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Vacuum packing can be used in several different ways for increasing the storage time and maintaining quality of dry and frozen foods. Dry foods keep longer, maintain flavor and freshness and prevent insect infestation. Frozen foods will keep longer and can reduce the chances of freezer burn and loss of flavor. Opened jars of canned foods will keep longer in refrigeration.
If you grow a vegetable garden, or buy food in bulk quantities this is yet another tool available to you that will allow you to preserve the bounty for use all year. We have a Foodsaver brand vacuum sealer that we have used for about 10 years. We liked it so well that we recently bought a bigger model, which we use almost every week.
When you buy dry foods in bulk, or grow things in your garden that will be stored dry, vacuum packing can help these things last longer in your pantry. Dry Pasta, flour, dried beans, corn meal, and popcorn, are examples of dry foods that I have stored either in glass canning jars or in vacuum sealing bags.
Vacuum storage of dry foods will also allow you to reduce the amount of space taken up in your freezer. No more bags of flour and cornmeal taking up valuable freezer space.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using glass canning jars vs bags. Fragile items like pasta are better stored in canning jars to avoid crushing and breakage. Glass canning jars are more expensive than bags, but they can be used over and over.
You can also re-seal glass canning jars until all of the food inside is used up. With plastic bags, you have to cut off the sealed portion every time you open the bag, so can only be resealed so many times.
Plastic Bags are less expensive and often more convenient than glass canning jars, but have limitations in regard to what can be stored in them.
Hard sharp edged objects can puncture the bags during the sealing process and fragile items can be crushed. Bags are stackable, and take up less space in storage than canning jars.
Give some consideration to these things when you are deciding how to package dry foods.
When there is a sale on your favorite cut of meat, fish or seafood, wouldn't it be nice to be able to stock up and freeze it? That way, you can still enjoy it later on when the prices are high again? Vacuum packaging meats, poultry, and seafood before freezing will extend their lives in the freezer, and reduce the strain on your food budget in the process.
Some vegetables and fruits are easily preserved by flash freezing them and vacuum sealing for long term freezer storage. Most berries can be frozen in this manner. Wash the berries, and drain off all excess water. Spread berries in a single layer on a wax paper covered cookie sheet and place them in your freezer over night. The next day, remove the berries, and quickly place measured amounts in vacuum bags, seal, label and return to your freezer.
I have also frozen green tomato slices, summer squash slices, blanched and cut okra, and breaded cream cheese filled jalapeno peppers using this method. You can have your own home grown fried green tomatoes and jalapeno poppers at Christmas!
If you dehydrate foods like fruits, vegetables or jerky, vacuum packaging will help maintain the flavor and freshness of these items, as well as extend their storage life. When dehydrating any food, even if you plan on vacuum storage, you must make certain that the food is dried all the way through. Cut pieces thin to assure thorough dehydrating. Pieces cut too thick will cause "case hardening". This means that the food will dry out on the outside, but remain moist on the inside. This is a perfect situation for spoilage. Vacuum storage will not prevent the growth of microorganism that can make you sick, so be sure to follow dehydrating instructions carefully.
Vacuum packing foods is one more tool in your arsenal toward increased self sufficiency, and reducing your food budget expense. A Foodsaver or other brand of vacuum sealing device will allow you to buy and grow foods in bulk and extend their storage life when you preserve for storage.