vacuum sealing (food safety) question

vacuumfreakDecember 3, 2008

I was doing some research online now that I finally have a vacuum sealer that works. I read warnings that some bacteria that are anaerobic (like clostridium botulinum) and can grow in vacuum sealed foods. Apparently, it's a rare situation, but I want to feel confident when I make food that the risk is minimized. The only tip I found to reduce the risk is to keep refrigerated and frozen, and defrost in the refrigerator with a snip cut in the bag so air can get in during the defrosting process. Is it really that simple, or is there more I should know about vacuum sealing safely?

Thanks :o)

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pkramer60

Bobby, I vac seal all the time but it goes right into the freezer. If I refridge, I do not bother to seal other than cheeses. Vac sealing had cheese can prolong the life by several months.

Any meat items are frozen right away if not consumed.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 1:39PM
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grainlady_ks

I'm on my 3rd FoodSaver (20-years), and no bacteria growth to date. Think of it as a plastic bag (jar or canister) with all the air removed. All the same general food safety "rules" apply - handling, thawing, and temperature controls.

People fail to read the instructions and that's the reason for improper use of vacuum sealers - not the vacuum sealers themselves. How they are intended and designed to be used is VERY food-safe.

1. Vacuum sealing is NOT a substitute for heat-processing canning.

Even though you can store food in a canning jar and vacuum seal jar lids on them using a FoodSaver jar sealer, the food has not been heat processed. I keep all kinds of dry-goods in jars that are either sealed with the standard canning lids, or with the (love 'em) Universal Lids. This includes nuts, grains, legumes, pasta, seeds, all kinds of pantry items, etc.

Things that would get squished in a bag I place in a jar - marshmallows is a good example of when to use a jar. Flour is also supposed to be stored in a jar so that it remains free-flowing.

2. If the food would normally be refrigerated or frozen, then it needs that if it's vacuum sealed. Vacuum sealing doesn't replace or off-set the use of food-safe temperatures. Fresh foods are still perishable and still require appropriate temperature storage even if they are vacuum sealed.

The same precautions you use for foods susceptible to bacterial growth, you still need to treat it the same way.

Benefits:

- food stays fresh 3-5 times longer
- freezer burn is completely eliminated
- moist foods won't dry out
- dry, solid foods (such as brown sugar) won't become hard
- foods that are high in fats and oils won't become rancid

Oxygen is one of the main reasons for food spoilage, and causes foods to deteriorate and become less nutritious in several ways. Using a FoodSaver, the oxygen is removed from the storage environment, whether foods are stored in a jar, bag, or canister.

-Grainlady

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 4:00PM
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vacuumfreak

OK, so I guess it's safe not to worry about botulism from anaerobic conditions as long as common sense is used. Thanks :o)

I thought these things were supposed to save money... all the bags and food I've purchased playing with this thing, I don't think that's true! Just wait until I start getting accessories.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 4:19PM
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pkramer60

Bobby, you will save money in the end when you pick up bargains or do not toss out food. And remember, you can wash a used bag for re-use....

Prefreeze the food, wrapped in produce plastic bags. Vac in the plastic, but remove the meat/fish/veggie before defrosting. FS bag stays cleaner that way, your thin produce plastic bag is re-used before trashing(very green this way).

you may want to go over to Harvest and search for Foodsaver. there are some threads that have great tips in them.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 4:50PM
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grainlady_ks

I use the bags primarily in the freezer and for grain. Most bags are opened, remove what you need, then vacuum seal them shut again, so they are used more than once. Think about how many plastic zip-lock bags you go through, and they certainly aren't cheap per bag... It's a similar thing with the FoodSaver bags. Many of the plastic bags can be washed and reused, just like zip-lock bags. Wal-Mart carries an "off" brand of bags that is thinner, but works well for many things. QVC occasionally has a good buy on rolls of bags. I NEVER buy the individual bags. Those are a convenience that WILL cost you money! Cut your own bags.

I also have a large selection of the canisters, and they are great in the pantry. Nothing keeps fresh leaf lettuce or strawberries in the refrigerator longer than a FoodSaver canister. You must realize, not EVERYTHING needs to be vacuum-sealed. Things you use quickly don't need it, while that pricey chunk of cheese will keep longer if it's sealed in a bag in the refrigerator. Whatever the bags cost, you'll save in the money you don't waste from freezer burn and stale dry goods in the pantry. And the money you save by buying in bulk.

I keep my FoodSaver on a rolling cart next to the refrigerator. You'll find if it's out and ready-to-use, you'll use it a LOT. I have the canisters on one shelf, the rolls of bags, scissors, and Sharpie in a basket on another shelf. I also keep the Universal Lids (2 sizes) in a basket on the cart and some empty canning jars.

I "file" foods in the freezer in small baskets. You fill the bags so they lay flat in a single layer, not a huge lump in the bottom like you do zip-lock bags. This way I can flip through the basket and quickly see what I have. Baskets for fruit - vegetables - breakfast meats - poultry - meats, etc... I can open up the peas (corn, green beans, blueberries, peaches, etc.), give it a whack, and take out the amount I need, then reseal the package and "file" it back in the appropriate basket.

After I make a batch of soup, I quick-freeze it in small plastic containers. When solid, I pop the soup "bricks" out of the plastic containers, stack the "bricks" and vacuum-seal them in bags. Now all my plastic containers are back in the cabinet, not in the freezer. If I need one serving of soup, I can remove it and reseal the bag. Quick freeze a casserole, remove it from the dish, vacuum-seal in a bag. When ready to use, pop it back in the dish and let it defrost in the refrigerator. Now all your dishes aren't taking up space in the freezer.

I use the Universial Lids on things I'm using from frequently (if you use coffee, a canning jar and the Universal Lid is a great place to use it). You can use the Universal Lid on a can of coffee. If you have crackers that tend to go stale before you get them used, then place them in a jar and use a Universal Lid on them. They are easy to open and reclose.

Foods, like the "ton" of dehyarated apple slices, I vacuum-seal in canning jars. I have a lot of 1/2-gallon and quart jars filled with dehydrated produce.

I keep hundreds of pounds of grains/seeds/beans in storage. Most of the grain is in FoodSaver bags, and most of the other dry goods are in canning jars with the canning lids vacuum-sealed on them for long-storage. I've never had an insect infestation for all the years I've stored grain using FoodSaver bags.

-Grainlady

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 5:17PM
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ntt_hou

Yes, it does save money & time! If I can keep meat in my freezer for months and not having to run to the grocery store every week, you bet that's a saving!

I love mine and not only I vacuum pack food but also fresh tea or whatever I'd like to store for longer period of time.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 5:19PM
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vacuumfreak

Yeah, I know it will save money in the long run.... I was kind of joking, but I did use an entire roll of bags just "playing" and experimenting, but it was fun. Took a while to get the hang of cutting the right size bag. I think I've vacuumed everything in my 'fridge now. Except the gallon of milk (but it's next, and that cat had better watch out 'cuz I'm on a roll j/k). I kicked the stand mixer out of its spot and moved it (though still on the counter) to keep the sealer out so I'd use it.

Mine seals great... the only problem I have encountered is when trying to do something with liquid (like marinating a steak in a bag), or re-sealing a bag that has been frozen. It struggles with both, and I end up putting the first bag in a new bag and sealing that one. I also read a tip to pup a paper towel in bags that have wet "stuff" and that will make the machine seal them better without getting the liquid.

I've been getting the Wal-mart bags, two 11 foot rolls for 8.88... about half the price of the name brand ones.

Peppi, I'll have you know that you ruined my day by referring me over to the Harvest forum (OK, not really). LOL I strolled over there to check out the Food Saver posts and found out that I just missed a sale of a 170 dollar Food Saver that was going for 60 bucks with free shipping!

Mine is a Rival Seal-a-Meal (that is made by the same company that makes the Tilia Food Savers, Jarden), that I got at Target for 50 bucks. To think I could have gotten a model with a jar sealer, canister, on board roll cutter and holder, and lots of buttons for moist/wet/dry/instant seal for only 10 dollars more just makes me sick! Hope they run that special again soon... this thing I bought will be back at Target for a refund faster than you can turn your head. I don't like to buy online typically, but for that savings and such a superior machine, I'd do it!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 5:40PM
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jimtex

I think the danger zone for botulism multiplying is 40 to 140 deg F. Not a problem in the freezer.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 7:32PM
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rob333

So freezer to microwave would keep that from happening? I am hoping.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 8:48AM
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kimroehl_hotmail_com

I bought some pomegrate juice and goji juice from store it says good for 10days. If i vacuum seal the juice can i just keep it in frig? and how long if so.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 10:03PM
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Erland

I'm puzzled. All comments re vac sealing food say must be refrigerated or frozen. However, I purchase many foods that are vac sealed such as Soups and tuna fish that are not refrigerated and have use by dates that are at least 2 years out. The same goes for vac sealed foods for camping and the military. None of this stuff is frozen or refrigerated but still edible and tasty and I have never been sick. So why all the fear? Can anyone explain this to me? The reason I ask is that I travel over 200 days each year and in an effort to eat well and inexpensivly I take as much food with me or go to supermarkets. I would much rather take homemade soups and dinners in vac sealed bags if I could be assured of their safety.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 1:32PM
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dcarch7

Those are all completely sanitized in the packages, just like canned food.

dcarch

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 4:35PM
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foodonastump

What dcarch said. I think a good basic rule of thumb would be don't store anything that you've vacuum packaged any differently from how you would normally store it. The foodsaver's instructions clearly warn that it's not a preservation method, it'll just help extend quality a bit.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 8:01PM
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