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Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Even The Simple Things - Food Saving Hand Pump Vacuum Sealing
When I travel, I am usually just one person. Even with two, I often have leftovers or only use a small portion of a freshly opened store container. Yes, I am thinking of coffee. One of the best things on Earth is the aroma of a freshly opened can or bag of coffee. Beans or ground...it really doesn't matter. It's an eye opener! Of course, brewing and drinking it is an eye opener too! Things like coffee and other vacuum packed or fresh perishables only last a finite amount of time after they are unsealed. What about produce from farm stands you come across while travelling? What can you do about it? Vacuum Pack them!
My Big Vacuum Sealer
At home (my non-movable one) I have an electrically powered vacuum sealer. It uses a roll of plastic that can be sized to any length and also comes with several sizes of plastic containers that have special vacuum lids with valves on them. It works amazingly well. I can save perishable items for a long time when they aren't exposed to air. When frozen, stuff doesn't get freezer burned! Things in the containers last at least twice as long as un-vacuum packed items. It's a pretty large device (about 18" Long by 6 " Wide by 4" deep) and it only vacuum packs. It also uses a pretty good amount of power since it vacuums out the air and then uses heat to seal the bag. Even without the sealer it uses quite a few amps for a pretty long duration. Add those drawbacks together and I wouldn't want one on-board. I use it...but not all the time. Storage space is always at a premium. if you don't need it don't bring it!
Store Bought Hand Vacuum System With Special Bags
So...now what? I found a hand pumped vacuum sealer that actually works quite well. Yes, it's a bit more work, but it still saves food items just as well. It's relatively easy to use...not as "push button" friendly as the electric one, but it still works great. Best of all, it uses no power except your muscles. How's it work? Well there are a few different kinds to choose from. Some use specially designed Ziploc bags for storage and some use the same vacuum packing containers as the electrically powered ones. You can buy them as sets with several containers or as separates. I like the simplest versions the best. Just a small hand pump and a hose to connect to whatever you are sealing.
Then there is a DIY one that uses your mechanics toolbox vacuum tester! Since I already have that tool onboard the RV, I have been using that to create the vacuum to seal the containers (Which I bought online.) You can actually see how much vacuum pressure you are making with these as they come with a gauge. I really prefer things that have multiple uses when packing the RV. less stuff equals less weight equals better performance. Both gas mileage and performance can be improved by simply reducing what you carry. Multi-tasking items can go a long way to reducing the amount of "stuff" you carry along.
There are lots of accessories for vacuum sealing. If you look online, you can find a product that seals mason jars! As long as you have a vacuum source that can get to around 25 in. vacuum, you can seal just about anything with the right attachment. I've even tried vacuum sealing with regular plastic bags. Either zip or press seal. It works....well sort of. The vacuum isn't as good and will leak out after a while but it will extend the life of what's inside for a while. Marinating is a great use for a vacuum sealer. Place whatever you are marinating (meat, fish, vegetables, etc.) in a bag or container with the marinade and vacuum the air out. Let it sit for a while and it's done. No more overnight marathon marination. Try it! The results will speak (taste?) for themselves.