You probably already know that the best, easiest way to keep your food storage fresher for longer is to vacuum seal your stock. Without the presence of oxygen, the vacuum sealed food can stay fresher for up to 2-3 years when frozen, compared to 6-12 months when not vacuum sealed. Non-frozen vacuum sealed food will last 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator, compared to 1-3 days.
Fancy vacuum sealers can range from $150 to over $1000. Not everyone wants to dedicate that much money to an appliance with only one function, and you don’t need a whole machine to seal your food anyway.
The main item that you will need to vacuum seal anything are zip-top bags, which you may already have a surplus of. Use a nice quality bag, perhaps one with a double-zip for extra protection. The flimsy inexpensive ones will work, but they are typically not as fail-safe as a thicker, better quality bag. Some of the methods require submerging the entire bag in water, and water penetration from a faulty bag will ruin your efforts.
There are a variety of ways to vacuum seal your leftover foods. You never know in this world when you will suddenly need a surplus of fresh food, but you can succeed if you are prepared.
The Straw Method
This method uses a zip-top bag and a straw, that’s it. It is an affordable way to vacuum seal, however you may not get as close of a seal using this method.
- Place the food that you would like to save inside your zip-top bag.
- Zip it closed completely, aside from a small opening in the corner of the bag, big enough for your straw to fit into.
- Suck the air out completely through the straw, until there is an even seal inside the bag.
- Quickly and carefully pull out the straw, now allowing any air inside.
- Seal the bag immediately after the straw is out.
The Water Method
This is the simplest and most effective way to seal your food without a vacuum, and you only need a zip-top bag and a pot or large container of water.
- Fill a large pot or container with room temperature water.
- Add the food to your zip-top bag.
- Carefully seal the bag, leaving an inch of space open.
- Submerge the bag upside down into the water. This creates a vacuum because of the water pressure outside of the bag.
- Watch carefully. Before the bag fills with water, seal the bag.
- Pull out of the water and you have a vacuum sealed bag.
The Double-Bag Method
This method is similar to the first one, but with a few additional steps to ensure the items are indeed sealed. You will need smaller, sandwich-sized zip-top bags, in addition to one larger, gallon-sized bag.
- Seal individual portions of your food into the smaller, sandwich size zip-top bags as directed in the first method.
- Open your larger gallon-sized bag and place each smaller filled bag inside.
- Seal the large bag almost completely, leaving room for a straw.
- Place your straw inside the large bag and suck out the air completely.
- Close the bag, leaving a perfect double seal.
The Microwave Method
This method uses the microwave to remove oxygen from your zip-top bag.
- Place all food inside the bag that you would like to save.
- Leave a 1-inch opening at one end of the bag, seal up the rest.
- Microwave on high for 20-30 seconds.
- Carefully remove the heated bag from the microwave, being cautious to not burn yourself in the process.
- Quickly seal up the bag upon removing, as to not let any air inside.
- Store in the appropriate place when finished.
Some Helpful Tips:
Sealing dry foods is different from sealing wet items, such as soup or other leftover stews. All the above methods will work for both dry and wet foods, however wet foods are slightly more complicated.
To combat that, seal any wet foods in this manner:
- Fill the bag about halfway full, leaving about 1-2 inches of headroom at the top.
- Press out as much air as possible with your hands.
- Press the seal almost all the way closed, leaving about 1 inch open in a corner.
- Lift the bag off of the counter and press it against the edge of the counter at the food’s water line. All the liquid will be hanging below the counter, while the air and top of the bag is above.
- Be sure there are no air gaps in between the liquid line and the top of the bag.
- Lay the top completely flat, ensuring there is no air.
- Seal the bag completely while it is still laying flat.
Vacuum sealers are a great kitchen tool to have, but sealing on your own takes very little time and patience. There are many different ways to seal your foods. Liquid seals need a little bit more TLC to ensure the contents do not go spilling out. To save money on wasted groceries, think about investing in multiple sizes of zip-top bags, and you will always have an at-home way to vacuum seal your foods.
You may also like: