When I was butchering we used our vacuum packing machine every day. We used a commercial grade chamber vac machine that was manufactured in Germany and cost well into the thousands of dollars. A lot of money some 25 years ago. In those days it was hard to find a good local brand in Australia, and to think of it, I don’t even think we had a manufacturer in Australia at that time. Germany was, and is still well known for building quality machinery but now you can get vacuum machines that are manufactured in many countries.
Anyway, ours was a little bigger than the VacMaster VP215 Chamber Vacuum Sealer that I wrote a review on but it did a lot of work in it’s day and it was well worth the money we spent on it as it saved many dollars through preserving our meat and keeping our products in pristine condition. Read about my review on the VacMaster by clicking the link above.
In the commercial industry vacuuming meat is now an essential practice for preserving meat for storage in a chiller. Many large factories use what is called a Double Chamber Vacuum Packer, where the lid swings back and forwards continually vacuuming and sealing for hours on end, some on automatic. These machines are worth into the high thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, but they earn their cost back because of the meat being able to be stored, chilled, for many weeks and even months without needing to be frozen. Basically…product protection.
Meat is very rarely stored chilled for these lengths of time in the local market and mainly gets delivered within days or a week or two from processing. Further down the chain in butcher shops, some operators would store the vacuumed meat for a longer time for tenderizing practice and to customer pre-orders. Our butcher shop would do this upon request for our customers quite often.
For export purposes, vacuumed meat is shipped out in chilled sea containers and at times, on the sea for weeks on end, even a month or so and with the meat being vacuumed, it arrives in excellent shape fresh ready for direct selling to stores, restaurants or for further processing. Yes that’s right, you could be in another country and be eating a chilled fresh Australian steak never frozen because of vacuum packing technology.
The vacuuming/removing of air from the bag allows the meat not to spoil as air removal enhibits air borne bacterial growth and also helpes in the natural tenderization process. Overtime in storage the natural meat enzymes break down the meat fibers making the meat tender. Now this is not to say that vacuuming tough meat will make it tender, but it does help in some way but once a tough bit of meat… always a tough bit of meat. Best to start with good quality product.
We would also vacuum the meat and then freeze as well. Vacuum poly bags tend to be a little thicker than ordinary freezer bags and would protect the meat even further giving a better presentation and because the product shrinks down, you can store more in your freezer.
Vacuuming is not only for meat but is used for many food varieties such as, cold cuts, cheeses, liquid foods like soup, frozen vegetables and the list goes on. I am sure you have vacuum packed foods in your fridge right now as it is a very common way of packing and storing foods.
Some good reasons for vacuuming food…
Below is a list of some benefits of vacuuming foods:
1. Vacuuming Food Can Save You Money
Once you learn about cutting meat, buying in bulk and portioning into meal-sized servings, vac sealing allows you to have fresh meat on hand for up to 2-3 weeks in your household fridge or at least 12-24 months if stored frozen. This leads to an incredible cost savings over buying your meat for each and every meal. I wouldn’t keep vacuumed meat for longer than 3 weeks in your household fridge as these refrigerators are not as cold as butcher shop chillers. They are made specically for meat where the household fridge needs to cater for all types of food at the same time.
2. Vacuum Sealers Preserve Food
Vacuum sealers preserve food by preventing the growth of mold or bacteria. Vacuum sealing deprives your food of oxygen enhibiting the growth of mold and bacteria as these need oxygen to grow.
3. Vacuum Sealing Protects Food
Vacuum sealing protects food from freezer burn and drying out. Freezer burn occurs if your food is exposed while stored in the freezer. Vacuum bags are a bit thicker than normal freezer or plastic bags and keeps your food well covered and protected from contact with the air, stopping moisture evaporation, making it an excellent barrier from the elements.
4. Vacuum Sealing Extends Shelf Life
By vacuum sealing your food the shelf life is greatly extended. Vacuum sealing food preserves it 3 to 5 times longer than food stored in plastic containers or bags. The exact amount of time food will last in vacuum sealing varies depending on whether you are storing in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry.
5. Food Lasts Longer
Frozen food that is vacuum sealed, on average, can last up to 2-3 years long, while it will last 6-12 months, on average, stored in other ways. Most vacuum sealed foods will last in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, depending on the food type of course, which is much longer than the typical 1-3 days food will last when stored conventionally in a refrigerator.
6. Vacuuming Food Can Save You Time
When buying in bulk or if you see a bargin when out shopping. seal family-sized portions of meals or individual portions of snacks or vegetables and freeze. When it’s time to eat, just grab a ready prepared portion you need and you’re done. Quick meal preparations at your finger tips saving you time as well as money.
7. Efficient Food Storing Organization
Vacuum sealing makes for efficient, organized packaging. Vacuum sealed food takes up less room in your refrigerator or freezer and allows you to easily see the foods you are storing while well covered and protected.
8. Eliminate Freezer Burn With Vacuum Sealing
Foods that are vacuum sealed are in an air-tight environment, preventing the crystals that cause freezer burn from forming on your food. Because of the thicker bag barrier, vacuum sealing keeps the moisture in your food for an extended period of time, allowing the food to taste fresh months after being stored.
9. Vacuum Sealed Keeps Food Taste Fresher
Vacuum sealing keeps in the moistureand juices, in the food allowing it to keep its natural flavor. You’ll notice the difference in taste.
10. Vacuum Sealed Keeps Food Safe
Vacuum sealing removes most of the oxygen, preventing chemical reactions triggered by oxygen that cause food to spoil. It also prevents bacteria buildup that can cause spoilage in foods.
11. Store Liquids Easy Vacuum Sealed
Place the liquid in the freezer for a couple hours to harden it a little. Then place the partially frozen liquid into a sealing bag, leaving room at the top for sealing. You can also seal liquids inside a jar and vacuum seal the jar.
Some helpful tips when vacuum packing…
1. To get the most out of your food’s freshness, be sure to write the date on the bag after you vacuum seal it. You may need to wipe the bag dry or use a sticker with the information. We had to do this in the butcher shop for stock rotation.You need to keep track of when it was stored and by when it should be used or eaten.
2. To further extend the life of your food, be sure to thoroughly clean it before storing. Also, between packaging wipe down any surfaces used to prevent cross contamination.
3. Do not overfill the bags. Leave ample length at the opening of the bag so that it can be placed neatly into the chamber and seal correctly.
4. Make sure that the opening end of the bag is not wet. A wet bag will most likely not heat seal well. One way of packing wet items is to fold the end over a few times and then add the item into the bag.
5. When sealing the bag, make sure that the open end is sitting flat on the sealing bar without any creases or folds. Creases and folds will stop a solid seal allowing for leakage of air back into the bag. If this occurs, then cut the end off and re-seal or repack the item into a new bag. This can happen if the bag is over packed.
6. Try to avoid sharp objects in the bag. If wanting to pack an item with a bone, make sure that the bone is not sharp and also place a few layers of waste vacuum bag pieces over the bone area or you can try using two vacuum bags but the inner bag is not sealed on the heat bar. Cut the inner bag to just cover the meat item.
7. For liquids or soft items, firstly place the items into the vacuum bag and semi freeze until solid enough. For liquids, try to lay flat in the freezer with the open end facing up or folded over the top.
8. When filing with liquids or marinated items, place bag into a bowl or container with the ends folded out. Then pour the liquid or wet item into the bag.
Maintanence, cleaning and care of your vacuum machine…
1. Always unplug the machine before cleaning.
2. Do not immerse the machine in any water at all. Use hot water detergent with a cleaning cloth to wipe over all machine area and removable parts.
3. Do not use abrasive cleaners for cleaning as these will scartch the machine surface.
4. To clean the chamber, wipe away any food or liquid with a tissue wipe firstly before using a hot water detergent cleaning cloth.
5. Dry thoroughly before storing away.
6. Check oil before each use and on a regular basis. Check the vacuum machine manufacturers instructions for oil changing. Some require to change oil after a certain amount of hours of usage. It is not difficult to change oil in a vacuum packing machine.
Overall, vacuum packing foods has been a brilliant invention. Foods now can be stored, preserved and delivered all over the world in a safe manner because of Vacuum Sealed Packaging. Having one of these machines in your house or food business is a very good idea saving not only your foods frombeing wasted but also saving you money if you have the opportunity of buying foods, like meat in bulk.
I hope my article was helpful and you can read about my VacMaster VP215 Chamber Vacuum Sealer recommendation by clicking on the link or if you’re looking for something special for someone check out my gifts page below .