If you just bought a vacuum sealer and are getting the itch to vacuum seal everything in sight, you’re not alone! Watching the air disappear out of a bag and decompress to a smaller size is one of the most satisfying things to watch.
Whether with a normal vacuum sealer or another type of vacuum sealing device, there are so many ways you can use it. Before you start, you probably want to know if you can really vacuum seal anything. We’ll discuss what you can and can’t vacuum seal, as well as how to put your vacuum sealer to the best use possible. Don’t worry, you’ll probably never run out of reasons to whip out the vacuum sealer on a weekly basis at least.
What Can You Vacuum Seal?
All types of food can be vacuum sealed to great effect. From dry goods to liquids, here is a list of everything you can vacuum seal with the right equipment:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Hard cheese
- Wine and other beverages
- Cooking oils and vinegar
- Grains like cereal
- Herbs and spices
- Potato chip bags and crackers
- Coffee beans
- Sauces, marinades, dips, soups, and stews
- And more!
Vacuum sealing raw foods for sous vide cooking is also highly recommended since you can achieve great results by cooking certain dishes in a heated water bath. This method also works simply for marinating before cooking on a BBQ or other cooking methods.
Meal prep is made easy when you make large batches of meals and vacuum seal them for storing in the freezer for a year or more. Individual servings can also be stored in this manner, such as pre-made breakfasts, for streamlined mealtimes. It’s even possible to vacuum seal liquids in bags, jars, or open bottles with special bottle stoppers or jar sealers.
One of the best uses for your vacuum sealer is freezing meals to save time later. Vacuum-sealed food is immune to freezer burn, so you can prepare weeks or months of meals ahead of time for the whole family. This is perfect if you know you’re going to be out of commission due to surgery, travel, a new baby, or simply to have in case of a long day at work.
While we don’t often consider the need to repackage dry food and non-perishables like cookies, nuts and seeds, crackers, cereal, and pasta, storing these products in vacuum seal bags can increase their shelf life from months to one or several years.
Emergency Kits and Care Packages
If you want to prepare rations like medicines, jerky, perishables, and other staples for an emergency situation at home, make a DIY car emergency kit in case of engine failure, or send a care package of freshly baked goods to a loved one, vacuum sealing them first is the way to go. They’ll stay fresh for as long as it takes for the packages to be opened, and liquids won’t spill!
Clothing and Bedding
With a vacuum seal hose, you can vacuum package off-season clothing and extra sets of bedding for storage, decompress closets when moving, and take more on vacation by packing clothes in vacuum sealer bags. This trick can also come in handy when camping since you can hike in to a location with a smaller (though not lighter) pack.
If you have important items you keep in a safe, vacuum sealing them should be a priority step in securing your belongings. Important documents like death and birth certificates, photos, and financial information, special belongings like valuables or collectibles, cash, and more can all be sealed to further protect them in case of a flood or other source of water damage.
Vacuum sealing electronics is the best way to protect them from water damage and other harm when not in use. Things like phones and tablets can be protected from dirt, dust, and water when vacuum-sealed.
Easily lost items like leftover screws and nuts from a building project can be easily organized and stored by vacuum sealing them in small bags. This is the perfect way to organize a garage workshop and prevent catastrophe in case a bin of screws is accidentally knocked over. Things like loose batteries, small gadgets, toy pieces like Lego, and more will never be lost when vacuum-sealed and stored smartly.
What Shouldn’t You Vacuum Seal?
While you can vacuum seal just about anything with the right tools, there are a few things that should never be vacuum sealed.
Let’s start with foods that shouldn’t be preserved. Some types of food can cause food safety concerns if vacuum packaged:
Soft, wet, or crumbly cheeses like Brie, Ricotta, Mozarella, and blue cheese should never be vacuum sealed. Unlike hard cheeses, this type of cheese can still grow mold in an airless environment. Unfortunately, this means that vacuum sealing won’t extend the life of these cheeses, and you’ll open the package to spoiled food.
Another food item that shouldn’t be vacuum sealed is raw onion and garlic. These foods release gases that can make the bag bloat, and they’ll decompose faster when vacuum sealed than they would be sitting in your pantry like normal.
Certain raw veggies are a bit tricky to vacuum seal as well since they also release gases that negate the vacuum seal process. To vacuum seal vegetables like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage, you first need to blanch, cool, and dry them.
Another food to avoid vacuum sealing is raw mushrooms since they will decay faster in this environment. This is due to the way their ripening cycle works. Cooked mushrooms are just fine, however.
Certain fruits like bananas and whole apples shouldn’t be vacuum sealed. If you want to preserve these fruits, you’ll have to first freeze the banana and slice the apple before coating the slices with lemon juice to prevent browning.
Methods of Vacuum Packing
Whether you have a vacuum sealer or not, you can vacuum seal just about anything. Here are all the ways you can get vacuum sealing.
Use a Vacuum Sealer
Using a vacuum sealer is certainly the easiest choice. Countertop models like a Foodsaver make the vacuum process painless since they automatically suck out the air from the plastic bag to create an air-free environment before sealing. Food packaging with a vacuum sealer is the only way to go since it is convenient, efficient, and guarantees an airtight seal. You can use a handheld vacuum sealer for things like opened chip bags or a chamber vacuum sealer for liquid packages or larger bags.
Use a Vacuum and Trash Bag
For large non-food items like clothes and bedding, you can use a normal trash bag and a vacuum. You’ll want to use vacuum attachments like a crevice tool or main hose as well as a bag that has built-in ties for quickly closing it without letting air back in. All you have to do is add in your clothes or bedding, insert the vacuum hose into the bag, tighten the bag around the vacuum, turn on the vacuum to suck out all the air, then quickly remove the attachment and tie the bag closed without letting in any air. Viola, your package is half the size and easier to store or transport!
DIY Straw Vacuum Sealer
If you’re in a bind and want to reuse the same bag you’ve been eating out of or are storing something in a small sandwich bag or something similar in size, there is a solution! With just a straw you can act as your own vacuum sealer. First, close the bag except for a small corner. Then, insert the end of the straw into the slot. Suck out the air using the straw and then immediately close the bag to prevent any air from entering.
With these vacuum sealing methods, you can vacuum seal anything you want!