Article by: Melissa Rudy from Words by Melissa
Vacuum sealing, or vacuum packing, is a highly beneficial food storage method that lets you store more food for longer periods of time, using less space. If you’re new to vacuum sealing, or if you’d like more information about how this food storage method works, here are some frequently asked questions and common myths about vacuum sealing.
How does vacuum sealing work?
Vacuum sealing appliances remove all of the air from special vacuum sealing bags containing food or other items, and then heat seal the bags closed so that air is unable to re-enter the package. This is different from traditional bags and storage containers, which seal air inside along with the food.
Why remove the air from food storage bags?
Oxygen and oxygen exposure is the primary cause of rapid food spoilage and rancidity. Exposure to air also causes mold and bacteria growth, freezer burn, and staleness. With vacuum packing, your food stays fresh for longer—and it also retains more flavor, texture, and nutrients by reducing or eliminating oxidation.
How long does vacuum packed food last?
The length of time varies according to the food being stored and the location it’s stored in (such as pantry versus fridge versus freezer). Vacuum sealing keeps food fresh up to five times longer than traditional storage methods. For example, fresh meat that is vacuum packed and stored in the freezer will stay fresh for 2 to 3 years.
What temperatures should vacuum sealed food be stored at?
Lower temperatures are important for safe, long-term food storage. Temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower will significantly reduce the growth of microorganisms that cause food to spoil. Vacuum sealed dry foods are best kept in a cool pantry or cellar. For long-term storage of perishable food, freezing is the best option.
Do vacuum sealed foods still need to be refrigerated?
Any type of perishable food must always be refrigerated or frozen, even if they are vacuum packed. It’s important to remember that vacuum sealing is not a substitute for refrigeration, dehydration, or proper canning and curing preparation.
How do you defrost frozen, vacuum sealed foods?
Frozen, perishable foods that are sealed in vacuum bags can be defrosted without removing them from the bag—but they must be placed in the refrigerator to defrost. Never thaw frozen vacuum packed foods at room temperatures.
What are the benefits of vacuum sealing food?
Vacuum packing keeps food fresh, tasty, and nutritious for up to five times longer than traditional food storage methods. Vacuum sealed foods also don’t get freezer burn, because they aren’t in contact with the cold, dry air that causes this condition. In addition:
You save money. Because food lasts longer with vacuum sealing, you’ll end up throwing less food away due to spoilage. Vacuum packing also lets you purchase bulk perishable food, or large quantities while it’s on sale, and re-package into smaller portions for easy serving.
You save time. Taking advantage of the ability to purchase in bulk means fewer trips to the grocery store. With vacuum sealing, you’ll always have food on hand, including in cases of emergency such as storms or extended power outages.
You save space. Vacuum packaging takes up less space than traditional food storage methods, allowing you to store more food in the space that’s available to you.