Vacuum Sealer Guide
• General Vacuum Sealing
• Non-Chamber Units
• Chamber Units
General Vacuum Sealing
What kind of products can I vacuum seal?
Vacuum sealers can be used to vacuum package most kinds of foods as well as household items. However, there are certain guidelines that should be followed to maximize the capabilities of your vacuum sealer:
Vegetables should not be vacuum sealed fresh. It is best to blanch them (place in boiling water until the are hot, yet still crunchy), then submerge in ice water to stop the cooking process. This will allow the vegetables to retain their color and firmness. You may then continue with the vacuum sealing. You can also freeze the fresh vegetables and then continue the vacuum sealing process. If this is not followed, they will emit a gas after they have been vacuum sealed that will interfere with the vacuum seal of the bag.
Any food, such as meat or fish, that is very moist, is best vacuum sealed after it has been frozen. The excess moisture in the food will interfere with the sealing phase. Likewise, more delicate foods, such as bread or fruit, which are likely to be compressed under the pressure of vacuum sealing should also be frozen first to help the product hold its shape.
Non-chamber units cannot vacuum seal liquids. To package liquid items, first freeze them into a solid form. They can then be vacuum packaged and stored in the freezer to maintain the frozen state.
Items that are in powder form, such as flour, sugar or spices, should be sealed in a package. If sealed loose, the powder will get sucked into the vacuum sealer and will eventually interfere with the vacuum sealer's performance.
Your vacuum sealer can also be used to seal household items and valuables. By sealing out the oxygen, you will prevent metals from tarnishing. Likewise, once vacuum packaged, your items will be safe from water.
Any sharp or pointed items should be given some padding, such as a paper towel or an extra bag, to prevent the edges from puncturing the bag during sealing.
Will vacuum sealing my 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.
How long will the vacuum sealed food last?
If properly done, vacuum sealing will drastically extend the life of your food. The following are approximate shelf lives for vacuum sealed products:
Fresh Meat: To maximize product life, store fresh meat in the freezer. Fresh meat should maintain its freshness for 2-3 years. Under refrigeration alone, fresh meat should last 2-4 weeks.
Ground Meat: To maximize product life, store ground meat in the freezer. If vacuum sealed properly, this product should last for up to 1 year. If refrigerated, ground meat should last for 1 month.
Fish: To maximize product life, store fish in the freezer. Once frozen, vacuum packaged fish will last for up to 2 years. If refrigerated, fish should last 1 week.
Fresh Produce: To maximize product life, store fresh produce in the freezer. This product may also be stored in the refrigerator, but this storage method will considerably reduce the shelf life. Vegetables, if blanched, will last in the freezer for 2 1/2 years. If refrigerated, the shelf life is reduced to 3 weeks. Fruits, if frozen, will last for up to 2 years, yet if refrigerated they should maintain their freshness for 2 weeks.
Cheese: Cheese should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. If sealed properly, cheese will have a shelf life of approximately 6 months. Please note that if you plan open and reseal the cheese, you should start with a larger bag to allow for multiple uses.
Breads: Breads, which includes items such as cookies or crackers, may be stored at room temperature. They should maintain their freshness for up to 6 weeks.
Grains: Grains, including pasta and nuts, may be stored at room temperature. They will have a shelf-life of 1 1/2 - 2 years.
Do I have 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.
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How does the vacuum sealer work?
These non-chamber style vacuum sealers have both a seal bar and a vacuum channel. The vacuum channel pulls the air out of the bag. Once all air has been removed, the seal bar, which heats up, will slightly melt and seal the edge of the bag closed.
Be careful not to touch the seal bar as it will result in a burn. The lid of the vacuum sealer should be left open between sealing each bag to allow the unit to cool properly and prevent overheating. If the seal bar is so hot that it melts through the edge of the bag, the seal bar is overheating and must be allowed to cool.
It is essential that you read and fully understand the operating manual provided with your vacuum sealer prior to use as there are details specific to each model.
What is the difference between Auto and Manual Mode?
While operating in Auto Mode, your vacuum sealer will automatically move through the vacuuming and sealing processes. The machine's sensor will monitor the air removal and switch to sealing mode once all of the air has been removed from the sealing bag.
On the other hand, manual mode requires that you set the times for both the vacuuming and the sealing phases. Many models have a “Seal Now” feature, allowing you to interrupt the vacuuming phase and switch to sealing instantaneously.
What size bag should I use?
Our pre-cut bags will be appropriate for these non-chamber models. Choose the size bag based on the size of the product being sealed. You should allow approximately 3” of space as well as an additional allowance if you plan to re-seal the bag later.
Be careful as to the size of the bag you are using. Too much extra space will cause ripples and folds to be created during the vacuuming process. However, if the bag is too small, the seal will be too tight, making the finished bags prone to holes or tears.
Can I reuse the vacuum bags?
Yes. If the food inside the package has not spoiled, you may seal the bag and use it again. Likewise, the vacuum seal bags are dishwasher safe. You may wash any food or meat remnants off of the inside of the bag, dry it thoroughly and use the same bag to package other food.
These bags may also be microwaved or boiled to cook or defrost the food inside the bag. However, it is not recommended that you re-use a bag that has been boiled or put in the microwave.
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What is the difference between the Chamber and Non-Chamber units?
The most significant difference is that Chamber models can be used to package liquids. It is for this reason that they require different bags.
Also, Chamber units feature a more powerful vacuum and therefore will result in a longer shelf life for your food. Rather than a vacuum channel, Chamber units feature a vacuum pump.
The bag, filled with the product you are packaging, is placed inside the chamber and the lid is closed. The machine will vacuum and seal the bag, releasing the lid when the process is finished.
It is important that you refer to the operating manual provided with your vacuum sealer for model-specific operation details. It is essential that you fully understand the operating procedure prior to first using your vacuum sealer.
How long do I run the unit to vacuum seal the packages?
You must set both the Vacuum Timer as well as the Seal Bar Timer. A higher vacuum time will be required for large packages, items with high moisture content and packages with a great amount of empty space left in the bag or in the unit. You should strive to set the unit to the lowest amount of time necessary to give the desired amount of vacuum. A higher vacuum time will be required for thicker bags. The bag should be sealed until the edge is smooth and fully sealed along the entire length of the bag.
What bag size should I use?
The bag should be large enough to accommodate the items being packaged while still allowing enough room for sealing. If you make an effort to use a bag and package size that fills the chamber of your unit, you will find that the vacuum time will be less.
Bags vary in thickness as well. The standard thickness of 3mm is adequate for most items. However, thicker bags are available for larger or potentially sharp items such as meat with the bone left in. These bags will help prevent any holes from developing.
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My vacuum sealer won't turn on - what is the problem?
The vacuum sealer should be plugged in, only using a grounded outlet. Examine the power cord for frays or any disconnected plugs, either at the wall or the back of the vacuum sealer. If the power cord is damaged, the vacuum sealer must not be used until it has been replaced. Similarly, check that there is power running to the outlet that you are using. If there is not, this could be caused by a blown circuit breaker or damaged outlet.
Refer to the operating manual provided with your vacuum sealer for model-specific suggestions for this problem.
My vacuum sealer doesn't remove all of the air from the bag - why?
First make sure that the bag is underneath the sealing bar and that the surface is clean, dry and smooth. Any liquids or food product in between the bag layers will prevent the process from being completed properly. Any wrinkles or folds in the bag will also interfere with the vacuum sealer's operation.
Make sure that the other three sides of the bag are completely sealed and that the bag has no holes in it. Any openings will prevent the air from being removed.
If you are using your vacuum sealer in Manual Mode, adjust the vacuuming and sealing times to a higher setting.
Why isn't the vacuum bag sealing?
Be sure that the surfaces between the two layers of the vacuum bag are clean and dry. Liquid or food on the surface will prevent the bag from sealing.
If you are using your vacuum sealer in Manual Mode, the sealing time may need to be longer.
Why does the bag, once vacuumed and sealed, lose its vacuum?
Make sure that there are no holes or tears in the bag from sharp items being sealed. Pasta, bones or sharp household items can cause this to happen.
Any vegetables should be blanched before they are packaged. If not, they will emit a gas into the bag.
If the surface between the two layers of the bag wasn't clean, dry and smooth, this will interfere with the seal. While the package may have appeared properly sealed, there could have been leaks.
If the food inside has not spoiled, you may reseal the package.
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