Thursday, February 6, 2014

How To Vacuum Pack Meat, Poultry and Sea Food Properly?

 

Using a Vacuum Sealer to Preserve Meat

Vacuum sealing or ROP (Reduced Oxygen Packaging) is the best way to preserve meat because it removes about 90 percent of the air, preventing oxidation that leads to deterioration and eventually to spoilage, while keeping all the juices intact and the color bright.

When you vacuum seal your food, what you are actually doing is removing the air from the bag. Once the air is removed, mold, and some bacteria, are unable to live or grow. Oxygen in environmental air does promote certain reactions in foods which cause deterioration of quality. For example, oxidative rancidity of fats in food and certain color changes are promoted by the presence of oxygen. Therefore, removal of oxygen from the environment will preserve certain quality characteristics and extend the food's shelf life based on quality.

Over time, however, the food you store might spoil if it is not refrigerated or frozen. If you seal your food while it is very fresh, and store it appropriately.

Vacuum packaging can also be safe for food that will be stored frozen. However, proper thawing under conditions that minimize bacterial growth – like refrigeration – would be essential. If the package stays closed during thawing, you still have a vacuum environment where pathogenic bacteria can be active if the temperature is warm enough.




Vacuum meat in bags every time you go shopping. Separate out the portions you use and seal them in different bags. Put the information on the edge of the bags to keep track of in the freezer. You will notice that there is no freezer burn on the meats and it looks fresh even after having them in the freezer for several months.

Pre-seal Considerations Before Vacuum Packing

Irrespective of the type of meat you’re vacuum packing, it’s important to consider their quality at the time of purchase. In other words, the fresher the meat or seafood, the longer it will stay in the freezer when vacuum packed. In that respect, fresh meat from your local butcher shop is your best case scenario. But, if that’s not an option for you, and you’re left to purchasing meat or sea food from the frozen food section of a supermarket, then ensure that you buy only those products with the latest package date.

Make it a point to thoroughly clean any meat, salmon fish fillet or seafood you get from the market, and dry it as fast as possible. Furthermore, if you’ll be using the meat or fish in portions, then cut them into smaller pieces so as to vacuum seal them in batches.

For meat or fish intended for long term storage should be pre frozen before it can be vacuum sealed. However, uneven freezing can lead to purge of juices and therefore make the meat or sea food lose it’s identity and flavor. Instead, opt for short-term freezing by packing the constituents in a freezer bag or flash freezing by spreading small pieces of meat evenly on a large wax paper, covering them with ice and freezing the same for a day or two.

How to Vacuum Seal Meat

1) To vacuum seal, first pack the product in special precut bags or using a roll of the bag material. Leave several inches (5 to 8 cm) of free space at the head of the bag or roll to make a good seal. Use the smallest bag possible so there’s less air to pull out. Keep the side of the bag or roll with the layer of protective netting that helps keep sharp objects such as a bone from poking through the bottom, facing up. Pat the meat to be sealed as dry as possible with paper towels. Very liquid products are difficult to seal. After sealing, either refrigerate or freeze the meat, always defrosting in the refrigerator on a tray to catch drips.

2) Set up the vacuum machine and open the lid. Place the meat into a special vacuum bag.

3) Place the bag over the heated sealing bar with the head of the bag inside the shallow trough just beyond the bar.

4) Close the lid and press the start button to seal, supporting the bag from the bottom. The machine will automatically suck out the air from the package and then heat-seal the package.

5) Once sealed, the bag should shrink up tightly around the meat. If the air is not pulled out, the bag may be wrinkled or folded, forming an air pocket. Open the lid and check that the bag is completely flat, then seal again. These vacuum-sealed double top blade steaks are ready for the freezer. Trim off excess bag flap or roll with scissors.

Watch Video- "How to Vacuum Seal Meat"




Will Vacuum Sealing Food Prevent Spoilage?

No. While removing the oxygen from the package will prevent the growing of some bacteria, botulism can develop in oxygen-free environments. You must refrigerate or freeze the vacuum sealed packages. This is especially the case for fresh meat, produce and dairy products. Do not, under any circumstances, vacuum package food that has already spoiled. If you open a vacuum sealed package and find that the food has spoiled while sealed, discard the food. Do not eat or re-seal.

Do You Need to Use Vacuum Seal Bags?

Yes. Vacuum seal bags are the only type of bag that will work properly in a vacuum sealer. The seal bar on these machines gets quite hot, and ordinary kitchen bags will melt under this kind of heat, ruining your vacuum sealer.

Follow these guidelines to properly vacuum seal food:

1) Do not overfill the bag. Leave at least three inches of clear space at the top of the bag before sealing. And if you believe you will want to reseal the bag afterwards, leave some extra space so you can reuse the bag. The ability of resealing the bags make it great for storing in bulk and using just what you need and then sealing the bag again. For instance, an extra five inches of clear space at the top of the bag will generally let you reseal the bag an additional five times.

2) Vacuum sealing food does not replace the need to pressure can or water bath home canned foods.

3) Wash hands before and during the vacuum sealing process.

4) Try not to touch food with your hands. Use clean spoons, tongs or something else to handle the food.

5) Do not try to make your own bags. The bags that are used with each machine are custom made to work optimally with that model. If you try to make your own bags, there is no guarantee that you have a good seal and that means you could find your food spoiled just when you need it the most.

6) Be sure to keep utensils, cutting boards and counters clean.

7) Keep vacuum sealed foods in the refrigerator or freezer. Dry food, like crackers and nuts, can be stored at room temperature.

8) Freeze low-acid vacuum packaged foods and consume immediately after heating. Never heat a low-acid vacuum packaged food and allow it to stand at room temperature in the vacuum package.

9) Ensure that you do not cross contaminate food.

10) Properly label food sources with type of food and date packaged.

11) Ensure the seal is complete and that there is no debris in the seal. Try to keep the bag smooth during the vacuum sealing process. Wrinkles in the bag can keep residual air in the bag and cause food spoilage.

12) Prepare fruits and vegetables before packaging. If you are freezing them, you should pre-freeze fruits and blanch vegetables. If you are going to store them in a closet, be sure that you dehydrated them completely before storage.

How Long Will Frozen Vacuum Packed Meat Last?

So how long can a freezer keep meat fresh and unspoiled? It really depends on the cut and type of meat. Keep in mind that uncooked meat typically lasts much longer than cooked. Here is a list of some types of meat and their general lifespan in a well-maintained freezer. Includes time for vacuum sealed and non vacuum sealed.

"Vacuum Sealed Meat Freezer Life":

Cooked Meat Times
Poultry – Up to 4 Months
Beef – Up to 3 Months
Hot Dogs – Up to 2 Months
Stew – Up to 3 months
Lunch Meat – Up to 2 months

Uncooked Meat Times
Bacon – Up to 1 month.
Sausage – Up to 2 months
Hamburger – Up to 4 months
Steaks – Up to 12 months
Chops – Up to 6 months.
Roasts – Up to 12 months.
Poultry – Up to 1 year.

Uncooked & Vacuum Sealed
Beef – Up to 3 years
Pork – Up to 3 years
Poultry – Up to 3 years
Lamb – Up to 3 years
Fish – Up to 2 years
Hamburger – Up to 1 year
Ground Meat – Up to 1 year


Shelf life of vacuum packaged foods:
Food
Stored In
Normal
Shelf Life
Vacuum
Shelf Life
Large cuts of meat: beef,
poultry, lamb
and pork
Freezer
6 months
2-3 years
Ground meat:
 beef, poultry,
 lamb and pork
Freezer
4 months
1 year
Fish
Freezer
6 months
2 years
Coffee beans
Room temperature
4 weeks
16 months
Coffee beans
Freezer
6-9 months
2-3 years
Berries: strawberries,
raspberries,
blackberries
Refrigerator
1-3 days
1 week
Berries: cranberries,
huckleberries,
blueberries
Refrigerator
3-6 days
2 weeks
Cheese - hard, semi-soft and
pasteurized
cheeses.*Soft
 cheeses such
as Brie, Camembert,
Ricotta, Cottage and
Teleme MAY
NOT be vacuum packaged
Refrigerator
1-2 weeks
4-8 months
Cookies, crackers
Room temperature
(periodically
opening)
1-2 weeks
3-6 weeks
Flour, sugar,
rice
Room temperature
6 months
1-2 years
Lettuce
Refrigerator
3-6 days
2 weeks
Nuts
Room temperature
6 months
2 years
Oils with no
preservatives,
 like safflower,
canola, corn oil
Room temperature
5-6 months
1-1.5 years
Wine
Refrigerator
1-3 weeks
2-4 months

Source: Dr. G.K. York, Dept. of Food Science & Tech, U of California, Davis


So is a vacuum packaging machine needed or are there advantages to owning one?

One would need to ask if the amount of the investment is worth the uses for the appliance. Traditionally recommended freezing procedures and packaging methods, if carried out carefully, will produce high quality products with reasonably lengthy storage times. Storing crackers, nuts and other dried foods in air-tight storage containers will also keep them of high quality for a reasonable period of time for normal usage. I bought a FoodSaver vacuum sealer last year at Amazon.com and I'm still very satisfied of its performance and features until now. Continue reading the details below:

Reduce Waste, Save Money

Feel good knowing that FoodSaver vacuum sealer will protect and preserve your favorite foods, stopping them from going to waste so quickly. Say goodbye to freezer-burned meats, moldy produce, or forgotten leftovers and hello to the money this system will save you.

FoodSaver includes three quart-size bags, two gallon-size bags, and a roll of bag material.

Get the most out of saving your food with a variety of settings.

Buy this high quality and helpful product at Amazon.com NOW and get 29 PERCENT discount and FREE Shipping. Just click the link FoodSaver. It is currently the #1 best seller in Vacuum Sealers category.



How To Vacuum Seal Food Without a Vacuum Sealing Machine- Budget Idea

This straw method won't be quite as effective as using a vacuum sealing machine, but it's still very useful, and much less expensive. Place your food in a plastic zip-top bag (make sure it's a freezer-safe bag if you plan to freeze) and zip it almost all the way, leaving a small slit to insert a straw. Suck the air out through the straw, quickly pull it out, and close the bag. That's it!

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