Vacuum sealing food might seem as though something only a professional would do. However, think again, it’s an easy task to do when cooking at home. You might only think of vacuum sealing food items meant for freezing, but many foods can be vacuum sealed.
Investing in a vacuum sealer sounds like an expensive option. However, smaller machines are a one-time investment and food grade vacuum sealing bags are available at reasonable prices. Make a purchase and prepare and vacuum seal tasty, healthy food.
1. Storing food
Let’s begin with the most common use. Just how many times have you seen white icy crystals on that piece of meat, or bag of peas, that you froze for later use? This is called freezer burn and it happens when icy air gets inside the food packaging. Moisture is pulled away from the meat by the oxygen in the surrounding air inside the freezer, and upon defrosting, the texture and flavours are often lost due to this ‘burn.’ This is where vacuum sealing is advantageous, as when vacuum sealing all excess air is sucked out of the bag, leaving no scope for the moisture to be sucked away from the food product. All foods to be refrigerated or frozen should be effectively vacuum sealed.
2. Bulk buy and repackage to save money
Many large scale supermarkets sell in bulk. However once opened it needs to be used or the food contents often get spoiled due to exposure to atmospheric air and humidity. Re-packaging the contents into smaller portions in vacuum sealed bags helps to retain the freshness and preserves your food until required.
3. Keep out weevils and mould
During the summer and humid months, weevils and other insects can appear in stored dried foods! There’s always the option to store dried goods in the refrigerator, but this may not be practical for every household. Hence, vacuum sealing helps to pack the food items and snacks tightly, without excess air in the packets. Mould and bacteria don’t grow in the absence of oxygen.
4. Increase Shelf Life
Vacuum sealing foods increases the shelf life of the product without additional preservatives. For example, nuts in vacuum sealed packs can be kept for a longer time before they turn rancid or stale. For those with a busy lifestyle, cooking in bulk and storing for later use is invaluable. Soups and stocks, ragu and sauces, all of which take hours to cook, can be stored for use on another day, even for several weeks later! Keep foods fresh by using food grade vacuum sealing bags and going chemical-free.
5. Seasonal fruits and vegetables
Got gifted a huge crate of in-season mangoes, berries, or a variety of vegetables? You probably can’t eat them all before they start to decay? Cut or puree them, and store in vacuum sealed bags in the refrigerator or freezer to use later. Do note though that many fruits and veggies lose some of their texture after defrosting, even though the flavours will be retained.
6. Save space
How often do you play Tetris with your freezer, or your pantry shelf? Especially bulk-buy purchases of cereals, dried fruits, biscuits and crackers; all can be challenging to store. Re-seal them into smaller space-saving packages using vacuum sealed bags and stack them more conveniently on the shelves. Vacuum bags are a great space saver and helpful for transporting food and snack items for travel or picnics.
7. Retain flavour
Storing certain foods becomes difficult especially if the food item is perishable or tends to lose its texture or flavour on being exposed to external elements. For example, loose-leaf tea if left open or unsealed will lose its fragrance and freshness. Vacuum sealing into smaller, weekly consumption packaging is the answer. This method works wonderfully perfect for herbs and spices. It is also used to cook foods with the sous-vide technique.
8. Choice of package sizes
Whilst purchasing foods, there’s a constraint on the pre-packaged sizes and quantities of food items. These can be easily managed by re-sealing into the size of packaging that best suits your lifestyle and consumption pattern, whether it’s a one-meal pack, or a double steak pack, or exact portion sizes of berries and fruit for that perfect smoothie. Quick and easy mini vacuum packaging for office lunches or school snack boxes become ultra-convenient.
9. Avoid chemicals
Most often there is a tendency to buy frozen foods as they are easy to have in stock and require little preparation. Whilst this is certainly easy and hassle-free, the foods are laden with chemicals to preserve the food. Take a little time, make a little effort to buy fresh and vacuum seal your grocery items to avoid consumption of chemicals.
10. Avoid cross contamination
Foods often stored together, especially raw meat, chicken, seafood, and so on are at risk of cross-contamination if stored incorrectly. In the freezer, these raw foods are often stored with cooked food, or items like carrots or berries that may be eaten raw, and thus cause cross-contamination. Vacuum sealing helps pack the raw meats tightly so that no air or juices from these foods can escape into the freezer compartment and cause contamination.