Vacuum Packaging Foods at Home

You have decided to save yourself money and time through the use of a home vacuum sealer. Perhaps you also want to plan your food preparation to include home made ready-to-eat frozen entrees. Using a vacuum sealer you will be able to freeze mealtime leftovers, reduce food waste, save money and add variety to your diet.

There are many types of vacuum food sealers available for home use. Always follow the directions that came with your appliance. You have the choice of purchasing pre-cut plastic pouches or a roll of plastic sheeting to cut to your required size. The sealer rolls are more economical to use. Either type of pouch will yield the result of sealing your food items and removing oxygen from the package.

Keep food safety in mind as your prepare to vacuum seal. Always start with a scrupulously clean work surface and equipment. Do not expose food items that require refrigeration to room temperatures for longer than 2 hours. Work with small amounts of food at a time while larger portions are kept refrigerated. Always identify the type of food and the date processed. You will find it easier to write on bags prior to sealing them. Always thaw frozen food items in the refrigerator.

Vacuum sealers work best with solid items. Moisture contained in food is drawn out of plastic storage bags along with the air during the vacuum process. Moisture remaining in the vacuum channel sealing area prevents an effective seal. Food spoilage and frost damage increases with ineffective sealing. Check all seals for wrinkles and moisture. Use appropriate sized bags with 3 inches between the food and bag edge. This will reduce wrinkles and keep your vacuum sealing experience successful.

Freezing meat purchased in bulk is popular in many home food systems. Package the meat according to serving size requirements. This allows you to defrost the appropriate amount required for your recipes. Some meats have high moisture content. Place these meat portions onto a cookie sheet or tray and put in the freezer. You will have better success using your vacuum sealer when you pre-freeze these meats for 2 hours prior to sealing. Then proceed with sealing and replace into the freezer.

Wet foods including casseroles, stews and soups require pre-freezing as well. Use the plastic food containers you normally would for family lunch or dinner meals. Line the container with plastic wrap and place into the freezer for at least 2 hours. Place the frozen wet food into your freezer bag and seal. You may choose to leave the plastic wrap in place or leave it surrounding the frozen item. Now your pre-cooked frozen meals are conveniently sized to store, thaw and re-heat.

Using a home vacuum sealer extends food storage 3-5 times the length of other methods. You may want to experiment with vacuum packaging other types of dry foods to extend storage times. It is always important to rotate your stored foods to maintain quality. Check your freezer contents routinely and remove any item that has evidence of damage or frost.