Why You Need a Vacuum Sealer for Your Freezer
If you have a freezer and you like to cook then a vacuum sealer could be your new best friend in the kitchen.
There are many reasons for vacuum sealing foods before you freeze them. Here are a just few suggestions:
- Food lasts longer frozen
- It reduces the risk of bacteria growing in or on your food – and so cuts the chances of food poisoning
- It saves space
- It’s fantastic for portioning up bulk shops
- It can save you money – either through bulk shopping or buying discounted items that you may not want to eat right now, but can store until the mood grabs you
- It’s fabulous for food prep – you can make and cook entire meals ahead of when you want them and freeze them for a later date. Alternatively, you can prepare part of a dinner – like marinating chicken breasts – and freeze them for another night. Then all you have to do is come up with a side dish.
Sounds great, right? And it is. But there are a few things you need to know before you start vacuum sealing everything from your grocery shop and chucking it in your deep freeze.
Tips for Successful Freezing with a Vacuum Sealer – Part 1
Liquids Can Be Tricky, and Messy
I get a real kick out of cooking and eating seasonally. A chilled bowl of sun-ripened tomato soup is a summer treat, but it can be even more special in the dark of winter when a splash of cream and a gentle heat in a saucepan can turn it into a welcome reminder of warmer days.
So freezing a few extra portions of liquid summer is a very appealing idea and something that many cooks do.
But actually getting that plate of sunshine into the freezer can be a real pain if you don’t know what you are doing.
The Problem –
When you suck the air out of the vacuum sealer bag, you may also suck out the liquid.
The Solution –
You have a few options:
- Pre-Freeze – a solid can’t be sucked out of a vacuum sealer bag along with any unwanted air, so turn your liquid into a solid first. To do this, take your tomato soup and freeze it in a plastic container. Once firm, pop it out, place it in a vacuum sealer bag and vacuum seal it like you would any other solid item. Easy.
- Seal slowly and carefully – you can choose to keep your soup as a liquid for the vacuum sealing process and go straight ahead and seal it as you would any solid food item. Doing it right without ending up covered in soup may take a bit of trial and error, but it can be done. Go slow and be prepared to fiddle around with the suction of your machine (or strength of your hand pumping) as the liquid nears the edge of the bag.
Remember that if you over suck and pull some liquid through the edges of the bag, you’ll need to wipe those edges on the inside carefully before you try again as they won’t seal properly if they are wet or oily.
- Seal with a safety space – if you chicken out on sucking the soup right to the lip of the bag, you can always leave a small amount of room between the liquid and the seal.
Remember that this means that the vacuum is not as strong as it would be if you sucked all the air that you could out, so food won’t last as quite long.
Fruits, Berries and Veggies Can Get Squashed
Just as it is a lovely reminder of summer to eat a bowl of homemade tomato soup on a cold evening, it’s great to freeze harvests of seasonal fruit for times when they are harder to find or more expensive. Especially if you have a glut.
The Problem –
Sucking the air out of the plastic pouch can damage soft fruits and vegetables. And let’s face it; raspberries aren’t as appetising when they are a squished, mushy smear.
The Solution –
Take your crop of raspberries, spread them on a tray that fits in your freezer and freeze them. Once they are solid you can vacuum seal them as you would any other item.
If you think about shop-bought frozen fruit and veg, you can see that this is what many food manufacturers do on an industrial scale. Open a bag of frozen peas and they will all tumble out individually. They’ve been snap frozen and bagged up to give you perfectly formed peas with all their nutrients still intact. With a vacuum sealer, you can do this yourself at home.
Prepared Foods Can Be Crushed
I’m essentially a lazy cook, so I’m quite happy to fiddle around for a couple of hours making something, but only if I’m going to get a least a couple of meals for my family out of all my work. This means I am the queen of stashing future dinners away in the freezer.
The only issue is that some foods are more delicate than others and can be crushed or squished out of shape by regular vacuum sealing. Few things annoy me more than spending an hour seasoning, mixing and rolling meatballs for them to be flattened into patties.
The Problem –
Like with soft fruits and vegetables (see above), some foods can be damaged and misshapen by vacuum sealing.
The Solution –
We are back to the wonders of pre-freezing, but you have a few choices, depending on the dishes:
- Pre-freeze raw – you can portion your meatballs and freeze them on lined trays in your freezer whilst the mix is still uncooked. Then you simply have to slide the meatballs into a plastic pouch, vacuum seal it and place the bag back in the deep freeze until you want it, when you defrost the contents and carry on to complete the meal.
- Freeze cooked – if you really want everything to be hassle free for the future, you can go ahead and cook the entire dinner – meatballs, sauce and all. Then you can divide it into portions and freeze them in a container. Once frozen, you can move the contents to a vacuum sealer bag and seal it as you would any solid produce.
- Partially cook – there is a third option where you cook your meatballs and go through the process of freezing them on a tray and vacuum sealing them for the freezer, leaving the making of the sauce for another day.
I’ve used meatballs as an example above, but the principle is the same across a huge variety of dishes. It all depends on how much preparation you want to get done in advance and how perfect you like your finished meal to look.
If you’ve found this useful and want more tips on how a vacuum sealer can help you make the most of your freezer you can read more here.