My husband and I tend to be very practical people, even in our gift giving. One year, we gave our family members that did not already have one a vacuum food sealer. I have used one for 24 years and could not do without one. I guess that I have used one for so long that I forgot about the "learning curve" for using one of these great appliances. My phone line was burning up with questions. So, here goes – a few guidelines to using a vacuum food sealer.
1. Use the rolls instead of the pre-cut bags. You can cut them to any length you need.
2. Wrap everything in plastic wrap. That way you can reuse the bag without washing it. That means cheese, bacon, hot dogs, etc.
3. Make the bags about twice as long as you need them to be. That way, as you use partial portions of your item, you have room to reseal the bag several times.
4. Pre-freeze all meats in plastic wrap (See # 2), then vacuum seal. Make the portions whatever size you need, but remember, the smaller the size, the quicker it will defrost.
5. Pay attention to meat with sharp bones. I went through 3 bags one time because I did not notice that a bone was punching a hole in my bag. I put a plastic wrap "patch" over it. Just make a small square of several layers of folded up plastic and put it on top of the sharp area before you wrap it in the plastic wrap – that usually does the trick.
6. If you are freezing items with liquids, such as soup or cooked vegetables with liquid, freeze them first. You can use a zip lock bag, freeze it, then vacuum seal. This may sound a bit wasteful, but anything keeps longer vacuum sealed. Another tip for freezing liquids. When you put your zip lock bag in the freezer, make layers using cut up cardboard between the packs. That way, they freeze flat, like an envelope and do not stick together. You can make your vacuum seal bag large enough to hold several packages (See # 3). You can also use freezer containers, but you'll need to take the item out of the container to vacuum seal it.
7. Pre-freeze items like cookie dough and pizza crust dough in rolls in plastic wrap, then vacuum seal them. When you're ready to use them, take out the quantity you need and put them in the refrigerator the day before you need them and they're ready to go. You can make several batches at one time to save time and cleanup.
Using Canning Jars
1. Most of the vacuum sealers come with an attachment that will seal wide mouth canning jars. I use this to seal dried beans, rice, pasta, baking supplies, snacks, ground coffee, tea bags. The list is endless.
2. Make sure that the lids you use have never been processed in a canning procedure or they will not seal properly. Just try to keep them in another area of your kitchen so you do not mix them in with the other ones. The seal will last for a long time, but if you need new ones, you can pick them up at the grocery store in the canning section. All you need is the flat part. Never use the screw top part with this, it is not necessary and may break the seal.
3. Periodically wipe the attachment that goes on top of the jar with a damp paper towel since sometimes, you may have a slight build up of powdery substances, like flour.
4. You can use jars to freeze liquid items like soups and stews if you have room in your freezer, but this will take up a fair amount of space.
1. Most of the manufacturers offer canisters in many different capacities with their systems. I'm not sure if they are interchangeable or not. I would just be on the safe side and use ones that my unit offers.
2. Canisters can be used for any dry goods such as cereals, grits, oatmeal, potato chips, snacks, bread crumbs, baking staples like flour, baking soda, sugar, etc. In other words – anything that you do not want crushed and anything that you would normally put in a canister.
3. I use them for fresh vegetables and fruits. I wash the items, dry them and vacuum seal them for refrigeration. The tall canisters are super for green leaf lettuce and celery. I will make a large salad, vacuum seal it and it will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. One prep and one cleanup – Sweet.
4. Use them for vacuum sealing deli meat. They work a lot better than the bags for this purpose.
5. When vacuum sealing flour or anything finely ground, put a paper towel or paper coffee filter on the top after you have poured it into the canister to prevent any of the dust from getting sucked into the tubing.
6. Most manufacturers offer a container to marinate meat. It is usually rectangular. It is nice, but to be truthful, any of the canisters that will hold the amount you need will work just as well. Just make sure you have enough of the marinade to cover your meat.
Well, these are just a few pointers off the top of my head. It is not rocket science, but following a few rules makes the learning curve a lot easier. Vacuum sealers really are a great way to save money and cut back on waste. There is no telling how much money I've saved since I have been using mine for so long. I just know that it would be hard for me to do without one.