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To vacuum seal or not, benefits of owning & using a food vacuum machine.


kingie chaser
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Food vacuum machines fundamentals

Hi Raiders, some members were looking for some info on these so I thought Id throw something together.

I have been using food vacuum machines professionally at work for 20+ years now & at home for around 7+ years & think they are one of the best things you can have at your disposal in your house or motorhome/van.

 

There are quite a few reasons/benefits for using a food vacuum machine or as I call them- cryovac machines.

1.Cost saving-this can be broken down a couple are ways. Buying in bulk at cheaper prices. I usually by a 5kg bag of rice & break it down into 1kg bags, or buy a whole beef rump & break it down into single serve steaks. Also saving over produced food reducing waste.

2.Space saving-its a bit like those cloths storage/space saver bags, being able to reduce the size & increase storage capacity.

3.Food longevity-because the vacuum draws out excess air/oxygen before sealing it reduces freezer burn & reduces microbial growth. Many things with last 3-5 time longer than normal.

 

Essentially there are 2 types of vacuum machines

Out of chamber & In chamber.

What is the difference?

 

In chamber-This is where the product & bag you are sealing sits inside the machine, the open end of the bag sits across a sealing strip, it does not have a chamber strip that you need to put the bag into like the out of chamber machines as the whole chamber is pressurized when you close the top.

These are usually commercial grade machines with larger more powerful vacuum pumps, larger cavities & many have an optional gas flush system that gives the capacity to be able to add a preserving gas to items that cannot be fully vacuumed as it will crush the product.

253320943_Foodvacuummachines(2).thumb.png.827d0de1b7f37e6076cf85bc5943678d.png

 

Out of chamber-This is where the product/bag is outside the machine with a small portion of the end of the bag inserted into the machine, over the sealing strip & into the vacuum chamber which usually is a long removable cavity near the front of the machine.

It uses channel bags which are bags that have grooves on the outside of one side of the bag.

There are many different brands & different models around & they all have different features. Some machines have a double sealer strip also which I think is a good feature.

These machines are more commonly used in households as they are much cheaper than in chamber models.

Some machines have features that allow you to used different storage containers & re usable bags which I think is very handy.

I have an older version of this Sunbeam foodsaver in the video which is the VAC780, a great little machine which has lasted well & is used nearly every day.

 

 

Vacuum bags-There is a wide variety of bags on the market, whatever machine you choose/buy I would make sure you use bags that are PBA free & if you do intend to cook in the bag get bags that they are rated to the temperature you will be cooking at.

Bags are usually rated my microns & the higher the micron the thicker the bag & this usually means they can be heated to a higher temperature & for longer.

My machine has an integrated roll storage area inside so I can make my own bags of different width & as long as I want.

 

Things that I find dont seal & store well in the freezer- Cooked rice/pasta, green vegetables you prepare at home. I have experimented with some fresh vegetables & most are fair but I found most turned to mush as I think the cell walls are crushed by the vacuum.

Harder vegetable are a bit better, carrots, potatoes, starchy vegetables with less water content.

Mashes & puree’s do freeze well, I actually make a larger amount of mash than what I need & seal it in portions after its chilled, great when you dont feel like making a mess or want a quick addition to a meal.

Personally if you want to use frozen vegetables I dont think you can go past the ones that you get from the supermarket.

Big companies use expensive machinery which snap freezes vegetables locking in the colour, texture & flavour, something that is hard to replicate at home.

 

Things that do seal well- Proteins like meat, chicken, fish, soups, stews, stocks purees, mash potato.

 

Which machine is the best for your home?

The one you can afford.

Just do you research & check the features match what you want the machine to do.

 

 

Another handy use for a food vacuum machine is Sous vide cooking.

Coupled with a temperature controlled water bath you can cook the ultimate tender pieces of meat, vegetables or seafood.

Sous vide machines come in all different shapes & sizes as well.

We have a large version at work but smaller 8L versions are reasonably priced.

654262534_sousvide.thumb.jpg.ecf5ad6f639e699d981da11a35b4baeb.jpg

 

I actually have a stick sous vide heater/water circulator that I can attach to a larger vessel like a long deep gastronome tray or deep pot.

Its wifi & bluetooth & uses an app they you can use pre set setting that come from the app or you can save your own setting for future use.

Anova.thumb.jpg.8f283ec59c44f6d0698badff1212224a.jpg

This enables me to sous vide larger pieces of meat like a whole beef tenderloin or sirloin or even a whole fish.

Sous vide is a great way of cooking long & slow, retaining moisture & reducing shrinkage.

This is a piece of venison I cooked for 4 hours at 52*C, in the bag I put some fresh rosemary, thyme & garlic(no salt as it will draw the moisture out of the meat) & then seared it quickly to an end temperature of 58*C & while it rested it ended up reaching 60*C

Venison2.thumb.jpg.916bc7ffb6fcaaaec5221d53190fb8fc.jpg

 

As a fisho who does not get out that often its nice to be able catch a bag limit(thats rare🤣) & fully prep & fresh freeze the fish & be able get a piece out of the freezer weeks or months later & enjoy a nice meal.

 

This is couple of pictures of my spare small fridge freezers which foods changes as I rotate food around, its quite a small 2 level freezer but I can fit about 70 pre made meals into depending how its configured

Freezer.thumb.jpg.ee5d7569bdd1d4600ff22042ecefdb65.jpg

Freezer2.thumb.jpg.db6855dadec0ca7bb9dfc7a34801061e.jpg

 

To add, I have no affiliation with any brands or stores just what I have bought for myself or used at work.

I have left a variety of links for you all to look at with information.

 

If anyone has any question on vacuum machines I be happy to try & help out.

 

https://www.vacmasterfresh.com/fresh-bites-blog/top-15-advantages-to-vacuum-sealing-your-food/

 

https://www.foodvacuumsealers.com.au/pages/storage-life

 

https://www.foodvacuumsealers.com.au/blogs/news/vacuum-sealed-life-expectancy

 

https://culinaryreviewer.com/vacuum-sealer-bags-faq/#1

Edited by kingie chaser
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Top stuff Adrian. Thanks for sharing your deep expertise. There’s a lot of quality information there from which to start. Mucho gracias amigo ! 👍👍👍

cheers Zoran 

ps - the reason a lot of vegetables don’t freeze well is because as water freezes to ice it expands about 10% in volume. This cracks hard wall cellulose cell structures… protein cell structures are more flexible and can accommodate the expansion and contraction. 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, zmk1962 said:

Top stuff Adrian. Thanks for sharing your deep expertise. There’s a lot of quality information there from which to start. Mucho gracias amigo ! 👍👍👍

cheers Zoran 

ps - the reason a lot of vegetables don’t freeze well is because as water freezes to ice it expands about 10% in volume. This cracks hard wall cellulose cell structures… protein cell structures are more flexible and can accommodate the expansion and contraction. 

No problem.

Yes your 100% correct, I could have elaborated a bit further on that but didnt really want to get into the food science area of things. As mentioned food manufacturers have methods to protect the integrity of many foods but in the end some items just cant be regenerated & be worth eating.

Thats why I guess you never see things like frozen cabbage but you see it quite commonly pickled & canned or in jars.

Its also for the reason you mentioned I would not normally freeze cooked fish/seafood, I know a lot of companies do but you also get a lot of loss of moisture & flavour.

Would be a bit different if covered with a sauce where that can protect the flesh a bit more.

 

Edited by kingie chaser
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  • 1 month later...

Thanks @kingie chaser,

I'm finding myself extremely tempted to get myself a vacuum sealer after reading this post and salting some mackerel for bait and cooking up a curry for later in the week. I love the idea of the vac-packed ready to go meals. Will certainly keep me out of trouble with the family for when I have classes after work.

I've had a sous vide stick for a couple of years now, mainly for controlling the mash temperature for my home brewing, but the other week I did a 3 hour lamb rump 'roast' with the stick set at 60 degrees, with a few mins in the pan and then a few more mins in the oven. That was exquisite and the other reason I'm seriously considering a vacuum sealer.

Apart from the features you have already mentioned, what kind of wattage would you recommend as a minimum and are there any standard/non-standard bag/roll sizes to look for?

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13 hours ago, Little_Flatty said:

but the other week I did a 3 hour lamb rump 'roast' with the stick set at 60 degrees, with a few mins in the pan and then a few more mins in the oven. That was exquisite and the other reason I'm seriously considering a vacuum sealer.

Apart from the features you have already mentioned, what kind of wattage would you recommend as a minimum and are there any standard/non-standard bag/roll sizes to look for?

Hi LF, yeh they are both just so versatile & compliment each other.

 

I would say watts is not a factor, it would be more about the bar pressure the pump can extract the air, although maybe the higher the wattage the larger the pump?? That I cannot answer as you would need to do an indepth investigation into model specs which can be hard to find.

But thats why when you get into the "in chamber" models you are getting into bugger suction power but you pay for it.

 

On the bags, there is a link at the bottom that contains some info on the bags.

All the different manufacturers will have different specs for their bags & there will also produce different thicknesses which will be differently heat rated.

Im actually looking for some higher temp bags at the moment that will take 90*c for longer for cooking things that I will want to cook to tenderize like pulled pork.

A lot of bags will be rated to about 70*c so will be fine for most applications where you will be lower temp cooking & sealing the product after. 

 

At the end of the day I usually have a budget figure in mind, then I start searching through different brands/models & write down what features they offer & what feature I want.

You can spend $50 to $500 in the channel bag versions so its a wide price point.

 

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