The ‘FoodSaver’ machine
Today I’m showing you the FoodSaver machine, a system actually, that is one of the most valuable items in our kitchen or general prepping gear. They have advertisements on TV now and then, and it’s really not ‘hype’…..the gizmo really does save us boatloads of money on fresh, frozen and dry food that we process for our survival stash. We have used our machine for well over 15 years, still working fine as long as we use ‘authentic’ FoodSaver bag materials in the process. We’ve tried some of the competitors bags…..they just don’t cut it, too cheap and the design just really doesn’t make it. Those of you who’ve heard of sealing your stuff in Mylar bags will find this machine will seal Mylar bags well, but won’t really pull a vacuum very well on that material. I’ll go over dealing with bulk dry goods shortly.
I mentioned the Foodsaver machine in another post, about food storage.
We find that using this on freshly bought meats (or fresh game you have bagged) and fresh vegetables will indeed last for years in the freezer, vastly better than anything you can hand wrap meat with. With anything you can fit into the different sized bags available, you can fully control the ‘hardness’ of the vacuum level from a gentle removal of the air in the bag to a rock hard brick, just like you may have seen commercial coffee products in their little vacuumed bags in the grocery.
The process works equally well when dealing with leftovers from a large crock pot load of food, just turn the vacuum level down to avoid sucking a load of juice out of the bag as the cycle runs. Toss into the freezer and have a quick meal of that delicious stew in a few months without going through the cooking process again.
As preppers, we generally spend a lot of time in the summer growing season canning veggies we grow in the garden. We also make up dry ingredient ‘meals in a jar’ recipes, and meals in jars from the fresh goods, processing those along with the garden produce. A FoodSaver isn’t designed to replace the home canning method, but will supplement it nicely, using the canning jars and lids to vacuum pack dry goods, if you have spare jars that were left from the canning season, or have recently been opened to consume the delicious stuff you canned two or three years ago. Using the canister set available from FoodSaver, you place the canning jar with dry goods in it, into the canister which will fit it best, have the lid and sealing ring lightly on. Pull a medium vacuum on the canister and you’ll also be vacuuming the air out of the canning jar. When the machine indicates ‘done’, open the canister and check the ‘pop’ of the sealing lid. No pop indicates a successful seal, so tighten up the sealing ring and you’re all done. This also works just fine on recycling glass jars of commercial products with the lid that ‘pops’ when you open the product, like salsa, jelly, dressing products, just about any glass jar with a vacuum sealed lid from the manufacturer of the product. Wash the jar thoroughly, put your dry goods into it with the lid just lightly tight, only enough to just make contact actually, pop into the canister, pull the vacuum. Check the little pop spot on the lid, no pop is a good vacuum. Tighten down the lid and you’re done. You can also ‘reseal’ your jar of salsa or whatever as you use it up, with this method, which would no doubt extend the freshness of it as you consume it.
Now, on to dealing with saving money on bulk purchased dry goods like rice, pasta, beans, grains and so forth. We have some dear Mormon friends, their faith kind of making them the ‘original preppers’, wisely guiding those of this faith to set aside a year’s worth of goods for their families as a normal part of daily life. To aid their members, and everyone else in need, they have established regional storehouses for their members and their friends to purchase bulk quantities of dry goods of all kinds. Occasionally, the members can invite friends outside the faith to shop at the regional center, so I jumped right into that when my friend offered the chance. Got kind of carried away on my visit and wound up with well over 100 pounds of potato flakes, rice, sugar, pancake mix, all purpose flour, pasta, spaghetti and other stuff. These products, as is, could be stored with proper conditions for a couple years, perhaps. But with a FoodSaver available, it can be stored for decades. We took each product and put about two family sized servings of the item in a FoodSaver bag, along with a printed sheet of preparation instructions copied from the original bulk package, and hard vacuumed the stuff. The bags have a two sided construction, a smooth clear side and a textured side (to aid in the vacuuming process), so it’s very easy to see what you have in any bag you pick up. Any way, after about two days of processing and vacuuming, we had all that treasure reduced to manageable portions and hard vacuumed to last for a very long time.
As I mentioned in my other post, linked above, I use our machine for a lot of purposes other than food preservation. You can put survival gear into these tough bags to waterproof and weatherproof the items. All kinds of gear, like walkie talkies, emergency radios, GPS units, clothing, and of course emergency dried foods for your Bug Out Bag. Do NOT pull a rock hard vacuum on any kind of radio gear or similar item (it’s not necessary, you’re only sealing out moisture and weather) and NEVER have the batteries in the item when you seal it up. Since it may be years before you take it out, the batteries will have turned to crap and possibly have ruined the item. Never leave batteries in any kind of your emergency or survival gear, keep them handy in their own little lightly vacuumed bags, so that if they go sour your gear isn’t damaged. Virtually anything a prepper may need to set up for long term storage that would fit into a FoodSaver bag can be done.
Ammunition, still in it’s factory box (video link), and small firearms such as pistols or survival knives that could be placed into hidden cashes (video link), along with dry food items, spare clothing or whatever else you could think of, can be sealed from weather, rot and rust with this system, placed in the cache and buried, walled up, or hidden away in many other fashions. Since FoodSaver bags also come in wide and long rolls, it’s conceivable one could even bag up rifles, probably in a disassembled state of some degree, and have those protected as well. Couple points on caching….take maximum precautions when packing up your items to bury. Meaning, make every effort to intercept any kind of water damage making it to your goods, where the FoodSaver system shines. Even add oxygen absorbers and silica gel packets to the items as you vacuum bag them. Then construct your cache tube to the best of your ability to waterproof it. And when you bury the cache, make sure you can FIND IT when you need it! Always go with an extra family or trusted group member to stash these items so that more than one memory has the location. Use close by landmarks such as strong fence posts, unique rock formations or whatever is likely to be unchanged in case of fires, storms, or time passing. Devise a measurement system, such as heel to toe stepping off the distance, that is infallible and un-loseable (not really a ‘word’, but you get the idea) so that you can find the cache even if all you have is the clothes on your back and a folding shovel. Obviously, secrecy when placing the cache is a given, so a stash in your back yard can be done in the spring when you’re planting rose bushes or something. Rose bushes are our favorite stash hider. Who wants to mess with those thorny things unless you have to, right?