How To Use a Vacuum Sealer for Food

Vacuum food sealers are, in my opinion, a gift from heaven! They may seem pricey, but the money saved in food costs more than makes up for the initial investment. Vacuum sealers may be used for refrigerated, frozen and dry goods with equal success. My deep freeze has become even more valuable since I bought a vacuum sealer! The storage life of most foods will literally quadruple if air is removed from the packaging.  There are a few different brands available; choose the one that is right for your family.

  1. Make sure you have enough bag material on hand for big projects! Nothing is worse than getting into ten pounds of raw chicken breast and then staring at the end of the roll.
  2. When freezing a lot of items at once, it is easiest to make a quantity of bags at the beginning, then to fill them all and then vacuum and seal them all, rather than going through all three steps each for each bag.
  3. Make sure to leave the proper amount of bag material above the food for your machine to properly vacuum. Mine requires three inches of bag above the level of the food inside. Making bags of the correct size takes practice and lot of trial and error!
  4. Be careful sealing foods with marinades. Too much marinade can cause a mess as it is sucked out of the bag! Instead, try dry or wet rubs on meats before packing. Slices of lemon or other citrus are a great way to add tenderizing acid with less mess; when food thaws, the acid from the fruit will tenderize and flavor the meat.
  5. Hamburgers are great to store in the freezer in vacuum bags, but shape and freeze them solid before sealing. The force of some vacuum machines is enough to squish and deform burgers!
  6. The same goes for baked goods -- freeze them solid first, and then make sure to use the lowest power setting on the machine. Typically this is the one for moist foods; less suction helps avoid pulling all the air from baked goods.
  7. My trick for freezing soup: I freeze it in plastic microwave-safe soup bowls, then pop the soup "ice cubes" out of the bowls by running hot water over the bowl for a few seconds. Frozen individually, each one is a perfect single serving of soup ready to be put back into the bowl and popped in the microwave!
  8. For items that will be opened and resealed, make sure to use a very long bag so that there is plenty of room to cut it open and then re-vacuum. The best example of this is for cheeses in the fridge. Most bag materials are strong enough to stand up to repeated use and many bags may be washed and reused.
  9. Do NOT wash and reuse bags used to freeze raw meat or poultry! Be sure to clean the parts of the machine completely between different types of meat and poultry to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria.
  10. Make sure to thoroughly read the directions that come with the machine. Used incorrectly, vacuum machines can be quite messy.

 

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