Three Ways Vacuum Sealers Keep Food So Fresh
They can even seal lettuce!
Think vacuum sealers are exclusively for people who cook in huge batches? Think again. While vacuum sealing makes batch prep a snap, it’s just as essential for making leftover takeout last longer, and for keeping produce—including lettuce or a half-used avocado—fresh. Plus it can save half a bag of chips for your next party. Here’s how the vacuum sealer and why one deserves some precious counter real estate.
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A vacuum sealer works by removing the air from a specially designed bag, and then heat sealing the bag to close it. This protects food from oxygen and liquid, both of which can cause food spoilage, not to mention pests (microorganisms like mold require oxygen to grow). Protecting from liquids can also stop freezer burn, and can make it so vacuum-packed meat can be in the freezer for two or more years. Vacuum-packed food in the fridge can last much longer than food in containers, but a week or so is a good rule of thumb to live by.
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There are some precautions you should consider with vacuum sealers. First, it’s important to use vacuum sealer-specific bags. Other plastic bags are porous and allow oxygen to seep in. The second is to know what can and can’t be vacuum sealed. While the short answer for what can be sealed is pretty much everything, there are exceptions. Some foods, like soft cheeses, mushrooms and garlic are vulnerable to bacteria that grows in oxygen-free environments. If you’re vacuum-packing leftovers, make sure the food cools to room temperature, since hot foods can also breed bacteria. And while produce can be vacuum sealed, some cruciferous veggies, like kale, broccoli and bok choy, usually need to be blanched first. Your vacuum sealer should come with a guide regarding specific storage methods.
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Vacuum sealers can also be used for day-of cooking, to marinate meats or for sous-vide cooking methods. Just remember to clean it regularly to prevent bacteria buildup.
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