Steve and I love to fish together. In fact, if you ask him; he will tell you I am his best fishing buddy. Not many couples can say that about each other, but for us we feel closest when we are sitting on a lake together. It works well for us since it both allows us to spend quality time together and to fill our freezer with fresh food cheaper than we could at the grocery store. We usually do quite well for ourselves when we’re on the lake which means we are using our Foodsaver to seal the fish we catch. Using a Foodsaver to vacuum seal meat can be tricky though. If you aren’t careful, you’ll lose your seal and your meat will still get freezer burned. Learning how to vacuum seal food is easy though once you know how to keep that from happening.
Before you learn how to vacuum seal food, there are a few things you should understand. There are a few myths and other though processes that cause people to improperly vacuum seal things. These vacuum sealing myths if you will are often the cause of folks losing food because they don’t know any different. As I have said before, finding ways to reduce food waste is a great way to save money. If you’re wanting to learn how to use a Foodsaver, you’ll want to pay attention to the next paragraph so you don’t have the waste or issues I am talking about.
How to Vacuum Seal Food
Once you understand what so many people don’t about vacuum sealing your food, you’ll be a lot more likely to have long-term success in preserving your frozen food for a much longer time. Learning how to vacuum seal meat is a little bit different than sealing other types of food since there are so many other variables involved.
If you do a lot of freezer cooking, knowing how to vacuum seal meals is a must have skill that can save you money. In fact, a Foodsaver is one the things on my list of best kitchen gadgets for freezer cooking because it makes things so much easier.
Are vacuum seal bags airtight?
The biggest myth about vacuum sealing I want to address is the one that says vacuum seal bags are made to be air tight. They aren’t and I’m not entirely certain why anyone would think they would be. Vacuum seal bags are nothing more than a thicker freezer bag made of the same stuff your regular Ziploc freezer bags are made of.
How long will vacuum packed food last?
The second myth I want to address is for those that are wondering how long vacuumed packed meat will last. The myth is that that vacuum seal bags will hold a seal indefinitely. Again, considering they are nothing more than a thicker sheet of plastic sealed with heat, it is pretty strange to expect this. Falling victim to this myth is the main reason people find vacuum sealed meat that has gone bad or has become freezer burnt.
Does vacuum sealed food expire?
The third and final myth about vacuum sealed food I want to address is the one that says food that has been vacuum sealed does not expire. Not only is this one flat out wrong, but it could also be dangerous. There is no method of preserving food indefinitely short of a handful of items that do not expire because of their makeup. Even food you have learned to can yourself will expire someday. Vacuum sealed food rarely lasts longer than 9 months at the outside.
How to Vacuum Seal Meat
Before you start to learn how to use a Foodsaver, you’ll need to pick up a few supplies. Obviously, you will need to have a Foodsaver vacuum sealing machine. You can use an off-brand, but from personal experience, the quality of the seal is not nearly as good.
You will also want to have Foodsaver bags in both quart and gallon sizes, a Sharpie and regular freezer bags available. Vacuum seal bags can be expensive, but you can buy them in bulk to help lower the cost. I have not tested generic vacuum seal bags, but I have heard good things from others. I would suggest you stock more quart sized bags than gallon, but that will depend on the size of your family and the meals you’re sealing. My family of four uses quart sized four to one over gallon sized.
How to Use a Foodsaver
Before you even attempt to use your Foodsaver, take the time to clean your machine. Make sure all gaskets and the drip tray are free of any liquid or debris. An unclean machine is not only unsanitary, but it could keep you from getting a proper seal.
The first thing you will do when you’re preparing to vacuum seal food is to label your Foodsaver bag. Take my advice and do this before you put the food in it. It will be far too hard to do so once it is sealed. Set the vacuum seal bags aside for now and grab the regular freezer bags. If you don’t want to use a marker to label your bags, freezer labels such as THESE are a great option as well.
It may seem odd to use a regular freezer bag with your Foodsaver, but the best way to protect your food is by giving it a double layer of protection. Regular freezer bags alone can’t do that and as I said earlier, vacuum seal bags are not air tight. By use a double bag system of regular freezer bags combined with the vacuum seal bag, you’ll protect your food; especially meat far better.
Add the meat or whatever food you’re sealing – as you can see, I was sealing fish we had caught in the photo above – to the regular freezer bag and zip the top almost all the way closed. Leave a small amount of the bag unsealed for the next step.
The whole reason for vacuum sealing food is to remove as much air as possible. Air is one of the biggest enemies of food storage. This means that even though you are double bagging, you still need to remove as much as possible. Grab your bag and roll the bottom toward the top. Squeeze out as much air as possible as you roll. This is why we left the bag unsealed a small amount. It gives air in the bag a place to escape.
Once you have the bag rolled to the top, give it a good squeeze to remove any remaining air. Without unrolling it, seal the rest of the zipper.
Once you have rolled, slip the freezer bag down inside the vacuum seal bag. Make sure to leave at least 2″ of space at the top so your Foodsaver has room to seal. It’s actually best to leave more space, but I have gotten a good seal with as little as 2″.
Run each bag through a cycle in your Foodsaver. If you have never used one, simply slide the clean edge of the bag into the machine with the power on. It will automatically lock the bag into place, vacuum the air out and seal the bag. Once it’s sealed it should automatically release the bag, but if it doesn’t, most Foodsaver units have a release button you can push.
Your vacuum sealed food will last anywhere from 6-9 months easily this way. When I don’t use the double bag method, I am lucky to get 4 months from fresh meat. Learning how to vacuum seal food this way has saved me a ton of time and wasted money.