The purpose of vacuum sealing is relatively simple - to preserve perishable goods for extended periods of time. By basic principle, vacuum sealing is the process of sealing food in specialized plastic bags with very little to no air whatsoever. Doing so keeps the food from being exposed to any elements or bacteria that may contribute to its decay. In many cases, you can have meat last over several months with the freshness sealed in.
Here are some tips to vacuum sealing:
Location, location, location
Keeping your work area dry is of utmost importance when vacuum sealing. Having any kind of moisture build up on the vacuum seal may breach the integrity and quality of the food. Considering that you are doing this to your food for the long haul, finding them month’s later suffering from severe freeze burn will be a cause for great disappointment.
Not only must you keep your work area dry, it is also wise to ensure that any area of your vacuum sealer bags that were not meant to have any contact with any form of liquid is dry before you go on your merry day, sealing stuff away.
Dealing with liquids
In comparison to vacuum sealing solids, liquids are a little harder to handle primarily because of their flowing properties. By design, vacuum sealer bags are not reliable containers before they have been used with vacuum sealers. One of the best and most obvious tricks in sealing liquids easily is to let the vacuum sealer bag hang over the ledge of your table as you seal it. This allows for the liquid to be as far away as possible from the open end of the plastic bag, therefore minimizing the risks of spillage. Another quick trick that you may employ is to pre-freeze your food before stuffing them inside the bag. This applies to most liquids like thick soups and sauces.
Take the edge off
Another common concern is dealing with your food having sharp edges. We can easily define “sharp edges” as bones, fish fins and stems or anything that may puncture your vacuum sealer bags, rendering them useless. Solutions for these types of problems are relatively simple and straightforward:
- Cut the edges off with a sharp knife with the intent of rounding them/dulling them a bit
- Dampen the edges by wrapping the stubs with paper towels or wax paper
If this is not an option, however, you may want to get sturdier vacuum sealer bags. The thicker the bag you get, the lesser the risks for tearing.
Dealing with soft and/or fragile food can be a little messy if you have no mastery over your vacuum sealing machine -- maybe you are sealing in bread or chips? Expect them to be crushed and pulverized (in that order) if you have no control over the amount of air being sucked out by your machine.
If you are dealing with delicate delicacies, then it is best to have a vacuum sealer that allows for manual sealing. Manual sealing lets you have full control over the amount of air being sucked out by the press of a button. Let your vacuum sealer suck out as much air as you want, then stop it when it is about to crush your chips into powder.
Here are a few points to consider when you are out and about looking for the perfect partner for your sealer:
Vacuum sealer bags are measured in millimeters (mm) in terms of thickness. As a general rule of thumb, thicker means better. The thicker a bag is, the sturdier it is against punctures and tearing. Moreover, it allows the bag to withstand freezing, boiling and exposure to microwaves a lot better than thinner vacuum sealer bags.
Another aspect to consider is that what you are trying to vacuum seal co-relates to the dimensions of the bag you will use. You would not want to vacuum seal a small amount of food with a vacuum sealer bag twice its size. Though bigger bags have a wider range of coverage, smaller bags allow for maximizing your main storage space.
Frequency of Opening the Bag
You may want to take this into consideration -- if you have plans of re-sealing your bags, it is best not to go for those of smaller or exact sizes; it would be better to go for larger and thicker bags for your use.
If you find this a hassle, however, there are bags out there that come with zip-locks! They mostly only work with hand-held vacuum sealers, though.
Vacuum sealing your food is always a great idea. The process in itself adds another layer protection that will ensure the freshness of your food. It is important to make a well-informed choice when choosing your vacuum sealer bags. Keep in mind the tips above, and you are good to go!