There are lots of kitchen gadgets that promise to save you hours each day or transform your life, and we all know that most of them are gimmicks that might be fun to use for a little while but soon end up at the back of the “useful drawer”. However, one gadget that actually does deliver material benefits is a vacuum sealer.
What is a vacuum sealer?
A vacuum sealer is a small, bench-top device that enables you to seal foods into airtight plastic bags. A vacuum packaging machine could be found in large commercial kitchens or home kitchens for everyday use.
What do you use a vacuum sealer for?
There are three main reasons in which a vacuum sealer can be used.
Firstly, by vacuum packaging your food you can extend its shelf life. Fresh foods such as meats, cheeses, and vegetables, or dry pantry staples such as pasta and rice will last longer when vacuum packed.
A second use is to store leftover meals. This is particularly useful if you have cooked a large dish of stew or casserole and then use the vacuum sealer to store portions for use at a later date.
Thirdly, you could use a vacuum sealer as part of the sous vide method of cooking whereby you immerse the vacuum sealed food into a water bath that is maintained at a specified temperature in order to cook the food.
What foods are best to store using a vacuum sealer?
While any sorts of food items can have their shelf life extended through vacuum storage, meats and fish are generally the most common foods that people use the vacuum sealer which can extend their shelf-life to around ten days (three to five times the shelf-life if they weren’t vacuum sealed. Once you have sealed the item in the vacuum packaging, then they can be stored in the fridge or freezer as normal. Freezing vacuum packed food will extend shelf-life even further.
Another popular use for the vacuum sealer is to store cooked rice or pasta. By vacuum sealing the cooked rice or pasta you can extend its shelf life (when refrigerated) without exposing the food to potentially hazardous bacteria.
What sort of vacuum sealer should I buy?
There are a lot of different vacuum packaging equipment available on the market. If you are a home cook and just starting out with vacuum packing your food, then you only need to go with something relatively small and simple that isn’t going to take up too much space in your kitchen. If you are planning to use the vacuum sealer in a commercial kitchen then you need to look at something that is more robust. For commercial uses you might also want to consider a vacuum sealer that has a multi-chamber function that enables it to vacuum pack liquids as well as solid food.
Embrace the world of vacuum sealing your food – it will save you time and money and won’t end up in the back of your useful drawer.