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You finally sprang for that immersion circulator (aka a sous vide machine). Now you’re ready to start infusing spirits, right? Not so fast. Before you get to work making your strawberry-infused vermouth and walnut-flavored bourbon, you need a few more pieces of equipment, like a vacuum sealer. After all, sous vide translates from French to “under vacuum.” Removing air and sealing the bag containing your ingredients is an important step. It stops the bag from floating to the top of the bath, keeping it fully submerged, allowing it to cook and infuse evenly. And sous vide is all about precision.
Here are the best vacuum sealers for your sous vide experiments, plus the best containers and freezer bags.
Best Overall: Nesco VS-12
Storage for bags
A bit clunky
Not super speedy
A tad expensive
When you’re infusing a spirit or syrup via sous vide, you need to be sure that the seal on your bag is strong. The Nesco can double-seal bags so you can be sure you won’t get any leaks. The sealer also has a built-in bag holder so you don’t have to go searching around your drawers for extra rolls and it also has a sliding bag cutter, so you can customize the size of bag you’re using.
It’s easy to use but still features multiple seal settings (dry, moist, double) and vacuum pressure options (regular, gentle). It’s not crazy expensive but also not super cheap, so it’s best suited for those who are interested in regularly using a sous vide.
Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 15.75 x 8 x 4.5 inches | Weight: 6 pounds
Best Budget: NutriChef PKVS
No bag storage
Ideal for the more casual sous vide experimenter, this affordable sealer does its job in a straightforward way. There are two settings: dry or moist, so you can still feel good about sealing in a liquid. The machine comes with a handy starter pack that includes reusable vacuum bags and an air suction hose to help remove as much air as possible from the bags.
While it’s compact and easy to store it also looks good on a counter. Feel free to leave it out so everyone who enters your kitchen knows you’re high-tech in the kitchen and bar with the gadgets to prove it.
Material: Engineered ABS | Dimensions: 6.07 x 14.18 x 3 inches | Weight: 2.9 Pounds
Best Easy to Use: Anova Precision
Comes with bags
Air pulse for delicate items
No bag cutter
Compact size means limited bag size
No storage for bags
While cocktail Youtuber Matej Novak often uses Mason jars instead of sealed bags for his infusions, he also puts this compact model to use. Great for small kitchens, it’s not too pricey and a good pick for beginners.
“The bags are sturdy and the seal is strong,” says Novak. It doesn’t have much in the way of extras—no bag cutter, no bag storage—but it does have the ability to air pulse so you can suck the air out of a bag gently in a controlled manner, which comes in handy with delicate foods. It’s small but strong enough to get the job done.
Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 16.73 x 4.8 x 3.14 inches | Weight: 2.31 Pounds
Related: Best Sous Vides for Infusing Liquor
Best Compact: Geryon
Easy to use
No bag cutter
No bag storage
Lightweight (just over 2.5 pounds) and compact, this vacuum sealer easily hides away when you’re not prepping your famous sweet pea-infused spring gin. Since it is so compact, there’s not a lot of room for extra features, such as a bag-cutter or storage, but it does feature a dry and moist setting along with two levels of vacuum power.
The sealer comes with a starter kit that includes multiple bags plus an air suction hose. It also snaps apart easily for simplified cleaning. Best of all, it’s affordable, so you don’t have to drop a ton of cash on your newfound hobby. This is an apartment-dwelling utilitarian’s vacuum sealer.
Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 14.4 x 5.5 x 2.56 inches | Weight: 2.6 Pounds
Related: The Best Ice Cube Trays in 2021
Best Chambered Vacuum Sealer: PolyScience 300 Series
Particularly good at sealing liquids
Lots of functions
Takes up space
While edge sealers create a vacuum within the bag, chambered vacuum sealers create a vacuum within, well, a chamber. They’re stronger and better for liquids.
“Investing in a chamber vacuum machine will elevate your sous vide game,” says Alex Day, partner of Gin & Luck. “These used to cost many thousands of dollars, but as they’ve become more and more popular, new models are coming out.” While Day uses a PolyScience MiniPack MX2 Infuser, the brand’s 300 Series is more accessible and about half the cost. That said, if you do spring for Day’s pick, you’ll be treated to some pre-loaded recipes from the famed Death & Co. team.
Chamber vacuums like the 300 Series “allow you not only to extract as much oxygen from a bag as possible, but also to explore the compression of liquid into ingredients for unique garnishes,” Day says. If you’re really looking to up your cocktailing game at home with not only sous vide infusions but also quick-pickle or compressed fruit garnishes, this is the tool for you and your wildest dreams.
Material: Stainless Steel | Dimensions: 14 x 18.2 x 11.8 inches | Weight: 55.5 pounds
Best Edge Sealer: FoodSaver PowerVac
Has a "wet" setting
Stores vertically to save space
No bag storage
No bag cutter
Somewhat short cord
As we touched on above, an edge sealer is the most common type of vacuum sealer. It creates a vacuum within a bag and then seals the bag shut. And while edge sealers are not quite as good as chamber vacuums when it comes to liquids, they are much cheaper. This one also has a “moist” setting, so you can create an airtight seal on your liquid infusions. It also features a removable drip tray for easy clean-up and bag alignment. Food, spirits and travel writer Noah Kaufman vouches for this compact, no-nonsense model, touting its affordability and reliability. It’s a good starter tool for sous vide beginners.
Material: Silicone, Plastic, Steel | Dimensions: 15.94 x 6.16 x 2.71 inches | Weight: NA
Related: The Best Cobbler Shakers in 2021
Best Freezer Bags: FoodSaver 1-Quart Liquid Block Heat-Seal Bags
Designed for extra moisture
Not strictly designed for liquids
Only available in quart size
Work best with FoodSaver vacuum sealers
While these bags are designed to be used for juicy foods like marinating meats or soups and stews, they also work for spirits and syrups. BPA-free, these sous vide-safe bags are made with a “multi-ply” material to help keep the contents extra fresh.
They include a “liquid-blocking strip” that helps create a super-strong seal—because you don’t want your pink peppercorn-infused tequila leaching into the water bath. They work best with FoodSaver vacuum sealers, but users have said they have had success using them with other brands of vacuum sealers. Like other freezer bags, these can be washed and reused, so you can feel a bit better about paying more than you’re used to for plastic bags.
Material: Multi-Ply | Dimensions: 2.2 x 4.1 x 8.6 inches | Weight: 0.4 Pounds
Best Container: Anova Precision Container
Curved to help circulation
Lid with immersion circulator hole
Includes rack for bags
Works best with Anova circulator
Created specifically for sous vide, this rounded container encourages optimal circulation. Novak uses his Anova tub for bigger jobs—capacity is 12 liters—and also appreciates the inclusion of a fitted lid.
“The water doesn’t evaporate if you’re doing longer infusions,” he says. And before you ask, yes, the lid includes a port that holds the immersion circulator in place so you don’t have to do any shoving or cut a hole into a lid yourself. The container also comes with an integrated wire rack that helps keep bags under the water line for more consistent results. This is the container for someone who is invested in regularly sous viding.
Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 15.35 x 9.41 x 8.37 inches | Weight: 3.31 Pounds
Runner Up, Best Container: Rubbermaid Space Saving Storage Container 6 Quart
Easy to store
Does not include lid
Does not include rack
Square shape not optimal for circulation
If you don’t want to buy a sous vide-specific container, go for this standby. It’s plastic, so it will retain heat better than a stockpot, and you can use it for plenty of your other hobbies like making bread dough, marinating big cuts of meat, or storing dry goods (lid sold separately).
At six quarts, it holds enough water for a standard sous vide session and it’s marked with clear volume lines making it easy to fill. This is a workhorse of a container that is great for any level of sous vide—and also just a handy bin to have in the kitchen regardless.
Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 8.74 x 8.82 x 6.93 inches | Capacity: 6 quarts
If you’re serious about infusing spirits through the sous vide method, opt for the Nesco VS-12 (view at Amazon) and its double seal. If you’re just dabbling, the NutriChef PKVS (view at Amazon) will suit your needs just fine. But if you’re already a pro and hoping to upgrade your sous vide set up, spring for the PolyScience 300 Series chambered vacuum sealer (view at Amazon).
What to Look for
Seal and Suction Settings
If you’re looking to use your vacuum sealer to prep bags for spirit or syrup infusions, then you’ll want to look for a vacuum sealer with a “moist” or “wet” setting. The more settings you have when it comes to suction and seal, the better you’ll be able to cater to different ingredients.
Bag Storage / Bag Cutter
Many vacuum sealers come with built in bag storage and bag cutters. If you’re hoping to save storage space and are very specific about the size of bag you want to use, you’ll want to make sure these features are included in the product.
Number of Sealing Wires
One wire means one seal. Two wires means there’s double-seal capability, which means a stronger seal (if one seal fails, you have a backup!). And that’s particularly great when you’re working with liquids.
How does the vacuum sealer work?
Edge or external vacuum sealers suck the air out of a bag, then heat the edges of the bag to melt them together and seal the bag. Chambered vacuum sealers can vacuum and seal multiple bags at once. You place the bags into the chamber, lay the edges of the bags over the sealing bar, close the machine and start it up. The machine sucks the air out of the chamber and therefore the bags, then seals them closed.
Can you use your own bags?
While most vacuum sealers come with their own brand of bag, you can purchase other brands as well. Just be sure you are using bags meant to be used with a vacuum sealer as other plastics will melt too much.
Can one device seal bags and Mason jars?
Yes, technically one device can do this but you will need to purchase some extra gear. There are vacuum sealers that work with a jar-sealing accessory plugged into the gadget’s accessory port.
Are the bags reusable/recyclable?
Yes, you can reuse the bags. Simply cut them so there is a clean opening, wash them out with some soap and water, and dry them. You can go on reusing bags like this until the bags are too small to seal.
Why Trust Liquor.com?
Justine Sterling is an experienced spirits writer and cocktail recipe developer. She has been writing about the wide world of drinking—from new spirits to cocktail trends to wines and beers—for over a decade. Her home bar is always stocked with a range of spirits, from the staples to the downright strange (including some infusions of her own making), and she has serious opinions about Martinis.
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