Thursday, May 10, 2012

Freezer Meals Tip // DIY Vacuum Seal

One thing that makes people nervous about preparing their own freezer meals is being able to seal the containers to protect the food from freezer burn. At least, this was always something that kept me from utilizing my freezer more.

Of course you can purchase vacuum sealer systems and special bags that create an air-tight environment for your food. But I’m cheap – how about you?

So I have discovered a good-enough-for-me approach to sealing up all those meals I spent so many hours preparing. Here is my supply list:
  • Air-tight Freezer-Safe and Microwavable Containers
  • Freezer Bags
  • Plastic Wrap
  • A Straw

(Note: If you are not a fan of plastic-on-food, use glass containers and parchment paper instead of plastic wrap. I have not used parchment paper for freezing, but read of others who do. The freezer bags will not touch your food.)

What we are working against when freezing food is both air and moisture.  (Get ready for a very basic semi-scientific explanation). Moisture escapes from food when it comes into contact with dry freezing air resulting in freezer burn. This is a result of poor packaging that allows too much air to touch the food. 

Our goal is to wrap the food as tightly as possible to prevent freezer air from sucking out all the moisture.

Step One:
Put food into a freezer-safe container that will seal tightly. I use Rubbermaid containers that are safe for freezer and microwave. They seal up great.

Step Two:
If food is still warm, let it cool to room temperature before sealing and freezing. This will reduce the amount of moisture lost during the freezing process, keeping those ice crystals at bay.

Step Three:
Cover the food with plastic wrap (or parchment paper). I like to press the wrap onto the food and tuck it around the sides of the container. I also leave some length on sides to be folded over the edge of the container. This creates a close protective barrier from air that might be trapped in the container once it is sealed.

Wrap is tightly covering the food with a little draped over the sides for sealing.
Step Four:
Seal the container by tightly closing the lid. Try to expel as much air as possible and trap the plastic wrap under the lip of the lid to create a seal.

Step Five:
Place container inside a large freezer bag. Seal the bag leaving about a half-inch opening. Push out as much air as possible.

Step Six:
My favorite part: Insert straw into opening and suck out the rest of the air – this is DIY vacuum sealing!


Keep air in by pressing on straw between breaths.

You are done! Put your meal in the freezer and leave your freezer-burn worries behind.

Tightly sealed!

I will also use the straw trick when freezing fruits and veggies in plastic bags. It is fun to watch the bag close in on the strawberries as I am drawing the air out. It is quick, easy and FREE….aside from the cost of the straw. 

Hope this helps your freezing efforts. Love your freezer food!