In recent years vacuum food sealers have become common, useful household appliances. The special bags used in vacuum sealers provide a superior barrier to conventional plastic bags. This refrigeration of food within an impervious and robust bag has worthwhile benefits, significantly extending storage life.
While undoubtedly useful in the home environment, campers, caravaners, hikers and the like have been quick to seize on the advantages of vacuum sealing as well. Undisputedly functional for sealing food for outdoors adventures, vacuum sealing can also be employed in other aspects of al fresco quests.
The many uses of vacuum sealing
For hikers and kayakers, where the risk of becoming wet is high, vacuum sealing enables gear and clothing to be safely protected from any dunking. A spare set of clothes will collapse to a flat, tight package when vacuum-sealed, making for convenient carry in backpack or kayak. Likewise, electronic devices that need to be carried but are not required on an outing can be safe and secure in a vacuum-sealed bag. Mobile phones and electronic car keys immediately come to mind. These devices do not need to be removed from their sealed bags in order to be used.
Other items that may be needed, such as small emergency packs, compact first-aid kits and fire-starting components are best sealed in trim vacuum bags, protected from the elements but ready for instant use. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to the sorts of things you can vacuum seal and carry on your outdoor journeys.
However, the primary use of vacuum sealers is for food storage and there are some misconceptions about that which need to be laid to rest.
Vacuum-sealed food must be refrigerated, just like unsealed food. Failure to do this can lead to food spoilage and the risk of illness. I regularly encounter people who want to argue the point about refrigeration of vacuum-sealed food but I can assure you this food requires the same refrigeration that unsealed food needs.
The great benefit of vacuum sealing is that it extends the storage life of food items. With meat, ageing in vacuum-sealed bags provides the bonus of improved taste and tenderness. The safe storage life of vacuum-sealed food depends on the nature of the food involved. The accompanying table provides some guidelines for the safe storage periods of different foods types. As you can see, safe storage periods may be only a few days for some food types, ranging through to weeks, even months, for others. Dried foodstuffs, like rice, have greatly extended storage lives when vacuum sealed.