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We have already established that vacuum sealing foods has a lot of benefits. You preserve food up to five times longer period, without changing its taste or appearance. You can buy foods in volume, thus saving trips to the grocery and saving money from bulk purchases. If you Vacuum-packed the food items, you can save a lot of freezer or refrigerator space.

So maybe now you have already bought yourself a vacuum sealer. How do you know if you are to use bags or rolls? What is the difference between the two?

The Plastic Story

Whether you use a bag or a roll, the important thing to know first is that the material you will use for your heat sealer should be specifically made for that. If you use an ordinary bag, it may not withstand the heat and melt. Not only will you not have a bag to use, but its melted portion can cause some malfunction in your vacuum sealing machine.

The vacuum sealer bags or rolls recommended are made of a type of plastic called polyethylene. For added strength to withstand heat and ensure that air does not leak into your bag, the polyethylene has an outer coating of nylon. Whatever brand you use, make sure it is BPA-free, as that is the requirement of the government for food-grade plastics.

You can use these bags to vacuum seal your foods in, even cooked ones, also vegetables, grains, cereals. Once vacuum-sealed, you can store it in the freezer without fear of it having freezer burn.

More than just sealing your food in, some top brands of vacuum seal bags can actually be used in the microwave to heat, not cook, food.

Bag vs. Roll

The beauty about the bag is that it is already pre-cut to specific sizes – pint, quart and 11×16 among others. So you just choose on what size you need. This is great for small items or single portion / serving of food.

However, rolls have a flexibility that you can’t find in bags. If you have various sizes of items to store, you may have to buy different sizes of bags. But if you use a roll, you can cut to your own size. Then you seal one end, put the food items in, and then vacuum seal the other end. It also comes in various sizes.

The good thing about bags is it is easy and fast to use because you only seal once the food is in. On the other hand, if you use rolls, you have to make your bags before you can put stuff in it. The biggest benefit from rolls is the flexibility of the size. The limit is your imagination.

Using the Roll

It is simple to use rolls to make bags of your preferred size. Just follow these steps:

  1. cut the length you need from your roll, bearing in mind that you need 3 inches allowance at the top and at the bottom that will sealed;
  2. Turn on your vacuum sealer. You would know it’s working because it usually has a light on;
  3. Put one end into the vacuum sealer, and it will seal it;
  4. make sure your roll is in between the two arrows;
  5. When the light is off, it means the job has been done;
  6. Now put the food items inside the bag, and repeat steps 3 to 5.

Easy Seal Tips

  1. Check the seal you made in your bag. If it is wrinkled, it may allow air inside. Don’t panic; you can still salvage the bag. Just cut the sealed part, and make a new seal;
  2. Another way to ensure it seals properly is by checking the area where you will seal. Make sure there is no food, crumb, liquid or grease in that area because it jams the sealing process;
  3. Before you put the bag into the sealer, make sure it is flat and smooth. For rolls, as it tends to curl, position the curl downward;
  4. You don’t want your bag to be punctured so if you are sealing in items that have sharp edges, cover it with a soft material, like a paper towel;
  5. The sealing strip in your vacuum sealer may be too hot from continued usage. It may melt your bag. So give at least 20 seconds lapse before making another seal;
  6. Avoid liquids or crumbs from getting sucked into the machine as this might break it. Liquids should be frozen first before sealed in. Food with crumbs or are finely grained, like sugar, should have a filter of sorts to stop it from being sucked out. You can use a paper towel or a coffee filter;
  7. If you plan on re-using the bags, preferably for the same items, put a bigger space between your food and your sealed end. Instead of just 3 inches, you may double it. Cut one sealed end, use the contents inside, put another batch of contents, then reseal below the cut portion;
  8. Some vacuum sealers prefer to use their own brands of vacuum sealer, too, so check on this before you buy your bags. Otherwise, you may compromise your seal;

There various uses for your vacuum seal bags or rolls. You can also do this for your important documents to ensure they don’t get wet and remain intact. If you are travelling, you can vacuum seal in your liquids bearing in mind regulations of airlines. Either you use a roll or a bag, once you vacuum seal it, then it’s in the bag.

Have you ever had steak that was soft inside, with the juices so flavorful? Just talking about it makes me drool. Expert chefs marinate the meat for hours to make sure the flavors of the spices seep right into the meat. But when you are surprised by dinner guests, you don’t have hours to prepare your steak magic. To the rescue… the quick marinator.

Meet the Quick Marinator

Marinating is a process where meat or fish is infused with flavors from spices like salt, soy sauce or barbecue sauce and herbs. The process also tenderizes the meat.

The quick marinator is actually a canister, usually the size of 2.25 quart. It is made of thick plastic, but is BPA-free and odor-proof. It also resists stain from food colors.

The quick marinator comes in two parts – the lid and the canister itself. The lid has a silicone gasket that fits snugly into the mouth of the canister. The canister does a dual function of being a storage container and a vacuum canister for marinating food.

On the lid is a valve with the options: open / close / vacuum.

If you are going to vacuum, connect the hose into the valve on the lid. The hose is a separate accessory you have to purchase.

How does it Work?

  1. Prepare the meat or fish or vegetable to be marinated by placing it in the canister along with its sauce or spices or other flavorings;
  2. put the lid on;
  3. Attach the hose to the valve on the lid, while the other end is attached to your vacuum sealing system;
  4. Switch on to vacuum mode;
  5. The amount of time to suck out the air depends on how much food you have inside. A pound of meat can take approximately 20 or so seconds;
  6. A good estimate that it is done is that all liquid has been soaked up by the meat or whatever content your marinator has inside.

The Magic of the Quick Marinator

The absence of air, done by the act of vacuum-sealing it, results to faster marinate, with the liquid being totally soaked in by the meat. Instead of hours of marinating, you can have the same best results in just a few minutes.

Before you go out and buy your own quick marinator, take note of the vacuum sealing system you already have. Note down the brand and model. You have to match your quick marinator with your vacuum sealing system. Otherwise, it won’t work, like the valve not fitting properly. Also know what other accessories you need like the hose.

Marinating Tips

How much marinade sauce do you need? A good rule to follow is the ration of half cup marinade to a pound of meat.

When you are marinating the old-fashioned way, without use of the quick marinator, be wary about certain spices that can affect your food. Any marinade with acid or salt or alcohol cannot be left for more than four hours as it will chemically change the composition of your meat. If you are using lime juice or lemon, you have a shorter window of just two hours.

To be sure you do it right, do it the quick and easy way. Use your quick marinator and get that steak grilling fast.

Food is best preserved by vacuum sealing it in a container which can be a bag or a glass jar.  Glass jars are preferred because glass is safer to use than plastic, in terms of toxicity of materials.  Plastics tend to retain the smell and color of the food, while glass easily cleans.

You can seal a jar using a vacuum sealer machine or a hand-held vacuum sealer. While the hand-held is more flexible to carry around, in terms of durability and ease in using, the vacuum sealer machine wins the contest.

The Equipment and Accessories

You can buy accessories for your vacuum sealing machine to fit your need of sealing food inside glass jars.

The glass sealer fits over the mouth of the glass jars.  It comes in two sizes – for regular size and the wide-mouth jars.  If you are putting solid food inside the jars, the wide-mouth size is preferred.  The glass sealer is usually white in color.

Then there is the hose with one end attached to the glass sealer and the other to the vacuum sealer.

Vacuum-sealing Process

  1. Sterilize the jars before using it;
  2. Pour your contents in;
  3. Remember to leave an inch space from the mouth of the jar;
  4. Place the lid on the jar, but do not screw it in;
  5. put the jar sealer attachment over the glass;
  6. Attach the hose to the hole at the top of the jar sealer;
  7. Turn on vacuum sealing machine;
  8. When you hear a pop, it means it’s done;
  9. Remove the jar sealer;
  10. Screw on the ring of the lid.

VIP’s – Very Important Parts

The jar sealer and the hose both are very important to complete the vacuum-sealing process.

The jar sealer makes it possible to attach the hose to the jar.  Without it, the hose will have nowhere to go.

The hose is where the air being sucked out comes through.  It is the conduit through which the jar gets attached to the vacuum sealing machine.

If you don’t have a vacuum sealing machine, but only a hand-held vacuum sealer, you don’t need a hose to get the job done.  But you would still need the jar sealer.  Except that in the hole at the top, where the hose should go in, the nozzle of the hand-held vacuum sealer goes in there instead.

Cleaning the VIP’s

It is highly recommended to wash the accessories right after use so that any dirt or food trapped will not harden.  Once it does, it takes more time and effort to remove.

Use soap and water to clean the jar sealer.  You may want to use an old, soft toothbrush on the grooves to remove dirt or oil trapped in there.  If it’s a bit tough to get out, you may want to soak it for a bit in soapy hot water before you apply the brush.

Put one end of the tube under the faucet and let the water run through it.  With the high pressure of the water, it will wash out dirt.  If it doesn’t, you can soak it a bit in soapy hot water.  Just not too hot, though.  It might affect the quality of the hose.

Take care of your equipment and its accessories.  Remember, you cannot effectively vacuum-seal if you don’t have the jar sealer.  It seriously seals the deal.

What happens when you open a bottle that has been vacuum-sealed?  You let air in, and the content of the bottle is exposed to the possibility of spoilage because of the presence of oxygen.  You can try limiting the air exposure by using a bottle stopper.

The Many Faces of a Bottle Stopper

There is more than one way to put a lid on the bottle.  Bottle stoppers come in many varieties depending on the materials they are made from.  The traditional stopper is the cork.  Then there are the ones made from plastic.  Another kind is the level bottle stopper.  More colorful and ornate kinds are available, and are usually given as wedding tokens.

Which is the Best?

The crowd favorite is the cork.  But before we weigh in on this crowd favorite, let us consider the other options.

  • Plastic stoppers. These ‘synthetic cork’ still allow air to leak in. But it prevents the liquid from spilling out. Also, if you have wine inside your bottle, the plastic can affect the taste of wine.
  • Metal caps. They are so convenient and will let you enjoy your bottle even where there is no corkscrew. But there are also issues about metals affecting the taste of the contents.
  • Lever bottle stopper. It stops air from going in, but it takes no action on the air already inside the bottle; it just traps it in. The lever bottle stopper is not high on the function list. It does, however, prevent the liquid from spilling.

This is the Best

Experts use cork, claiming it functions as the best kind of bottle stopper.  Corks are from the cork oaks, a huge tree that grows in the western Mediterranean.  It can grow up to 300 years.  But you can harvest cork when the tree is 25 years old.  Don’t worry, you are not hurting the tree.  It is just the bark that you remove by hand.  In another 9 years, the bark has regenerated enough that you can harvest it again to make corks.

Many choose to use cork mainly for environmental reasons.  One, as it comes from a tree, which means the source is renewable.  Two, when you plant more cork trees, you help in preventing floods and land erosion.  Three, they also clean the air – air polluted by those making metal screw caps or plastic bottle stoppers.  Four, when you have clean air and lots of trees, animals follow so you create a sanctuary for them.  Five, corks are usually made by hand, so you give livelihood to artisans and small cottage industries.

While advocates sing praises for cork bottle stoppers, there are also those that point out the disadvantages of using them.

Compared to other kinds of bottle stoppers, cork are more expensive.  Experts also say cork tends to taint because of the chemical trichloroanisole, otherwise known as TCA.  For those in the wine business, the presence of TCA spoils the wine even before it is opened.  It is the same culprit that causes wine to have a musty smell, like molds.

Whether you cork it or use some other stopper, just make sure to put a lid on to preserve the contents of your bottle.


You are ready to do your serious shopping for food containers intended for storage. You do your homework and start researching on what can be the best container or canister to use. Then it hits you: can or con? Canister or container? Is there a difference between the two?

Can vs. Con

Both canister and container are great for food storage. It can keep your food for long, especially when used with other methods of food preservation like freezing or vacuum-packing.

The real difference between the canister and the container is the material it is made from. A canister is defined as a round container, cylindrical, that is most usually made from metal. It is so durable it is not only used for food, but even for chemicals.

Containers, on the other hand, is a general, broad term to encompass food storage devices that can be made from plastic, glass or metal.

Is it really Metal?

The term tin can is commonly used interchangeably with metal cans. But these cans differ in materials used. It used to be tinplate steels, combining the durability and affordability of steel and the resistance of tin to corrosion.

There are also ‘tin’ cans made of aluminum, which is even less expensive than tin-plated steel, and has better malleability.

Highly –acidic foods like citrus fruits or acidic vegetables like legumes can cause corrosion on the tin can so don’t use it to store those foods. It can be hazardous to health.

When do you Con?

Generally, canisters are used for dry food stuffs like sugar, flour or grains;

You can pack the crushable items inside canisters to preserve it. This includes crackers, cookies and chips. You can vacuum-pack for best results;

Use a canister when you intend to store the food in the pantry.

Why Can?

Compared to plastic containers, canisters are safer to use, because it does not retain the smell or color of the food inside;

Compared to glass, canisters are more durable and lightweight so you can carry it around, even when you go hiking or camping;

It is also environmentally-friendly, and re-usable or recyclable;

Can Stories

Cans now come in varied colors, sizes and shapes. You can suit your specifications depending on your need and the profile of your market if you are into sales or retail.

Can sizes are a lot, ranging from one that can accommodate 6 oz of liquid up to almost 110 oz.

The lids also vary. You can fully close the top of your can, and have an easy-open tab, or you can have a separate lid that you can open with a spoon.

You can be playful with your colors now, and not just the labels, but the cans themselves. It makes a more attractive display.

Shapes are also a nice surprise. There are cans with ‘waists’ for easy grips.

Trivia: Bear Canisters

In many parks in the US, bears freely roam about, scrapping for food from campers. While it may be a happy and novel sight for those who are seeing it the first time, you won’t be so happy if the bear leaves with your food supplies.

Enterprising canister manufacturers have developed a solution: bear canisters. These are actually cans that are bear-resistant, used by backpackers and campers.

Can or con? It depends if you are a bear.

You want to put food aside for rainy days, or maybe you hit jackpot and was able to perfect your soup recipe. And you just had to save some for when Mother comes. So what container can you use?

There are different kinds of containers specifically for food. Which one to use?


  1. Plastic containers, which may come in either plastic bags or boxes;
  2. Metal, like tin cans, or those used for canning;
  3. Disposables, which can be made from styro, paper, plastic or cardboard.


It pretty much depends on several factors, like:

  • The food you intend to put inside the container, whether it’s in liquid form or solid, dry or wet
  • How long you intend to keep it
  • If you plan to refrigerate or put in freezer or in the pantry



PROS: It is convenient to bring because of its weight. It is also safer, because steel does not contain toxins, like BPA and phthalates found in containers made from plastic. It is re-usable, thus eco-friendly. Its durable material is leak-proof so you can put liquid inside.

CONS: You cannot heat it in the microwave.


PROS: glass does not contain BPA and phthalates which are toxins found in plastic containers. Glass offers the convenience of being microwavable so you can easily heat your food straight from the refrigerator. Glass containers can also go from the microwave or kitchen straight to the table, because it can come in attractive designs and can function as a serve ware. Because it is transparent, it is easy to identify the contents inside, and is also leak-proof. Glass containers are also earth-friendly, because they are durable enough to be re-used.

CONS: it is rather heavy to cart around so you cannot just easily pack it in your purse or briefcase for lunch on the go. It is also breakable, and can be a health hazard if it breaks.


PROS: it is the most lightweight option, so you can bring it around to the office or to a picnic. Even your small children can put it in their lunch boxes. It also comes in attractive colors and designs so it serves as both storage and serves ware.

CONS: generally, plastic contains toxins that are not recommended for food, or for heating. It tends to soak in the color and smell of the food contents. You may find your clear plastic colored orange from the spaghetti sauce. And, plastic is not safe for the environment. It clogs up our waterways and does other hazards.

There are, however, newer and better plastic containers that are food grade. They are supposed to be safe for food storage, but are a bit pricier than the ordinary kind.

Whichever container you use, the important thing is that the food you put inside is of top quality. Even if you had the fanciest and most expensive container, if the food you are putting in is spoiled or tastes terrible, it will still come out terrible.

Enjoy cooking, and eat safe!