Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Food storage - vacuum sealer and mylar bags.

The other day we spent a little of our hard earned cash on items I deemed handy; a vacuum sealer and a package of mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. Yes, we are talking longterm food preservation! The vacuum sealer in question is one from OBH Nordica called prestige and we bought it on sale. It came with booklet and a roll of bags + a rool of foil to make bags in any size you desire/need.
The mylar bags came as a package, containing 10 1liter, 10x 4 liters and a vacuum sealed bag of oxygen absorbers, bought from a supplier in Sweden.
Mylar is coated foil, that prevents air or light penetrating the foil, speeding up the process of spoiling. Add an oxygen absorber and you take away another source of spoilages; the oxygen. So when using these you can seriously prolong the shelflife of food, but it says nowhere just how long.
For my experiment I'll just go with + 3 months without vacuum and + 6 months with vacuum. But I guess it will be safe as long as the packaging is still vacuum.

I worked with both for one afternoon, trying to prepare food for storage in the foodbox or BOB-F72 as I have started referring to it.
Operating the vacuum sealer is actually very straight forward, yet I did something very un-manlike, before giving it a go; I read the instructions!! The display and buttons are very simple; vacuum & seal, seal. Options for dry food and moist, making the sealtime longer in case of moisture of the seal surfaces.Turns out the thing even has a function to vacuum seal containers, which can be bought separately.
So far I vacuum sealed dried apricot pieces and semolina, which is a powder. Just to try out. The sucker really did suck out the air! I ended up with 2 very compact packages. This apparatus really is plug & play. Given the reduction in size of the food packages I am figuring we could do with a much smaller freezer, if we used this thing all the time. A lot less air to freeze inside the freezer also means lower operating costs and in case of a power out a more massive quantity of food thaws out slower, too. The bags or foil are more expensive than regular bags, but can be obtained locally too. A complete roll might mean less waste.... Time will tell.
I then tried if I could seal the mylar bags with the machine too and what do you know; it worked!! However one sealing sequence proved not enough, so I did two. The foil is actually clamped in one place, so no risk in moving the foil in between goes. Worked like a charm. Maybe I could have gone with the moist-option, but this worked.
I made one bag with flour for 2 loafs of bread and added 3 absorbers + one bag with rice for 5, adding 2 absorbers. Had a bit of a nasty surprise though! While I started cleaning up I noticed the oxygen indicator of the opened bag of absorbers had turned blue. When handling the absorbers to quickly vacuum seal them, I noticed they had become warm! So fierce is the reaction with oxygen! At least I know they work....
When using mylar without vacuum (haven't tried out if it works), remove as much air by hand as possible. The more you get out, the less there is left for the absorbers to react with, making them last longer.

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