That's all fine and dandy, but it was only when I read about using a vacuum sealer to seal canning jars full of dry food storage items that it really got my attention. Beans, rice, dehydrated vegetables, chocolate, candy, etc. - you can store them in canning jars for greatly extended shelf lives. Sounds great, right? (I should point out that this isn't a replacement for canning; you're not going to be able to vacuum seal soup, for example, unless it is dehydrated soup mix.)
The only problem was that I was a little worried about the mixed reviews the newest incarnation of the FoodSaver had on Amazon.com, but I decided to take the plunge anyway. A smarter, more thrifty woman would have found a used FoodSaver at a thrift store or garage sale. I am not that woman. I channel Veruca Salt in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" because I want everything RIGHT NOW!!
Anyway, my FoodSaver arrived and I got straight to work.
|FoodSaver and Wide Mouth Jar Sealer|
If you're going to use your FoodSaver for vacuum sealing jars, you need to buy a jar sealer, which is a plastic gizmo that looks like this:
There are two sizes of jar sealers - wide-mouth and regular. I only bought the one for wide-mouth canning jars, since that is what I mainly have on hand. Some might say that was appropriate for me! ;)
You place your food inside a clean canning jar and then put on a clean canning lid. You do not have to use new canning lids, which is awesome. Finally, something to do with used lids! Place the jar sealer attachment on the top and then plug in the accessory hose.
If you are looking at a used FoodSaver, make sure it has an accessory hose. Otherwise, you won't be able to seal jars.
Press the button and then the FoodSaver lurches into action. Vacuuming out all the air takes somewhere between 30 sec- 1 minute and it is a fairly noisy process. The machine shuts off when it is done.
|Label with the contents and date. Can you tell I love my label machine? ;)|
Most of my jars sealed with no problem. A few I had to fiddle with to get them to seal properly. I experimented with the amount of food in the jar, using a different lid, using two lids, etc. until I got everything sealed up. I used this awesome tutorial on Granny Miller's blog to troubleshoot. (I keep trying to type "Granny Smith" instead of Granny Miller. I must be hungry today.)
I should mention that my FoodSaver manual said to maintain 1" headspace to get jars to seal. I did not find that made any difference to the sealing. If you look at Granny Miller's blog, you'll see she doesn't worry about headspace too much, either. If it's good enough for Granny
I sealed up my entire supply of chocolate chips.
I cracked pecans harvested from my uncle's tree and then sealed them, too.
I even sealed the rest of the can of shortening that I opened last weekend. This will really extend the shelf-life of shortening, which is great because it usually goes rancid before I use it all.
All in all, here's what I sealed up yesterday. I am going to check my supplies regularly to make sure the lids stay sealed, and I might screw on the rings for a little extra insurance.
So far, so good! It was easy to use and only required a little bit of fiddling. Time will tell how durable my FoodSaver is and how long the contents stay fresh once they've been sealed. I'll keep you posted on that. If I should ever come across a used FoodSaver for a good price, I'd snatch it up in a heart beat. Apparently the older FoodSavers did a better job sealing the plastic bags for fresh and frozen food. I'll test out using FoodSaver bags for freezing bulk supplies of meat, but I see myself mainly using this for sealing jars.
If this sounds like something you'd like to try, you can buy FoodSavers lots of places, including Amazon.com.Don't forget to buy the jar sealer attachment, which is sold separately.