Some of you who have been reading here already know of my long standing love affair with the FoodSaver. These things will pay for themselves in no time at all. Mars bought mine for me as a Christmas gift one year. Yeah, he's romantic like that! Truth be told though we both really wanted one and we caught a sweet deal on one.
There are tons of ways to use these wonderful tools. Most people are familiar with using the bags to freeze meats, vegetables and fruits. It keeps things just as fresh as the day you put them in the freezer. I've had meat that I have vacuum sealed and put in the freezer for over two years and when I took them out they were just as fresh as the day I sealed them. No more freezer burn! That alone would be enough to pay for one of these handy tools. But there is so much more you can do with a vacuum sealer.
Our Foodsaver came with two rolls of bags, a vacuum hose, a wide mouth jar sealer and two canisters. It didn't take me long to figure out just how expensive those bags can be so these days I'm pretty particular about what I use them for. But the use of jars really started getting my attention. They make attachments that will seal canning jars using regular canning lids and they are pretty inexpensive. Ever wonder what to do with your used canning lids? Instead of tossing them I use them for vacuum sealing jars of dry foods like my home dehydrated foods, powdered milk, rice, beans etc... Just think, you can open a new can of coffee, pour it in a jar, seal it up and it will retain its freshness.
If you look in your fridge right now I'll bet you probably have an onion. bell pepper, celery or some other vegetable stored in a zip-lock bag or a resealable bowl. Their shelf life isn't very long and I can't tell you just how much food I have tossed in the compost pile over the years because I didn't use it quickly enough. A good example is bell peppers. I don't usually use a whole bell pepper at once and used to toss the remaining pepper in a zip-lock bag. Stored this way they tend to go bad pretty quickly. I found that if I stored them in a vacuum sealed jar I could extend their shelf life by over twice as long. What used to last maybe a week will now keep for a month or more and retain it's freshness. The cost of food is rising so quickly that it just makes sense. I hardly ever toss out vegetables that have gone bad anymore.
Another great thing to store in vacuum sealed jars is your cheese. I hate it when my cheese starts to mold in the fridge. Put your cheese in jars and vacuum seal after each use. You would be amazed at how long cheese will keep stored like this. With no mold either! I even store my leftovers in jars and seal them. Again, they just keep longer.
I use jars to help with my food rotation as well. I have buckets of things stored and when I need to get into some of them, I don't need the whole bucketful. So I will fill a jar with powdered milk, rice, sugar, salt or "fill in the blank" and reseal the bucket. Then I just vacuum seal the jars after each use. The only problem with this is that I was using my canning jars for all these things and you know they are NOT cheap. Besides I need them for canning! Eventually you find yourself short on canning jars. So here I was using all my widemouth canning jars for storing dry goods and in the fridge. I didn't have ( and still don't) have a small mouth jar attachment. It set me to thinking. I went surfing the net and finally found a solution. And not just ANY solution. I not only found a way to seal my small mouth canning jars, but almost any glass jar that has a rubber gasket in the lid. Spaghetti sauce jars, jelly, peanut butter and mayonnaise jars. It doesn't matter what weird size lid it is. Even Pace picante jars with their weird shape can be recycled. The secret is... the large tall canister that came with my "package" deal. You can buy these separately at their site. You fill your recycled jar, put the lid on it and place it in the large canister and vacuum out the air. As you release the vacuum on the canister the jar lids will suck down and give you a good seal.
Every so often you will get a jar that didn't seal. Wipe off the rim of the jar and make sure there are no chips in it, wipe the lid and reseal. This works great and I don't have to forfeit my canning jars anymore. Just be sure to check your jars for a good seal every once in awhile when you are doing your "pantry check". I have found that sometimes, even when using regular canning jars, they will sometimes loose their seal. Therefore, I recommend if you are using canning jars to store them with the band on the lid. You don't want a surprise when you go looking for that jar of dried carrots or something.
I found a decent video of how all this works and have it here.
There are tons of things you can do with a vacuum sealer. Not only are they good for storing foods, you can use them to make your own MRE type foods, vacuum seal things in your BOB to keep them airtight and compact and a gazillion other things. One thing that I would suggest though is to keep your vacuum sealer on the counter. You will be more inclined to use it if it is out where you can see it. Out of sight out of mind as it were.
Anyway... if you have a prepper on your Christmas list I would suggest thinking about one. They can save you so much money on food they can literally pay for themselves over a short amount of time. And if you don't already have one I'd start dropping hints now about what I wanted under my Christmas tree!!
~~~~~~ Hey ... I'm Just Sayin' ... ~~~~~~