Have you ever found a forgotten piece of meat hidden in the depths of your freezer? You probably thawed it out and realized that is was covered in ice and looked dried out. Maybe you discarded it, maybe you tried to rescue it.
If you did attempt the rescue, you probably found out that the meat wasn’t as good as you hoped it would be, even with a good recipe.
Protect your food from air damage
The enemy of most food is ambient air. When in contact with air, food lose their humidity, oxygen makes them lose colour, and other microorganisms make them mold or spoil.
What is vacuum packaging?
In order to avoid all this spoilage, the food industry uses vacuum packaging, a process in which all the air is removed after it has been placed in airtight packaging.
For this technique to be successful, the packaging must be made with high quality material and sealing must be perfect.
This allows the food to be kept 2 to 3 times longer than in a regular food container or a regular zipped bag.
Not an alternative to the fridge
Vacuum packaging does not replace refrigeration.
For safe food storage, it must be kept at the right temperature, even under vacuum.
So what about zipped freezer bags?
First, freezer bags are made from materials that let the air go through when left over several months. Their composition also lets humidity in and out.
Secondly, the heat necessary for the sealing process will melt Ziploc-type bags because the material they’re made of doesn’t tolerate heat.
Vacuum packaging is the food industry’s best friend (and best kept secret)
Agri-food businesses use this method because it allows them to deliver fresh food to the consumer.The food also has a longer shelf life which helps to cut down waste.
What the industry uses to cut losses, we bring to you for your own kitchen.
Here are the main benefits of using vacuum packaging for your food
Food keeps for much longer
The life of your food is multiplied by 3 to 4 times in the fridge.
In the freezer, if you are using a high quality bag, you can keep food for up to 2 years. You can access general conservation guidelines table for food products here
Nutrients are preserved when you freeze food while it is still fresh.
By freezing them when they are still fresh for later consumption.
Flavours are preserved and even optimized without oxygen.
When we take the oxygen away from the food, the microorganisms that cause fermentation cannot develop.
Contamination issues are decreased
when you have less handling, especially if you cook the food in the bag.
Food is protected from freezer damage
When you put food in the freezer without vacuum packaging (plastic container or regular freezer bag), the freezer can destroy your food within a couple of months. Your food loses its humidity, ice crystals form, burn the fibers and destroy the textures and the flavors. The food loses its nutritional value and you have to throw it away.
Avoid food waste
Since your food keeps for much longer, you don’t have to worry about forgetting it in your freezer.
People who live by themselves, elders and people on a diet may sometimes have trouble managing their food. Packing your servings individually makes it much easier to control your calories or thaw only what you need for a meal.
Optimize your freezer space
Vacuum bags take the shape of your food when you put it under vacuum. No space is lost whatsoever. Without any spillage, contrary to packaging that isn’t sealed.
Save time by getting your meals ready ahead of time
Prepare bigger quantities of your favourite recipes (like spaghetti sauce) and pack it in individual or family servings. You’ll only need to reheat what you need when the time comes.
Fish and seafood precautions
Raw fish and seafood need special attention when it comes to vacuum.
Raw vacuum-packed fish do not go in the fridge
Before you pack your fish under vacuum, be attentive to particular conservation issues.
Packing fish under vacuum and leaving it in the fridge is a very dangerous HEALTH HAZARD
Fish and seafood under vacuum MUST be kept in the freezer.
As soon as you take it out of the freezer, you must pierce the vacuum packaging to allow it to be in contact with oxygen.
Fish and seafood are naturally contaminated with bacteria called clostridium botulinium, which is responsible for botulism.
This bacteria dies during cooking and cannot develop when fish is in contact with air (oxygen)
However, a refrigerated vacuum package favoursits development.
Fish and seafood under vacuum should be kept in the freezer.
We recommend that you vacuum package only the fish that you will either freeze immediately or that you know for sure you will eat cooked. When thawing your fish, make sure you open the bag if you don’t want to eat it cooked (smoked salmon for example)
General contraindications for vacuum packaging
Vacuum packaging is not a one size fits all.
Some food need to breathe, release gases, are too mushy or simply should not be kept under vacuum.
Some food you should not put under vacuum :
- Soft cheeses such as brie or camembert
- Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli etc
- Fresh bread (the vacuum will crush it when taking all the air away)
- Any soft, mushy or delicate food that the vacuum process might crush.
In some cases, we can work around the problem by blanching the vegetables or pre-freezing soft food before you put them under vacuum.
Further reading about vacuum packaging: