When it comes to storing food in case of an emergency, many individuals have found that bulk buying is the way to go. This approach has also been adopted by families to extend their food budgets. However, with the large quantity of food, many people have the difficulty of being unable to consume all of the meat, vegetables, and fruit before they spoil.
A handy vacuum sealer and a roll of bags are two items that are frequently neglected but should never be forgotten when faced with this dilemma.
Food may be vacuum sealed and kept for considerably longer lengths of time. This enables one to bring food that you wouldn’t be able to bring on your vacation otherwise. Not to mention, you’ll be able to visit the store less frequently when on the road. And, when done correctly, red meat may last up to 6 weeks at 32-35.6°F (or 0-2°C) at the bottom of your camping fridge.
Here is a beginner’s guide to vacuum sealing, containing the following topics:
- Benefits of vacuum sealing
- Preparing equipment for vacuum sealing
- Tips on how to vacuum seal
What does vacuum sealing do to your food?
A lot of oxygen is removed from the packaging when it is vacuum sealed. This significantly limits the ability of aerobic (oxygen-dependent) microorganisms, which are the major causes of spoilage. Not only can reducing bacteria’s potential to spoil food help lengthen its shelf life, but reducing oxygen content is a great help since it is involved in many chemical processes that cause food to spoil.
Benefits of vacuum sealing food
One reason for considering vacuum sealing food is because it has a longer shelf life. However, other reasons should be considered as well as vacuum sealing food has a ton of benefits.
Ensuring food quality and safety
Food safety is improved by completely sealing the bag, which prevents cross-contamination of your product from external factors. Food is also protected from atmospheric dehydration, freezer burn, and mold, in addition to cross-contamination. You may then allow your items to age sans losing mass or scent.
Optimize storage, portion control and transport
Optimizing the use of your precious storage and vehicle space permits all available space to be used efficiently by stacking various goods together. There will be no spoiling of your items, cross-contamination, or smells! By extending the shelf life of your products, you may buy bigger quantities of seasonal items and enhance portion control.
Professional presentation and HACCP compliant
From the initial purchase through the final presentation — vacuum packaging assures food freshness and a professional display at all times. The cleanliness and safety regulations that you must adhere to are also significant considerations. Ensure that you are adhering to the most recent regulatory standards and that you are only using high-quality vacuum packing equipment for your professional applications.
Equipment you need to start vacuum sealing
Vacuum sealing your food does not need much effort. There is quite an up-front cost, but like with many other food preservation appliances, you can always buy second hand for a fraction of the price of new.
To vacuum seal, here are a few items you need to start:
- Vacuum sealer – There are a myriad of models and brands of vacuum sealers available that will ultimately achieve the same result. For your consideration, however, there are two main types of food vacuum sealers: edge sealers and chamber vacuum sealers.
The simplest and most popular form of vacuum sealer is the edge sealer, often known as external sealers or suction sealers. Simply enough, you fill a bag with food, put it in the sealer, and seal it. Since the vacuum is only generated within the bag, sealing anything but solid items is almost difficult (because the pump will suck out liquid as it sucks out air).
Almost all edge sealers offer settings for moist and soft foods, enabling users to adjust the amount of suction they produce in order to avoid drawing moisture into the pump or crushing soft food with too much vacuum. Since reducing the vacuum leaves air in the bag, you might be able to see comparable results by just storing moist foods in a Ziploc or other storage bags. Freezing fluids before vacuum sealing is one smart solution to avoid this.
Chamber Vacuum Sealers
A chamber vacuum creates a vacuum within the chamber. A chamber vacuum sealer can seal liquids because the pressure within the chamber is equalized. Soups, stocks, leftovers, quick and easy marinades in 15-20 minutes, and a variety of sous vide applications are all possible with this sealer.
Most chamber vacuums may also be adjusted to seal soft foods. You can control the exact amount of vacuum you wish to pull with its easy-to-use buttons, much like you can with an edge sealer.
While getting the vacuum correct is just a little bit trickier—and there may be a learning curve to find out—it gives you greater control over the process. You can see the sealing process and stop the vacuum pulling at any time, just like you can with edge sealers. You’ll rarely have to modify it after you’ve got it where you want it.
It should also be noted, however, that chamber vacuums are more powerful than other types of vacuum sealers.
- Bags – Sealing bags are sold in rolls in a variety of sizes, depending on what you need it for.
- Scissors – You will need to have an even cut on your bags.
- Labeling system (markers, tags, etc.)
How to Seal?
You’ve got all the necessary equipment — now what?
For starters, your sealer will most likely come with an instruction booklet, which you should read to learn the basics of your model. Not to worry, sealing food is a relatively simple procedure.
- Make sure you portion out your food. Ideally, your portions should be large enough to serve as a single meal. When you open a package, you introduce oxygen, which starts the breakdown process.
- Cut the bags to the size of your portions. Cut the bags a couple of inches longer than the food you’ll be sealing. It’s possible to make it large enough without wasting the bagging material.
- Use your sealer to secure the bottoms of each bag. You’ll need approximately a half-inch of additional room so your seal isn’t right up against the edge. Do note that trying to be frugal with your bags might end up costing you more.
- Fill the bag halfway with food and seal the bottom. Spread the food evenly on the bottom of the container. If necessary, flatten the ground foods a little. At least an inch of additional room should be left along the top of the bag. Some food sealers are more fussy and will require at least two inches of space.
- Insert the bag’s top end into the sealer. When you press the button, the air will be pulled out of the bag as it closes firmly.
- Take the bag out and inspect the seal. The seam will be very easy to spot. Put the bag back in the sealing unit and close it above the initial seam if there is even the tiniest indication of a seam that isn’t entirely sealed.
- After each usage, you may have to wipe off the sealing area. It’ll be hot, so use a cloth and don’t touch it with your bare hands.
- Place your products on the shelf or in the freezer after labeling them.
Food handling safety practices
Once you get the hang of it, vacuum sealing food is a breeze. You may also use the sealer to store leftovers in the freezer for later use as these bags take up considerably less room than the other containers.
Do remember that it is possible to remove up to 99.8% of the air from a food item, food packaging, and vacuum chamber with a professional vacuum sealer, leading to an almost guaranteed safe storage. However, some risks cannot be avoided by vacuum sealing alone.
Keep these food handling safety practices in mind to prevent the dangers of vacuum-sealed foods:
- Food vacuum sealing does not eliminate the requirement to pressure or water-bath at home.
- Hands should be washed before and after vacuum sealing.
- Avoid touching food with your hands. Handle the meal using clean forks, tongs, or anything safe to use.
- Keep utensils, chopping surfaces, and countertops clean at all times.