My parents did later in life. From what I’ve read lately here some of you do. I wrap steaks in Saran Wrap and put in ziplocks. Family pack chicken breasts are taken out of original packaging and simply put in ziplock bags. Pork chops are frozen as is. Cube or round steak for CFS frozen as is. I can see why some of you vacuum pack for long term storage, but if you use it up within a few months it seems like a hassle to me for short term. Thoughts?
I preserve local, seasonal fruits and vegetables in my vacuum sealer: sour cherries, berries of all kinds, corn, Lima beans, Italian prune plums, cherry tomatoes from my garden, etc. The vacuum sealing preserves dramatically better than other freezer methods (such as Saran and then foil, “freezer” grade ziplocks, and all manner of containers.) Food doesn’t get freezer burn or ice, maintains its flavor, color and structure far better, and simply stays high-quality far longer after vacuum sealing.
I don’t, but I am glad you bring this topic up. I should really think about the possibility to get a vacuum sealers, especially for my more expensive food ingredients.
We use a vacuum sealer for uncooked meat and fish. My husband fishes and we vacuum seal striped bass filets and smoked bluefish for our chest freezer to use throughout the winter. When we make stuffed clams, we always vacuum seal extras. We’re a household of two, but often buy chicken, pork, beef, and lamb chops in family packs when the price is right and break them into smaller quantities and vacuum seal them to stock our freezer, as well. The fish and meat survive well for months with no ill effects.
I do both ziploc bags and vacuum sealing, actually. If I know I’m going to use the item within a few weeks, I’ll ziploc and leave it in my main freezer so I don’t forget about it. If it’s going in the big freezer downstairs, I vacuum seal. I try to turn over the contents of that freezer within a year, but it doesn’t always happen. With vacuum sealing, most things are still perfectly fine even at the two year mark.
Since I often buy large subprimals and cut them into steaks/chops/whatever, I typically vacuum seal a bunch of stuff at once. It’s not really any more difficult or time consuming than ziplocs once I have the machine out.
It’s worth the effort for me because of the prevention of freezer burn.
I use one for freezing fish, primarily - both raw and home-smoked. As mentioned upthread, it does a far better job than a standard zip-loc bag. The down side is the bags, even if you cut your own, are relatively expensive. Therefore, I use it where I get the most bang for my buck (delicate, expensive products), and use other methods for everything else.
It doesn’t seem like much of a hassle to me, although that depends on what I use. I have one about the size of a roll of Reynolds wrap, and a box of pre-cut one quart bags.
I had a Food Saver for a long time, loved it, and would even repair it, but when i couldn’t keep it going I bought this smaller one.
Down side is you should use two hands, making it tricky to hold the bag in place, especially if you want to drape it over an edge to avoid sucking up liquid. Up side was its small and easy to store, and inexpensive.
I keep them both in a cabinet under the stove. I have to put what ever in the bag carefully so I don’t gunk up the edges to be sealed, and it’s harder if there’s any liquid, but I think it means I throw less food away. In the refrigerator, I can have half of a pound of ground meat on Monday and the rest on Saturday.
I have another one, like this
There’s also containers, which I use in the fridge sometimes ( strawberries last a lot longer)
but I most often i use this dohicky with the bags, in the freezer, when I need to open and close something like a bag of frozen cubes of stock. Takes a little longer.
Down side of all of these is the plastic, but you can re-use the Zwilling bags.
I used to wrap and ziplock too, but have since switched to vacuum sealing. The vacuum sealer really helps with sous vide too, so the freezing wasn’t the primary motivation for the sealer
With that being said, I vacuum seal what I buy in bulk or foods that I’m not planning on cooking within the next week or two, so it’s not a pain at all. In fact, when I compare to the used ziplock bags and the Saran wrap or foil, feels like it’s simpler. For steaks, it’s an easy drop right from freezer into the sous vide bath and then the sear after.
On occasion I also vacuum seal expensive foods (like the time I got greedy for Spanish ham) so that it keeps better.
I use and like vacuum sealing foods before freezing. Provided there are not air pockets inside the pouches, “freezer burn” caused by oxidation is practically eliminated.
I formerly raised cattle, and always kept a whole beef for my use throughout the year. I can state categorically that careful wrapping in klingwrap and butcher paper is inferior to vacuum sealing. A whole salmon frozen vacuum-sealed will taste fresh 6 months later, and is quite good for over a year.
The down sides are the cost of the vacuum bag material, and storing/organizing the frozen pouches.
FWIW, Chem, if I had it to do over again, I would spend more and get a small chamber vacuum model, rather than the Foodsaver type.
Because it is vacuuming from all direction?
Chamber vacuum sealers evacuate air from the entire chamber, equalizing pressure both inside and outside the pouch, and keeping everything–including liquids–inside the pouch.
These sealers do not apply any suction within the pouch, which allows you to package soups, stews, marinades and other liquids along with the usual solid foods.
This is more important than it may seem, because conventional sealers pull the vacuum from inside the pouch. Any liquid inside is drawn toward the sealer, which can make for poor or failed seals, hence future freezer burn. Also, FoodSaver type pouches intended for sous vide often either leak air in (and then float and cook unevenly) or leak food out (double ick).
“Outdoor” places like Cabella’s and Bass Pro Shops are good places to shop/learn about home chamber sealers.
We’re thinking of getting one. My parents had one of the original Seal-a-Meals and we used it for YEARS. It was great for freezing restaurant leftovers–we had supplies of those in the freezer for when we needed a quick meal.
I deal with the liquid problem with “regular” sealers by freezing the contents in an open sealing bag, and then sealing the bag after the liquidy part has frozen
So I was able to score a 1970s vintage Seal-a-Meal II, just like my mother had, for $20 through someone on NextDoor. Some bags came with it, but I’m hoping to be able to find replacements. Do they still make bags that are compatible with the Seal-a-Meal?
As some of you might remember from THE OTHER PLACE, I’m a Master Food Preserver, and one of the perks of being an MFP is access to the program’s vacuum sealer. I use it on meats I buy in bulk for long-term (>3 months or so). I have several pounds of USDA Choice top sirloin I picked up for less than 5 bucks a pound that I trimmed to about 8-9 ounce steaks and froze two to a package, and I do the same with pork loin chops.
I don’t sous vide, and I just use cling film and zipper bags for most other things that go into the freezer. I have yet to see any negative effects from using zipper bags on pulled pork (frozen in 1 lb. portions) or home made char siu (first wrapped in cling film and then in a zipper bag), but I have a friend who vacuum seals SOUP after he dehydrates it (think split pea or navy bean) for backpacking.
I use a vacuum sealer to freeze food, stock etc
I grew up eating beef cuts wrapped in klingwrap and then overwrapped in coated butcher paper, secured with tape, before freezing. It kept pretty well, but not for an especially long time. I was accustomed to the gradual but inevitable degradation in quality. It also did not bother me that, no matter how long it was frozen, there was a difference between that and fresh. It was always good enough.
Since I no longer raise beef (never say never), my tolerance for frozen has tapered off along with my reasons for raising, finishing, slaughter, cut&wrap, etc. It’s not that “fresh” in the markets, cut from cryovac subprimals, is all that, but IME, it’s better than my beef ever was after 6 months in the chest freezer.
Incidentally, I’m old enough to remember “locker beef”. You? Used to be that people would buy a half beef, c&w, and store it in a commercial locker enclosure. These places were kept SO cold, you would never, ever forget a second time to bring a heavy hat, coat and gloves. In memory, meats kept in such a locker lasted longer.