Thanks to the numerous infomercials, there is hardly a person in the U.S. who hasn’t heard of a vacuum sealer, such as the popular Food Saver units.
Vacuum sealing works great for keeping food fresher, especially in the freezer. If you have ever used a vacuum sealer, you know that one of the pitfalls of using one is having to buy more bags. However, there is something that you can do to vacuum-seal food without having to buy replacement bags. It’s not a complete replacement for using the bags, but in some ways, it can be more efficient.
Most vacuum sealers will have a jar sealer attachment that you can use to seal mason jars. Not all models have this ability, but getting one that does vastly increases what you can use it for. There are jar sealer attachments for both wide-mouth and regular-mouth jars.
Using the jar sealer is about as simple as sealing a bag. Place the hose into the sealer and the other end into the top of the jar sealer attachment. Fill your jar with the item you’re going to seal and place the lid on top—but don’t put the ring on yet. With the jar sealer connected to the vacuum-sealing unit, place the attachment over the jar and firmly seat it on top.
Press the button on the sealer unit, and the air will be sucked out of the jar. When you’ve confirmed that there is a vacuum, then you can put the ring on. The vacuum that is inside seals the lid onto the jar. If the lid is damaged, it might slowly leak air back in, so use only lids that aren’t damaged or have holes.
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The great thing about vacuum-sealing these jars is that you can reuse the lids. Because you’re not heating them up, the sealing compound on the lid isn’t destroyed, like in normal canning. So long as the lid holds the vacuum, you can reuse it.
Not only can you use it to seal and freeze liquids (soups, sauces, etc.), but think of all the bulk spices you can buy and store!
There are other creative ways to use vacuum sealers, too. For example, one of our Community members offered this suggestion in a comment on the article “The 5-Minute Prepper #4: Save Money on Your Preps With Old Clothes”:
Something that will help conserve those clothes, shoes, books, etc.. and save a ton of space..is to put them in those vacuum-sealed storage bags. I can get two seabags full of clothes in less than one seabag by putting them in storage bags and evacuating the air from them. Every season we take all the clothes from last season and put them in the storage bags we have just emptied the clothes from, to wear. No bugs, mold, etc. And about 1/3rd the volume, too.
What Do You Think?
What’s your favorite way to use your vacuum sealer? Have you found any creative uses for it beyond “the usual”? Let us know in the comments below!
This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on September 19, 2013.
Rob Hanus is the author of “The Preparedness Capability Checklist: A Planning and Evaluation Tool for Becoming More Self-Reliant,” an easy-to-read book that offers the absolute best method for intelligent and deliberate prepping. Rob is also host of the Preparedness Podcast.
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I sometimes use my vac sealer for jars (thanks for the reminder) and one trick that works well is to double up the lid when you are sealing – in other words, put a SECOND lid on the jar. for some reason this can make a seal happen where a single lid won’t seal. the second lid usually comes off when you are done.
I re-use lids from regular canning – we are careful about how we take them off so they usually seal really nicely
The vacuum sealing of clothes is a great idea for those old or off-season clothes. Reminded me: To remove odors from couch pillows and even from the removable seat cushions, we would put the items in a plastic garbage bag and then suck all the air out with the vacuum cleaner hose. Amazing how small the pillows and cushions would get. (Don’t think I would store them this way in fear that they might lose their puffiness).
I’m thinking of buying this model for my household to save left overs and avoid throwing away perfectly good foods just because they grow stale out in the open air.
First thing to think about when buying vacuum sealer is sealing jars. I’m following my own diet plan so this device is very helpful. I also want to buy some jars medium size to store more food 🙂 thank you for your post!
We use our vacuum sealer on a regular basis, We buy fruit in the summer and put it up in the little bags. We had blue berries this whole year from what we picked at a blue berry farm. When we buy frozen vegetables from Costco we will divide it into smaller bags an vacuum pack it so the vegetables don’t get freezer burned. There are just my husband and I, do we don’t go through a lot. We have also prepared and frozen Salmon when we get a good buy on it. One thing that we have noticed about vacuum packing is that eventually the seal on the bags do tend to allow air in after a few months, so we are thinking we may need to reseal the bags after a while.
The photos show salads in jars, is vacuum sealing a salad a way to preserve it?
I found a 7qt pressure cooker at an estate sale for $25. I purchased a vacuum pump at Harbor Freight with a 20% off coupon for about $40. I have a set of AC test gauges. With just a small amount of “plumbing” I have a vacuum “canner” that holds 7 qt jars at a time. We use this to vacuum pack grains we buy in 50 lb bags. The vacuum produced is much, much better than our Seal a Meal. We set the lid on, turn the ring down to hold the lid in place (rather lose ). We close up the cooker, turn on the pump and pull down to 27″ of HG. Let the unit set for about a minute, then release the vacuum. The lids pull down like they would if you were canning. We do a half dozen cycles and the 50 lb bag is packed.
I make custom cakes for people & I use fondant/gumpaste for decorations.
The amount needed each time varies as does the colors. The first time I tried doing this I used the qt. jars. That was so very hard to get the fondant out of the jars that I started using the 500 ml. jars. I wipe the inside of the jar with a teeny amount of Crisco (being careful that none gets of the top edge). I seal custom tinted in separate 250 ml jars. Further more I always use the wide-mouthed jars as well. It lasts a very long time sealed.
Been vac packing for 20 years now. Every since the Y2K ordeal. However, the Food Saver died several years ago. Plus, decided not to plastic freezer bag anymore.
Rather than buying another Food Saver, a simple less than $20 with discount coupon works really well for a hand vacuum pump. And, a person gets to know the pressure numbers for the volume and lid sizes and literally hearing the lid on the glass jar go POP. That’s a good thing.
One can pick up a Brake-Bleeder hand held device for cheap and lasts decades with a use of nearly every day. https://www.harborfreight.com/brake-bleeder-and-vacuum-pump-kit-63391.html Or if you like a fancier one, check them out at the other auto parts stores.
The Food Saver lid attachments are top notch when they are working right. There’s some Do’s and Do Not’s to understand their use. Mother Earth News has a simple and effective food dehydrator plan. It’s even compact vs. some of the boxes requiring two people to lift and move.
Good article. I’ve only vac packed dehydrated foods. I’ll have to look into this FRESH for the fridge or freezer method too. Thanks!
I also have the canisters from food saver. Using either large (1/2 GL) mason jars or the canisters I can vacuum seal many fresh veggies including lettuce and other salad ingredients and they last much, much longer when vacuum sealed.