Vacuum sealers are an underutilized small appliance that can be incredibly useful for any home. Although plastic freezer bags will get the job done, you’re far more likely to end up with freezer burned food when using them and they take up more space in your freezer. If your freezer is anything like mine, there…
Extend the Shelf Life of Your Food with a Vacuum Sealer
Are you interested in learning methods to make your food last longer?
Would you like to stretch your grocery budget further, and spend less time shopping?
Love to dehydrate your homegrown produce, but you find it becomes mushy or stale far more quickly than it should?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a vacuum sealer is a great piece of equipment for you to check out.
With the ability to portion out and seal food in an oxygen-reduced package, fresh foods last longer. And storage times for dried and frozen foods are extended, too.
Of course, we all know that food can’t stay fresh indefinitely. But with the right equipment, we can certainly prolong its shelf life. And this means greater savings and less shopping – a bonus for any food-lover!
Reduced Oxygen Packing
Vacuum sealing is a form of Reduced Oxygen Packing, or ROP. This method reduces the amount of oxygen in a package by removing air and creating an airtight environment.
Once the air is removed, a hermetic seal is applied to retain the vacuum.
A hermetic seal provides an airtight closure and prevents the ingress of oxygen, moisture, humidity, or any outside contaminants from entering the sealed environment.
An excellent way to extend the freshness of perishable foods, a vacuum seal helps to slow down deterioration. By reducing atmospheric oxygen, an anaerobic environment is created that limits the growth of bacteria and other pathogens, and also prevents the loss of volatile components through evaporation.
As a storage method, suction sealers will help to extend the shelf life of refrigerated foods, dried goods, and frozen foods, and is often used in combination with other storage methods.
This makes suction sealers an economical method of food storage, as airtight sealed foods will last 3-5 times longer than those packed away traditional methods. Texture and appearance will remain intact for longer periods as well, making this an excellent way to take advantage of sales or buying in bulk.
Vacuum sealed, freshly frozen produce, fish, game, meat, or poultry will last for months without freezer burn.
It’s ideal for sealing up leftovers or casseroles in individual portions, making it a brilliant solution for busy weeknight dinners. And it’s also the method of choice for preparing foods sous vide.
Another benefit is that when air is vacuumed out, it reduces the volume of foods such as cereals, grains, nuts, cured meats, coffee, and so on – which means these products will take up less space in your fridge, freezer, and kitchen cabinets.
Dry foods of a hygroscopic nature, like brown sugar, won’t become hard because they can’t absorb moisture from the air.
And items high in fats and oil such as fish, meat, and game last longer since there’s no contact with oxygen, which can cause such items to turn rancid.
Due to the hermetic seal, insect infestation in dried goods is virtually eliminated.
And proteins such as meat, fish, or poultry can marinade in minutes, as the oxygen-free environment opens fibers and allows marinades to penetrate quickly.
For home use, there are a couple of different styles to consider. Here’s a brief look at each one.
External Suction Systems
Economical and compact, the external suction system is the most common for home use, with several reliable models in the market to choose from.
These work by laying the open end of a filled pouch on an internal tray. When the lid is closed, the open end is pressed shut while the machine draws the air out.
However, this type of system is unsuitable for suction sealing liquids, as they will be dispelled along with the air.
And for foods where you do want to retain inherent moisture – like fish, poultry, or meat – it’s a good idea to freeze them first in order to retain their juices.
These models also require the use of specific textured bags (will add amazon link) to create the vacuum, which are more expensive than those used in a chamber system.
External suction models are good for occasional or seasonal use, but if you plan to vacuum process frequently, a chamber system may be a better investment.
Once used only in commercial applications, today’s home chamber system models are convenient and compact.
These vacuum sealers differ from suction models in that the entire bag is placed inside a chamber. Once the lid is closed, air is then pumped out of the chamber. And when the vacuum cycle is complete, a heat bar seals the bag.
These are ideal for sealing liquids like soups, stews, and other high moisture foods, as the air isn’t actually sucked out of the bag itself.
Another nice feature of chamber systems is that you can use a variety of vacuum bags, which are considerably less expensive than the textured ones.
This is because the entire pouch sits in the chamber, making standard flat or non-textured bags suitable.
And while the initial cost is considerably more than for suction systems, if you do a lot of vacuum sealing, the savings on bags can quickly accumulate to cover the additional cost.
Several chamber models also have an external suction option, giving you the best of both worlds.
Features to Look For
Before making a purchase, consider the following features to determine which will best suit your personal needs.
Overall size is a factor if you plan to keep it on the countertop, as are weight and portability if you will need to move it for storage.
2. Manual or Auto
Dual settings are convenient, with an automatic mode being excellent for one-touch operation, and manual settings for custom seals.
Retractable handheld sealers are a nice option to seal canisters, containers, or zip top bags.
4. Easy to Clean
A removable drip tray and seal bars are handy for cleaning and sanitizing.
5. Bag Storage
It’s also nice to have a built-in bag cutter and storage for bag rolls.
Look for a fan cooled motor for continuous use.
7. Ease of Use
Control panels should be displayed well and easy to access.
8. Prep Your Protein
A marinate cycle is a handy option for quickly tenderizing meats, poultry, and fish.
9. Take a Peek
A transparent lid is a helpful feature that lets you check the product’s progress.
The Final Seal
The Final Seal
Vacuum food sealers are an excellent way to keep produce and proteins fresh for longer periods of time, for extending frozen storage life, and for keeping dry goods clean and safe.
With food lasting longer, you won’t have to shop as often, and you’ll save money!
Sealers also help to preserve your own backyard harvest, and to pack away leftovers.
Before making a purchase, be sure to check out our vacuum sealer reviews below to get all the info on the best models available for home use.
– Lorna Kring