ZipLoc Freezer Bags & Water Displacement Methods vs $Chamber Vacuum Sealers$

Discussion in 'Cheese' started by pawpaw16, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. pawpaw16

    pawpaw16 Newbie

    Packaging Cold Smoked Cheese can sometime be difficult, but easy if you have the right equipment and/or money. But knowing about ZipLoc Bags and Water Displacement Methods can be of great benefit.

    While a chambered vacuum sealer is the best way, they are several hundred dollars and overkill for many home kitchens. Many people turn to FoodSaver-type sealers, which can be convenient but they are expensive to buy bags for.

    The Ziploc freezer bags are great for sealing your food and work almost as well as a FoodSaver sealer, that is if you know the trick to removing the air from them. It is called the "Water Displacement Method" or the Archimedes Principle. This trick here is to simply use the pressure from the water to force all the air out of the bag.

    So getting all the air out of Ziploc bags is now easy. You just place your food in the bag, including any liquids or marinades, and seal all but one corner of the bag. Place it in a container of water, being sure everything below the zip-line is covered by water. As the water pushes down on the bag, air comes out and the result is a surprisingly effective imitation of a vacuum seal. You can see how all of the air is being forced out of the pouch as it descends deeper into the water. Once all of the air is out, then seal the rest of the bag.

    Another thing I really like about using Ziploc bags is that they are easy to open and re-seal.

    A slightly more advanced version of this is to use Ziploc specially made Ziploc Vacuum pump system. These vacuum bags are more durable and reusable than traditional Ziploc bags and have a valve built into them, but are about twice the price per bag. Instead of using water to force the air out, you can use a handheld Ziploc pump to suck air out of the bag through the valve. An important drawback of this method is any liquid could or can be drawn up into the Ziploc pump. Otherwise, you have to start with a new bag and a cleaned out pump. I found out the hard way, you can see this mistake in the watching the video from the link below. However, I did find the Ziploc Vacuuming System to have a tighter seal than the traditional Ziploc bag using water displacement. Please Note: If using oil along with the cheese, you just have to pay a little bit more attention when the oil is getting really close to the area where the Ziploc pump is located. I now just use a little less than 1/4 cup of olive oil in the bag itself, and coat the cheese separately and then add to the bag.

    Here is what I now do for my cheese, whenever there is a chance of the cheese lasting longer than 1 week:

    1. Coat the cheese in olive oil.

    2. Into a Ziploc freezer bag, add a little less than 1/4 cup of olive oil, extra virgin, (the oil prevents the individual portions from sticking together and it helps to cut down on bacteria from attacking the cheese.

    3. Add the oil coated cheese.

    4. Then seal using either the Water Displacement Method or the ZipLoc Vacuum Pump method.

        Note: The exact amount of oil to coat the cheese is not critical, it should be just enough to coat the portions and less than a 1/4 cup of oil in the bag before sealing. Over a long period of time, even the Ziploc freezer bags will allow trace amounts of air into the bag that can create some degradation in the flavor and possibly the development of food pathogens.

    If having issues of the oil getting into the pump, stand the ZipLoc Freezer Bag upright against the counter splash area and pump from there. This helps keeps the oil at a lower level to start off, thus getting more air out and no oil in the pump. Good Luck and have fun.

    By using any method helps in storing the cheese, so get started smoking and packaging your cheese.

    To watch the demo for the ZipLoc Freezer Bags and Water Displacement Method go here on YouTube: (Updated the link to a new video)

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  2. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I caught a huge Striped Bass a couple of weeks ago and decided to try the zip lock + water method.  Worked great!  Sure you will get maybe 20% better results from a vac seal, but I'd rather put the $150 into my pocket and not have to buy the rolls.  +1 for the life hack. 
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  3. pawpaw16

    pawpaw16 Newbie

    You and I both, take a look at the new link, it has better smoke coming from the AMNPS. [​IMG]
  4. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The method works well enough but is pretty much impossible to get all air out as it gets trapped in pockets. I got pretty good at sealing food in ziploc bags "massage method" or sometimes "straw" method.
  5. pawpaw16

    pawpaw16 Newbie

    I too tried the straw method by using a coffee stirring stick. the stick was actually a small diameter straw. It worked well, but even pulling out the straw and closing the seal lock one still has some air, not much. By using the vacuum pump and a little oil in the bag I could remove a lot of air.

    Yes, there is going to be air left in any ZipLoc or types of bags. Today I am not just fast enough to draw out all of the air and seal at the same time. (IMHOAO) In My Humble Old Age Opinion...
  6. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Had to bag a bushell of Roma tomatoes once. I had to take a few breaks as I was getting dizzy from all that vacuuming operation.
  7. dave17a

    dave17a Smoking Fanatic

    Ifin you ever been in waders and get waste deep, you can feel the pressure. Waders just compress around your legs.   Don't let water get through the top or in trouble. Interesting concept on freezer basgs[​IMG]
  8. zzrguy

    zzrguy Smoke Blower

    And now I can go to sleep I have learned my one new thing for the day.
  9. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Last fall I smoke a BUNCH of cheeses for our winter supply.  My back was killing me, so I got lazy.

    I have a food saver, but didn't use it, because of my back.  I ziplocked them in water displacement as you said.

    But  I ended up tossing it all out.

    It kept molding even when I cut mold off and resealed with new bag.  I didn't use oil, and it may have helped, but I like cheese, as is.  Not oiled.

    Lesson learned for me.  Vac seal only.  I've never had any go bad that way.

    Zip Locks are not air tight as they lead you to believe.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  10. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Im very glad I finally stepped up and got a Food Saver.  Really like it, even if they bags are expensive.  I'll be trying out some of the cheapo Amazon bags when my stock roll runs out.
  11. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Same here. Bit the bullet mainly for smoked cheese.I had the same problems as fpmich, although I didn't have to trash the cheese.
  12. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I hate my food saver. It can only deal 4 or 5 bags then it over heats. I can't wait for the holiday bonus so I can upgrade to a vacmaster.

    As for cheese I wax all of mine. I have cheese in the fridge that is over two years old. Man does smoked tilamook cheddar aged that long taste good!!!
  13. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Just get two vacuum sealers like me [​IMG]  so while one is resting the other one is pumping.   Just watched the video and I guess if you don't have a sealer and you need to seal up a couple pieces of cheese, etc that might be fine, but seems like way too much work and time consuming when you are processing a bunch of cheese, fish, etc. 
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  14. gpb11

    gpb11 Meat Mopper

    I'm also very glad I stepped up to a vacuum sealer after years and years of ziplocks.  I pulled some sliced smoked chuck tender out of the freezer last night that had been in there for only a month and already had a lot of frost in the bag.  

    Vac bags / rolls can certainly be pricey, though shopping around or waiting for a sale blunts the sting a bit.  With FoodSaver brand, they seem to have online sales and free shipping that can cut the price dramatically.  On Amazon you can find Weston or VacMaster brand for decent pricing, the challenge being finding a seller that isn't sending out crappy stuff in lieu of the good.  Pricing and availability can fluctuate though, so you do need to plan ahead and not get caught out.  My price target is around 25¢/ft for 8" or 11" rolls.  Contrast to local grocery store pricing on Ziplock gallon or quart freezer bags at 24¢/ea and 18¢/ea respectively and I'm not that far off in what it costs.  

    For smoked cheese, I just bought a box of these bags to try:
    Package arrived yesterday.  Although they list a Weston part number the box is VacMaster brand.  The zipper end is pre-sealed and has a tear-open notch precut.  Fill and seal from the bottom, it looks like 5-6" of usable internal length by 5" internal width.  I haven't sealed with one yet but will give it a try in the next couple days.
  15. gpb11

    gpb11 Meat Mopper

    Which model?  I picked up a V4880 from Costco on sale and it hasn't seemed to have any issue with bagging a bunch of stuff at a time.  
  16. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I got the Foodsaver FM2100 at Costco for $40 or $50 I think (after instant rebate).  Decent deal.  Pretty happy. 
  17. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    atomicsmoke...   I never did figure out why it happened to me.  After a couple of weeks there would be water droplets inside the ziplocked cheese.

    Moisture equals mold, so I would trim, towel, and air dry the cheese again, reseal with fresh bags, and in a couple of weeks have the same problem again.

    This went on until my cheese was the size of nuggets, from all the trimming.  LOL  I doubt we got to eat more than 6 ounces out of several lbs.

    I can understand getting moisture forming, if you pack warm cheese into zip bag and stuck in fridge.  But my cheese was cold when packed.

    If anyone has any ideas or theories, I'd be interested in how this could've happened.  Fridge temp 36*-39* the whole time.

    All I know is that I'll never use zippy's for cheese storage again.  LOL 

    Just smoked some a few hours ago.  Let cool and dry on racks in kitchen for 2 - 3 hours.

    Stood them on end, on racks, and placed into fridge with paper towel draped over to help get rid of last moisture.  Will vac pack this afternoon.

    Did the same with my spring batch and it is still good.

    PS:  My foodsaver is about 20 years old or so, and still does the job.  Yes I do have to wait for it to cool down after a couple of packs.  Ice packs slid up and down the heating wire speeds up the process though.  Does this make me hard headed or just cheap? [​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  18. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    On the last batch I did I noticed some moisture on a couple of pieces. In the vacpac. But no mold after a couple of months. I am sure that wouldn't be the case if they were packed in Ziploc bags.

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