17
<br />Overall am pleased with my attempts so far at sous vide, however one difficulty is in vacuum sealing steaks for example so that they don't look like they've been vacuum sealed at the end. I'm using a food saver currently ... in a perfect world the vacuum sealer would wrap around the edges of the meat leaving it in its original shape. Currently I find that it squeezes in the edges so that there's a pinched edge running around all sides. Even after searing, this odd looking pinched edge persists. I've contemplated freezing the meat to make it more sturdy during the vacuum packing process but would rather not do that ... also wondering if a chamber sealer would give better results but would rather not shell out for that. Any recommendations for how to get steak to vacuum seal nicely so that the shape is preserved?
6 Answers to This Question
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First @ Sara:
<br />Please do not use PVC in contact with food, especially at cooking temperatures, even sous vide. PVC's constituent compound, vinyl chloride, is a known carcinogen. For this reason, PVC plumbing is not used in potable water systems.
<br />As for the question, one option is to use ziploc bags instead of a sealer. Just put the meat in the bag and lower it in a stock pot of warm water. This will force out the air and you can finish sealing as the last bit is forced out. I've found this amazingly effective at eliminating the air without distorting the meat. All ziploc bags I've encountered are polypropylene, which is as safe a plastic as you can find.
Answered by Ken W on Sunday, December 05
One thing you can do is just to override the sealing before it becomes too tight. On my FoodSaver you can hit the "Seal" button at any time and it will stop the vacuum and seal it. A completely air-tight vacuum isn't very important for sous vide steaks and stopping it early should preserve the shape of the meat a lot better.
Answered by Jason Logsdon on Monday, October 18
I've cooked nearly 500 meals in my sous vide cooker without using a vacuum sealer at all. I use ZipLok freezer bags and let water pressure force most of the air out as I drop the bag into the water bath and press it under the surface. This has the advantage that if I want to add stock or other liquid to the bag I can do this without freezing it into an ice cube to keep it from being sucked into the vacuum pump.
<br />There is no negative effect observed when doing this--no problem from bubbles, etc., and the skill is easily learned. One thing I add to this is that if the shape of the meat or some other factor results in more air in the bag than I find acceptable, I will return to the water bath after about 10-15 minutes of heating. At this time, the meat and the bag will both gave conformed better to each other and perhaps some liquid will have displaced air bubbles -- which then rise to the upper corner of the ZipLok bag to easily be removed.
<br />I'm not suggesting that those with food savers, etc., eschew their equipment. And my ZipLok habit doesn't allow me to give great 'low vacuum' suggestions to food saver owners.
<br />There is a school of thought within those cooks practicing sous vide that finishing beef with a sear from a kitchen blow torch as a chef would caramelize a meringue is an ideal. I prefer decorative diamond grill marks to this mottled/painted-on finish. But I don't find a parallel here; if the steak is so tender that the edges flatten this is nothing to be disapproved of, nothing to be hidden. If you want, fluffen up the steak edge with a little pressure from a fork before serving.
<br />To those using vacuum sealers I'd suggest instead that the sous vide practice in general suggests thicker cuts of meat be chosen when possible, because even the thickest cuts of meat will be cooked through evenly with the right cooking times, and this removes squashed edges from the results.
Answered by Leigh Jones on Monday, June 17
fast freeze the steak and then vacuum seal it. The steak will retain it's shape just be sure to add 15 to 20 minutes time to the recipe.
Answered by Brian Olsen on Wednesday, November 03
I said earlier that "All ziploc bags I've encountered are polypropylene, which is as safe a plastic as you can find."
<br />I meant to say polyethylene. Other than that I still stand by my advice. Avoid PVC like the plague.
Answered by Ken W on Friday, December 17
Hi : )
<br />We are also looking to solve this problem. I have just purchased pvc plastic in a 4.5 x 2 inch and a 3.5 x 1.5 inch size to use as protectors in the sealing process. I haven't tried it yet but intend to do so tomorrow as I am processing a whole filet in the morning. I will keep you posted as to the results. The smaller one is being used for ground meat and the bigger one for the steaks.
Answered by Sara Peterson on Tuesday, October 19
You can also find a lot of sous vide information, as well as over 100 recipes, in our book Beginning Sous Vide
which you can get at Amazon.com or as a pdf download