Seattle Food Geek Scott Heimendinger (author of the DIY Sous Vide article from MAKE 25) wrote up a nice comparison of the very inexpensive $4.20 Ziploc Vacuum System vs. the $150 FoodSaver for cooking sous vide. Spoiler alert: They compare favorably, Scott recommends Ziploc highly, and I’m going to be buying the Ziploc pump and bags for my upcoming DIY sous vide rig.
Even if you managed to find an inexpensive solution for cooking sous vide at home, it used to be the case that you were still on the hook for a vacuum sealer, and the $150 FoodSaver was the de facto appliance for the job. Sure, for short cooking times, you can immerse a zip-top bag in water and force out most of the air, but that strategy doesn’t let you safely cook-then-chill foods for reheating later. Furthermore, as the small amount of remaining air expands in non-vacuumed bags, they tend to float to the surface and cook unevenly. However, Ziploc recently introduced a line of vacuum seal bags that use an inexpensive hand pump and achieve nearly the same results as that pricey FoodSaver.