This is the third in our monthly series of tips on getting the most out of your ThriftyVac® system.
You can best vacuum pack food with fluids, such as gravy, by using a book or thick cutting board to elevate your ThriftyVac® unit. Doing this keeps more fluid inside your food bag and maximizes the vacuum. This is illustrated in the YouTube video: https://youtu.be/o_Ww2FSi1zA.
Since only one inch of the food bag’s seal is open during vacuuming, bags vacuum packed with ThriftyVac® retain more fluids that might otherwise be drawn out of the bag. Also, the ThriftyVac® Housing elevates the Check Valve’s exhaust port three centimeters above the base of the outer bag to keep fluids inside your food bag. This is very important for sous-vide cooking and for vacuum packing moist or marinated foods. Finally, you can further enhance fluid retention by positioning the ThriftyVac® unit near the edge of a thick book or cutting board and letting the food bag hang over the edge. Doing this, in combination with the elevated exhaust port, maximizes fluid retention and helps keep the vacuum pump clear of any fluids that may be drawn out of your food bag.
The process is simple. Vacuum pack your food as usual, stopping when fluids just start exiting the one-inch open segment of the food bag's seal. Close the open segment of the seal, and withdraw your vacuum-packed food bag.
The complete process is illustrated in this YouTube video.
This is the second in our series of monthly tips on how to get the most out of your ThriftyVac® products.
You can make your ThriftyVac® outer bag last longer (over 50 cycles) by applying a 3 x 2 inch strip of clear packaging tape on the outside as shown in this YouTube video: http://youtu.be/tbIHhMdgfNk. All ThriftyVac® systems are now shipped with tape-reinforced outer bags.
We chose to make ThriftyVac®’s outer bag (the bag that serves as a flexible vacuum chamber) out of thin polyethylene (PE) so that it would:
closely conform to the contours of your food bag when vacuumed, thereby minimizing air inside your food bag
puncture cleanly when we made the hole to reinsert the Check Valve. (Bags made of stiff plastic materials do not puncture cleanly, but rather splinter).
However, the outer bag gets highly stressed during the vacuum-packing process as it is drawn down tightly against your food bag and the ThriftyVac® Housing. Highly stressed areas may tear with repeated use, requiring you to replace the outer bag.
You can greatly extend the life of your outer bag by reinforcing the most highly stressed area with high-strength packaging tape. More specifically, you can apply a 3-inch piece of clear packaging tape over the area of the outer bag that covers the word “ThriftyVac®” on the Housing. We recommend using Scotch’s “Heavy Duty Shipping Packaging Tape,” because it is 20 times stronger than acrylic tape. If you don’t already have such tape, then you can buy a 22-yard roll on Amazon for $3. (We have no promotional agreement with either Scotch or Amazon.)
This tape is 1.88 inches wide and easily covers the most highly stressed area of the outer bag.
How to Apply the Reinforcing Tape
You can apply the reinforcing tape most easily when the outer bag is empty and lays flat. (You can remove the Housing from the outer bag by simply pulling up on the Check Valve, using a twisting motion.) You should apply the 3-inch length of the packaging tape 4.5 inches from the right edge of the outer bag, and 0.8 inches away from the top, as illustrated in the figure below.
The YouTube video below demonstrates a simple and effective way of cutting and placing the strip of reinforcing tape on the outer bag.
After placement, run your thumb over the reinforcing tape, pressing it hard against the outer bag, because that ensures good adhesion. Use your thumb and fingernails to press out any bubbles between the tape and outer bag.
All ThriftyVac® systems are now shipped with tape-reinforced outer bags.
Next month’s tip will illustrate the best way of vacuum packing moist foods, and retaining their fluids inside the vacuum bag.
This is written to share my approach to keeping my pecans fresh.
The bottom line is that I now vacuum pack my pecans in a TV2 bag and store them in the refrigerator.
I originally thought that the best way to keep nuts fresh was to simply put them in a Mason Jar and vacuum out the air. However, I found out that doing this dried out my pecans because they were exposed to a high vacuum, with lots of space inside the Mason jar for moisture to evaporate. Just as bad, being un-refrigerated, the pecans naturally decayed, losing both their color and flavor over time. I was distraught because I loved having pecan halves spread over my blueberry pancakes, smothered in real maple syrup and whipped cream. (OK, I know that this may be a bit over the top on calories, but let’s not be judgmental.) So I had to find another way to keep my pecans fresh after I opened the bag.
I tried to think this through. I reasoned that storing my pecans in a TV2 bag might be much better than storing them in a vacuum jar because the TV2 bag minimizes the empty space surrounding food and thereby minimizes dehydration.
But that was not enough. I also needed to keep the pecans from decaying, and this required refrigeration. I did both, and it worked. I now vacuum pack my pecans in a TV2 bag and store them in my refrigerator. My wife now tells me that I am gaining weight.
The new ThriftyVac® Full Service (TVFS) vacuum bag works with heat-sealing vacuum machines, yet remains resealable. Now you can use an electric vacuum sealer to vacuum pack your food in a resealable bag, without needing vacuum hoses or adapters. The key is an innovative technique, combined with a special bag design (patent pending), that lets the TVFS bag temporally hold a vacuum even when it is partially open.
It works like this:
Place your food inside the TVFS bag and press the seal nearly completely closed, leaving 1/4 inch open at one end.
Next, place the TVFS bag inside the vacuum sealer and start vacuuming.
Turn off the vacuum sealer when the bag is fully packed (the moment the heating strip turns on).
Open the vacuum sealer, withdraw your vacuum packed bag, and press the open segment of the seal closed.
Please see the demonstration video below:
Reusable and Low Cost
To reuse the vacuum bags that ordinarily come with electric vacuum sealers, you must cut off the segment that was melted shut. This shortens the bag and can make it unusable. In contrast, the resealable TVFS bag can be vacuum packed and re-entered multiple times and stay the same size.
Best yet, the TVFS Vacuum Bag is half the price of “one-and-done” vacuum bags, costing just 25 cents each, plus shipping. The TVFS Vacuum Bag is sold in packages of 20, and is now available on www.thriftyvac.com and Amazon.com.
More Good News for Heat Sealer Owners
Starting February 19, 2015, all orders for ThriftyVac® Mason Jar Vacuum Packing Lids 5-Packs (which include the vacuum pump), will include a free Vacuum Hose Adapter. The Vacuum Hose Adapter mates a heat sealer’s 3/16-inch vacuum hose to the ThriftyVac® Check Valve. Thus you can use your existing vacuum sealer machine to vacuum pack ThriftyVac® Mason Jar Vacuum Lids as well as the ThriftyVac® System that vacuum packs bags.