Food storage is a subject that can cause a lot of thought and sometimes even a lot of stress. Without modern conveniences like refrigerators and deep freezers, your food storing options are fewer, though it can still be done.
One of the most popular methods of storing food off the grid is by vacuum sealing. But what kind of food can you vacuum seal? And how long will it last?
Let’s look at some of the best food to vacuum-seal for storage purposes, as well as how long this food will last when compared to other storage methods.
As a general rule, meat should not be stored at room temperature, whether it is vacuum sealed or not.
Since you will be vacuum sealing the meat with the bacteria that is already on it, there is nothing stopping the bacteria from spreading and growing.
This means that raw, uncooked meat should not be at room temperature, vacuum sealed or not, for more than two hours.
Even cooked meats, such as smoked, baked, or fried, are not recommended to be stored at room temperature.
However, if you are planning to vacuum seal dry, non-perishable meats such as jerky or other dried meat, you will be able to store them for up to 12 months.
If you were to just store this dried meat in a plastic bag, the shelf life would only be three weeks. Once you break the vacuum seal you will want to consume it all within a week to prevent bacteria growth.
It is also recommended that most vegetables not be stored at room temperature, even when vacuum sealed.
If you have the option to freeze your vacuum-sealed vegetables, you can extend their shelf life greatly. There are only a few vacuum sealed vegetables that will store nicely in your pantry.
Artichokes, pumpkin, and popcorn kernels are some of the vegetables that will last a long time once vacuum-sealed and properly stored.
Also, it is important to remember that root vegetables, such as onions, potatoes, and carrots, are usually stored at room temperature anyways.
If you vacuum-seal these vegetables and store them in your root cellar, you extend their shelf life from the normal 8 months to anywhere between two and three years. If you don’t have a root cellar, here’s a cheap and easy way to build a root cellar in your backyard.
Drying your vegetables before vacuum sealing them is another way to ensure that your vegetables last as long as possible.
Fruits are another type of food that is usually not recommended to store at room temperature.
While it is usually recommended that vacuum-sealed fruits are stored in the refrigerator or the freezer, you may also be able to use your root cellar if it gets cold enough during the winter.
It is recommended to store vacuum-sealed fruits such as apricots, pears, and tomatoes somewhere between 34 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you live in a cold area where this is a normal winter temperature, you will be able to make your vacuum-sealed fruits last through the winter, as opposed to the normal shelf life of a week or two.
When it comes to baked goods, you can truly start utilizing your pantry and your vacuum sealer to the utmost.
It is not recommended to store cookie dough in the pantry whether it is sealed or not. But there are plenty of other baked goods you can first vacuum seal and then store for a long time.
Cookies, biscuits, bagels, survival bars can have a shelf life of 2 years or more if vacuum sealed in mylar bags and stored in a cool dark place.
Coffee can be vacuum sealed and stored in the pantry for up to a year, as opposed to its normal three-month shelf life. Similarly, tea’s shelf life can be expanded from one year to two by vacuum sealing it.
Nuts are also a great option for vacuum sealing and storing in the pantry; their shelf life should go from six months to two years.
Grains are a great choice if you are looking for food to try your new vacuum sealer on.
The normal shelf life of most grains is six months. But, after vacuum sealing those grains and ensuring that they are stored properly, you can increase their shelf life to two years.
The shelf life of rice, cereal, and pasta will go from two years to three years.
Powdered milk, flour, and dried coconut are all also great options for a vacuum sealing option. The shelf life of these dry food items will go from six months to two years or more.
Spices And Herbs
Luckily, spices and herbs are a great choice to vacuum-seal and store for long periods of time.
Spices and herbs can last up to two years in the pantry normally. After vacuum-sealing these spices and storing them appropriately, you can have spices to last for up to three years.
Once you break the seal on food, it should be eaten as quickly as possible. That includes all of the food that was inside the sealed package.
Also, remember that improper vacuum sealing can cause some dangerous bacteria to actually grow faster. You may want to consider using oxygen absorbers to help avoid this issue.
As you can tell, a vacuum sealer can be a very beneficial tool at your homestead. Even without refrigeration, you will be able to ensure that your food lasts for a long time.
Baked goods, dry foods, spices, and herbs are all great choices to vacuum-seal and then store. Perishable goods like fruit, vegetables, and meat should generally not be stored at room temperature.
However, if you were to dry your meat or fruit first, you could then store it in your pantry or root cellar. There is no doubt that a vacuum sealer is a great option for long-term food storage.