Why is a vacuum sealer a good investment for me?
A vacuum sealer is a great way to stretch your food budget, as it allows you to buy in bulk (which is generally significantly cheaper than buying individual food items) and store anything you don’t use for much longer than its usual expiration date. The savings you will see from vacuum sealing are nothing to scoff at; even if you don’t buy things in bulk, vacuum sealing can stop food spoilage and waste of your everyday groceries. If you like shopping at the weekly farmers market, for example, but know that anything you buy from there will go bad in a few days, you can extend the shelf life of your veggies so that you can enjoy fresh, organic produce at any time.
How much longer will my food stay fresh if I vacuum seal it?
Beef usually lasts for about 3 days, but when vacuum sealed it can last for up to 12 days. Smoked fish can last up to 6 weeks if vacuum sealed, as opposed to 2 weeks for regular storage. Pizza will stay fresh for up to 2 days when stored just in the fridge, or you can vacuum seal it and enjoy it up to a week after. Fresh produce, which normally starts going bad after 4 days, can be preserved for up to 2 weeks. You preservation times will be even longer if you freeze your food rather than storing it in the fridge.
Is there anything else I can use my vacuum sealer for, besides food?
You can use a vacuum sealer to store blankets, coats, and bulky winter items and preserve space. Any sort of large, malleable object that you want to store can be reduced to as much as half its size by vacuum sealing, making storage a breeze. If you do plan on using your vacuum sealer on larger items, make sure to buy a sufficiently large vacuum sealer, most likely a professional-grade sealer.
How do vacuum sealers work?
Vacuum sealers essentially work by sucking all of the air out of a plastic bag, then sealing the bag using either heat or zip-lock. The plastic bags can be cut to fit whatever size food you may need to vacuum pack.
What types of vacuum sealers are there?
There are small, portable vacuum sealers that use re-sealable bags; upright countertop and horizontal countertop sealers which use rolls of plastic or one-use bags; and professional sealers, which can vacuum seal large, bulk items.
What type of vacuum sealer do I need?
This depends entirely on how you plan to use the vacuum sealer. Portable vacuum sealers are great for travel, but can generally only handle very small quantities at a time. The fact that portable vacuum sealers can use re-sealable bags makes them a bit more budget-friendly, because you won’t need to buy as many bags. Countertop sealers are slightly larger and sit on your counter, and can handle moderate quantities of food. These are good for anyone who just wants to use their vacuum sealer once or twice a week for their groceries or leftovers. A professional sealer is great for campers, backpackers, survivalists, or anyone who likes to vacuum seal large quantities of food at once, but are much larger than their counterparts.
What features should I look for in a vacuum sealer?
Some good features to have in a vacuum sealer include wet/dry settings, a drip tray, a hose attachment, a bag cutter and bag storage, and adjustable speed levels.
What are wet/dry settings?
Wet/dry settings, found in many Food Saver models, allow you to adjust your sealer to optimize it for sealing either wet or dry food. Since liquid and semi-liquid food needs different sealing and vacuuming times and conditions than dry food, this ensures that each time you vacuum seal something, it’s getting the proper treatment.
What is a drip tray?
A drip tray catches any runoff or spillage from your food. For example, meat drippings, liquid perishables, or juice from fruits can sometimes overflow during the sealing process, and a drip tray catches these. Drip trays save you from having to scrub down your counters and are usually easy to clean and dishwasher-safe.
Why is having a hose attachment a benefit?
Sometimes, the item or items you want to vacuum seal don’t fit neatly into the available vacuum sealing bags. A hose attachment, found in many Cuisinart and VacMaster, allows you to vacuum seal bulkier items by attaching a hose to the machine, which will then suck the air out quickly and efficiently. This is great for anyone who wants to be able to store things like blankets and winter clothes without wanting to invest in a large, expensive, professional vacuum sealer. You can also use the hose attachment for canning or jarring nuts, jams, pickles, and other goods.
What are the benefits of a bag cutter and bag storage?
Both bag cutters and bag storage features, which are fairly standard in Food Saver models, add a little extra ease to the vacuum sealing process. Bag cutters allow you to easily cut your vacuum sealer bags to any size you desire without needing scissors, while bag storage saves you space and effort by keeping your vacuum sealer bags right inside the vacuum sealer at all times.
Why do I need adjustable speed levels?
Sometimes, you will need different speeds for different types of food and different types of bags. Thicker, heavy-duty sealer bags require slower speeds, as do delicate items like photographs. Other items you want to be able to seal quickly, so you’ll want a faster speed.
Are there other things I should consider when thinking about a vacuum sealer to buy?
One thing to keep in mind when shopping around for vacuum sealers is whether or not the model can accommodate any sort of generic sealer bag, or whether it needs dedicated sealer bags made especially for that model. For example, most Ziploc and Cuisinart models can be used with any food sealer bag, while many Food Saver models require the use of Food Saver brand bags for optimal use. While buying a vacuum sealer that requires a certain type of bag can be a bit pricier than those that allow you to buy generic, they also tend to outperform their counterparts in terms of sealing quality.
How expensive are vacuum sealers?
Vacuum sealers can cost as little as $30 or $350 or more. Consider the cost of bags when you are thinking about your budget for a vacuum sealer. Also, if it seems like a large investment, think about the money you will save buying food in bulk and how much food waste you will save by being able to enjoy your meats and vegetables long past their usual good-by dates.
Do I still need to refrigerate vacuum sealed food?
Absolutely. While vacuum sealing will eliminate most of the bacteria and mold growth on your food, some bacteria can survive even in oxygen-poor environments, and leaving your vacuum sealed food outside of the fridge or freezer can promote the growth of this resistant bacteria.
What kinds of foods can be vacuum packed?
You can vacuum seal just about any type of fresh food, including leftovers and fresh fruits and vegetables. You can vacuum seal soups and stews, mushrooms, meat, or pasta dishes. You can also use a vacuum sealer to proof bread dough if you like baking your own bread. You can also marinate food in a vacuum-sealed pouch, and it will cut your marinating time in half.
Can I use vacuum sealed bags for sous vide cooking?
As long as there are no tears or punctures in the bag, you will have no problems using vacuum sealed bags in sous vide cooking.