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A vacuum sealer is used to remove the air around the food and fuse the bag that the food is in with a heated seal bar. This process of sealing food prevents it from being exposed to air that can cause spoilage or food items to go stale. A vacuum sealer is often used to also:
- Make DIY microwavable food or meals
- Store fabric and clothing for special occasions or specific seasons
- Keep electronics protected from water or moisture
- Marinate ingredients in significantly less time than traditional overnight methods
Vacuum sealing can increase the shelf life of a product by 50% to 400% which is why this method of preservation is used for long-term storage in freezers. This appliance can cost you anywhere from $25 to $750 depending on its size, strength, motor, and controls. Vacuum sealers typically seal vacuum bags that are 3 millimeters thick but some models are designed to seal bags that are 6 millimeters to 8 millimeters thick. You would have to spend around $50 for a box of 500 chamber vacuum bags or $16 edge sealer bags that come in a 100-ft roll in addition to your appliance.
This appliance can be used to put protect the items in a survival kit for when an emergency hits. When you are going through home remodeling or a renovation, a vacuum sealer can keep loose bolts and screws together as well as keep paint on a brush from drying out. The vacuum sealer has other uses that include:
Cooking Sous Vide
The vacuum sealer will let you induce ingredients and cook them sous vide style. A vacuum sealer will enable the efficient heat transfer from water to the food you want to cook which is 11 times more efficient than heat being transferred by air. Fill your vacuum bag with the food you would like to sous vide and allow room at the top of the bag. After the food has been positioned evenly, and in one layer when possible, raise the lid to slip the end underneath the pouch tabes.
Use your vacuum sealer to remove the air inside the bag then place the bag into boiling water. You can use a clip to secure the vacuum bag to the edge of your pot so that the food stays submerged in water. Vegetables can be cooked sous vide at a temperature of at least 183°F (84°C) while meat will need a temperature of 120°F (48.9°C) to 150°F (65.6°C).
Extend the Shelf Life of Food
Another way to use a vacuum sealer is to effectively preserve food. Vacuum sealed food’s shelf life is extended 3 to 5 times longer than if it were to be stored in bags or plastic containers. Fill your vacuum bags with pasta, rice or flour and use the vacuum sealer to remove the air surrounding your dried goods.
You can also choose to vacuum seal sharp pasta in a jar with a jar sealer attachment if the model you own has one. This way, the sharp edges of the pasta will not poke through the plastic bag. Vacuum sealed pasta can be stored for 1 year to 2 years.
Keep Herbs Fresh
A vacuum sealer can be used to store fresh and dried herbs and preserve their taste and aroma. To vacuum seal fresh herbs correctly, blanch them first. This is recommended for leafy greens to preserve their flavor. Drop the herbs into boiling water, blanch them by letting them flash boil for 15 seconds to 30 seconds if they are tender. Heartier herbs can be blanched for 30 seconds to 45 seconds. Let the herbs sit in an ice bath for 10 seconds to 15 seconds before drying them with a paper towel. Transfer the herbs into a vacuum bag after they are completely dry and seal them. Both dry and fresh herbs can be vacuum sealed and stored in the freezer for 6 months before they start to lose their flavor.
Make Gel Ice Packs
The vacuum sealer can alternatively be used to make your own gel-based ice packs. To make reusable ice packs, mix 1 part rubbing alcohol and 3 parts water in a bowl or directly into a vacuum bag. Seal the bag with your vacuum sealer and place it in the freezer. You can double seal the vacuum bag for good measure.
Make your own microwavable meals using a vacuum sealer. For instance, you can make breakfast hot pockets for the rest of the week. Preheat the oven to 450°F (232.2°C) and place a greased baking sheet onto a baking tray. To make the filling, add olive oil into a skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add onion, pepper, your meat of choice, and sauté the ingredients until the vegetables are soft. Add eggs and cheese into the pan and scramble the ingredients. Afterwards, set this aside. Divide the hot pocket dough into 8 pieces and roll them out into rectangles. Add about ¼ cup of filling to each rectangle of dough and fold over the dough to seal it with a fork. Cook the hot pockets in the oven for 10 minutes to 12 minutes and let them cool completely.
Place the hot pockets into a vacuum bag and use the vacuum sealer to remove the air surrounding the food. Place them into the freezer and consume them within 3 months.
Marinate Ingredients Quickly
A vacuum sealer can be used to marinate meat and vegetables quickly. Place your vegetables or meat into the vacuum bag making sure that the meat has been cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Add the recommended amount of marinade to the recipe you are following and coat your ingredients. Leave about 1 inch of space between the top of the vacuum bag and the marinate before using your vacuum sealer to remove the air inside and close the bag. Place the marinated ingredients in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. If you are marinating tender meat, leave it in the fridge for 1 hour to 2 hours before cooking it.
Prepare a Survival Kit
Also, the vacuum sealer can be used to preserve items for a survival kit or Bug Out Bag (BOB.) Place your vitamins, bandaids, painkillers, gauze, and other emergency items into a vacuum bag. Add a desiccant silica gel pack if you are going to include anything that can be damaged by humidity or moisture. Seal your items and use the medicine within 1 to 2 years after their expiration date.
Another way to use a vacuum sealer is to preserve wine. Traditional corks and bottle stoppers are designed to keep your wine fresh for another day but vacuum sealing is ideal for long term preservation. Use your vacuum sealer and its hose attachment to remove as much air as possible before sealing your bottle with a wine saver bottle stopper. This method will slow down the oxidation and make will make your wine last for 1 week to 2 weeks.
Protect important documents using your vacuum sealer. Vacuum packing is a great way to store and protect documents from water, dust, air, and UV rays. To preserve individual papers, insert a piece of cardboard or cardstock into a vacuum bag with your document to preserve the shape of the paper. For documents that have multiple pages, insert them into a collectible sleeve and prevent the text from transferring to the inside of the vacuum bag. Using your vacuum sealer, seal the bag with your documents. Store the vacuum-sealed documents in a cool, dry place.
Reseal Snack Bags
A vacuum sealer can reseal snack bags. For snacks that have been opened and will be consumed within the next few days, use the vacuum sealer to remove most of the air inside the bag to keep them fresh. While chips will be crushed if the air inside the bag is vacuumed completely, pretzels can be completely vacuumed.
Seeds can be preserved with a vacuum sealer. Place your seeds in a vacuum bag and remove the air completely with your vacuum sealer. You can store the seeds in the freezer until you plan to use them. This method will preserve seeds for up to 10 years compared to the year or 2 years that it would have lasted in its original packaging.
Stay Organized During Home Renovation or Remodeling
An alternative way to use a vacuum sealer is during a home renovation or remodeling project to stay organized. For DIY projects, you can vacuum seal screws that are meant to be used together. If you’re painting a wall or cabinet a certain color, you can vacuum seal the paintbrush you are using so that it will not dry out and you can pick up where you left off the following day.
Store Fabric and Clothing
The vacuum sealer is a great appliance to use when you are going to store fabric and garments. Short-term vacuum sealing clothes and bedsheets can save space and protect these items. Vacuum sealing fabric and clothing is also a great way to save space in your closet, pack for a trip, or move to a new house. Place your fabric and garments into a vacuum bag, use the vacuum sealer to remove the air, and store your items away until you need them.
Make your electronics waterproof with a vacuum sealer. Place your electronics into a vacuum bag and remove the surrounding air using your vacuum sealer. Not only will this protect your electronics from moisture, but they will also be protected from debris and dust.
What are the common mistakes for usage of a vacuum sealer?
When learning about how to use a vacuum sealer in your kitchen for any of the use cases above, there are a few common mistakes your need to avoid such as:
- Inserting the vacuum bag incorrectly. Placing a vacuum bag into the vacuum sealer properly and completely into the vacuum channel can lead to heat sealing the bag without removing all of the air.
- Not cleaning your vacuum sealer enough. Ideally, a vacuum sealer should be cleaned after every use to make sure that it will work efficiently for what you are going to vacuum seal next. Use a damp cloth to wipe your vacuum sealer making sure that the sealing strep has no traces of food. Also, clean out the vacuum sealer’s drip tray regularly.
- Not leaving space. If there is little to no space between the top of the vacuum bag and what you are vacuum sealing, you may not be able to seal it properly. It will also be difficult to add a second seal. If you are not sure how much space to leave, let there be around 4 inches of space at the top of the bag if you think you will need a second seal.
- Not making sure that the vacuum bag opening is dry. If the top, open part of the vacuum bag is not dry, your vacuum sealer will continue to try to remove air until it has registered that there is no more moisture. This vacuum cycle can damage your vacuum sealer so make sure that the top of the vacuum bag is completely dry before sealing.
- Placing sharp objects inside a vacuum bag. A sharp bone or earring can puncture the vacuum bag it is in and let air in without you knowing. If you are going to vacuum seal sharper items, wrap them in a soft, paper towel before sealing.
- Resealing a vacuum bag. If you have noticed that a vacuum bag has not been sealed properly and then rip it open to reseal it or use another bag, you could be resealing a wrinkled bag and waste a new one. Simply leave at least 4 inches of space to avoid this.
- Using the same gasket for more than 1 year. The silicone piece or gasket in your vacuum sealer ensures a proper seal and should be replaced every year so that it can continue to work properly.
- Using the wrong function for what you are sealing. While different models offer various controls, you may not want to completely vacuum seal some items for the use cases above. Make sure you are using the seal-only and vacuum sealing option as needed.
- Using the wrong type of bag. Use the recommended vacuum bag that your vacuum sealer manufacturer recommends. This way, the vacuum sealer will efficiently vacuum seal your items for the use cases above.
- Vacuum sealing wrinkled bags. Using wrinkled vacuum bags can lead to air pockets and damage your items. Make sure to use flat vacuum bags in your vacuum sealer for the use cases above.
To take care of your vacuum sealer and efficiently vacuum seal the items in the use cases above, make sure to avoid these mistakes.
What is the history of usage of vacuum sealers?
To understand what a vacuum sealer is, let’s discuss its’s history. Vacuum packing machines can be traced back to World War II. Food was stored in vacuum sealers for soldiers to consume later on. Prior to this, the air was removed from rubber bags in France and then sealed to increase the shelf life of food. After plastic was commercialized and used more often, vacuum packaging boomed.
Vacuum packs were small and invented in the 1940s to store food. Vacuum packing was used to store turkeys in the 1950s which was made possible with the Cryovac vacuum. It was a german inventor, Karl Busch, who introduced an industrial-sized vacuum packer in 1963. A vacuum pump was used to vacuum pack food items and was called the Huckepack. This was the first type of vacuuming machine utilized in the meatpacking industry.
In 1984, the modern sealer was invented by Hans Christian to preserve leftover food. Modern vacuum sealers combine this feature with the vacuum to store food items safely. Today’s vacuum sealers are also more digital and have different uses.
Do the use cases of a vacuum sealer change based on type?
Yes, the use cases of a vacuum sealer change based on the type of vacuum sealer you purchase. The most common vacuum sealer, nozzle types, use a nozzle to remove air from a vacuum bag. There are models that have dual nozzles so that you can remove air from two bags at the same time. A chamber vacuum sealer utilize a vacuum chamber and a heat seal to remove air and then completely seal a bag.
There is also edge vacuum sealers or an external clamp where a small vacuum cavity is at the seal of the appliance. This removed air from a bag directly because of the type of vacuum bag used and are also come with optional hose attachments.
Which vacuum sealer is best for meat in the freezer?
The FoodSaver is the best vacuum sealer for meat in the freezer. This vacuum sealer can be stored either vertically or horizontally and has setting for dry and moist food. Meat can be sealed as is or when cut up into smaller pieces and stored in the freezer without getting freezer burn.
Does a vacuum sealer have more use cases than an impulse sealer?
Yes, vacuum sealer vs. impulse sealer, a vacuum sealer has more use cases. An impulse sealer can be used to seal plastic packaging which a vacuum sealer can do. However, a vacuum sealer can be used to do sous vide cooking and marinate meat efficiently which an impulse sealer cannot do.
What are the other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a vacuum sealer?
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to a toaster include:
- Impulse Sealer: an impulse sealer uses electricity to heat the metal wire that will melt one layer of a plastic bag to the other.
- Pot of Water and Pressure: another way the sous vide method can be done is by placing your food into a ziplock bag and leaving it about 1 inch open. Fill a pot with water and lower the bag until the open section is above water. The water pressure will squeeze out the air just like a vacuum sealer would have.
These kitchen tools have similar uses to a vacuum sealer but have use cases specific to themselves. You can learn more about the 5 other uses of these 2 kitchen tools here.