All things to know about food vacuum-packing

>> Nov 4, 2018



Vacuum packing has improved and developed through the years with the emergence of technology and the introduction of newer and better models of the vacuum sealing system.

While old food preservation methods employed by the hunters of the past remain applicable, the rush of the present world calls for fast answers and conveniences, and so we prefer having the best food saver equipment to use.
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Food preservation prolongs the shelf life of food by removing the air from the container with the food. It preserves food up to five times longer as compared when it is not vacuum sealed.

PREPARATION OF FOODS

Remember, vacuum sealing seals the food in the condition it was preserved. Meaning, if you vacuum sealed rotten food, when you open it, it would remain rotten. The vacuum sealing process is not a magician's tool that will automatically give you fresh food. Therefore, the most important thing is to ensure the freshness of the food before you vacuum seal it.

Here are a few tips on preparing food for vacuum-sealing:
1.   Wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly, but pat dry or air-dry to remove moisture;
2.   Meats and fish have to be thoroughly cleaned and deboned. Removing the bones will also prevent it from tearing the plastic container;
3.   You may use plastic bags or containers or jars. Whatever you use, make sure you buy the brands that are compatible with your vacuum-sealer;
4.   Fill the bag, but leave at least 3 inches space on top before sealing. If you want to re-use the bag in the future, leave a bigger space so you can re-use and re-seal;
5.   Wipe the edge of the plastic where you will seal to remove oil, water or crumbs that may affect the seal.

MAN VS MACHINE

You can vacuum-seal without using fancy equipment. Although, admittedly, the seal may not be that effective or durable. For example, put food inside a zipper bag. Before entirely closing the zip, leave an open part big enough to put a straw in. Then you suck out the air manually. Do that until you think there is no more air left inside the plastic, and it would already have a crumpled look to it.

But you don’t have to resort to theatrics to vacuum seal. There are different kinds of machines out there, and there is one that would fit your needs and budget.

1. MANUAL VACUUM SYSTEM
This usually works with containers and jars. Put an attachment to the lid that will be the port to the nozzle of the manual vacuum machine. Push down the lever to start suction. You would not have a gauge to tell you if the process is done; you will have to believe that once the lever is all the way down, all the air is out.

2. AUTOMATIC VACUUM SEALER
This can be a wide range of vacuumsealer some purely automatic, like it automatically detects when you insert a bag, and automatically starts or stops operation. Then there are models which are partly manual, partly automatic. For example, you have to manually put the bag in, but it takes only one button to start the vacuum sealing which will automatically stop when done.
There are also models with various controls that give you choices as to speed, and use for delicate items, like chips or cookies.

PROCESS OF VACUUM SEALING

Here are the general steps to follow to vacuum pack food. The steps can vary, though, depending on the brand and model of vacuumsealing system you have:
1.   Put the foods inside the container, whether a plastic bag, canister or jar;
2.   If you are using a canister or jar, you would need an attachment for the nozzle to fit on top of the canister or jar;
3.   If you are using a plastic bag, for an external vacuum-sealer, you place the edge of the bag on the mouth of the vacuumsealer, and then you press a button for the suction and seal process to start;
4.   An automatic vacuumsealer will automatically stop when the suction and seal process is done. For some machines, you may have to press the button to stop;
5.   If you are using a chamber vacuumsealer, and not an external one, you will have to put the bag with the food inside a chamber. The whole bag will be inside, unlike in the external vacuumsealer where a big part of it will be hanging outside.

WORKING WITH LIQUIDS

Liquids, like soup or sauces, may also be vacuum sealed. How you go about it depends on the vacuum sealer model you have. The chamber vacuum sealer will give you the most comfortable time. It can quickly and successfully do the process without a problem.

However, if you are like the many who own an external vacuum sealer, the liquid may be sucked out of the bag during the vacuum sealing. To avoid this from happening, you will have to freeze your juice into a solid state before you can vacuum seal it.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT MACHINE

If you intend to do food preservation right, then you should choose and get the right machine to help you. I have briefly given you a glimpse of the different options and features you have.
Here are a few more factors to consider before you make your decision:
1.   Consider the size of your machine vs. the size of your kitchen. Some industrial-type units are enormous and can take up a lot of counter space. There are also models which are more vertical than horizontal, and will not take up much counter space, but you have to measure its height to make sure it fits under hanging cabinets if any;
2.   Size of the machine vs. convenience of bringing it around. Most people leave their vacuum sealer in the kitchen, but if you are one of the more adventurous ones, perhaps you would like to bring yours when you go fishing. In that case, you may want a unit that is not so heavy to cart around. While you're at it, consider a model specifically made for the outdoors;
3.   You have to consider the purpose you are going to use it for. Some use it for personal purposes like to save left-over's. Some have businesses which require the machine, like perhaps a restaurant or food business. If you are thinking of a food retail business, you would need a vacuum-sealer with a stronger motor that can withstand vacuum-sealing a good number of bags without the need to cool down;
4.   Cleaning and maintenance. In general, most vacuum-sealers will just require a good wipe down after use. Also, there would be a drip tray which you can remove and place inside a dishwasher. However, if you are frequently using your unit, you may have to be more thorough about cleaning it.  In the same way that you may have to change some parts after frequent usage. This factor is an important consideration because you have to think about the availability of parts and its costs;
5.   Size of the food or containers you are going to vacuum seal. The biggest bag is 11 inches wide and can fit a whole turkey. In this case, you need a vacuum sealer that can seal that wide. Containers and jars come in two sizes of lids - the usual and the wide.

Vacuum sealing food is done for a variety of reasons - to save left-over's, to save foods bought wholesale or to preserve a wild game. It may be for your personal use, or for a business.

Preparing food packs ahead of time ensures you get your choice meals when you are not home. This is especially helpful if you are on an individual or restricted diet.

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