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Vacuum Packaging Tips

The Vacuum Sealers can be a very versatile tool in any food storage program.  In fact, it might aptly be called a home storage tool for its versatility extends beyond food storage itself.  The following ten tips will present both food storage and home storage ideas.  A little imagination and experimentation might add many more to the list.

Ten Timely Tips

vacuum sealed foods
vacuum sealed foods

Making Full Use of Home Vacuum Sealers

  1. Easy Opening Bags.  If you have opted for zipper-top bag then that is going to make opening a breeze.  Remember many bags stand up well, but lack that particular feature.  The job, however, can be made much easier.  A pair of scissors or a sharp knife also make them easy to open.  To make it really easy, and to eliminate the need for those scissors or a sharp knife, considere notching your bags.  A simple v-shaped notch cut into the side of the bag about an inch below the vacuum-sealed strip that sealed the bag. Just don't cut so deep that you are actually opening the bag. That notch will become the tear point when it does come time to open it.  This is especially handy with leftovers being taken to work for lunch or for a ready made meal prepared for a backpacking or camping trip.
  2. Large Economy Size. Buying in bulk isn't necessarily limited to the items in bulk food bins at your local grocery store, or the bushel baskets of berries from the farmers' market.  Many items are now sold in larger sizes for extra savings.  They may be "vacuum sealed for freshness", but you can still make that purchase, break that seal, and divide into smaller portions for resealing.  That way your food storage can still benefit from the savings, and the freshness of that food storage is maintained because it is once again vacuum sealed.
  3. Keep Odors In As Well As Out.  Hikers often use their Vacuum sealer to package trail food.  This cuts down on weight, saves space, and adds convenience.  It will also help to seal in odors.  That makes your backpack or lunch box that much less attractive to the bears and other animals who just might be in the vicinity. That alone increases the food sealer's usefulness as a food storage tool, but the idea can also prove beneficial to travellers who might want to avoid the transfer of scents from strong smelling soaps and perfumes to their clothes.
  4. Recipe Convenience.  Use your vacuum sealer to prepackage the "makings" for cakes, pies and other dishes.  The exact amount of berries for one or two pies, for example, could be packaged individually, vacuum sealed, and then added to the food storage in your freezer.  Flavor and nutrients remain intact, and ready for later use.
  5. Reseal.  Isn't it too bad that you can't reseal that half eaten bag of cookies or other snack food?  You've used a vacuum sealer for your food stoage, but you are warned that the use of any other bags than those supplied by the manufacturer may damage your machine and invalidate your warranty?  Well, there are workable options.  Turn to any Deni with three heat settings.  You are plainly told that you can "reseal food in their original package."  What a food storage bonus! As for Oliso, their bags can be used multiple times.  Simply place those cokkieps into a zipper-top bag suitable for use with your vacuum sealer and then seal it and reseal it as often as necessary.
  6. Marinade Meats.  Consider taking your fresh chops, roasts, steaks and other cuts of meat and seasoning or marinanding them prior to sealing and placement in the freezer.  Vacuum sealing tends to draw the marinade directly into the meat, causing it to work much more quickly than would traditional methods.  Your food storage will benefit with the addition of meats that are already flavor enhanced.
  7. Avoid Water Damage. Nearly every person has important papers and documents that need to be preserved and protected.  Leaky roofs, spilled coffee, burst pipes and flooded basements can be real villains here. So here's another use for your vacuum sealer.  Certified copies of wills, births, deaths, marriage certificates and divorce decrees, house and life insurance policies, inventory of valuable household items, deeds and contracts, stocks and bonds, charge card account numbers and their "lost or stolen" notification numbers, bank account numbers, medical records including immunizations, social security amd social insurance numbers, and passports are all items that should be considered for vacuum packaging.
  8. Socks and Underwear. Clothing tends to be compressed when air is removed during the vacuum sealing process.  This can be a real boon to travelers who want to maximize the use of space in suitcases, backpacks, and overnight bags.
  9. Save Space While Saving Space.  Peserving home and food storage items in vacuum sealed bags does indeed save on space.  They are much less bulkier than jars, cans and other assorted containers.  You can save even more space, however, by taking any small item such as those berries you are about to freeze, or those dehydrated banana chips you are about to store and placing them into your plastic vacuum sealer bag and then placing it and its contents into a cardboard box or some similar container.  Then remove the air and seal.  Once the air is removed these small items tend to stick together with some rigidity.  You should end up with a brick shaped "object" that will stack much more easily on a shelf or in the freezer.
  10. Freezing Liquids.  The "stackable" idea also works well with sauces and such that you are wanting to place into your food storage.  Here, however, you would prepare the sauce in advance and then place it into a shallow, greased container.  Freeze it, and a couple of days later remove the frozen mass, vacuum seal it, and stack it neatly back into the freezer. 
     

Not All Foods Are Suitable

Though vacuum packaging is a wonderful food storage tool, it should not be universally applied to your food storage program.  This cautionary note has particular reference to fresh vegetables.  If you are not preparing them for freezing, and are thinking instead of refrigerator storage, then be aware that such items will want "breathing room."  This is literally the case.  "The worst thing you can do," Barry Swanson, professor of food science and human nutrition at Washington State University is quoted as saying, "is seal fruits and vegetables in air tight bags."

For superior storage of fresh fruits and vegetables we would recommend, instead, the  use of a product such as the Evert-Fresh Green Bags as carried by Store-It Foods.


Stop and Take Note

Stop and Take Note

Vacuum Packaging Precautions

Removing oxygen from a food's environment solves all sorts of problems.  Mention has already been made of protection from freezer burn, spoilage and odor.  There are, however, new concerns that may need to be addressed.   Bacteria which causes food to spoil require oxygen to thrive.  Thus, vacuum packaging does much to eliminate that particular food storage problem.  On the other hand, there are micro-organisms that like low-oxygen environments and grow well in vacuum-packaged foods. They may not cause food to spoil, but some can be classified as pathogens, or illness causing bacteria.  This means that certain preventative measures need to be taken.

  1. Keep it clean.  Clean counters, clean hands, clean equipment  -- these common sense precautions are still needed.
  2. Foods that normally require refrigeration, still require refrigeration even though spoilage is delayed while unrefrigerated.
  3. Make sure that raw meats, poultry and seafood that have been vacuum packaged are properly and thoroughly cooked when it comes time to use them.
  4. Don't assume.  Just because the food has not spoiled doesn't mean you can ignore such safety measures.

In short, make food safety a priority.

Vacuum Sealing

Vacuum Sealing

Vacuum Packaging / Frozen Food StorageVacuum Packaging / Frozen Food StorageVacuum Food Sealers -- ideal for frozen foods, but also great for fresh or dehydrated.
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