Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

Waste Not Want Not
 Vacuum Sealing

April 2003 Issue

Do You Hear
What I Hear?

A New Year Coming

Words to Live By

Rub a Dub Dub
Safe in the Tub

Waste Not Want Not

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Face it—feeding a family is an expensive proposition. If you find yourself crying at the thought of another trip to the supermarket or throwing away food that has spoiled in your refrigerator, you may want to consider vacuum sealing as a way of extending the life of foods and stretching your food budget dollars.

Vacuum sealers have become extremely popular and affordable over recent years. Combined with the savings available with buying foods in bulk at warehouse food stores, you can really make some headway in reducing food waste in your home.

Preventing exposure to air is the challenge of food storage. Plastic containers, plastic wraps, aluminum foils and freezing provide temporary food protection, but cannot keep the air that hastens spoilage away from food. Most processed foods go through a vacuum sealing process by which the air is removed from the packaging, thus extending the life of the product. The advent of home vacuum sealing units now enables you to buy larger quantities of various foods, vacuum seal them, and refrigerate or freeze them for future use.

Vacuum-sealed items such as meats, cheeses, vegetables and the like must still be either refrigerated or frozen to remain edible. However cereals, flours and other dry goods can be kept on the pantry shelf until ready for use.

Vacuum sealing is performed using a vacuum sealer unit and special vacuum sealing bags that incorporate channels and allow the air to be effectively pulled out of the bag. A sensor in the unit signals when the appropriate vacuum level has been achieved. A heating element then activates to seal the plastic bag, keeping air from re-entering. Some thought must be given to packaging select soft food items such as fruits, vegetables and fresh meats. Two options exist for packaging crushable, soft foods—hard plastic canisters with vacuum sealable lids and canning jars with lids. To preserve meats, soups and the like, freeze the items flat or in bowls, then remove them from the freezer, bag and vacuum seal so that the liquids can not be pulled out by the vacuum system.

When sealing items that your family uses over time such as cheese, use extra length of the vacuum bag material. Cut just below the sealing line to open the bag, remove the portion to be used for a snack or meal, return the remainder to the bag and reseal. No more buying a piece of cheese and having it become a furry block with a life of its own after one serving.

Vacuum sealers are also great for quickly marinating foods for dinner. The vacuum pressure opens the cells of meats or vegetables, allowing the marinade to flow throughout the food. This is a great timesaver for meal preparation when both parents work but still enjoy cooking.

Both the vacuum sealer units and the vacuum bags are available at most department stores. Before you buy, ask around and do some research on your own to discover which brand and model would be the best option to give you consistent, dependable use within your household budget.

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This issue of Gerber Life Family Times is for you. If you have a comment or suggestion, please mail or Email us.

The content of this newletter is intended as general information of interest relating to child care. It is not intended to be specific or complete health or child care advice or direction. Please contact your physician or child care professional for information that is applicable to your child and family. Neither Gerber Life Insurance nor its information contributors shall be responsible for the accuracy or suitability of any information provided herein for any use under any theory or liability.

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