Oxygen is food’s worst enemy. It destroys the fresh flavors and textures of refrigerated and frozen food. Nutritional value is also leeched from perishables far faster when dishes come in contact with air. For restaurant owners and managers, this can be a considerable problem and money lost.
But, here is the solution:
Vacuum packaging is the best way to keep food as fresh as it was on the day it was bought. Dry foods like pasta and grains retain their freshness in vacuum packaging, too. This storage method allows homeowners and food service specialists to buy food in bulk at cheaper prices without suffering the consequences of long-term storage.
Zip-Loc bags and Tupperware can only store food for a few days, but vacuum sealing protects it from bacteria, mold, and insects, multiplying storage length by five. Because this kind of storage cuts down on the amount of storage space food takes up in the freezer, sub-zero temperatures are achieved, slowing down the rate at which enzymes age perishables. If you need to marinade meat in a hurry, a vacuum sealer will even speed up the process so that it doesn’t need to be left overnight.
Household sealers typically use external sealers that remove oxygen and create a seal, but three factors help buyers in the hospitality industry to choose their model more precisely.
- Continuous use without overheating: Commercial units can be used continuously without needing to rest between batches.
- Controls are offered in one-touch operation or manual mode. Seal-only units don’t remove any air from the pouch.
- Attachments can remove air from jars and bottles.
Commercial or Household Models?
- Commercial kitchenware is built from materials that have a higher hygienic value.
- Household models are built for everyday use in typical homes, which are far less demanding than those in the food service industry. Although this usually makes the initial investment far cheaper, household models typically don’t live up to the demands of a busy restaurant.
- As with most things, you get what you pay for, and those looking for a vacuum sealer that will last many years despite heavy usage are best off with a commercial unit.
- Commercial units have more durability, which makes them more economical in the long run because they don’t need to be replaced and repaired as often.
Catering businesses benefit from portable models that can easily be moved around, but they have their disadvantages.
- Portable units are usually less efficient than countertop units.
- Hand-held vacuum sealers are battery operated and use Zip-Loc pouches, which aren’t fully sealable, so perishables will have a lower shelf life.
- High-end countertop models remove oxygen from bottles and canisters.
- Portable units make food more prone to freezer burn when stored long-term, but are adequate if products are used within a week.
The features of different kinds of plastic bags are as important as the machines themselves.
- BPAs are chemicals found in standard polycarbonate plastic. Small quantities can move from bags into foods. The FDA limits the amount of BPAs allowed in packaging, but some plastic bags are entirely free of these chemicals.
- Mesh bags extend the life of vacuum stored fluids, flour, and grains. They have an extra layer of mesh that allows more air to be suctioned out of the bag.
- Sous vide is a French cooking technique that entails preparing dishes inside plastic bags placed in steam or water baths. Some bags can withstand temperatures of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is adequate for all preparation methods except boiling. Polyethylene and nylon pouches can withstand microwave preparation. Check for the length of time pouches can withstand their maximum temperature. Typical sous vide cooking shouldn’t exceed 142 degrees for 18 minutes.
- Strong bags resist puncturing, which makes them ideal for transporting food for catering or purposes.
- Extra-length open-ended pouches can be cut to the precise size needed to eliminate waste. Chamber bags are sealed on three sides, so they offer more secure sealing and are easier to use.
Types of Vacuum Sealers
1) Clamp Style Sealer
Units with a clamp style mechanism are competitively priced and make use of mesh bags with superior sealing capacities. They have two settings for liquid and solid foods. Some work according to air pressure and some to the amount of time that elapses during sealing. Pressure-reliant units are more precise. The heating elements of commercial units have more adjustments to suit a variety of pouch thicknesses. The seal cycles of household units are usually longer, which means users need to wait for units to cool between each batch.
2) Chamber Type Sealer
These days, chamber style sealers are available in domestic units as well as commercial ones. They tend to be the priciest of models and are offered in compact and standard models. Scaled-down units sometimes have a convenient pressure gauge to make sealing more intuitive. Others are more flexible, letting users control every aspect of the sealing process. The wider the chamber size, the larger the bag that can be used.
Vacuum sealers have a number of features that add versatility.
By removing oxygen and filling bags with nitrogen, pouches are slightly puffy, protecting fragile foods like chips and pasta. Chamber vacuum sealers usually have this feature.
Gravies and broths are best sealed with clamp sealers that have angular faces.
Chamber-style bags can be used for this cooking technique, but only some plastics can be used for boiling.
External hose attachments
Chamber and clamp sealers sometimes have external attachments that can be used to seal bottles and jars more thoroughly.
When sealing fluids, a drip tray ensures that they aren’t drawn into the machine, which would reduce its lifespan.
Inbuilt bag roll trays and cutters
This feature offers the versatility to cut bags to the exact size needed.
Two seal bars remove more oxygen. The second bar can also be used if the first one breaks.
Flexible seal settings
Vacuum settings will change depending on the type of pouch used. Thin pouches need shorter seal times, and when units don’t have heat adjustments to suit them, elements will wear faster.
A pedal lets buyers use both hands to keep the pouch in place, improving their control over the sealing process.
Internal or External Sealers
Clamper and retractable nozzle sealers only draw the opening of the pouch into the unit, but their vacuum strength is lower than that of alternatives. They’re ideal for domestic use. External sealers take the entire bag into the unit, which allows the sealer to adjust its strength according to the size of the bag and the pressure needed.