No one wants to throw away food. So say the makers of Foodsaver, one of the kitchen gadgets that's getting some attention and interest at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, which ends this weekend. It's a vacuum packaging system that's designed to hermetically seal foods and some non-food items in plastic bags and jars.
Compact, with a space-saving low profile that's practical for the home kitchen, the Foodsaver has a powerful vacuum that provides the quality of sealing used in commercial packing. Designed by Hans Kristen, a German engineer, and manufactured in Italy, the sleek-looking machine uses a vacuum pump of the same type used in many European hospitals.
The Foodsaver concept was developed three years ago by Robert Warden, president of Nationwide Marketing. The almond-colored machine features an operating arm, a vacuum nozzle, a bag cutter, a bag storage compartment, a selector knob (for jar or bag) and sealer indicator light.
"You can freeze, boil in the bag, microwave it and even reuse and reseal the bag," Nettie Morrison of N & N Marketing said as she demonstrated the product.
Vacuum-Pack Onion, Flour
The machine sucks air out of the bag in a matter of seconds when the operating arm is pressed. An onion can be sealed in the bag, locking in odors and avoiding unpleasant aromas that might leak out in the refrigerator or freezer. Morrison said some homemakers, bugged by insect infestations in flour and cereal packages, become enthusiastic about the machine when they watch an unopened two-pound bag of flour turn into a hard, air-tight "brick" when sealed in plastic by the Foodsaver.
A continuous roll of durable plastic bagging material permits food size to determine bag size. You can pack a small amount of shredded cheese in a bag cut to size, then pack a three-foot salmon in another bag, Morrison said.
Certainly not inexpensive, the Foodsaver does provide some great advantages not just for homemakers but for many types of small businesses that could benefit from vacuum packaging at a reasonable cost. It provides an oxygen-free environment to preserve freshness and extend shelf life and to control bacterial contamination and growth inside a storage bag or jar. Moisture is eliminated, so dehydrated foods keep longer.
Although not a substitute for home canning, vacuum packaging by the Foodsaver almost totally removes air from the package. In fact, when we compared the bags packed in the Foodsaver with a few that were commercially packed, we found a greater vacuum in the home-sealed bags. Campers and backpackers also may see some benefits in this product.
Also Works on Jars
Jars may be sealed using the jar sealer hose and accessory cap. The limitation in using a jar is that you can only use standard wide-mouth, four-inch glass canning jars, and only the Ball brand lids with the red sealing surface inside will work.
One of the biggest advantages of vacuum packaging lies in buying and storing bulk foods that can be bought at a savings when there are market specials. (It should be noted that foods that require refrigeration will still need to be refrigerated, but the quality will hold up longer than that of foods stored in ordinary packaging.) When vacuum sealed, freezer burn is eliminated on foods stored in the freezer.
Waste is also reduced since vacuum packing extends storage time by two to three weeks in the refrigerator. Salads, for instance, can stay crisp bagged; fresh and leftover meats and fish will have improved shelf life. Foods that can turn rancid or lose their fresh aroma--such as nuts, herbs, spices, coffee and tea--can be vacuum sealed successfully.
The product name is somewhat misleading because the Foodsaver will work just as well for storing non-food items. The manufacturer suggests sealing silverware to protect from tarnishing; old books, such as family Bibles; stamp collections; precious coins and jewelry; leftover paint (in jars) and clothing and linens (the vacuum kills moths).
The Foodsaver currently has a special price of $199.95, which includes the jar attachment and two rolls of bags. It is available at county fairs on the West Coast or by calling (800) 445 - 2247. Phone orders will require shipping charge.