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A Power Tool to Fight Food Waste that SUCKS!

With inflation rampant and Supply Chain problems increasing, you need the tools and tricks to make sure that you get the most out of everything you buy!

In the world of Warehouse stores, the ease of buying food that we know is more than we need is hard to resist, especially at good prices. Unfortunately, we often end up throwing out more than we’d like to admit. But there is a convenient power tool available that will help fight food waste and IT SUCKS (literally)!

Even if you have plenty of freezer space, food that isn’t properly packaged will either suffer greatly in quality when thawed some time later, or, if frozen for long enough, it ends up being thrown out right from the freezer, (we’re all guilty of it! But there is a solution!).

Air is the Enemy!

The challenge we face in trying to preserve food is to be able to keep it fresh for long enough so that when we’re ready to enjoy it, it hasn’t turned into Organic Mulch while in the fridge, (we’re all familiar with this unpleasant, sometimes slimy experience aren’t we?).

The air around us is the villain, mainly Oxygen, as well as airborne mold spores, bacteria, you get the idea...

So if we remove the air, problem solved, right? Not exactly. Like most everything in life, it’s a delicate balance.

Invest in a Food Vacuum-Sealer

There are a number of food Vacuum-Sealers on the market. In this case, we’re using a Foodsaver® Vacuum Sealer, which is one of the most popular and is a very high quality product but we are not specifically endorsing or recommending this brand. There are dozens of other brands on the market.

Increase Food Storage From Days to WEEKS, (and even several MONTHS!)

When perishable foods are properly Vacuum-sealed, not only can you dramatically increase the time before it spoils but you can also maintain freshness that will shock and surprise you!

Learning a Few Tricks Makes ALL the difference!

The first thing to understand is the nature of the food you want to preserve. Let’s start with the trickiest: Breads, bagels, muffins, etc.

Important: The very first rule you should be aware of is ALL Breads freeze exceptionally well and ALL breads, (unless you’re going to enjoy them the same day), should all be frozen. Thawing bread in the microwave takes mere seconds!

The problem is that breads are packaged and sold in convenient, inexpensive plastic bags, (usually), and the enemy, (air) can pass through that plastic fairly easily even in the freezer.

IMPORTANT! If you own a vacuum sealer or know someone who does, you may have experienced this: Turning on the Vacuum sealer and have it suck out SO MUCH air that it smashes the bread, buns or muffins flat!

Believe it or not, these WERE Hot Dog Buns!!!

As you can see, the buns are smashed flat and are inedible.
Over-Vacuum-sealed Hot Dog Buns

Tip #1: Control the Vacuum

Most people don’t realize that you can interrupt the vacuum process at ANY TIME, by simply hitting the “seal” button.

Also, if you feel you vacuumed out too much air and the bread or bun looks a little smashed, DO NOT PANIC, simply hit the “Vac-Seal” button a second time and it will stop and immediately release the vacuum-lock and air will immediately flow back in. Assuming you haven’t gone too far,, you can try it again. It’s not necessary to get all the air out, just enough to create a negative pressure zone.

In this example, we have a package of Thomas’® English Muffins, which we bought (on sale!) at Scotts Valley Market. We slipped the entire package, plastic sleeve and all, into a FoodSaver plastic sleeve, sucked out the air and sealed it

As you can see from the image below, we placed the English Muffins in their original packaging including the paper box and plastic sleeve, inside the FoodSaver sleeve and removed the optimum amount of air from the package of English Muffins and put them in the freezer. The photo below is what the muffins looked like AFTER four months!

Perfectly Vacuum-sealed English Muffins
Vacuum-sealed English Muffins AFTER four months in the freezer!

We opened these English Muffins FOUR MONTHS after sealing and placing in the freezer. There was ZERO Freezer Burn and the muffins, after thawing, were almost as fresh as when we put them in the freezer! Once again, the trick was to remove JUST the right amount of air and hitting the “Seal” button.

The first thing to understand is the nature of the food you want to preserve. Let’s start with the trickiest: Breads, bagels, muffins, etc.

The very first rule you should be aware of is Breads freeze exceptionally well and all breads, (unless you’re going to enjoy them the same day), should all be frozen, (this rule applies even if you DO NOT have a Vacuum Sealer).

The problem is that breads are packaged and sold in convenient, inexpensive plastic bags, (usually), and the enemy, (air) can pass through that plastic fairly easily even in the freezer.

Tip #2: “Ziptop” bags DO NOT work nearly as well

Most people use Ziptop bags to help in preserving food when freezing and while they are certainly better than super-thin plastic wrap, such as what many meat and cheese products are wrapped in, the “ziptop” mechanism of all ziptop bags, no matter the brand, and even if they are “freezer” bags, are NOT airtight and will allow air to seep in.

Here is another example: We have a leftover bagel that had no packaging. We could’ve slipped it into a ziptop bag and put it in the freezer but in a short amount of time, air would seep in and cause icy frost crystals to form, while other areas would suffer from “freezer burn”, which is extreme dehydration where the food becomes so dried out, it will never recover after thawing. On the left is our fresh bagel before freezing and on the right is the same bagel after being in the freezer for one week. As you can see, the vacuum-sealed bag wraps tightly around the bagel but not so tight that it deforms or crushes the bagel. This is critical. As you can see from the image on the right, there is ZERO sign of ice crystals or freezer burn.

One other option also is freeze the bread items FIRST and THEN Vacuum-seal them. This can work well but what often happens is items that go in the freezer get easily forgotten and it’s also easily possible to overdo it with a vacuum-sealer even when the bread-buns-muffins are frozen solid.

Tip #3: Freezing Meats is also a Balancing Act.

Freezing meats is fairly straightforward but there are some tips that will ensure high quality storage.

  1. ALWAYS Remove the meat-poultry-seafood from it’s wrapper, especiallyif it’s wrapped in plastic wrap and in a styrofoam tray.

  2. If the meat you have purchased is ALREADY in a thick vacuum-sealed bag, you can place meat packaged this way directly in the freezer. It’s ALREADY vacuum-sealed.

  3. For meats like Ground Beef, Pork, or Sausage, (loose or in casings), you need to treat these items like bread. Using the vacuum-sealer, just pull out enough air that you can see the outer Vacuum bag’s shape conform to the product and then hit “Seal”.

  4. For meats like Steak, Poultry, Pork (and even Bac and cuts like Salmon Steaks or Filets, it’s best to follow the procedure in Step #3.

Tip #4: Cooked Foods Store Beautifully!

We did a little experiment using four freshly roasted Chicken Breasts. After the Roasted Chicken Breasts had cooled enough to handle, we sealed half of ’em up in a Vacuum-sealed bag as shown and left them in the fridge for ONE MONTH and put the other two pieces in a ziptop-type bag.

After three days, the Chicken in the ziptop bag looked noticeably different. The skin was rubbery, which is expected but the texture of the meat had changed and tasted “like leftover chicken”. We cut it up and used it to make Ranchero Chicken, which tasted just fine but remember this was ONLY TWO DAYS after cooking it!

When we cut open the package after ONE MONTH, the Chicken was virtually indistinguishable from being fresh out of the oven, (except for the skin, which was rubbery but there is no way to avoid that problem). The taste and texture of the chicken was SHOCKINGLY fresh! It had ZERO “leftover” taste.

Tip #5: No more mold on your favorite Cheeses!

Many of the foods here are vacuum-sealed and when re-opened, are consumed after thawing but there are quite a few items that need to be resealed and here’s the trick: Add a “tail” to your Vacuum Bag as shown:

If you make a bag for cheese, in this case, a nice piece of Gruyère, make the bag a little longer than needed. When you want to enjoy some, slice along the vacuum-seal seam as shown. Take the remaining piece of cheese, place it back in the bag and do the normal Vacuum-seal procedure. This will allow your cheese to remain fresh for MONTHS if you wish without fear of mold. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a delicious, EXPENSIVE piece of cheese left in the fridge, only to find it just a week later, covered in mold and having to throw it out. With a Vacuum-sealer you will never have that problem again!

If you want to preserve a delicate cheese like Brie, treat it as you would bread. You might want to wrap it in plastic wrap first, then GENTLY vacuum out JUST ENOUGH air and then seal. You will be shocked at how long it will last!

The Bottom Line: Vacuum-Sealers Save Money & Minimize Waste!

Here are some examples of items that can be vacuum-sealed either for long-term storage or for regular consumption:

  • Coffee Beans

  • Tortillas

  • Popcorn (popped corn)

  • Pastries

  • Deli Meats

  • Cooked Meats

  • Freshly-sliced Fruits & Berries

If you’ve discovered Sous-Vide cooking, a Vacuum-Sealer is your new best friend!

Invest in a Vacuum-sealer and you’ll never look back. You’ll not only save money, you’ll waste a mere fraction of what is often thrown away because of spoilage and you can buy in quantity and freeze without worry over the food getting freezer-burned.


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