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Vacuum sealing has become a new trend in the past few years due to its money-saving benefits that enable you to buy food in bulk and divide it into smaller serving sizes. This not only helps you plan your meals easily, but it also helps you make more room in your freezer.
Since this is a relatively new thing, many people don’t quite know how to use a vacuum sealer, and if this is you, our article will help you out. We’ll go into the nitty-gritty of different models, how you can use them, and cover their benefits. After reading this article, you’ll be able to use your vacuum sealer to store meat and other produce, pack food so you can cook it using the sous vide method, and much more. Let’s get started.
What Is Vacuum Sealing and Why Is It Useful?
Vacuum sealing is removing the air from a container or bag to protect what’s stored inside. You can vacuum seal anything, though vacuum sealers are most commonly used in the kitchen. Since oxygen exposure is the main cause of food spoiling and promotes the growth of microorganisms that lead to yeast and mold growth, vacuum-sealing food delays the deterioration of fruits, veggies, meats, and legumes that comes from oxygen exposure.
Types of Vacuum Sealers
There are a lot of vacuum sealers on the market today, but they all fall into one of these three categories:
- Handheld vacuum sealers – these vacuum sealers have a pistol-like device that extracts the air from the bag, container, or jar that you’re using to store your food or other items.
- Bar sealers – these vacuum sealers are used mostly for vacuuming dry food as liquids can get sucked inside the machine.
- Chamber vacuum sealers – these vacuum sealers are the most sophisticated of the three and they work by sucking out the air around the vacuum bag instead of sucking it in, making them ideal for both dry and liquid food.
How to Use a Vacuum Sealer?
Now that you know more about what type of vacuum sealers there are, you can start using one by following these easy steps.
1. Use the Right Vacuum Bag
Before you do anything else, you need to find the right vacuum seal bags, jars, or containers that you plan to use to vacuum seal your food. This will make a lot of difference since using containers or bags that let air come in defeats the purpose of using a vacuum sealer.
You can choose between brands such as WeVac, FoodVacBags, and Food Saver, which are some of the most popular manufacturers on the market. Additionally, you can use glass jars and containers with your vacuum sealer, just make sure that the container you’re using is vacuum sealer-friendly and freezer-safe. Finally, choose the right container size for the amount of food you’re sealing to ensure that the seal works optimally.
2. Prep the Food
The next step is prepping the food before sealing it. If you’re vacuum-sealing meat, make sure that the cut is clean, remove all the fat, and cut the meat into smaller portions. If you’re vacuum-sealing things that have sharp edges, make sure that you wrap them in a paper kitchen towel to prevent the sharp edges poking through the bag.
3. Fill the Bag
When filling the bags with food, it’s important to leave some room in the bag to get a good seal. It’s optimal to leave between three to five inches at the top to ensure that the seal will hold efficiently.
4. Use the Vacuum Seal Correctly
This step will vary depending on the machine you use, so if you have an instructions manual, it’s best to read it through. But if you don’t, we’re here to help.
The first step will be laying the bag flat on the counter. Next, you’ll need to open the lid of the sealer and place the opening on the sealing strip. Then close the lid, press the button for the seal function, and wait for the indicator to tell you that the bag has been vacuum-sealed completely. If there are additional buttons and settings on your sealer, you can do a quick Google search to find the specific model and the online manual to help you figure out what the settings mean.
Handheld vacuum sealers work a bit differently than the bulkier models. The first step is similar, and that’s laying the sealer bag flat. Then, take the vacuum sealer, press it on the surface of the sealer bag, press the button, and wait until all the air has left. Some models will even have an indicator that shows you when the bag is sealed.
5. Store the Food
The best thing about vacuum-sealing your food is that it will be fresher for longer. Generally, vacuum-sealed food tends to last between two to five times longer if stored correctly. So, after it’s been sealed, write the date of sealing and the type of food you’re freezing, and immediately place it in the freezer. This will save you a lot of time when you search through the freezer at a later time.
6. Clean the Vacuum Sealer After Use
Similar to other kitchen equipment, vacuum-seal machines get dirty as well. Food sips out of the bag and gets into the small crevices, so if you want to keep it in the best shape, clean it after every use. This can be done by wiping down the sealing strip, drip tray, and the opening of the vacuum chamber with a damp cloth. You should also wipe down the top and sides of the sealing machine, and wait for the vacuum sealer to completely dry before storing it away.
What to Use a Vacuum Sealer For?
Now that you know how to use a vacuum sealer, here is what you can vacuum seal with this appliance.
One of the things that people often vacuum seal is meat and fish due to the fact that they last longer in the freezer. Vacuum-sealed meat and fish can keep in the freezer for up to two years without oxidizing or getting a freezer burn.
When you buy food that’s in season, you can stock up on your favorite fruits and veggies and use them throughout the year at a lower price. To prevent fresh fruit from clumping up when you vacuum seal it, it’s best to first freeze it lying flat on a baking tray and then lay it inside a sealed bag.
Reseal Food Packages
Another good use for the vacuum sealer is resealing food packages from opened spices, potato chips, coffee brands, and other food. This way, you can store them in the pantry without them going bad or losing flavor.
Store Leafy Greens and Salads
Salads and leafy greens can also be vacuum-sealed to keep them fresher for longer.
Shelf-stable foods, such as lentils, beans, rice, pasta, chickpeas, and other kitchen staples, can also be vacuum-sealed to give them an even longer shelf life.
Pickling and Preserving Canning Jars
Another great use for the vacuum sealer is pickling and canning foods in vacuum-sealable jars, so you can enjoy delicious pickled foods at your convenience.
You can use the vacuum sealer to prepare your meats before you cook them using the sous-vide method. Just cut your meat, place it in the bag with the sauce, vacuum seal it, and it’s ready to go in the sous vide.
Store Away Clothes
Not only is the vacuum sealer great for storing food, but it’s also helpful in storing out-of-season clothes so they take up less room in your closet.
Protect Important Documents
Vacuum sealing is perfect for storing documents and papers that you don’t want to risk getting wet, such as birth certificates, passports, social security cards, and other important papers. This is also useful in case of emergencies or when you move, as you’ll have all your essentials in one place.
Another great idea is to vacuum seal items that are valuable and need to be kept safe from humidity, such as antique books, comic books, etc.
To sum up, there are three main types of vacuum sealers, handheld vacuum sealers, bar sealers, and chamber vacuum sealers, and each one works best for a certain type of food. Now that you know more about how they all work and what you can use them for, you can choose the one that suits your needs the most and go out and purchase it. We have a comparison of the best vacuum sealers ready to help you with your purchasing decision.