If the company behind Zip Top storage containers ever wanted to film an infomercial, my kitchen and I would serve as the perfect setting and subject for the grayed out “before” scene: Every morning, I open my cabinet to an avalanche of mismatched storage containers, none of which are organized in a space-efficient or logical way. It doesn’t help that I share this cabinet with roommates, or that we have never, ever recycled a piece of packaging that could serve as a storage container for leftovers. Did I mention that around 50% of our containers are missing lids?
My coworker Kendra recommends stackable deli containers, which have universal lids. However, I feel I need to go one step further and eliminate the lid altogether, because as the laws of physics state, lids get lost. When I encountered the lidless promises of Zip Top containers, I was eager to see if they could serve as the one and only food storage solution in my kitchen.
Zip Top containers are made of silicone and close at the top via a press-and-seal mechanism that mimics that of plastic baggies. But Zip Tops feature a wide base and can stand upright; because of this, they serve as a more versatile kind of plastic container/baggie hybrid. They sort of resemble silicone purses without the strap, and like handbags, they can house a whole host of random items.
I used Zip Top containers for a couple of months, trying them out in various food storage circumstances: I used them to store leftovers in the fridge, freeze liquids, and transport snacks. Here are my takeaways.
What I liked:
They handle liquids well (for the most part)
Because of the wide base, it’s easy to store liquids in Zip Tops. I was worried that the containers would spill easily, but they stay sealed well enough to contain stews and sauces. Just make sure you pay attention to the max fill line; more on that below.
I also appreciated how the two sides at the top of the containers form a spout at the seam: You can easily pour leftover soup from a Zip Top into a pot onto the stove to reheat.
I used the largest Zip Top bag to freeze the stock I made from my leftover Thanksgiving turkey. The flexible silicone body of the Zip Top made it possible to easily dislodge the frozen stock and get it in the pot for soup-making.
They are perfect for leftovers and kitchen scraps
The smaller Zip Top bags worked well for storing bits and bobs of leftover cooking scraps in the fridge for later use. When the world does return to offices and schools, the bags will be ideal for packing snacks or lunches; they offer more structure and room than a flat silicone bag, but they don’t take up quite as much space as a standard square plastic or glass storage container.
They don’t need lids
As I suspected, it was a huge relief to reach into the cavernous hellscape that is our container cabinet and not have to scrounge around for a lid every time I wanted to put away leftovers. Not only are they lid-free, but they also stack neatly inside one another, allowing for further minimizing of cabinet clutter. It was this reason alone that made me want to reach for a Zip Top in place of the containers I was accustomed to.
What I didn’t like:
The seal isn’t super strong
Zip Top’s seal can handle some knocking around in the fridge, but it’s probably not a good idea to transport liquids in one, because giving the bag a good squeeze can cause it to burst open. The more full it is, the more likely the bag is to burst under pressure, which is why it’s important to adhere to the marked maximum fill line on the bag.
Fresh out the box the Zip Top containers seemed to have a tight seal. When I filled the bags with water and held them upside down they did not drip at all. However, the seal has weakened after a few uses, and some of them now dribble ever-so-slightly. Since they aren’t entirely airtight, they won’t work as long-term storage solutions for dry ingredients in your pantry.
It’s also difficult to remove excess air from these containers, meaning they would be impractical for sous vide applications, and they are ill-suited for freezing solid foods that may be susceptible to freezer burn. I discovered some freezer burn on some bananas I froze in my testing.
They run a little small
I wish Zip Top bags came in bigger sizes. The largest size holds 32 ounces, but even that was a little small for handling the quantity of leftovers I’m typically looking to store.
Should you buy Zip Top containers?
Reservations aside, I still liked the Zip Top containers and plan on making them a part of my kitchen life. I won’t freeze all my food in Zip Tops, but I will use them for freezing stock and other liquids. Zip Top bags can easily replace the small to midsize storage containers in the fridge, but if you tend to use containers for large quantities of food, you will have to keep larger storage containers around as well.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious