Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Vacuum-sealed foods

After I shared in this post about using our Food Saver to vacuum-seal some meat for the freezer, a couple of people had questions about my experience and opinion on the product. So, here are my thoughts! :) 

I have never used a Food Saver like you have pictured, but I've seen them advertised. I'd love to hear your opinion about them. How well do they work? Are they worth the money (and then the space to store it, and the time it takes to set it up and then clean up)?

We have a Food Saver (brand) vacuum-sealer, and it works very well. Joshua bought it about 6 years ago (not too long before we were married) and it's still working great. (Update: we're still using ours 10+ years later!)

Most foods seal quite well; the only exception is meat with sharp bones or anything sharp -- like dried bell peppers, with pointed, sharp edges -- that can puncture the bags. The bags (we use Food Saver brand bags) are quite thick, though -- thicker than normal zipper freezer bags. There is a manual seal option as well, so if I vacuum-seal something like bread or cookies, I can stop the suction before it has smashed the food flat. ;)

Food does keep much better/longer in the vacuum-sealed Food Saver bags. It doesn't get freezer-burned (though I haven't tried storing anything for more than 2 years). I definitely think it's better than just using zipper freezer bags, which tend to allow ice crystals to build up, and get punctured easily. If a Food Saver bag does get an air leak, it's easy to spot, and on the few occasions that it has happened, I just made sure to use that package of food first.

And, food takes up less freezer space when it is vacuum-sealed. I'm not sure exactly how much less... maybe 50% less space for something like cooked meats, which is one of the main things I vacuum-seal. With a smaller freezer, the extra space is nice, though it may not matter quite so much if you have a large freezer.

I have found a great way to freeze casseroles using FoodSaver bags, and it saves on dishes/containers as well as space, all while protecting food from freezer burn!

The Food Saver bags can also be used in the microwave (which we don't have, so I haven't tried that) or put into a pot of boiling water to heat the food while it's still in the bag. I prefer to thaw the food in the fridge and then heat it in a pan on the stove as I normally would, since the boiling water method seemed to take a long time to heat the food thoroughly.

The bags can also be washed and re-used, as long as they don't have any holes and haven't has raw meat stored in them. When I open a bag, I cut the top seal off, and it leaves a slightly smaller bag for re-use. I have re-used many bags twice, at least.

The box and instructions for the Food Saver are very optimistic about the many uses it has, but I have never done some of the things they suggested. Vacuum-sealing leftovers for the fridge? Vacuum-sealing my pantry staples? I don't leave the appliance out on my kitchen counter, and I'm not sure how realistic all of their suggestions actually are, at least for our home. And though the bags can technically be opened and re-sealed numerous times (like for an item you use from and then need to continue storing), it takes a couple inches from the top of the bag each time, meaning you need to use bigger bags (which cost more money) -- so I usually open the bag and use all the contents at once.

I use the Food Saver for longer-term storage items. When I have meats to freeze, I prefer to use the Food Saver. I also like to use it for freezing mashed potatoes.

I store the Food Saver in its box on our enclosed porch, and while it takes a little effort to lug it into the kitchen when needed, the actual bringing-in-and-setting-up only takes 5 minutes at most. So it's not a big bother, but like anything, it's more efficient when you have a number of things to seal instead of just one or two.

Now, the real question: Is it worth the money?

I think it depends on your home and how much you use it. Honestly, since I am NOT a gadget-type of person, I would never have bought one for us. But, most of our kitchen appliances have been originally Joshua's idea and not mine -- I just don't tend to want new appliances -- so take that for whatever it's worth! :)

But, since we do have one, I will admit that I really like using it. I would miss it if we didn't have one... and without the Food Saver, I definitely wouldn't be cooking up large batches of meat to freeze for later, because using normal freezer bags just isn't as nice (taste-wise) as the vacuum-sealed ones.

So while I do view a Food Saver as a "luxury" (since it's not really necessary), I think it's a really nice luxury to afford. ;) I think we all have various "extra" things, some of which are important to us, but that our neighbor wouldn't have any use for! I'd choose a bread machine over a Food Saver, but I'd definitely take the Food Saver over a microwave... I guess I don't feel qualified to say "It's worth every penny!" because it might not be to you. I do like having one though! :)

Any of you out there with vacuum-sealing devices -- I'd love to hear your thoughts on them, and what foods you've found most useful to seal! :)

Some of my favorite freezer casseroles and meal ideas can be found here!

To participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Post a kitchen tip in your blog, with a link to this post. Then come here and add your name, tip subject, and URL to this post! Links must be family friendly, as always. If you don't have a blog but would still like to share a tip, just leave a comment here with your tip! Everyone's ideas are appreciated. :) Note: Please link to your individual post, not your blog's main/front page! Thanks for participating! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays Participants

1. Lindsey(canning tip)
2. Tapestries of the Heart (quick and easy lunch)
3. Mrs. S.
4. Mrs Pear (Menu Planning with Chart)
5. Rachel (baking tips)
7. Western Warmth (dinner roll recipe)
8. AmyG (home fries)
9. Gena (peeler)
10. Jennifer (easy chicken)

Comments

Hi Tammy!
My Mom gave hubby and me a food saver a few years ago and I love it for storing freezer stuff, meat, fruit, veggies..anything really. One secret to not crushing things with the sealer is to pre-freeze somethings first, like strwberries for example on a baking sheet and then placing in the freezer bag for sealing.

I also have the jar attachment and will seal things like chicken stock in a jar and then freeze that. I do not use that for day to day leftovers as it is too much hassle for something we will eat up that week, but I do use it for casseroles or stews that I freeze for down the road.

The bags ARE expensive, so I stock up when on sale, and Momusually tosses a roll of bags in my Christmas stocking or birthday bag, so that is a nice touch.

Thanks for all the great tips!
Amy G.
http://apilgrimstillinprogress.blogspot.com

Hi Tammy...

I have two Tilia FoodSaver machines that I use all the time. They're old machines (about 17 or 18 years old) and they came with attachments for sealing both narrow and wide neck jars. One came from my mom; when it quit pulling a vacuum on bags and would only do jars, she got herself a new one and gave me her old one. Since I buy my grains, rice, beans, pasta, and other dry goods in bulk to store in jars....that was a blessing for me. I use Ball 1/2 gallon jars to store my dry goods. The jars last a really long time, they don't get bugs, and you can see what it is you are looking for. I also vacuum small meals and leftovers for the fridge in smaller jars. (You can heat them in the microwave at work, and they're really cheap to use....no lost bag costs.) I use one machine just for sealing bags. I love putting up my meats in them like you do, Tammy. I reuse those bags too, but I wash them out with a soap and bleach solution and then open them up to dry in the dishwasher racks. (They stand up and air can circulate all the way to the sealed end.)

If you've watched those comercials on tv about how long the food lasts when vacuum sealed as compared to not being vacuum sealed in the fridge.....it really is that amazing. You really do get much longer storage life on your food. You can reseal oversized bags of chips. My machines came with some large containers that vacuum seal, and I store lettuce and other veggies in those.....boy, is it nice to make up a large salad and have it stay fresh till it gets used up! You can prep a whole bunch of onions, celery, garlic, bell peppers, and whatevers to use during the week and store them vacuum sealed in the fridge in jars....so quick and easy when you start cooking!

Camping kids love to have their clothes sorted and sealed so that they always have clean and dry clothes. When I paint, I use a large bag to store the roller and brushes I am using if I need to stop for a few days....when you come back to them, they have not dried out and can still be used. Arts and craft stuff does well in vacuum storage too....things don't dry out and ruin. I also use my machines to store other things like keepsakes, silver that needs to be polished, parts to various machines so they don't get lost or ruined, and really... anything and everything I want to be 'containerized' that will fit into a jar or bag. I also 'seal' regular ziplock bags to keep things together for garage sales....I find people will open the regular ziplock closure, but won't open a sealed bag.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is, I couldn't do without my vacuum sealing machines. I use mine every day.

Sorry I went on so long.......
Debbie

I have the Black & Decker version. I use it often. I use it often to freeze individual servings of leftovers; such as taco meat. Chuck can take them to work put a slit in the bag and microwave for his lunch. I also use it to re-seal chips and cereal bags. Keeps the items fresh longer.

Thanks for the info. Sounds like an item that I'd pick up at a yard sale or Freecycle, rather then rushing out to buy a new one. I am also not a gadget-lover, so many times I think its not worth the hassle. And yet a few well chosen ones can be a huge help and blessing. Thank you for answering my questions!
Rachel

I too would probably have never purchased a food saver had it not been for a great sale at Kohl's.com, The food saver and bags were 50% off plus I had a 30% off coupon and I got free shipping. Kind of like they made me an offer I couldn't refuse, LOL. I must say it does preserve frozen foods beautifully, my favorite is preserving fish, and of course chicken. But its really great for all meats. I must admit I've has a couple a blunders with it though. It's not good for freezing anything that's really soft, like breads, rolls and muffins. These can be done, just freeze them first, then use the food saver, so I had a bag of corn muffin crumbs, they actually made a very good stuffing, as did the homemade dinner rolls, LOL, live and learn. The only other thing I used the saver for was sealing my husband's medicine before he packed them in a carry-on for the plane. I took the time to seal each day's worth so it would be easier for him to remember what he took, and then just sealed the top, worked out perfectly.

I have been enjoying your blog and your great recipes for a while. Like you, I am also pregnant (9 weeks) so have not had the interest in recipes that I usually do. Could you recommend some quick easy meals (hopefully without strong smells) that you make when you are struggling with intense morning sickness.

Thanks for all your great recipes and kitchen hints.

Julia

I used to wonder if my foodsaver was really worthwhile-until I bought the cannning jar attachment.

Now this doesn't take the place of real canning, but what it does is suck out the air and seal the flat metal lid of canning jars. Then if the item normally would be refrigerated, you have to refrigerate it. Unlike real canning, the metal lids can be used over and over.

So it boils down to this, I use canning jars instead of tupperware in my fridge. I have the foodsaver permanently parked on the counter, an after dinner I seal the leftovers into canning jars, then stick them in the fridge. They then last 2 to 3 times as long as they normally would. This means less food gets wasted. I open the jar carefully so the lid doesn't get bent, then I can wash and reuse the lid and jar over and over.

Once you get rid of that reoccurring cost of the bags (which I do use for the freezer) then using it daily becomes very easy.

Okay, everyones rave about this thing has me goin'. I've had a food saver for 4 years, all the canisters, bags, and attachments, and I think I've used it maybe 4 times! After hearing all this, I think I need to pull it out and give it another shot. I almost just sold it in my garage sale a couple weeks ago, but my husband asked me to hang onto it a bit longer.

When I was only cooking for my husband and I, we usually ate anything we cooked within a week and never bought in bulk. Now with a little one and another on the way, I buy much more bulk (less trips to the store =)) and like to cook in bigger batches, or pre-cook meats etc.

I'm excited to pull it all out and give it another go, also to try the canning jar ideas...thanks all.

Once again Tammy, your website uplifted my day, THANKS!

I don't use plastic freezer bags because they change the food's flavor. Do the vacuum seal bags do the same thing? Thanks!

I haven't noticed a plastic taste from the Food Saver bags. The bags are thick and keep the food's flavors intact pretty well -- at least, MUCH better than any other freezer bag I have tried. But, I don't think I have the most sensitive nose when it comes to flavors.

With the price of everything going up, we all need to save wherever we can. Found a great source for bags. As little as $0.30 each for 8x12!

Walmart sells the generic rolls of bags 2 rolls for $7 that lasts us about 2 months. For us that alone is cheaper then ziploc not to mention the money saved on the food itself!

I bought my Food Saver when my son was deployed to Iraq. I probably sent around a hundred pounds of my homemade beef jerky. I would send it to my son and he would past it around and even bartered with it. My email address got out to most of the guys in his unit and I ended up sending jerky to several of the soldiers.A couple of the Soldiers I sent jerky to never made it home. I grieved like I had lost two of my own. Which in a way I guess They were kind of like my own. My Son came back about 4 years ago but I still send jerky to Iraq and now Afganistan. Which brings me to the generic bags at Walmart. I ran across them and tried a couple of rolls. The guys that got their jerky in them said the vaccume was fine even after being in intense desert heat. I saved a pretty good amount on them and in turn i was able to buy more beef for the jerky. yes it all was a bit over my budget but I feel it is the most rewarding investment I have ever made.But can not compare to what the guys are giving back to us Americans That sometimes are more conserned with finances than maybe we should be. My beef jerky made quite a few smiles over there and one smile for sure here at home :)

I have an old 1050 model and just upgraded to a 3825 model. I love my vacuum sealer, we buy bulk meats at Costco and Sam's and freeze in portions for the 2 of us. Both stores also have 6 rolls (3 big, 3 small) bags for $39.99 and it usually lasts me more than a year. I too use ball or mason jars for coffee and dry goods. My only problem is storage space. I have been reading more about freezing the jars with chili, soups and stews and more often than not you can find the jars at thrift stores for a fraction of the cost. I also write the date on the outside of the jar with a sharpie marker because it comes off in the dishwasher. I'd love to hear about other tips and tricks people use theirs for! Frozen cookie dough is another plus!

After reading all of the comments I do not see anyone saying it is good for lettuce normal usage. We buy lettuce, two kinds, and it is brown in a week. I want to preserve lettuce but must have access to it when I need it. Can you continually open and vacuum reseal a bag of lettuce??

The canisters are good for lettuce. You can open and re-seal them as often as you wish and I would say it doubles the life of your lettuce.

Big difference. FOOD-SAVER (5 Stat), Seal-A-Meal (2 Star)... Food saver bags are thick, and I have gone through about 20 rolls, in 3 years. I save, leftovers, marinate fun meat, have learned how to mush the bags after sealed to make flat, so they stack in freezer, and this bags do not let sharp bones go through. And, unless you have a porcupine, you can see which way the bone is facing, so-as not to point it straight up (LOL).

I bought one for my cookin' son. He love it. So, I bought me the SS steel one also. I bought one for my sis, her son at their wedding, and a friend. It is the gift that stands up on the counter, takes up no more room than a 4 toaster (even less)...

I can combine 2 to 4 different items in the same bag (corners), seal, and have a perfect meal to pull out later. I do not through any left-overs out any more.

Again, Food-Saver is not a cheap seal-a-meal.

BARB (Tucson, AZ)

How do you store wet meals and not vacuum up the sauces?

I use my seal a meal to bag a lot of fresh fish filets when we visit Florida. I freeze them, then place them in a good cooler to take them north where the fish is so much more expensive and where several varieties of fish that we like are not available all the time. I have found that the frozen snapper and grouper filets are fine a year later, and in one case, 2 years later....I usually freeze 2portions of fish per bag. This has also worked for scallops or shrimp although I had to remove the shells and tails of the shrimp so they didn't puncture the bags. They store very flat and I know I've saved a lot because the fish that is about $6.00 a pound in Florida in season can be almost $20.00 a pound in Illinois. This more than covers the price of the bags. I'm lgoing to try putting some salmon filets in a seal a meal bag with an ice cube and a pat of butter and seasoning and freezing individual servings that my mother can pop into her microwave (she'll have to pierce the bag) and cook for a few minutes for a quick meal. She loves salmon but can't get out to buy it easily. Karen

In today's economy it's important to save where you can. my vac sealer allows me to buy in bulk then seal in the portions i would normally cook. this helps whether it's one of the local markets or at the warehouse clubs.
Having spent many years in texas, i prefer brisket to pork. they may try to kick me out of south carolina for saying that but it's true. There was a time when brisket was cheap at least in texas. Now i wait for a good sale on brisket buy a whole one, cook it, slice it and seal it in portions that i can make a couple of meals from. then when i thaw it i might add some bbq sauce and make a sandwich or prepare a gravy with beef stock and make an open faced beef sandwich out of it.
for someone who is single, can't afford to eat out a lot and dislikes left overs it's an ideal solution. the leftovers taste better a few weeks later when the bag is dropped in boiling water. there is less of a tendency to eat a second helping to keep from having leftovers as well. it's easy enough to reheat in boiling water or in the microwave, while you are changing clothes after a hard day at the office. it probably takes less time to seal the leftovers than it would to reduce the recipe down to the size for one person.

I use my Food Saver everytime I go to the grocery store. I package meat in meal sized portions and freeze them. I have also frozen small casseroles in the pan, then removed them and put them in a Food Saver bag so I can reuse the pan. When I am ready to use it, I remove it from the bag and place it in the pan it was originally frozen in.

I have also used it for cheese, even grated cheese. My first Food Saver (very old) quit working, so we replaced it. I will never be without one.
Linda

I have had my Foodsaver for about 5yrs now. Yes it does work as promised we often buy meats on sale and pre-freeze it then seal it in the bags. I have also made home made soups put them in indivual portion containers frozen them and popped them out and sealed them. We found soup in the freezer a year later and it was sooo delicious, better than the day we made it, to our suprise. So I would say it is worth every penny in savings! As others have stated it also saves alot of room in the freezer.

My question would be has anyone tried sealing flour or regular sugar? I am about to try but just wondered. Overall I have recommended it to many friends and all those who have gotten one have not been disappointed. Its more learning a habbit of using it and once you do that its worth the time.

Trish

I seal flour and then store it in the freezer all the time. I like to gring my own wheat, and it will go rancid if not stored cold. I also like to buy King Arthur Flour from a store that gets it once in a while.....and freezing it works very well. Same thing for cornmeal, grits, cream of wheat, and oatmeals. I just seal it in the origianl bag, unopened. For home ground flour, sometimes I put it in small paper bags first, just to keep the light off of it. Since it compacts the flour by taking out the air, you will need to sift it or whirl it around in a food processor when you open it up. I have used 5 year old flour that was just fine. For sugar, I store it in 2 quart jars that I pull a vacuem on and store at room temp. (We don't use a lot of sugar. But I would hate to run out.) It would seal just fine in the bags too. The shelf life for sugar is very, very long.

No one like to take the extra effort of washing dishes when camping or on hunting trips. When I prepare dishes (everything from spaghetti, meat loaf, breakfast cassaroles) I make enough to provide a meal to take camping or hunting. I use the food saver to freeze. Then all I have to do is throw the prepared meal into boiling water to heat, and serve on paper plates. No prep, very little cleanup. We pack the frozen food with dry ice to keep frozen.

If you have a small portable generator, you can take a small version of the foodsaver, to pack away and seal that fresh caught fish that you can't eat, put into your cooler with dry ice and it lasts till you get home to freeze or until you are ready to eat on your trip.

I have the FoodSaver brand and the instructions tell you to freeze meats, soups etc. first and then place in the foodsaver bags. Can't I just place meats in the FS bags straight from the store packaging? If I have to first freeze everything that is a lot of trouble and I don't have enough freezer space to lay out everything like the instructions suggest. Also can't I take soup that I have just cooked and put it in the bags straight from the pot? The book says to freeze soups in containers and then pop out and freeze the "bricks". I don't want to do that. Can somebody provide me some answers? I don't want to ruin my meats and soups so I haven't tried them yet. Thanks

We've had our FoodSaver for ~11 years and I love it! :) I've never pre-frozen meats. I have used the Food Saver bags for raw meats or cooked ones. One possible issue with sealing anything "juicy" (like freshly cooked taco meat, freshly grilled chicken breast, etc.) is that the Food Saver can suck out the juices and not get a very good seal. If I'm freezing something "juicy" then I press the "manual seal" button JUST before I see all the juices traveling towards the sealing chamber. This way it removes the AIR in the bag but not the JUICE. :) That *could* be the reason they suggest freezing meat before sealing (but I really don't know).

I have never frozen soups in FoodSaver bags. My reasons for using the Food Saver bags are to remove excess air (which can cause the "freezer burn" taste) and make the food more compact (such as in the case of cooked meats like chicken or ground beef). Soup in a Food Saver bag gets neither of these benefits. We're also a big(ger) family so a meal's worth of soup would take a lot of "bag". Instead, I usually freeze soups in freezer containers, which seems to work great.

I do think it would be best to freeze the soup in a "block" before using the Food Saver to seal it. I have done this with my freezer casseroles: freeze them in a 9x9-inch square pan, lift out, and then seal in a Food Saver bag. It's fairly easy to do and doesn't take up too much freezer space unless you're trying to freeze a LOT of soup or a lot of casseroles at one time. I usually did 2 casseroles at a time, and this was when we just had a small apartment-sized fridge-top freezer. :)

In fact, I really, REALLY like having freezer meals/casseroles sealed in a FoodSaver bag. To start, they are very compact in the freezer if you use the same size dish for all of them. (I have two 9x9-inch glass dishes which I used for all of them.) And secondly, the FoodSaver bags and vacuum seal really does keep the food tasting fresher. I'm very spoiled: Joshua bought the FoodSaver before we were married, so I've gotten to enjoy the benefits without having to agonize over whether I thought it was *really worth* the price. :) I can definitely tell a difference when we freeze something in a Freezer Ziplock instead of using the FoodSaver.

You can't/shouldn't vacuum liquids like soup and stock straight to the bag because the vacuum will draw the liquid up into the pump of the machine and destroy it. The solution is to either pre-freeze or to seal it in freezer safe Ball/Kerr jars. I use the jars because they're cheap and readily reusable.

Not pre-freezing meats will do the same (liquids will be drawn into the unit) but it also compresses your meat (sometimes a lot) which changes the texture some if you care about such things. Compressing grated cheese or pre-cooked ground beef or breads or many soft veggies usually results in not good eating. Pre-freezing solves that as does freezing in a jar.

The greatest money savings isn't from bulk buying - it's from portion control and waste reduction. Not throwing away food because it's gone bad is a great way to save a ton. Not throwing away food because you cooked the right amount for the meal also saves a lot.

Then there's the whole quality control advantage. Who cares if you saved a lot if the food doesn't taste good? The FoodSaver lets you store food in better condition for longer. And, for many folks, the whole convenience advantage. You can prepare a large pot of chicken stock (for example) and store off what you don't need tonight - you then have chicken stock for futures uses already made.

But, not just prepared ingredients; you can pre-prepare entire meals and store them in the freezer/fridge for the coming week(s) thereby saving a lot of time. Casseroles, pies, whatever. It saves you a fortune when those times you just don't feel like cooking come up and you can save not ordering out.

With some thought - you can also make your own pre-packaged convenience food (Rice-a-Roni, Mac-n-cheese, etc...) as dry packaged goods for pennies compared to dollars. Anything that is "just add water" you can pretty much make yourself. Great for camping and disaster preparedness too.

Well worth every penny and the time involved to use it. But only if you care about saving money, reducing waste, controlling portions, or food quality. If you'll eat anything anywhere - you won't care for the trouble.

how long will homemade cookie dough last in the freezer in the foodsaver bags. i love to bake for the holidays and thought i could get an early start and make it and freeze it.

Frozen in FoodSaver bags, I think cookie dough could be stored for at least 6 months with no problems! :)

A little confused about the pre-freezing meat. Directions say to pre freeze meat before vacuum sealing.. If I buy chop meat and want to vacuum seal it..the purpose is to take it out of the store packaging and put it in the food saver bag and seal it. So how would you pre freeze it to do that? Am I supposed to pre freeze it in the store packaging..then take it out and vacuum seal it?? Doesn't the store packaging plasstic stick to the meat when it's frozen?

I haven't read the Food Saver manual in forever, but my guess on the pre-freezing recommendation is that it's due to the difficulty of sealing something that's "juicy". Frozen meats will seal up nice and tight, whereas fresh meats will have liquid that can get sucked into the vacuum chamber and cause problems with the seal.

My Food Saver is easy to clean when that does happen. However, I never pre-freeze meats before sealing. I do end up using the "manual seal" button on my Food Saver if I see liquids starting to make their way towards the seal. Usually that means the air is gone, anyway, if it's starting to suck the liquids.

What I do most often, is cook meats (in large batches, to save time and dishes!) before sealing. Then I have packages of taco meat, chicken, or ground beef that can be easily used in recipes/casseroles. I've found that something like taco meat does seal better if it's cold (refrigerated) rather than warm, because it is less "juicy" when cold. :)

I hope this helps! :)

Hi.. We have 7 apple trees..(I make a lot of apple pies...yummmm) ,
but I still can not use all the apples. I want to freeze either the sliced apples or the basic pie filling already made. This would be my main reason to purchase the "gadget" ... hmmm
Kelly .. ♥

I have a commercial sealer and commercial boil in bags for making my own raw sausage, pre-made soups/stews/pie fillings and freezing veggies from the garden to sell from our farm. The sealer does not suck the air out, but rather lets you slide it to remove all air and then press and seal. The boil in bags are very expensive, but it also saves so much space in a freezer and it keeps it "fresh". It also makes it easy to take frozen bags versus containers in a cooler to the Farmers Markets to sell.

P.S. I bought a FoodSaver many years ago, still in the box, keep tripping over the unopened box - I guess I should pull it out and compare the two ways of sealing.

Suzy

Can I make a weeks worth of sandwiches & then store in the refrigerator Foodsaver bags, I'm not sure if they should be vacuumed or just sealed? Same with little packs of veggie snacks?

I haven't yet been able to purchase the deli meat containers at a store, only seen them online & they look a little big for 1 sandwich.

Thanks for your help!

I don't think the FoodSaver is very useful for sandwiches (unless you're using bread that's not very soft at all!). A ziplock bag works fine (use a straw to suck out the air before sealing if you want to). I don't like sandwiches made ahead if they have dressing on them (like mayo) because the bread can get soggy after a day or two. I haven't experimented with freezing them (sans lettuce or fresh veggies, of course).

For veggies -- carrots and celery should keep for a week in baggies in the fridge; things like cucumbers, peppers, or tomatoes, not as long. I haven't really experimented to see how much shelf life the FoodSaver adds to something like a sliced cucumber, or bell pepper sticks. I'm not sure if that would be worth the cost of the bags! :)

Hi...I seal everything! I can't tell you how much I use and enjoy my sealers!

For doing the fruits and veggies....I use 8,10,12, and 16 oz jars. (sometimes even 32 and 64 oz jars!) For snacking or portion control times...the smaller jars work best. Prep all the veggies or fruit you want to seal and then portion them out to the jars, and pull a vacuum on them. They will stay fresh for a long time. (Apples need to be dipped into lemon juice water first. Bananas don't do well if peeled. Strawberries and other berries should not be washed first....makes them get mushy fast!) Use 4 oz jars to seal what ever dip you want for you fruit or veggie.

Ready to eat veggies are fantastic. Carrots, celery, cukes, squash, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower.....do great! Cherry tomatoes need to be dry before sealing to last longer. Cabbage starts changing flavor after just a few days...so I try to eat it quickly, unless it's in Cole slaw. All the lettuces keep really well, if you wash and spin dry them first. If you put them into a larger sized container that allows you to vacuum seal them they will last a couple of weeks easy. Just re-vacuum it when you take some out. If you want to chop a lot of onions early to use in holiday cooking....go ahead and lightly sauté them in a small amount of oil the day you chop them, then seal in jars. (Onions get too ‘sharp’ for me when I seal them raw. Green onions don't hold very long when chopped....but chopped garlic seals just fine.)

Snacks....For popcorn, I make it and let it cool, then put it into the dehydrator for a couple of hours to make sure it is really dry. To keep it from getting crushed....try to trap extra air in the bags right before you seal them! Don't forget that you can re-use your bags if you wash and dry them thoroughly. (hair dryer set on low temp works great) If a 'snack' will fit into a jar before you vacuum....it will do great! Soft things (like cake, chips or soft breads) should only be "sealed" in bags, not vacuumed.

I have sealed sandwiches before and been happy with the outcome. Make sure though, that you don't seal it down as tight as you can....or your sandwich will be squeezed tiny. When I seal sandwiches, I don't put lettuce, tomatoes, onion, pickles etc... on them when I seal them. I seal that in a separate bag(s) and just put them on quickly when I get ready to serve. For 'short time' sealing, I don't mind using mayo on the bread, but you can make small squeeze packets that are easy to take and don't leak if you seal them well. If you are not going to eat your sandwiches for a while....here's a way to handle that. To keep the bread from absorbing moisture from the meat, place the meat between two layers of saran wrap inside the bread. Before you eat, pull the saran out and put your fixing’s in. (When we go on road trips/vacation, I make 'meat packets' and wrap/seal each one individually. I make large 'deli' type sandwiches. It saves space in the cooler because you are just keeping the meat cold, not the bread.)

For things like mayo and mustard....mix them together, place into the bottom of a heavy duty zip lock, squeeze out most of the air, and heat seal it. Try not to get mayo on the upper portion of the bag before you seal it. Then when you're ready to serve, snip off a corner and squeeze. Make one bag for each meal time you plan.

How do you vacum seal something in a cereal bag? The material is very strong, but when I seal, it doesn't extract all the air.

I use my foodsaver for all the typical uses: freezing veggies, meats, etc. But one of the best uses I have found for it is sending baked goods to my husband while he's deployed overseas. I like to send him home baked cookies, banana bread, etc. but I was always worried they'd end up as a bag of crumbs or stale by the time they got to him. With the foodsaver they are always fresh and since it sucks all the air out, the package doesn't even bend so the cookies stay completely intact. I usually put a piece of wax paper between layers so they come apart easily. My husband (and all his buddies) are always happy to get some home baked goodies that taste just as fresh as if they were eating them in my kitchen!

I have used vacum sealers since the early 1990's, and hav e gone thru six....I vacum seal food that I make larger pots of like stews, roast beef, speghetty sauces, chili and also during deer season I vacum seal the deer ground....I have opened the deer ground that was 5 years old and was still as good as tbe day I sealed it....I have vacumed sealed left overs and tbey were just as good as the day In sealed them....I have 2 freezers full and n ever have to worry about what to eat....Chicken, steak, ect....all have been good nwhen opened....

Go to a restaurant supply store and order bags. Ask the dealer to order from Vollrath. You have got get in packs of 100, but the savings are worth the investment. You know all these companies make more money off the things you have to buy to use the product than the product itself!

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