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Which is why it’s time to talk about vacuum sealers. Built to do just what it sounds like—seal up food for easy long-term storage by removing any air—vacuum sealers can be tremendously useful for food preservation of all kinds. Here are the top 3 reasons you should consider investing in a vacuum sealer now, plus great models to buy now.
It might seem counterintuitive for a small household, but a vacuum sealer is a terrific investment if you are only one or two at home. Since smaller households tend to go through food at a slower pace, the ability to preserve foods in smaller amounts or to store them over a longer time will help you avoid food spoilage. Whether it is repackaging a partially used wedge of parmesan cheese, breaking down a package of meat into smaller portions for freezing, or re-sealing pantry items like crackers or cereal to keep them from staling, a vacuum sealer is a great thing to have in your kitchen.
A vacuum sealer does two things: it removes air from the container (usually a bag), then it seals the bag with a heated strip, trapping the vacuum inside. Air is removed with a pump that works by pulling air at a faster rate than ambient air can replace it.
Pump quality varies, and is in large part the deciding factor on the price of a food vacuum sealer machine. Many edge vacuum sealers have pups with plastic parts. They work alright and can achieve a decent vacuum, but they overheat easily. They have to cool down in between uses, and often can't withstand heavy use.
The Two Types of Food Vacuum Sealers: External and Internal
There are two main types of food vacuum sealers: edge sealers and chamber vacuum sealers (typically called “chamber vacs”). Both types have advantages and disadvantages.
Edge sealers, also called external sealers or suction sealers, are the simplest and most common type of automatic vacuum sealer. You simply fill a bag with food, place the bag in the sealer, and begin the sealing process. The vacuum is created inside the bag only, which makes it nearly impossible to seal anything but solid foods (because the pump will suck out liquid as it sucks out air).
A chamber vac works by creating a vacuum inside a chamber. Because the pressure is equalized inside the entire chamber (and not just inside the bag), a household vacuum sealer can seal liquids. This is great for soups, stocks, leftovers, quick and easy marinades (you can get marinade results in 15-20 minutes in a vacuum sealed container), and many sous vide applications.
Chamber vacuums pull a stronger vacuum than other portable vacuum sealer.
Moderate vacuum packaging (MVP) is a variation of traditional vacuum packaging, used for respiring products such as prepared fruit and vegetables. The product is packed in a rigid airtight container or a pouch and is surrounded by normal air, but at a reduced pressure (around one-third of normal atmospheric pressure). This slows down the metabolism of the product and the growth of spoilage organisms (Laurila and Ahvenainen, 2002).