I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. I LOVE MY FOOD SAVER!!!
Someday in the future my machine will die (most likely from over use), but that day is not today, and frankly it makes me cry just thinking about it. *sniff*
Other than prolonging the shelf life of all the food I seal in bags and canning jars, there-by saving me money, I think my favorite use for a vacuum sealer is it can be used for SO much more than food! I’ve compiled a list for you to consider sealing in jars or bags!
Non-food Items that can be protected with your vacuum sealer:
- Paint, Spackle, Caulk & Wood Filler- Joey and I disagree on whether or not these items need to be repackaged. Do as you see fit.
- Grandma’s Silver (just remember to wrap it in a cloth first to prevent the tines from poking thru the bag)
- First-aid Supplies & Medications (Not only to keep them dry, clean and compressed, but also prolong the life of the adhesive. Dried out band-aids are kinda useless.)
- Protect important documents and computer back-ups (use the seal only function for papers and the pressure can cause ink transfer onto the plastic)
- Matches and other fire starting supplies to keep them dry and compressed for space saving in your kits
- Clothing– Not only for compression in your kits, but you can also protect those precious mementos, like baby clothes & blankets, from the effects of time and possible smoke and water damage if there were a fire (God forbid!)
- Candles– to prevent costly messes in your kits
- Ammunition– You need to be careful when doing this!! The suction can pull the bullet from the casing! I recommend putting the ammo in a bag and only sucking out part of the air to prevent damage.
- Preserve photographs (but, again, use the seal only feature)
- Store comic books and other collectibles (and, again, using the seal only feature)
- Linens – you can vacuum seal your linens (curtains, blankets, pillows, etc.) to help keep them compact and store more in a smaller space. This is especially useful for things you might store for seasonal use only.
- Miscellaneous Hardware– If you have leftover pieces after assembling furniture and such (hubby assures me this is normal), try vacuum sealing them together and labeled with a permanent marker so you don’t forget which pieces go where.
- Toiletries when traveling– If you’ve EVER had (or even heard about) shampoo or toothpaste exploding in your luggage, then you know it needs to be contained!! Also, this is an easy way to comply with TSA rules. Make your own small pouches of liquids for traveling instead of buying those tiny bottles.
- Just about everything in your Evacuation Kits– seriously. At some point that kit WILL get wet. What could you loose, that your life depends on, because it got ruined, or even contaminated, by water? Don’t risk it!
- I could keep going, but the length of the post would get out of control…..
So let’s move on to the food….
I’ve spoken repeatedly on sealing emergency food storage for a longer shelf life. Air is one of the top enemies of you food preps. But there are other, everyday, foods that can, and in some cases should, be sealed too, to increase freshness. We’ve all found the open pack of crackers that was opened a few days ago, or the bag of chips not closed correctly, or brown sugar that went hard and is now unusable. Go through the list and find out what you can save from a miserable and costly death…..
- Reseal the wax bags from crackers and cereal– better yet, repackage into jars (to prevent crushing) for longer life
- Reseal potato chip bags (yes, the seal only function works on Mylar bags too!)
- Use canning jars or containers to seal lettuce and fresh herbs for a month or longer in some cases! (Yes, I have done this!!! Make sure to include a paper towel & change it every few days for the longest freshness.) Note: some fresh veggies will not keep this way. They produce gases in the decomp process and those gases are trapped in the bag and speed up spoilage. See below for (another) list
- Chocolate/ Candy– While not good for you on a regular basis, candy is good for the soul. It really sucks to find your stash dried up and stale. (
- Wine (!) and cooking oil– Not many people can say they let a bottle of wine go stale, but some out there enjoy an occasional glass. Prevent the waste of perfectly good wine by sealing it with a specially designed bottle stopper. You can do the same with cooking oil and empty wine bottles to extend their shelf life too. Especially handy for those flavor infused oils that we don’t use often.
- Store flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, rice, pasta, beans, soups mixes, cake/ bread mixes, oatmeal, pretty much any dry good that will go stale and/ or you want to protect from rodents & insects.
- Left over or pre-made meals to freeze and reheat.
- Make your own MRE’s– made even better if you have a home freeze dryer! (It’s on my wish list- Santa still delivers to adults, right?)
- Ice Packs for lunches, coolers and injuries
- Cheese– vacuum sealed in a bag prevents mold. While you can cut it off and the cheese is still safe, who wants all that waste??
- Fruit– vac seal apple slices for lunch so they don’t turn brown. There are also vacuum seal containers that work really well for fresh berries. If you want to freeze fruit, freeze it before vacuum sealing it to prevent crushing. Otherwise you’ll have a nice starter for preserves! Again, some fruits don’t store well this way for more than a few days.
- Lunch Meat– This is an awesome use for the resealable zip top bags!
- And, again, the list could be longer, but WordPress may cancel my account for space issues….
A few tips for using your vacuum sealer:
- Pre-freeze fruit, veggies and pieces of meat(think hamburger patties and boneless chicken breasts) on a sheet pan for a few hours before vacuum sealing. It prevents the foods from forming one giant blob of food.
- Bags can get holes in them around the sharp corners of meat bones when jostled in the freezer during long term storage. To help prevent this, place the vacuum sealed bag into a regular zip top bag.
- Use the bans on canning jars in dry storage. Keeps the tops from being knocked loose and creating a slow leak.
If you’re storing powdery substances, like any kind of flour and powdered sugar, place a coffee filter over the food and leave 2″ head space to prevent the dust from sucking up and preventing a good seal on the jar. Also prevents the machine from sucking up the powder too, which can ruin it. Alternatively, you can vacuum seal the whole paper bag full in a cut to fit bag.
- Don’t worry about buying special labels for the jars. You can write directly on the lids with permanent marker. It washes right off with dish water and a scrubby sponge. (You can see that I labeled the purple jar (in the large photo above). That’s when I first started dry canning and wanted it to be pretty…. I’ve since learned better.)
- When using cut to fit bags, cut them extra long so you can open and reseal several times before having to replace the bag. This works great for foods that you only use a little at a time.
- I’m not a fan of the zip top vacuum seal bags, especially for freezer use. The only thing I have found that they work well on is block cheese, but that’s not even perfect. In my experience, the bags often have slow leaks and when using them in the freezer, the only way valve can come off, breaking the seal as well.
- When storing ground meat, form it into a ball before placing it into a bag, vacuum seal it, then roll flat with a rolling pin or straight sided cup. This will save space in the freezer and thaw so much faster!
- Unlike traditional canning, the lids are reusable when dry canning!
- The FoodSaver Canisters do not do well in the freezer do to expansion of the food. The plastic can break.
- For other great tips, tricks, and uses, check out this Pinterest search!
Some foods that don’t do well vacuum sealed:
These foods give off gases while decomposing. When those gases are trapped in the bag or container, they cause the foods to spoil faster. These are some that I have experience with and have read about. There may be more.
- Carrots (I have better success using a regular ziptop storage bag)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Mushrooms (sliminess occurs quickly)
- Soft Cheeses (crushing and mushiness)
How and what do you vacuum seal to protect? Tell us in the comments below!
FYI: I was not paid to say ANY of this. Just so you know.