Everywhere we turn, we see headlines about the rising cost of living, so it’s only natural that we look for ways to reduce our expenditures. In a bid to reduce food waste, many of us are turning to vacuum food sealers to preserve food for longer. But the big question remains – can you reheat vacuum-sealed food?
The answer is a resounding “yes” and here we’ll talk about how you can do this efficiently and safely.
Vacuum sealing is a technique where food is placed inside a non-permeable plastic bag and the air is sucked out. The package is sealed airtight to prevent any air from getting back inside. Extracting air and moisture from the packet removes the bacteria-friendly conditions that can lead to your food spoiling.
Vacuum sealing can keep your food fresher for longer. Combining the technique with freezer storage means you can preserve your food for months at a time and eliminate the dreaded freezer burn.
Before you reheat your vacuum-sealed food, there are a few safety precautions that you should take to ensure it remains edible.
Check your vacuum seal bag instructions first. Not all bags are designed to be heated to high temperatures. While many can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove, you’ll need a specially designed vacuum seal bag if you’re planning to use an oven.
Before you reheat your food, check that your bag doesn’t have any accidental tears or rips, especially if you’ve just pulled your packet out of the freezer. Tears in your vacuum-sealed packet could mean that your food has been contaminated.
Make sure your vacuum-sealed food is thoroughly reheated before you eat it to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
At a minimum, check that your food is steaming hot throughout. Make sure you stir regularly, particularly if you’re reheating in the microwave. If you’re using a food thermometer, then check that your food has an internal temperature of 70ºC for at least two minutes.
Check if your food is bad before you eat it to avoid an upset stomach.
To tell if your food is off, check its appearance, smell, and texture. The food should not smell rancid or fishy and its colour should be even throughout. Meat shouldn’t be grey and none of your food should have any green or brown patches. In terms of texture, as a rule of thumb, your food should be firm, not mushy.
Of course, it might be a little trickier if you’re reheating pre-cooked leftovers as the spices might mask any bad odours or unconventional colours. As a last resort, do a small taste test – your food shouldn’t taste bad.
While stove reheating takes longer than the microwave, it’s a low-effort endeavour and particularly useful for more viscous foods, like soups or chillies.
· Fill a pan with water. It should be big enough to fit the entire vacuum seal bag, without letting the bag touch any of the edges or base of the pan.
· Bring the water to a simmer. Take care not to let the water boil.
· Once the water is simmering, place the bag into the pan and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes.
· Carefully remove the bag from the hot water and check if there are any cold spots. If there are, pop the bag back into the water for a few more minutes and check again.
Reheating vacuum-sealed food in the oven can be very convenient as you just pop the bag on an oven-proof tray and leave it to heat up. However, not all vacuum-seal bags can withstand the high temperatures of the oven – always check the brand and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
This is by far the quickest and most convenient method for reheating vacuum-sealed foods!
· Cut off one of the corners of the bag to allow steam to escape during the heating process.
· Pop the bag into the microwave and choose the appropriate heating option. How long you’ll need really depends on the type of food you're trying to reheat, as well as the quantity and how much it has thawed out before you start.
· As a rule of thumb, reheat your food for 3-5 minutes before removing it from the microwave to check the temperature. If it still feels cold in places, then pop it back in the microwave and repeat.
1. DO NOT cut or pierce the vacuum-sealed bag before placing it in the pan to simmer. The water will ruin your food.
2. Don’t let the bag touch the sides of the pan – it will melt!
3. Don’t allow the water to boil.
1. DO cut one of the corners off the vacuum-sealed bag before placing it in the microwave. Steam needs to escape from your food, otherwise, the bag will melt.
Many of us are turning to vacuum packers to save money and reduce food waste. But after we’ve stored it, we need to eat it! When it’s time to consume our stored food, it’s important to reheat it thoroughly to ensure it’s safe to eat and avoid wasting all the effort we’ve put in.
Get in touch with us at First Food Machinery, to discover our wide range of vacuum packaging machines to get started on your vacuum-sealing journey today and start saving some pennies!