We know that food does not last forever, but with the right tools, we can certainly prolong its shelf life. Using food sealers is a new way of doing just that.
Vacuum sealing reduces the oxygen out of food packaging and extends the lifespan of your food sources significantly. This food storage method works by slowing down the deterioration of food sources by reducing atmospheric oxygen, and creates an anaerobic environment that limits the growth of aerobic bacteria or fungi, and prevents the evaporation of volatile components.
Due to the lack of oxygen in the sealed package, dry, solid foods like brown sugar will not dry out, freshness in sealed dry herbs extended, foods that are high in fats and oils will not go rancid, and insect infestations in dry goods will not occur. This food storage method also conserves space for additional food storage. Also, you can also use the sealer to seal non-food items to protect against oxygen, corrosion, and moisture damage. For example, you can vacuum seal unused oxygen absorbers for future food storage, matches for camping trips, medication, emergency forms, etc.
With all the seen advantages, there are some drawbacks to this food storage method. Most notably, the sealed bags are not completely impervious to air. There have been multiple accounts of users saying after a few years; the bags can begin to leak. When leaks occur, the opened seals allow oxygen, insects and other enemies of your food to enter. One way to reduce leakage is to ensure that the foods you seal are not overly bulky or have sharp edges.
I have sealed beans, rice, coffee beans and popcorn and have never had a break in the seal (this is years after sealing them). In my previous article, I outlined how to use a multi-barrier method for storing food. If you add sealed foods to a 5-gallon plastic bucket, this would protect against the concern for breaks in the packaging and introduce enemies of your food.
Moreover, rather than using a food sealer for long-term storage, you could utilize it for short-term food storage. That is if you plan on using the food item within 6 months to a year before any danger of an air leak. Another issue with this storage method is there are dangerous bacteria associated with vacuum sealing perishable goods that you should be aware of before use. A way to circumvent this is not to seal perishable food items.
Sealing liquids has also posed problems for some users. When freezing packages of liquid foods, many have run into the problem of liquid getting sucked back into the vacuum sealer. You can avoid this in one of two ways:
1. One is to fill the vacuum bags and freeze them without sealing. Seal once the contents are solid and they won’t leak into the guts of the sealer.
2. Another way is to refrigerate the dish until it has thickened. Some sauces and soups will gel when cold. When it has done so, fill the bags and vacuum seal per instructions. Another option is to freeze in temporary containers and then slip the blocks of food out and repackage and seal.
Please keep in mind that vacuum sealing is not a substitution for the heat processing of home canned foods, nor is it a substitution for the refrigerator or freezer storage of foods that would otherwise require it.
Knowing all the tools available for food storage will help you make the best decision for your food storage needs. Food sealers are readily available and is found at many superstores. While I would not use this for a long-term food storage option, I have used it as a short-term food method, and it stores beautifully. We have also used it to seal camping supplies (matches, socks, etc.). In my next article, we will talk about why you should consider adding dehydrated food to your food pantry.
Tess Pennington started Ready Nutrition as a way to help her family live more economically. She is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster, and the highly-rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. Subscribe to Tess’ newsletter, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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