Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Worthwhile Investment for Gardeners

I think it was four years ago when I purchased my FoodSaver vacuum sealer. And I've never once regretted that decision. The only thing that I have found myself regretting is that I didn't buy a more advanced model that would handle larger batches of food at one time.

In other words, the one that I purchased, was a mid-grade model, and the only complaint I have is that when I am doing large quantities of sealing, I often have to wait for the sealing function to cool down before it will let me seal more. I think this is a safety function so that the unit doesn't overheat.

I found this one on FoodSaver V2440 Advanced Design Vacuum-Packaging System this morning. It received many five star ratings and also some less desirable ratings. I've had my unit for four years, and it's still plugging away!

Anyway, before the days of my vacuum sealer, I would freeze garden produce in freezer bags. This would almost always lead to me being frustrated five months down the road when I would find my veggies freezer burnt. It's the air in the bag that leads to the ice build up and the subsequent freezer burn.

Now, we plant a huge garden with the intention of preserving a large portion of our harvest. So you can imagine how disappointing it was to find that our hard work ended up in freezer burnt vegetables.

I have not had that problem though since investing in my FoodSaver. My veggies stay absolutely perfect. In fact, I just found a bag of green beans from 2009 that were on the bottom of my chest freezer, and they were just as fresh as the ones I froze last year.

Oh, and another thing. Some veggies and fruits, such as broccoli or raspberries, require a flash-freeze before you vacuum seal them. They really retain the water and are almost impossible to dry completely (believe me, I've tried) after washing them. So I usually lay them out on cookie sheets and freeze them until they're still slightly soft, and then I'll immediately seal them. Corn seems to also be the same since it's so high in water content. You should see our freezers when we're harvesting our corn! Cookie sheets and casserole dishes filled with flash-freezing corn!

To me, the cost investment is so worth it because when I put a lot of hard work and sweat into maintaining a garden, I want that hard work to pay off, not to end up in a heap of freezer burnt vegetables that I have to throw away!

Oh, and another little hint for those of you who have a vacuum sealer. I buy the rolls of bags, not the individual, already-sized bags. FoodSaver FSFSBF0534 8-Inch-by-20-Foot Roll of Food-Storage Plastic Bagging Material, 3 Pack

Then I custom cut the bag to be larger than what I actually need. These bags can be washed and reused, and by cutting it larger, I still have at least two years worth of bag left after cutting it open when I go to make the food that is in the bag. This really saves money rather than buying the already sized bags or even cutting the bags just to the size you need. Cut it a little longer; get more use out of it.

Let me put it this way, in the four years I've been using my sealer, I've only had to throw away a few bags. And in most cases, it hasn't been because the bags went bad, but because I had originally cut the bag shorter than what I could have.

And your vacuum sealer can be used for more than just preserving garden harvest. Just last week, I purchased 5 lb. bags of bulk cheese from Sam's Club and brought it home and froze it into 2 cup portions (the same size you would purchase at the grocery store.) This saved me money, and I know that my cheese will stay fresh for a longer time!

As with any large purchase, it would be wise to research different units and brands before purchasing one. I'm happy with my FoodSaver, but there are different companies that make vacuum sealers and each brand also has different models and levels.

Have a blessed Wednesday!


Julie said...

I completely agree with you... my Food Saver is my best friend during gardening season. We have a huge garden and it lets us enjoy that fresh taste all year round! Enjoy your garden! :)

Monica said...

I love my FoodSaver. Every time I go to Sam's I come back and package things into smaller single meal servings. Definately worth the investment!

Anonymous said...

Love our Food Saver as well!! I have a question? Are you an advanced menu planner? If so, do you have any good tips or resources to share? I grocery shop twice a month (on payday!) and kind of pre-plan everything in my mind. But with the price of groceries and gas so high I feel the need to do a better job preparing in advance.