ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW about Food Vacuum Packing
Ali Larter appears on the small screen series Heroes. Just like a hero, she saves the world while looking so good. Ali also loves to cook. She has an Instagram filled with posts about food, a website where she shares her cooking tips and recipes, and her very own published cookbook. An Instagram post of the Heroes star making jams just notched up the cool level of food preservation.
The Art of Preservation
Are you, like Ali, a fan of fruit jams? These are actually fruits that have gone through the process of jamming, a method of food preservation.
Food, whether raw or cooked, can spoil. The objective of food preservation is to delay the spoiling process. There can still be spoilage in the end, but it is remarkably delayed depending on the method of food preservation you use.
Bacteria, micro-organisms and fungi cause food to spoil so when you limit or prevent their growth, food is preserved.
What can you preserve?
Practically anything can be preserved, using different methods. Cans and vegetables can be canned, or pickled. Meat or fish can be frozen or dried or smoked. Pasta sauce can be refrigerated or frozen.
Methods of Food Preservation
Here is an overview of some of the different methods of food preservation. Sometimes, you may employ more than just one method. For example, you can jelly then freeze. Or you can smoke then vacuum-pack.
- COOLING requires the use of our very common refrigerator. Both cooked and raw foods can be preserved this way. Set your refrigerator on 34 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.
- DRYING means you expose your food to the sun for it to dry. This is usually done for fruits, herbs and vegetables, and even fish.
- FREEZING uses the freezer, which is way colder than a refrigerator. Bacteria is not able to thrive in a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
- HEATING or boiling the food kills microorganisms. Milk is processed through boiling before it is stored.
- JELLYING uses gelatin or agar or arrowroot flour to make a gel out of foods like meat broth. Pate is chicken liver that has been jellied.
- PICKLING is also known as fermenting, which is one category of this method of food preservation. The other category is chemical pickling which uses brine, vinegar or alcohol.
- SMOKING uses smoke, usually from burning wood, to lengthen the shelf life of foods. Smoked ham and bacon are two delicious examples.
Vacuum-Packing for Food Preservation
This method of food preservation uses an air-tight bag or a bottle, usually a mason jar. The vacuum-sealing system sucks the air out of these containers so that food inside can be preserved. Without oxygen, bacteria and micro-organisms cannot thrive. Aside from being a method of food preservation, vacuum-packing also lessens the bulk of your food, making more room in the freezer.
Vacuum-Packing System and Accessories
Vacuum-packing may be done for almost any foods, whether liquid or solid, for grains or bulkier items. It can be raw food or cooked.
To do this right, you need the following:
- Vacuum Sealing System
- Plastic bags (food-grade, zipped preferably)
- Bottles or mason jars
The vacuum-sealing system is a broad term that refers to the machine those vacuum-seals and its accessories like the hose. No two machines is the same. Which model do you choose?
Factors to Know before Purchasing a Vacuum sealing System
- The extent of usage. Will you be vacuum-packing for commercial purposes or just personal consumption? If it is for commercial reasons, you need a machine that can do more and fast, not requiring time in between sealing. The smaller models would require you to stop and rest for 20 minutes.
- Size of your containers. Smaller machines can only be used for smaller bags, but if you get a bigger machine, it can serve any size.
- Containers you will be using. Some models and brands can do both plastic bags and jars. The varying tool is the jar sealer which you use when using mason jars. Then again, mason jars also vary in sizes – the regular one and the wide-mouth. Decide which one you want to use, and be consistent. Stick to that size so you don’t have to purchase two sizes of jar sealers.
- Quality of the machine. Some brands are made from stainless steel, while there are also those made from plastic. Stainless steel will last longer, but is a bit pricier than the plastic.
- Cost of investment. There is a wide range to choose from – different brands, models, sizes, materials…
- Before you make your investment, choose wisely. Know the options you have. You can study your choices online, or you can actually go to appliance stores and get the expert opinion of those in the know. You can also request a product demonstration so you can make the best decision.
What’s in the Market?
- Chamber vacuum-sealer. This model has a chamber where you actually put the plastic bag in so it can vacuum-seal. The benefit of this machine is that it removes the air from both the inside of the bag and its outside so you can be doubly-sure there is no air inside.
- External vacuum-sealer. This model has a ‘snorkel’ or a nozzle, where you put the mouth of the plastic bag in so it can be vacuumed and sealed.
- External vacuum-sealer. This model does not have a snorkel, but is still called as external vacuum-sealer, because it does not require the plastic bag to be placed inside a chamber; it remains outside of the machine. The vacuum-sealing happens by inserting about an inch of the plastic bag into the machine.
You can actually start a good home-based business with your commercial-grade vacuum-sealing machine. But you don’t have to go big time right away. You can start small by making and selling a few products to just friends and neighbors. When feedback is good and business becomes lucrative, then go for the big one!