Friday, December 12, 2008

Preserving Next Year's Bounty: Is a FoodSaver on Your Holiday Wish List? Now's the Time to Buy!


These Freshly Picked Beans Are Now Enjoying a Frozen Slumber

The date on these packages of haricots verts gives me away—I've been meaning to write about freezing green beans (as well as the difference between two of my favorite varieties, Straight 'N' Narrow and Maxibel, both purchased year after year from Pinetree Garden Seeds) since back in July. But considering it's been five months, and that things seem to just keep getting busier rather than less hectic around here, I'll cut to the chase.

I'm a huge fan of freezing garden bounty.

I've found that many things freeze better when they've been vacuum sealed (which Joe and I refer to as 'suck sealing').

I've written before about how much I love my FoodSaver, and how I use it to seal up everything from summer squash to hunks of wild venison to spare chains for the chainsaw (keeps them from rusting). During trips to the big city I stock up on hunks of cheese at Trader Joe's (love that place), and if I vacuum seal them they literally last for months in the fridge.

Last spring I replaced our 20-year-old model with the FoodSaver V2840 Advanced Design Vacuum Food Sealer. I absolutely love it.

The list price on this model is $220.42, but right now it's selling at Amazon.com for $99.99 with no tax and free Super Saver shipping. (It's usually around $129.00.)

Your FoodSaver will probably pay for itself in no time.

You can buy ready-made bags, but I've found it's more economical to make my own custom bags using two different sized rolls of the FoodSaver bag material.

Hopefully one of these days I'll have a chance to tell you more about freezing beans. Until then, happy suck sealing!

Do you have a FoodSaver? What do you use it for?

© Copyright 2008 FarmgirlFare.com, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—and life without a FoodSaver is unthinkable.

22 comments:

  1. we have a food saver and half the time we can't get it to seal. We've never been able to make our own bags from the roll. We barely use it but I love the idea of it and had always wanted one, now it sits in the pantry.

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  2. I love the FoodSaver! I half wish my old one would quit working so I could buy this new model, but I guess it would be a bit silly to buy it when mine works fine.

    Sarah, I'd call FoodSaver and return it if it doesn't work. I had one that quit working once (after years!) and they sent me a new one just for the cost of shipping.

    Great product! Great company.

    I want beans in my freezer too, sigh.

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  3. I have that same FoodSaver model and I love it. That's a fabulous price, too -- I paid $140 for ours, nearly 2 years ago.

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  4. I love my vacuum sealer; when I asked for it for Christmas a few years ago, my husband thought I was setting some kind on sinister trap, where I would then freak out because he bought me an appliance for Christmas, wah! Instead, I was thrilled and immediately got up from under the tree to go plug it in.

    I use my vacuum sealer constantly. I can buy meat at low prices in those huge packages, then come home and separate it into portions we will really use, without worrying about freezer burn. I use it to freeze berries in summer, so I can make jam in the winter, rather than during the worst of the heat.

    Produce from my garden gets blanched, flash frozen, and then vacuum sealed. Likewise dried fruits and berries. I freeze soup in three cup portions in a low sided plastic dish, then knock the block of soup out of the container and vacuum seal it for long term storage.

    Every household needs one of these things.

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  5. Well OK, that's now on my Christmas list!

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  6. I have a food saver and love it! I use it to freeze my garden vegetables and meats and things that I buy in bulk sometimes. I use the pre-made bags as I haven't quite figured out how to make the bags from the rolls. :-)

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  7. We use ours for freezing venison. Vacuum-packing really extends the life of the meat in the freezer. My husband actually remembers to use it more often than I do.

    Do you blanch your beans before freezing?

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  8. I have the same foodsaver that I got for a wedding gift. It was the BEST present and most used, I might add. I freeze anything and everything since I got my large freezer chest. I have even blanched and then packed cabbage from my garden and it worked GREAT! This past thanksgiving, I bought a 20 lb turkey and made it the week before Thanksgiving. I then made a nice early Thanksgiving meal with all the fixings. My husband and I ate our portion and then froze stuffing and turkey in the bags. It worked PERFECTLY. I just had the stuffing last night (I was craving it) and it was as fresh as if I had just made it. Definitely a great buy.

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  9. Susan,

    I have a FoodSaver because of YOU! And with that THANK You!.

    I have so much stuff frozen from this past year (I also canned 36 quarts of beans, but as far as green beans go I'm old school. It must be the Southern in me.)

    I haven't had a Kitchen since September 12th, I hope to have it back by mid January.

    http://web.me.com/bhipp/Kitchen/Kitchen_Addition.html

    I can't wait to crack open the freezer!

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  10. We have a FoodSaver, too, and love it.

    I'm curious about your two favorite bean varieties pictured...what makes them so loveable? (I'm planning my 2009 garden...always up for suggestions!)

    Thanks!

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  11. What do you (all of you commenters :) do with all the plastic? Do you reuse it? Can it be recycled?

    I've always loved the idea of a Food Saver, but I can't get my head around all the plastic I'd have to go through.

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  12. We got a FoodSaver as a gift a couple of Christmases ago... but we wore it out well before it paid for itself. Uber frustrating.

    I wonder if the newer models are better...??

    I've got to admit, the plastic aspect that Dakota mentioned is also a concern. I'd be curious to hear what others think! I've learned to really appreciate containers that can be used and re-used.

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  13. I'm jealous of your foodsaver that works. We recieved ours as a gift, and we must have gotten a bad one, because it's never sealed properly. Interesting tips here about contacting foodsaver... maybe I'll do that before buying a new one, because I'm determined to use one with the next gardening season.

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  14. Hi Everybody,
    Thanks for joining in the FoodSaver conversation!


    Sarah,
    That's really odd. Is it an actual FoodSaver brand vacuum sealer? And what about the bags? I tried less expensive bags and bag material and they were junk. I would definitely call the FoodSaver customer service 800 number. I called once, and they were extremely helpful.

    Kalyn,
    Yeah, I couldn't rationalize this new one until the old one really started giving out. But it worked great for 20 years! And it still hobbles along. Actually, Joe likes it better if he's sealing up a lot of bags in a row because he says the new one overheats too quickly. When I'm doing things like green beans I only seal a few bags at a time so overheating is never a problem.

    Anita,
    It's really great, isn't it? I paid more than $99, too. : )

    Irma,
    Oh, that is too funny about your husband and the trap. Glad to know you love your FoodSaver - and your husband had nothing to worry about! ; )

    Kath,
    I hope you get one. I think you'll love it.

    Laura,
    I'm not nearly as good at making bags as Joe is - he can use a wide roll and make small bags half that width. But once you get the hang of it, it isn't too bad. Though the ready made bags are really handy!

    Angie,
    We use ours for venison, too. And you're right - it definitely helps the meat keep better. When we have whole lambs processed, they vacuum seal up all the packages of meat (with a big professional floor model sealer), and it makes a big difference - and there's no freezer burn.

    Debbie,
    Thanks for the tip about the cabbage. I'll definitely have to try it - I've never frozen cabbage before. And I love that you sealed up your Thanksgiving feast! : )

    Yellow Dog!
    It's so great to hear from you. And your new kitchen addition is GORGEOUS. I'm so envious. Well, not about the no kitchen for months part. At least you can live on beans! ;)

    Amysflock,
    I've had good luck with both those varieties of beans for years. I always say I'm going to just plant one, then I can never remember which one I like the best. Even this year, after taking side by side photos and taste testing them one after the other several times, I still can't decide. It's probably a good idea to keep growing them both anyway, just in case.

    They're both easy to grow, aren't bothered too much (if at all, depends on the year) by pests, do well in our hot and humid springs and summers, and are heavy producers. And, most importantly, the beans are delicious!

    Dakota,
    I'm not sure if the plastic bags can be recycled - maybe in the city where you can recycle more than just #1 and #2 plastic containers, but I do know that the bags are reusable. The only time I throw one out after a single use is if it held raw meat - just to be on the safe side.

    I've used some for beans at least three or four times. After a while they do sort of wear out, but it depends on what you have in them and where you store them (I think bashing around in the freezer is tougher on them than if they're sitting on a shelf in the pantry - though you never want to keep perishable foods at room temperature even if they're sealed).

    I always make my bags a little bigger than I need so they'll be big enough to use again after I've trimmed off the top when I open them. I have noticed that the 'flap' above the seal is longer when using the new FoodSaver than it was on the old one, which is kind of irritating.

    Hi Lo,
    That is frustrating. Even though it's been a few years since you got your FoodSaver, I would call FoodSaver and explain to them what happened. You never know - they might be willing/able to do something.

    I, too, like to reuse containers. In fact I have a zillion cottage containers hanging around because they're (annoyingly) #5 plastic and not recyclable around here. It pains me to simply throw them out, so they pile up and pile up. I do use quite a few in the garden, either for seedlings or cut into strips and used as seedling markers.

    The bags really don't create all that much waste, especially if you figure you're sealing up something that didn't come in packaging in the first place, like hunks of wild venison or garden/farmers' market bounty. And I don't know what kind of packaging or container I could freeze meat in that would be reusable. I don't worry about it too much, but I do appreciate that two of you are concerned enough to ask about it. : )

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  15. Yes! that is the joy of having gluts of veggies and enjoying them in mid Winter! Does the vacuum seal preserve it better in the freezer than without?

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  16. Okay, you've convinced me to get a FoodSaver. All I needed was the little push - been wanting one for a couple years and now I can justify it. And for the little plastic containers that can't be recycled. Drill some holes in the bottom for drainage and use them for seedling transplants for the garden.

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  17. I don't have a FoodSaver, but it looks like I should get one!

    I always plant Contender beans, because they ripen early. My favorite beans of all time are Dragon Tongue beans. They are flat yellow beans with purple streaks. They are tender and tasty, and they hold well on the plant.

    Last summer was a great one for my pole beans. I grew Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake. Both were quite fruitful and kept setting beans until the first frost.

    I usually cook all my colors and shapes of beans together. They're pretty that way!

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  18. I love my foodsaver! I use it for tons of things. I buy butter, cheese, meat, veggies, nuts and other things in bulk, and then I divide it up and "suck them up," a task which usually goes to my kids, who love to watch the air disappear from the bags!

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  19. Your awesome pictures make me hungry for veggies. I really want to preserve some food this summer for next winter. Does anyone know how many plants do I need to grow to do that? ( I know that is a tough question that depends on many things)

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  20. I love my foodsaver. When blueberries are in abundance, I make up pies and freeze them unwrapped. After they are frozen, then I seal them. They keep for a long time and do not get the typical 'freezer burn'. I take them out and cook while frozen. They have the fresh blueberry taste. I only use 1/4 c of sugar and 1/4 c of flour mixed together to about a quart of berries rounded high in the pie pan. Nothing else except the whole wheat crust.

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  21. Thanks for reminding me.....I need to buy bags!

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  22. I have had my FoodSaver for about 2 years and can't imagine life without it. I do the usual of buying in bulk (especially when boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale for $1.79/lb!!)and freeze in 3 person size portions. Another thing I do frequently is I make my own Spring rolls, dust with a little cornstarch, freeze on a jelly roll pan then vacuum in appetizer size portions. Whenever we are having a asian themed meal or even if we get takeout. I pop them out and they are great for frying or baking. One other use I have for my FoodSaver is I make LOTS of steamed rice (it always makes the kitchen so hot in summer), allow the rice to cool, place in plastic containers (dinner portion for 3), freeze for about 2 hours, then pop it out and vacuum seal in bags. Dont let it freeze too long because the kernels can get really hard and puncture the bag when you try to seal it. When you want to use it, just warm it in the microwave or pop the unopened bag into a pan with boiling water to defrost and warm. Perfect rice and absolutely no mess. Love it, LOve it.

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