Vacuum Food Sealers.

Grumpy1401June 9, 2014

I recently bought a vacuum flood sealer. I used it for the 1st time last weekend to seal smoked food as it was ponging up the fridge. Worked a treat!
There must be a ton of other uses and I was hoping other owners of vacuum sealers could help me get the best use of this new tool.
Can I seal up food and then "boil in the bag"?
Could I put meat and marinade in a bag, vacuum & seal and then store in the fridge for a couple of weeks before opening & cooking?
Are there any great "How To" web sites for Vacuum Sealers?
Thank you. Grumpy.

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I'm sure you will get plenty of replies better than mine.... but heavens NO, you cannot "preserve" food for any length of time without freezing it. It can be used to keep fresh foods "fresher".... extending the refrigerated life somewhat but only by days... not necessarily weeks and not for months. Your 'sealer' should have come with some directions. It will keep frozen foods from getting freezer burn and it will keep cheeses from molding for a time. You can "boil-in-the-bag" items that you have frozen, like a leftover and you can marinate meats extra quickly by vacuum sealing overnight , then cooking or freezing then thawing and cooking.

Check out You-Tube.... lots of info there.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 1:15AM
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I use mine to keep nuts from going rancid as fast in the cupboard. It's also great for making packets of food for the freezer. If the food doesn't lend itself well to vacuum sealing, you can freeze it first then seal it. I learned that a number of years ago in this forum. :) Recently, I poured hollandaise sauce into custard cups, covered with cello wrap and froze. Popped the frozen discs out of the cups the next morning, and sealed. Fab!

The thing about a vacuum sealer is that it uses suction, like on a vacuum cleaner, to pull excess air out of the bag. It doesn't create a state of vacuum in the bag. Just reduces the air. The nuts will go rancid. Just take longer doing it. And frozen foods will eventually degrade and lose their water (into ice crystals) and all that stuff. It's just that much less air means that much less oxidation.

So, for freezing, you can make flat packets of soup, stew, chili, etc., and stand them on end, once frozen, in a basket so you can find what you want like looking through a file drawer. Freezing them as flat packages also makes it easier to stack them. I had a lot of leftover latkes from a party, so layered them three deep with parchment paper between. Months later they were great! In a zipper bag they would have gone mushy and freezer burnt (water migrated).

You can also make kits, like if you want an instant spaghetti dinner, but homemade, you can make a seal in the middle of a double length of bag material, and seal the pasta on one end, and the sauce on the other. Then the pasta won't get waterlogged in the sauce. You can do the same with rice and something that goes over it. You can also make separate pouches for each ingredient and staple them together.

Other than the nuts, I mostly use mine for freezing, but you can use a regular ol' vacuum sealer to make pouches for cooking sous vide (underwater with a temperature regulator/water circulator).

Just remember for the things you think to use it for that you can't use it for food preservation. By greatly reducing the air in the pouch, you're maintaining the quality of the food, but not stopping the natural decay. Which is why the marinated meat for weeks is a no-no. Also, even if it could be done, because it's just somewhat anaerobic, not in stasis, that marinade is going to seriously ruin the meat over that long period of time, all thoughts of freshness aside. Instead, use the vacuum sealer to extend the quality of the food in its normal storage venue. That's why so much is for the freezer...

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 1:56AM
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-Most of your questions are addressed in the user's manual and at their website (including videos). Start there for general information and guidelines for proper use.

-There is a lot of information on YouTube, but there is also a lot of MISINFORMATION and ideas that could actually be deadly. Just because a container/bag is vacuum-sealed doesn't mean bacteria can't grow and develop into a deadly toxin if it happens to be present in the food when it is sealed. As plllog noted, some bacteria can grow in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment under the right conditions. That's why vacuum-sealing is NOT a substitute for heat-processed canning methods. If something is normally stored in the refrigerator, it will still need refrigeration. Refrigeration (and freezing) only slows down bacteria growth, it doesn't prevent it. And to top if off, most people don't have any idea what their refrigerator temperature is. It should be 40-degrees F or colder for safe food storage whether it's vacuum-sealed or not.

-Dry foods (dry goods) need to be 10% moisture or lower to be safely vacuum-sealed and stored at room temperature. Don't vacuum-seal popcorn since it is normally a higher moisture level - coming in closer to 14%. It will keep just fine in an air-tight container for a long period of time without being vacuum-sealed.

-Foods we dehydrate at home.... I tend NOT to vacuum-seal dehydrated fruit (unless it is crispy dry) because we normally remove only 70% of the moisture (we remove around 90% of the moisture in vegetables). But neither are long-storage foods, so they should be used quickly and will store well in an air-tight container.

-Don't vacuum-seal brown sugar. If bacteria should be present, it can develop into a toxin in the moist environment.

-If you are going to vacuum-seal flour, make sure you place it in a container/canister so it remains free-flowing (it will move when the container is shaken). When you vacuum-seal it in a bag where it is packed tight, it can develop a musty smell/taste due to the moisture in the flour. It can actually develop aflatoxin - a toxin produced by mold - if vacuum-sealed in a bag.

-I like to quick-freeze most foods I vacuum-seal in bags destined for freezer storage. I like to keep them in a single layer so they are "filed" in plastic baskets. If I want frozen green beans, I just flip through the basket that contains fruits and vegetables to find it. Once open, I give the bag a tap and the green beans loosen and I can take out what I need. Lay the bag flat with the opening to the side and arrange the remaining green beans into a single layer and vacuum-seal shut again. Quick-freezing food items will help prevent moisture from the food being sucked into the FoodSaver, and they will remain in individual pieces. If you dump a package of raw chicken breasts into the bottom of a storage bag, it will end up being a fused brick of chicken after you seal the bag and place it into the freezer. If you quick-freeze the chicken breasts on a baking sheet first, then place each piece in a fold-top sandwich bag before being placed into the FoodSaver bag, they will remain in individual portions. (I use the extra bag to keep the bones from poking through as well as keeping them in individual pieces.)

If you freeze a cut of meat that has a bone protruding from it, which will poke a hole in the bag once it's vacuum-sealed, you can take a wad of plastic wrap or a wadded up paper towel, and cover the bone to protect the bag.

I have wrapped many of my silver serving pieces and vacuum-sealed them in FoodSaver bags to prevent them from oxidizing - so they don't need polished each time I need to use them.

-If I vacuum-seal moist foods (such as raw meat) I place it in another bag first (and if you want individual portions, use one bag per portion), then place in the FoodSaver bag. You can also place a paper towel at the top of the bag opening (just over the bags of food, but leave enough room for the seal - at least 1-inch) and it should help absorb any moisture before it is drawn into the machine.

-You want to avoid drawing powdery products into the machine. I store a lot of dry goods in vacuum-sealed jars and canisters. If it is something that is a fine powder I will place a coffee filter over the surface of the food (or a square of white paper towel) before vacuum-sealing it to help prevent the particles from migrating to the rim of the container during the vacuuming (where it can prevent a good seal) and possibly into the FoodSaver.

-Don't vacuum-seal foods in a jar or canister that are warmer than room temperature. Doing so may cause the contents to bubble out of the canister or jar.

-When vacuum-sealing in jars, always leave at least 1-inch of headspace (the space between the food and the lid).

-If you plan on placing a vacuum-sealed jar in the freezer, make sure it is a jar made with tempered glass and is a freezer-safe mason/canning jar. Personally, I avoid storing food in jars in the freezer because they take up valuable space. If you've ever had one break, you REALLY will think twice before doing it again. For things like stew, soup, and chili, I place those in user-friendly sized containers (I usually use individual portions) and freeze them. When they are completely frozen, remove them from the plastic container, stack the frozen soup blocks in a FoodSaver bag and vacuum-seal it shut. I do this with spaghetti sauce, bone broth, stroganoff, sloppy joe mixture, taco mixture, precooked ground beef/turkey/pork....).

-When using canning lids and the jar sealer on a jar, you need to pre-soak the lids in hot water to soften the sealing compound so it seals properly. How to: Bring water to a boil, then turn off. soak the lids 5-10 minutes. Remove from the hot water and thoroughly dry the lid before applying it to the jar.

-If you are careful removing the lid, you can reuse it if it's still in good condition and the sealing compound hasn't been compromised. I test ALL my lids once a month (the 1st day of the month) to see if they are still sealed. That way if the lid has lost it's seal, it has only been that way for a month (at most). I then replace the lid with a new lid that has been heat processed.

-Jars and canisters are great for storing foods that would get crushed, fuse together, or poke through a plastic bag (dry pasta, cereal, chips, crackers, chocolate chips, hard candy...... Jars and canisters are also reusable, so are the cheapest method for storage. Just make sure they are clean and don't have any chips on the rim.

You can also use FoodSaver Universal Lids for storage. When I move a jar from the storage room to the pantry in the kitchen, I will apply a Universal Lid because it is easier to use and reseal something that is used frequently. Universal Lids come in two sizes.

-You can vacuum-seal fresh produce (I love it for fresh leaf lettuce from the garden), but it must be refrigerated. DO NOT vacuum-seal strong-smelling vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. They give off a gas that makes them unsuitable for vacuum-sealing.

(using a FoodSaver for home food storage since 1986 and am on my 3rd one)

Here is a link that might be useful: FoodSaver

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 9:29AM
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A recent post on this same subject...

Here is a link that might be useful: foodsaver 101

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 11:32AM
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They do sell bags for boiling.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 2:34PM
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Thanks, Grainlady. I learned a lot from your post.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 3:49PM
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One 3rd yard sale food saver. ALL worked just fine! First one... sealing gasket was a bit shot. Washing/drying well and turning over gave it a little longer life.

Second on is a real bare bones model and I have NO complaints about it. BUT last weekend hit the mother lode at 2 years sales. At LEAST $60 worth of bags, including a package of maybe 30-40 8" bags and a box of 4 rolls, both UNOPENED! AND a food saver that is a serious upgrade from what I had... tho seems to be discontinued. Spent a whopping $10 for everything.

FS has an attachment that vac seals lids onto wide mouth mason jars. NOT for canning, but great for things like rice, beans & small pasta. Have found a messa their cannisters, but more often than not, they lose their seal??

I'm cooking for one & always lookiing for bargains in the meat/chicken area. A regular sized package of ground beef or boneless chicken breasts is just TOO much for me to cook for just me. I repackage, vac seal and freeze. A portion for 1-2 servings only takes about 20-30 minutes in room temp water to go from rock hard to ready to cook.

A few times a year, my freezer get to avalanche stage & needs a reorganization. I NEVER find freezer burned stuff buried at the bottom any more.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 4:58PM
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The bags I got with my vacuum sealer said they were okay for boiling.

You're missing one of the great applications, though: you'll be able to sous vide! I guarantee that will change the way you cook stuff. At the present time, you can cobble together a unit for less than you paid for the food saver, but if you don't want to bother with that, the prices on store-bought equipment is coming down all the time. Anova makes a good sous vide circulator--it's a large stick that attaches to any pot, and circulates and heats the water to a specific temp. And they plan to have an updated one coming out in the fall, MSRP $169.

Here's how I use my setup: I go to Sams and get a large quantity of steaks. Season them, vacuum seal them, then freeze them. The vacuum sealed steak will stay good for months. To cook them, I toss them in my sous vide tank on the way out the door in the morning. When I get home, they are perfectly cooked (and cannot ever be overcooked, even if I come home at midnight). worth looking into. I am immodestly linking to the setup I made, thanks to guidance from others in this forum (dcarch, foas)

Here is a link that might be useful: homemade sous vide setup

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 8:36AM
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Fishermen are finding vacuum sealing to extend the quality of frozen fish. Fillets flash frozen first can be vacuum sealed in either meal sized quantities or be handled separately for particular dishes, and the remainder not having need to be thawed can be resealed and returned to the freezer. Furthermore the flash frozen fillets can be packed flatter for more efficient use of freezer space.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 8:56AM
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"---When I get home, they are perfectly cooked (and cannot ever be overcooked, even if I come home at midnight).-----"

Correction: Cannot ever be overcooked or under cooked. :-)

I have not been making hamburgers because the problem of making rare hamburgers safe. I just make a hamburger, rare, using sous vide. I will post how I did it sometime.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 8:57AM
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"Furthermore the flash frozen fillets ..."

Try saying that four times fast. Harder than 'rubber baby buggy bumpers'

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 11:51AM
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I use the jar sealer more than the bags because it bothers me the bags are so expensive and not reusable. We shop regularly at Sam's Club and buy the 5# tubs of sour cream. I then vac pack that into pint jars with the lid accessory and they stay fresh in the frig. for months.

Also, we buy the huge jars of Hellman's Mayo and also cottage cheese and do the same. (months of freshness) I make yogurt regularly in the pint jars and if I vac pack them with the jar accessory they stay fresh in the frig for several weeks.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 4:31PM
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"I use the jar sealer more than the bags because it bothers me the bags are so expensive and not reusable.---"

I have developed a method for saving money not buying bags:

I have not need to buy freeze bags for a long time.


Here is a link that might be useful: Free Freezer bagging

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 5:56PM
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Are Food Saver bags okay to use with heat? Or are there other kinds of bags that are better for sous vide? What about boiling?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:43PM
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I use bags which says "Boilable".

I think FS bags probably are safe, considering you normally cook SV at low temperatures.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:48PM
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