Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning

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Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a Backdoor Survival reader asking my opinion on a device she had seen being promoted to preppers.  It was basically a vacuum sealer that could be used to seal up packages of dry foods.  The cost was about $300.  Holy moly!  I could hardly believe that someone would consider something like this when an $80 FoodSaver would do the same thing.

I have had a FoodSaver for years.  I use it for all sorts of soft and dry goods, such as cheeses, meats, specialty flours, and even things like coffee beans and tea bags.  It works great.  The surprising thing, however, is that at least half of of the time, I don’t bother with the bags.  Instead, I use Mason jars.

Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival

You have seen me talk about my sealed mason jars many times in the past but I have never gotten around to telling you about them in detail.

Enter contributing writer, Rob Hanus, who has done all of the work for me.  In today’s Fast Track Tip, Rob will explain how the FoodSaver jar attachment works in words while I show you how it works in pictures.  (And by the way, those M&Ms make for great comfort items while hunkering down for whatever reason!)

Vacuum Canning Using a Food Saver Jar Attachment

Thanks to the numerous infomercials, there is hardly a person in the US that doesn’t know what a vacuum sealer is. The most common being the Food Saver units. You’ll find that even people that aren’t preppers will have these in their home. Vacuum sealing works great for keeping food fresher, especially in the freezer. To get an idea on how long you can keep some foods, check out this recent blog post: How Long Do You Freeze Food?

If you have ever used a vacuum-sealer, you know that one of the pitfalls of using one is having to buy more bags. Even when you try to save a little money and buy the rolls of bags, you still have to spend time cutting them and sealing one end before you can even use it. And washing the bags doesn’t work as well as it would seem it should.

However, there is something that you can do to vacuum-seal food without having to buy replacement bags. It’s not a complete replacement for using the bags, but in some ways, it can be more efficient.

Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival

Getting it all set up.  Note the canning funnel.

I’m referring to the jar sealer attachment. There are jar sealer attachments for both wide-mouth and regular-mouth jars. Mine came with the wide-mouth and we bought the regular-mouth size for less than $10. This is a good investment as it allows you to use both sizes of jars.

Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival

Using the jar sealer is as simple as sealing a bag. To set up, you place the hose into the sealer and the other end into the top of the jar sealer attachment. Next, fill your jar with the item you’re going to seal and place the lid on top. Don’t put the ring on yet, though. With the jar sealer connected to the vacuum sealing unit, place the attachment over the jar and firmly seat it on top. Then, press the button on the sealer unit. The air will be sucked out of the jar and when the light goes green, release the button. When you’ve confirmed that there is a vacuum, then you can put the ring on.

The vacuum that is inside seals the lid onto the jar. If the lid is damaged, it might slowly leak air back in, so use only lids that aren’t damaged or have holes. However, the great thing about vacuum-sealing these jars is that you can reuse the lids. Because you’re not heating them up, the sealing compound on the lid isn’t destroyed, like in normal canning. So long as the lid holds the vacuum, you can reuse it.

Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival

To ensure a good seal, hold the jar attachment down during the sealing cycle.

Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival

A nice tight seal!

Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival

Done!  A batch of Backdoor Survival Tranquilizers for when the SHTF!

Because there is no bag crushing the contents, you can seal items that are fragile or easily crushed. It’s also quite easy to reseal, so keeping your bulk herbs and spices just became a lot easier. After you (carefully) open the lid and take out the amount you need, just run the sealer and it’s vacuum sealed again!

One of the things we use this quite a bit for is freezing homemade soup and tomato sauce. The lack of air extends the amount of time you can keep the food in the fridge for freezer. Just remember that vacuum sealing isn’t like water bath or pressure canning and most things will need to be kept in the refrigerator or freezer.

Fun Tip #1: Marinade meat in record time. Putting your meat in the jar along with your favorite marinade and vacuum-sealing it will cut down the amount of time you need to marinade. The vacuum allows the juices to penetrate into the meat much faster. What used to take hours now takes about 20-30 minutes.

Fun Tip #2: Put a handful of marshmallows into the jar and have your kids watch as you vacuum seal it. The marshmallows will expand! This one never ceases to amaze my kids. The air in the marshmallows expands in the vacuum, which in turn makes the marshmallows bigger. If you leave them in there for a while, though, or if you open the jar, they will shrink again. Great way to teach science to your kids!


About Rob:  Rob Hanus frequently posts original podcasts on his website at the Preparedness Podcast.  He also is the author of an eBook, the Preparedness Capability Checklist which can be purchased from links on his website.  His podcasts are informative and his Prepper News Watch is the best.  You can bet that his book is good as well.

What About an Oxygen Absorber?

When packaging dry goods in a mason jar, I use an oxygen absorber.  Why do I do this?  Whereas the FoodSaver reduces the amount of air inside your mason jar, it does not remove all of it.  By adding an oxygen absorber, you know that the oxygen will be reduced to almost nothing; thus preventing mold and spoilage.

For a pint sized or quart sized jar I will use a 100 cc packet.  They cost about 10 cents each and I figure that this modest expense  provides an extra cushion of freshness, especially if my vacuum canned dry goods will sit on the shelf for longer than a year or two.

Additional Tips

Something that Rob did not mention is that it helps to leave a bit of head space in the jars.  I don’t know why, but if you overfill a jar, it will not seal.  Likewise, regular mouth jars seem to seal more successfully if you use two lids.  One lid gets sealed to the jar and the other acts as a shim that can be used again on another jar.  Again, I don’t know why this works but it does.

Another good use for the jar sealer attachment is storage of unused oxygen absorbers.  By storing the unused packets in a sealed jar, you can pretty much guarantee that they will still be good the next time you have a food packaging session.

The Final Word

As much as we prepare for off-grid situations, we still need to live our lives in the here and now.  There is no shame in using modern, 21st century conveniences.  That is why I promote the use of Crockpots, Automatic Bread Machines, and Food Savers.

Does this mean I do not know how to bake bread from scratch the old fashion way? No, of course not. Nor does it mean I do not know how to cook with my cast iron Dutch oven over an open fire.  I do and do it well, mind you.

In using modern conveniences to save time, we carve out those extra hours needed to learn other survival skills such as fire-making, hunting, fishing, sewing, gardening and a myriad of other things that may be handy down the road.  Personally, I think it is worth it.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

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If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Facebook which is updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or link to a free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.  You can also follow Backdoor Survival on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ and purchase my book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage from Amazon.

In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Bargain Bin: Today I share some tools and supplies for using a FoodSaver to vacuum can your emergency food.  For help with your food storage questions, my new eBook: The Preppers Guide to Food Storage.

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer: As long as the unit has an accessory port (and this one does), and inexpensive FoodSaver will work just as well as the fancier models. That is my two cents, at least.

FoodSaver Wide Mouth Jar Sealer: Already have a FoodSaver? If so, check out this jar sealer which can be used to vacuum seal your Mason jars. This is a great option for short to mid term storage of items such as beans, rice, sugar and salt. Store your jars in a cool, dark place and you are set with the added advantage of removing a small amount for current use without having to disrupt your large Mylar bag or bucket of food.  There is also a version for regular sized jars.

100-Pack Oxygen Absorber, 100ccFast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival:  I always have these available.  At less than 10 cents each, I consider adding a 100 cc oxygen absorber cheap insurance that ensures that my vacuum sealed food will remain nice and fresh – even five years later.

Sharpie Permanent MarkersFast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival: Sharpies were invented for preppers! And without question, Amazon is the cheapest place to buy them. Typically, the price on Amazon is less that $8 for a dozen.

VacMaster 3 1/2 Mil Vacuum Bags Combo Pack, 60 Count BoxFast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival:  I prefer these over the make-it-yourself FoodSaver brand bags.  I have been using these for years with great luck.  To re-use them, I turn them inside out and wash them in the dishwasher.

Mylar bags & Oxygen Absorbers: What I love about Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers is they protect against every single one of the food storage enemies. Prices do vary but for the most part, they are inexpensive and easy to keep on hand. And while you can seal them up with a FoodSaver, some tubing and a common clothes iron, I find it infinitely easier with a cheap hair straightening iron that you can pick up $20 or less.

The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage: My eBook will provide you with everything you need to create an affordable food storage plan, including what to buy and how to store it. Nothing scary and nothing overwhelming – you really can do this!  Now available at Amazon.


Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

One item I can recommend available is their Do It Yourself SuperPail ComboFast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival.Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival It includes 6 x 6-Gallon Buckets with Lids, 6 x Metallized Storage Bags and a 10-Pack of Large Oxygen Absorbers.

Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning | Backdoor Survival

Don’t forget that you do not need fancy equipment to seal the metalized bag. A cheap hair iron will do the job.


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Comments

Fast Track Prep Tip #4: How to Use a FoodSaver for Vacuum Canning — 25 Comments

  1. Gaye you really covered a lot of excellent information plus the “where to buy”. Thanks. I’ve wondered about such a devise and never knew they actually made a vacuum sealer for mason jars. I always thought it would be cool if someone would invent it. I guess you could say I’m a little late. Thanks again. Excellent post.

  2. I just received my Food Saver and jar attachments. Something I want to try but also wanted to find out from other is this: would the Tattler lids work as well? Considering they are more durable than the metal lids, you would be unable to crease one when you remove it, making it unusable again.

  3. For those of you who just want to seal mason jars, Foodsaver also makes a product called “Foodsaver Mealsaver Compact Vacuum Sealing System” which sells for under $40 on Amazon. As a senior, I don’t have a lot of freezer space so I really like being able to seal things in jars. I do a lot of dehydrating and this helps extend the self life of what I do.

    Pros: Compact, small footprint for countertop
    Inexpensive

    Cons: Must purchase jar sealers separately
    Does NOT seal bags

  4. With this device, don’t forget there are 1/2 gallon jars available. You can’t use in the pressure canner, but work great for vacuum sealing. We have a second home and use these for everything in the cupboard to keep things fresh, along with long term storage.

        • I do not know exactly but assume they are too tall for some canners. I use them to vacuum seal dry goods (beans, sugar, salt, nuts, and chocolate) for long term storage. I remove borax and washing soda from their boxes and store them in large mason jars.

  5. The reason you have to use 2 lids on the regular jars is the mold they use, to injection mold the device, is incorrectly made. If it were dimentioned correctly it wouldn’t need another “shim” to work correctly. P.S. it cost a lot of money to “fix” this issue with the mold. It ‘s much cheaper to tell you use 2 lids than for foodsaver to fix it correctly. That being said, it is cheap, as you never really have to waste but 1 lid for hundreds of jars.

  6. Okay, so I used mine for the first time last night and I’d like some recommendations. When my wife bakes bread, the recipe makes two loaves. The problem is that we can’t get through both before it starts to go bad. Yes, I have tried putting one in a gallon sized freezer zip-loc in the fridge but I’d also like to put a couple in the freezer for when we don’t have the time to bake them when needed. So I used the Food Saver on a fresh (but cold) one last night. And of course, it shrank down and is hard as a brick. Now while this may be fine for a lot of things, the bread is probably not going to pop back into shape. When I was looking at the various containers that work with the Food Saver that would prevent the compression, none seemed to be big enough to put a loaf from a standard loaf pan into. Anybody got any suggestions?

    • Except for the “marinater” container, I feel that the various FoodSaver canisters and containers are a huge waste of money. I have a lot of them; they crack and after a while, loose their seal. Don’t waste your money.

      For breads, use the pulse or manual feature on your FoodSaver. Before your loaf starts to compress, stop the machine and your baked goods will be fine. Another thing to do is to freeze your bread first (put the loaves in your freezer for a few hours) and then vacuum seal. Again, I would use the manual feature so you can control when the “sucking” part ends and the sealing part starts.

      Good luck and let me know if you need additional assistance.

      • Thanks, Gaye. I had heard the same thing about the containers.

        Yeah, I should have shut off the vacuum. It was kind of interesting to hear my wife when she saw what has happening to that loaf of bread. I guess it is mine now. Might make a good doorstop :)

        • things that will compress like that ive seen the suggestion to freeze it first, then vacuum seal – that way the bread/muffins/whatever will hold their shape during the sealing process.

  7. I’ve also used the hand held sealer for about a year with both the regular & wide mouth attachment. I do mostly fruits & veggies that I’ve dried, all kinds of dried beans, lentils, flax seeds, grains (rolled oats, quinoa, barely, rice). With anything that might have an “infestation” problem like the grains, I freeze for a couple days & then seal. Works great cause you can transfer the items into smaller jars as it’s used so you’re not sealing an almost empty jar. I always have empty canning jars and then never have to worry about bags.
    The hand sealer is battery operated with an charging cord & so quick & easy to use. Sometimes there is a sealing problem & it’s usually the lid. Have found that used canning lids work the best as after used once for canning the sealing ring seems to have softened a bit. But if it hasn’t sealed on the second try then get a different lid. The double works too if I can remember to do it. Have never tried the oxygen absorbers because I’m usually only “holding” the food for a year or two. Never really thought the seal would hold for an extremely long time.
    It’s great to open the pantry and see all the sealed jars of dried carrots, green peppers, onions, oatmeal, peaches, plums, garbanzo beans, cracked corn – heck I even do bird seed for my pet bird!!

  8. Is it possible to place liquid items, such as soup or juice into a mason jar, and vacuum seal it in order to preserve it longer in the refrigerator? I know you can freeze the liquid first, but I make fresh veggie/fruit juice in the morning and would like to place it in a pint jar, vacuum seal it to take out most of the air, and take it to work to have later in the day. I am afraid to try it for fear of sucking up the juice into the Food Saver and ruining it.

    • Valerie – Not to worry, it works well and makes your liquids highly transportable as long as you are mindful of the glass. Something else that works well in the mason jars is berries – such as strawberries. They stay fresh for a week when vacuum sealed.

      • Berries! Before you vac and cold-store them, try giving them a diluted vinegar rinse and a quick draining period on a towel. It seems to deal with the origins of that white fuzz that ruins our tasty berries.

      • Thanks Gaye. I tried it and it worked great! I just left a little head space and the juice and soup sealed just fine! Thanks for your very fast reply and great tips! I bought the Food Saver from the link on your web site and am very happy with it! I sealed all kinds of dried beans, seeds, pasta and even fresh ground whole wheat flour. I put the freshly ground flour in a 1/2 gallon jar and it vacuumed sealed just fine!

  9. I just discovered you and am delighted. The information on vacuum sealing is exciting and opens a new area of preserving food. I have questions about retort bags and jaw-style impulse sealers. What is a jaw-style impulse sealer, how does it work and where do find them. Also where do you find gusseted-style retort packages? What size are they? Will they hold a quart of meat or veggies? I have been looking on line and still don’t what they are, where to get them, etc.

    Is this a safe way to preserve food? I now pressure can and have done this for many years. Using retort bags is intriguing and an exciting new venture in storing food. Is there more information on this somewhere. I own the book “Meals in Jars”.

    I loved the clarity of your instructions on vacuum sealing. I just ordered a food sealer and will be using it soon. I hope you will do a similar article on preserving food with gusseted retort packages and jaw-style vacuum sealers with information on where to purchase them.

    Thank you so much for the information I have already gained from you.

    Charlotte Heiney

  10. Any idea how long dry items will last in a vacuum sealed jar? Things like dry brown rice, lentils or beans? I don’t store them in the fridge. Just on the shelf. Is there a chart somewhere that maybe tells what the shelf life of these sorts of foods are? Thanks!

    • There are many factors involved including storage conditions (in a hot garage?) and whether or not you use an oxygen absorber. As a rule of thumb, I personally try to use my vacuum sealed dry goods within 3 to 5 years. Beyond that, I seal in Mylar bags and buckets.

      Two things. First, this is the formula I came up with and so far, it has worked out well. My jarred items are still usable after 4 years. Second, I have read that even with perfect storage conditions, legumes will turn hard after a long period of storage and will need to be softened with a pressure cooker before they become usable. My own food storage is less than 10 years old so I have no way of verifying this myself.

      Here is an article for you: http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/how-to-use-a-foodsaver-for-vacuum-canning/.

    • One other thing. These days, any one can post anything on the internet. Some of the so-called shelf-life charts I have seen online are off-the-wall bogus. Always consider the source and do your own research.

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