Vacuum sealing food is one of the best ways to preserve and extend the shelf life of various foods. By removing the air from around the food and sealing it in an airtight environment, food spoilage can be dramatically slowed down. Vacuum sealed foods can last up to five times longer compared to just storing them in regular containers.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about vacuum sealing food, from the benefits to step-by-step instructions and tips. Read on to learn how you can easily vacuum seal a wide variety of foods to save money and reduce waste!
Vacuum Seal Food Tips
There are many advantages to vacuum sealing food, including:
- Prevents freezer burn – Freezer burn occurs when food is exposed to air in the freezer. This oxidization causes dry spots and changes in texture and flavor. Vacuum sealing prevents air from reaching the food.
- Retains freshness – By removing oxygen, vacuum sealing locks in moisture and keeps food fresher for longer compared to traditional storage methods. Foods stay closer to their original state.
- Extends shelf life – Vacuum sealed foods can last 3-5 times longer than their non-vacuum sealed counterparts. Less spoilage means fewer trips to the grocery store.
- Saves money – Because food stays fresh longer, you can buy in bulk or take advantage of sales without worrying about waste. Less spoilage means more bang for your buck.
- Adds convenience – Vacuum sealed foods are ready to grab and go from the freezer. You can prepare meals in advance or portion ingredients.
- Optimizes freezer space – Vacuum sealing removes air pockets and condensation, allowing you to fit more food in less space. Stackable, solid bags make better use of shelves.
- Maintains flavor and nutrients – By keeping air and moisture out, vacuum sealing retains the natural flavor of foods and preserves nutrients better than other storage methods.
- Provides piece of mind – Know that your food is safe from airborne bacteria, yeasts and molds when vacuum sealed. You’ll waste less food due to spoilage.
Foods That Can Be Vacuum Sealed
Many different types of foods can be vacuum sealed for longer-term storage, including:
- Raw meats – Beef, poultry, pork, lamb, fish, etc.
- Prepared meals and leftovers – Soups, stews, casseroles, rice dishes, pasta, etc.
- Cheeses – Hard and soft cheeses.
- Fruits and vegetables – Fresh or frozen. Excellent for seasonal produce.
- Baked goods – Cookies, breads, muffins, etc. Can be stored in freezer.
- Coffee and grains – Keeps coffee beans fresher. Also works for rice, pasta, oats, etc.
- Nuts and snacks – Keeps nuts and crunchy snacks fresh.
- Dried foods – Jerky, dried fruit, herbs and spices.
Basically, if it can be frozen, it can be vacuum sealed too. Vacuum sealing works best with foods that have a longer shelf life in the refrigerator or freezer when exposed to minimal air.
Foods that don’t work as well for vacuum sealing include leafy greens, aioli or mayo-based salads, wine, carbonated drinks and chips or puffed snacks.
Steps for Vacuum Sealing Food
Vacuum sealing food is a simple process that only takes a few extra minutes compared to traditional storage methods. Here is a step-by-step overview:
1. Prep the food
- For raw meats, poultry and fish, freeze first for at least 1-2 hours. This helps retain shape and texture.
- For liquids like soups or stews, pre-freeze in a shallow container until solid, then pop out and vacuum seal the block.
- For soft foods, pre-freeze on a baking sheet then vacuum seal once hardened.
- For baked goods, allow to fully cool first.
- For fresh produce, blanch vegetables first to stop ripening process. Wash berries and dry thoroughly.
2. Portion into bags
- Determine how much of each item you’ll realistically use per meal. Portion into bag sizes for single use or recipes.
- For bulk meats, separate roasts, steaks, chops, tenders, ground meat, etc. into daily or weekly amounts.
- Leave at least 1 inch of space at the top of bags. This allows room for food to expand as air is removed.
3. Vacuum seal the bag
- Place open end of filled bag into vacuum sealer. Machine will detect bag is inserted.
- Check that seal is lined up properly and bag edge is clean. This ensures a good seal.
- Engage the vacuum process per your machine’s instructions. This removes the air.
- Sealer will automatically seal the bag once vacuum process completes.
4. Date and freeze
- Best practice is to label bags with contents and freeze date before storing.
- Remove as much air as possible from freezer bags. Lie flat in single layers if possible.
- Frozen vacuum sealed foods are good for 2-3 years barring any freezer malfunctions.
And that’s it! With just a few additional minutes, you can easily extend the life of foods by vacuum sealing.
Tips for Successful Vacuum Sealing
Follow these tips to get the most out of vacuum sealing your food:
- Use high-quality freezer bags – Thicker plastic resists punctures and pinch seal failures. Look for bags designed specifically for vacuum sealing.
- Don’t overstuff bags – Leave adequate headspace at top so food can move during air removal. Overstuffing can lead to seal failures.
- Use water displacement method for delicate foods – Submerge bag underwater to gently compress food instead of suction.
- Double seal pouches for extra protection – First seal one end only, then do a complete seal once food is inside.
- Avoid overfilling liquids – Liquids expand during freezing. Leave ample headspace for expansion to avoid seal failures.
- Seal in portions, not bulk – Smaller bags thaw faster and minimize waste compared to large bags.
- Pre-freeze wet foods like raw meat – Freezing first helps food retain shape and seals better.
- Adjust vacuum pressure as needed – Use gentler settings for delicate items like cookies or bread.
- Clean sealer thoroughly between uses – Remove debris, crumbs and liquids that can interfere with proper seals.
- Refrigerate leftovers first – Vacuum seal refrigerated leftovers for later use rather than room temperature foods.
FAQ on Vacuum Seal Food Tips
Here are answers to some common questions about vacuum sealing foods:
What foods should not be vacuum sealed?
Soft cheeses, leafy greens, macaroni and cheese, and sandwiches with mayonnaise do not seal well. Very crisp crackers and chips lose their texture. Wine corks can get damaged.
Can you vacuum seal previously frozen food?
Yes, you can vacuum seal foods that were already frozen as long as they are thawed first. Ensure there is no excess liquid in the bag before sealing.
How long does vacuum sealed food last in the freezer?
Most foods will retain quality for 2-3 years if continuously frozen below 0°F. Beef and poultry last 1-2 years. Cakes and cookies last 2-3 years. Vegetables last 2-3 years.
Can you re-freeze meat after thawing if vacuum sealed?
Previously frozen raw meats should not be refrozen after thawing for food safety reasons, even if vacuum sealed. Cook meats first before re-freezing.
Is it necessary to blanch veggies before vacuum sealing?
Blanching stops the enzyme action that can lead to frozen vegetables losing flavor and texture over time. Blanching prior to sealing vegetables isn’t mandatory but is recommended.
What happens if you vacuum seal food with too much liquid?
Excess liquid can cause seal failures or get pulled out of the food during the vacuum process. Absorb excess liquid with paper towels prior to sealing. Leave headspace at top of bags.
How do you vacuum seal liquids?
Pour liquids like soup stock or stew into a shallow freezer-safe container. Freeze until solid, then pop out and vacuum seal the frozen block. You can break pieces off as needed.
Can you vacuum seal Mason jars?
Yes, you can purchase Mason jar seal attachments for many vacuum sealers that allow you to vacuum seal the contents in a Mason jar. The jar lids work the same as vacuum sealing bags.
Get Started Vacuum Sealing Food Today!
Vacuum sealing is an easy, affordable way to reduce food waste, save money at the grocery store and make meal prep a breeze. Follow the tips in this guide to start maximizing the life of your fresh and frozen foods. Vacuum sealing helps create a more organized, economical, and less wasteful kitchen.