Vacuum Food Sealers – Tips And Tricks To Using One

My husband and I tend to be extremely practical individuals, even in our gift giving. One year, we gave our family members that did not previously have one a vacuum food sealer. I have had one for twenty four years and couldn’t bear to be without one.

I guess that I have used one for so long that I forgot about the “learning curve” for using one of these wonderful kitchen helpers. My telephone line was burning up with questions from the gift receivers about the best way to use their new-fangled kitchen appliance. So, here we go – a few tips and tricks to using a vacuum food sealer.

Using Food Saver Bags

1. Make use of the rolls instead of the pre-cut bags. You can cut them to whatever length you need.

2. Wrap up all your items in Saran wrap. That way you may reuse the bag without washing it. That means cheese, bacon, wieners, etc.

3. Make the bags approximately twice the length you need them to be. That way, as you make use of partial portions of your item, you have room to reseal the bag several times.

4. Pre-freeze all meats in plastic wrap (See # 2), then vacuum seal. Create the portions whatever size you want, but bear in mind, the smaller the bulk, the faster it will thaw.

5. Pay attention to meat with sharp bones. I went through 3 bags one time because I didn’t notice that a bone was piercing a tiny hole in my bag. I position a Saran wrap “patch” over the sharp bone. Simply make a small square of some layers of folded up Saran wrap and put it on top of the sharp part before you wrap it in the Saran wrap – that typically solves the problem.

6. If you’re freezing things with liquids, like stew or cooked vegetables containing liquid, freeze them first. You can use a zip lock bag, freeze it, then vacuum seal. This may sound a bit wasteful, but everything keeps longer if it is vacuum sealed. Another word of advice for freezing liquids. When you place your zip lock bag in the freezer, make layers using cut up cardboard between the zip lock bags. That way, they freeze flat, like an envelope and will not stick together. You can make your vacuum seal bag large enough to hold numerous packages (See # 3). You can also make use of freezer containers, but you will need to take the item out of the container to vacuum seal it.

7. Pre-freeze items like pie crust dough and pizza crust dough in batches in Saran wrap, after that vacuum seal them. Once you’re ready to use them, remove the amount you require and leave them in the fridge the day before you need them and they’re all set to go. You can prepare several batches at one time to save time and cleanup.

Using Wide Mouth Canning Jars

1. Nearly all of the vacuum sealers come with an attachment that can seal wide mouth canning jars. I use them to seal dried beans, rice, macaroni, baking supplies, peanuts, whole coffee beans, tea bags. The list is never-ending.

2. Make sure that the lids you use have never been used in a canning process or they will not seal correctly. Just try to store them in a different area of your kitchen so you don’t combine them in with the other ones. The seal will last for a long time, but if you need new ones, you can get them at any grocery store in the canning section. All you want is the flat part. Never use the screw top part with this, it isn’t needed and may cause the seal to break.

3. Occasionally wash the accessory that goes on top of the jar by using a wet paper towel since on occasion, you can have a small build up of powdery substances, like flour.

4. You may use jars to freeze liquid things like soups and stews if you have room in your freezer, however this will take up a fair amount of space.

Using Canisters

1. The majority of the manufacturers have canisters in a lot of different capacities with their systems. I’m not sure if they’re interchangeable or not. I would simply be safe and use ones that your unit offers.

2. Canisters can be used for any dry goods such as breakfast cereals, grits, oatmeal, corn chips, snacks, bread crumbs, baking supplies like flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and so on. In other words – any items that you do not want crushed and any items that you would normally put in a canister.

3. I use them for fresh vegetables and fruits. I wash the items, dry them and vacuum seal them for refrigeration. The tall canisters are super for green leaf lettuce and celery. I will make a large salad, vacuum seal it and it will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. One preparation and one cleaning – Sweet.

4. Use the canisters for vacuum sealing deli cold cuts. They work a lot better than the bags for this purpose.

5. When vacuum sealing flour or anything finely ground, lay a paper towel or paper coffee filter on the top when you have put it into the canister to avoid any of the dust from getting pulled into the suction tube.

6. Most manufacturers offer a container to marinate meat. It is typically rectangular. It is nice, but to be honest, any of the canisters that will contain the amount you require will work just as well. Just make certain you have a sufficient amount of the marinade to cover your meat.

Well, these are merely a few pointers off the top of my head. It ain’t rocket science, however adhering to a few rules makes the learning curve a lot easier. Vacuum sealers truly are a wonderful system to conserve money and reduce waste. There’s no way to tell how much money I’ve saved since I have been using mine for so long. I just know that it would be difficult for me to do without one.

Professional Cutlery – Do You Need It?

High quality professional cutlery can add efficiency to your meal preparation and quality to the end product.  Professional cutlery is typically a step above what the home cook would choose; however, it is a fine choice for a serious cooking fan.  A variety of companies produce professional cutlery, and it may be found at restaurant suppliers, at fine cooking supply shops, and online.  Quality professional cutlery is a fine gift for a passionate home cook, and will serve well in both a professional and home kitchen for years to come.

Professional cutlery is typically distinguished from the average home cutlery in several ways.  First and foremost, expect more durable materials in professional cutlery.  The blades will hold up better for long term use, handles may be both heavier and more ergonomic, and the knife should hold an edge very well when sharpened.

Professional cutlery is also more expensive, but it is an investment that will be worthwhile for many cooks.  A good quality knife will allow for safer, faster chopping, as more even cuts produce a higher quality food product.  The durability will save money over the life of your professional cutlery.

While chefs and others may clearly have a need for professional cutlery, as with other professional grade kitchen gear, a devoted and passionate home cook may well enjoy having professional cutlery for daily use.  Easily cared for with gentle hand washing and regular sharpening, professional cutlery will be an enjoyable addition to any kitchen for many years to come.

Do You Need Help Organizing Your Recipes?

Do you enjoy cooking? Do you dread going through all of those scraps of paper looking for that Vegetable and Beef Soup recipe that you make once a month? Well, I know that I do. I have absolutely TONS of hand written recipes, or I used to. Yeah, I kept the originals. They are now in a box in my garage, but they have been transformed into a marvel of technology.

They’re now in my Living Cookbook Recipe Management Software where I can quickly open them up, print a copy if I need to and save myself about 30 minutes looking through scraps of paper.

I set out on my journey to find the perfect recipe management software on the market. I looked high and low. I had an agenda. Not only did I want to organize my own personal recipes, but I wanted to be able to download recipes from the Internet into the software. I wanted to be able to create a cookbook from my own original recipes that I could either print and bind or upload to a website to sell.

The software I chose had to do all of those things. I wanted the cookbooks to be in a standard cookbook format. I’m old fashioned, I like things in a familiar form. I wanted to be able to email the recipes to friends and family that always call around the holidays or when they’re having a party and need a particular recipe.

I keep wondering how I became the sole keeper of my mothers cornbread dressing recipe. I guess I’m the only one in the family that is organized. Also, I’m older now and I wanted to choose the font size customized to my eyes. No more having to wear glasses to read my recipes. Yeah!

One other very important piece of the puzzle was that I needed to know the exact nutritional analysis of each recipe. My brother was recently diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and anyone in that same boat knows that you can’t just guess about what you’re eating. You have to know for sure what’s in the food you eat. This cookbook software has that built in. Their database is linked directly to the USDA Nutritional Tables and if the USDA makes any updates, you just go to the link in your software and upload the updates. Very important.

Just be forewarned. That information my surprise you. Boy, do I ever wish that I hadn’t put my Homemade Pimento Cheese recipe in there. Ouch, the fat grams. Oh well, don’t they say that it’s what you do most of the time that counts? I sure hope “they” are right.

This recipe software does a lot more than just the points I have covered, but these were the most important ones for me. If you’re looking for cooking software, decide what your most important needs are and go from there.