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Jan 7, 2008 05:44 PM

"ZipNSteam" bags [Moved from Not About Food board]

Can you reuse these bags after steaming one batch of frozen veggies?

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    Q. Can the Zip’n Steam™ bags be reused?
    A. We recommend that the bags are not reused due to the risk of bacterial transference

    Seems to me that if you reuse the bag immediately, to cook another batch of food, bacteria wouldn't have time to multiply and cause a problem. What do you biologists and food-safety-experts think?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Romanmk

      If you're steaming in them, doesn't that sterilize them?

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        One would think so... If you're steaming them for at least two minutes, you've killed all of the bacteria. Food service standards are to bring items to 165F and hold for two minutes, then keep above 140F.

        My Blog:

      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        If you're going to wash and re-use, why not just use a dish with a cover (even MW-safe plastic wrap) and save money, instead of buying those bags?
        Don't you have to dump the stuff in a bowl to serve anyway?

        1. re: MakingSense

          Ha! I wouldn't use them: in part because I can't get them; in part because if I could get them, I wouldn't; and in part because I happily use a bowl and plastic wrap. But if I somehow had them, I'd wash and re-use.

      2. I laughed when a sample of these bags was delivered to my door but - surprise - it worked very well. I've tried the Ziploc and Glad versions now, though not the UK brand at the referenced ink.

        Whenever I've nuked asparagus, it came out stringy. One - two minutes (based on thickness) in these bags gave me perfectly cooked asparagus, much better than on a
        covered plate.. I've since discovered that just about any vegetable that tastes good steamed cooks beautifully in the bag in a minute or two.

        The recipes provided didn't tempt and I haven't tried anything with meat or fish, but most kinds of fish should work well. I shocked myself by actually buying a box.

        As to the question: handled carefully, I can reuse a bag 10 - 12 times before the seal becomes compromised and the bag no longer produces good results. I use hand dishwashing liquid and wash it in hot water, just like any cookware or dish. Sure there's a risk of "bacterial transference", just as with anything else used with food. That's why I wash it well. Duh....

        The caution is more about selling more bags than about safety, with liability likely a secondary concern. I suspect that if these catch on, quality will drop to limit the reuse potential. The contents of the bags becomes very hot very fast, but I don't know whether they would be sterilized in normal use. You could always spritz it with some H2O2 if you are really concerned.

        Is the plastic itself safe? I haven't a clue.

        1. what kind of bacterial transference would occur with steamed veggies?

          12 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            The thing I'd be concerned about is food residue left in the bag even after washing, that could be a growing medium for nasties.

            I readily reuse plastic bags that have held clean or dry items. If the contents were wet, then I either wash and dry them well (including turning them inside out for drying), or toss.


            1. re: paulj

              i wash and re-use similarly, but of course, no meats ever.

              1. re: alkapal

                That's silly. There have been more bacterial problems with fruits and veggies recently than with any meat or fish. If you are antsy, sure throw them out. But do you throw away all other plastic storage containers too?

                Until they debase the product to make washing impossible, reasonable hygienic procedures should be fine.

                1. re: embee

                  Drying a plastic bag is more of a nuisance than washing it. There is something less than appealing about a bunch of bags hanging upside down over bottles of sherry at the back of the counter.

                  With cooking bags costing close to a dollar each, it is tempting to reuse them. But I was able to get a box of 40 for much less than that at Samsclub, so I'm more inclined to use and toss. So far the cooking results have been good, but I don't know if they will become a regular tool.


                  1. re: paulj

                    The other reason to reuse... is waste.

                    Plastic in our landfills. Use it once and you're just adding to the problems. When you throw something "away"... well... "away" is actually somewhere.

                    1. re: Jennalynn

                      The type of plastic bag that I buy most often is the fold top sandwich bag, which I use when taking the dog for a walk. Should I consider some sort of 'reusable' bag to save our landfills? :) At least for me, these zip steaming bags are a minuscule part of our garbage, even without reuse.

                      Washing bags (and pots) also produces waste, which has to go some where. In my area, locating a new waste water plant has been more controversial than our current garbage practices. Our waste water, after processing, goes into the Sound. Our garbage is shipped by train to a large dump in one of the poorer counties of the state, providing local employment.

                      When camping, I have to choose between cleanup practices that generate solid waste (paper towels, plastic bags) or waste water. Many campgrounds are better setup to handle solid waste than water waste. So I end up trying to minimize water use, without being careless with garbage.

                      Being 'green' can't be reduced to a few simple slogans. The trade offs usually complex, and often ambiguous.


                      1. re: paulj

                        Then you should avoid saying things like: "so I'm more inclined to use and toss."

                        1. re: paulj

                          They make biodegradable bags for your doggie duties -- opaque, too, so they're a little less unattractive:

                    2. re: embee

                      pray tell, embee, what exactly is "silly"?
                      i don't re-use for meats because of the fat content -- makes me believe i cannot sufficiently clean/sanitize.

                      veggies i have cleaned before they went into the steamer bag, and have lived to tell the tale. thus, i am happy to re-use when veggies involved.

                        1. re: embee

                          i think i was editing while you responded. check again.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            If you can't get the grease out, I actually agree. I was also concerned that grease could reach temperatures which might leach chemicals from the plastic. But I haven't had any problems. Someone mentioned the aesthetic aspects of hanging inside-out plastic bags to dry, but that doesn't bug me at all.

                            I've actually started to drizzle small amounts of melted butter or oil in with veggies. I was very cautious when I first tried this, but the steam keeps the grease from reaching dangerous temperatures - assuming any temperature is actually safe, which is something else entirely :-)

              2. I am REALLY not seeing the point after all this back and forth.
                Spending hard-earned money on plastic bags and then washing them to save money. Plastic bags decorating the kitchen while they're hung out to dry. Are you washing them well enough to avoid bacteria when you could just wash a MW-safe dish really well by hand or in the DW. Can you put meat in them or not? How about adding butter? Will they get too hot then? Then the bags and the packaging go into the landfill...
                What's wrong with putting the food in a covered Corningware dish? It's paid for. No worries. You can put it on the table and serve from it and put the leftovers in the fridge.

                3 Replies
                1. re: MakingSense

                  because in a bowl or whatever, it doesn't steam like in the bags, that's all!

                  1. re: alkapal

                    I'm sure that sooner or later, one of these will show up at my house for free as a sample or I'll use one at somebody else's. Ain't gonna spend money.
                    But I can't see why there would be a difference. I've been steaming veggies in the MW since I got one in the mid-70s and they do beautifully.
                    What fault do you find when you use a covered dish?

                  2. re: MakingSense

                    They do something better and faster. It's that simple. But value is an individual thing and I'd never buy them if I had to toss them after just one use (which the makers want you to do).

                    It's reasonable to ask health related questions when confronting something new. If this makes you roll your eyes, check out the sous vide thread on eGullet.

                    But do you actually NEED microwave steaming bags? Of course not, nobody does.