Ageing is a food preparation technique that’s typically associated with beef, although increasingly, ageing enthusiasts are experimenting with other meats, like pork or lamb. Typically, food is left for a period of time – anything from weeks, months or even years, depending on the product – with the aim of improving the flavours and tenderness. 

Vacuum sealers have long been popular for extending the shelf life of food as well as its quality. So, it seems only natural to ask if you can age food in a vacuum sealer. 

The good news is that it’s absolutely possible to age food through vacuum sealing with great results! In this article, we’ll take a look at the difference between traditional dry-ageing techniques vs. wet-ageing techniques, as well as the types of foods that are suitable for ageing in a vacuum sealer. 

Can Vacuum Sealers Be Used for Ageing?

Not only can vacuum packing machines be used to age meats and other food products, but they can also make the process easier and more convenient. While the technique may not be the traditional approach, nonetheless, it can be effective for commercial and domestic applications. 


Wet-ageing is the technique of ageing meat, usually beef, in a vacuum-sealed bag. 

While wet-ageing can be achieved with a standard vacuum sealing bag, you can get better results with a specialised meat-ripening bag. These bags are made from a semi-permeable material, which allows water vapour to pass through but still protects against bacteria, mould and odours in your refrigerator. In scientific terms, this material allows the aerobic processes needed to age the meat but protects against anaerobic processes that can lead to bacteria developing on your product and result in the food going bad. 

To wet age meat, you pop your cut of meat into the vacuum bag, evacuate the air and vacuum seal the bag as you would any food product. The sealed bag can then be stored in the refrigerator between 2-4ºC. 

The benefit of wet-ageing is that you don’t need to carefully control your refrigerator’s environment. Under the normal dry ageing process, you need to carefully manage conditions such as the airflow and humidity, to achieve a perfectly aged piece of meat and avoid spoiling it. 


Dry-ageing is a traditional technique for ageing meat that is used by fine meat purveyors. Through dry-ageing, an uncovered cut of beef is stored in a refrigerated space – no protective packaging is applied to the meat. 

The meat is kept in carefully managed conditions, usually for up to five weeks. Expert meat purveyors will control the temperature, humidity, hygiene, and airflow around their cuts of meat. In this manner, the natural enzymatic processes that break down the connective tissue and muscle fibres in the meat can take place. 

At 0ºC, bacterial growth is suspended. However, the enzymatic process that ages meat is also slowed. Overall, dry-ageing is a relatively slow process! 

Can You Age Vacuum Sealed Meat?

To wet-age meat, you need a vacuum food sealer. This process extracts any air from the package to prevent bacteria from spoiling the food and extends the lifetime of your food product. To allow ageing to take place, you’ll need to use a meat-ripening bag. 

Is It Recommended?

Whether you choose to vacuum seal your meat to age it or follow the traditional dry-ageing technique comes down to your personal preference. 

Purists will tell you that vacuum-sealing your meat before ageing is not true dry-ageing. They’ll argue that the plastic vacuum bag prevents the natural enzymatic processes needed for ageing to take place. While it’s true that wet-ageing is not the traditional method, it still works just as effectively. 

There are many benefits of wet-ageing meat. By sealing the meat in a vacuum bag, you can store it in your refrigerator more easily, even stacking up your packets of ageing meat to save space. Wet-ageing is a more forgiving process, so you won’t need to finetune your refrigerator to get a good result. This can make the meat ageing process much more accessible, particularly for home enthusiasts. 

Can Cheese Age When Vacuum-Sealed?

Traditionally, hard cheese is covered in wax to prevent it from drying out and protect it from mould. It’s possible to substitute wax for a vacuum-sealed bag, which can help to prevent it from spoiling too quickly. Similar to beef, cheese is often left to age or ripen in order to deepen its flavour.

With the right kind of vacuum bag, cheese can ripen or age within the bag. 

Is It Recommended?

Soft cheeses should never be vacuum-sealed. Cheeses like blue cheese, ricotta or camembert can produce mould faster in a vacuum bag than when they’re just left out in the air. Consequently, they can go bad much quicker when they’re vacuum-sealed. 

When it comes to hard cheese, like cheddar, pecorino or gruyere, it’s debatable whether you should vacuum-seal your cheese to age it. Again, whether you choose to undergo this process really depends on your personal preference. 

As cheese ages, the sugars, fats and proteins contained within it break down and release various by-products like ammonia, acetic acid and CO2. If these by-products get trapped inside a regular vacuum bag alongside your cheese, they can impact the taste – whether the impact is positive or negative depends on your tastebuds. 

To successfully age your hard cheese in a vacuum-sealed pack, you need to use a permeable film that allows any ammonia or CO2 to be released from the packet. This type of vacuum bag is not readily available for domestic use. 

In a commercial setting, where permeable plastic vacuum bags are more accessible, ageing cheese in a vacuum bag rather than a wax coating can be quicker, easier, and more cost-effective. 

Like many things in life, there’s a trade-off between convenience and flavour, but there are ways around this. Starting with a traditional ageing technique allows the cheese’s flavour to develop first while vacuum-sealing the cheese to finish off the process to preserve the cheese for longer.

Which Vacuum Packers Are Best for Ageing?

Vacuum-sealing your food products to age them works best with solid foods like meat or cheese. Since you’re not working with liquid foods, you’re not restricted in your choice of vacuum sealing machine. This means that most vacuum packers that are designed to maintain the quality and increase the shelf life of your food product will be suitable for food ageing, including both vacuum sealers and chamber vacuum packers. 

Which Foods Should You Avoid When Vacuum Sealing?

In addition to soft cheeses, there are a few foods that you shouldn’t vacuum seal at all. At least, not without some form of pre-preparation. 

In general, any food that contains anaerobic bacteria is not suited to the vacuum sealing process. Vacuum sealing works by removing air, and critically oxygen, from the bag so that bacteria will not react and cause food to spoil. However, anaerobic bacteria don’t need oxygen to survive. In fact, the absence of oxygen can make anaerobic bacteria grow faster. 

Here are a few foods that you should avoid vacuum sealing:

·      Garlic: Raw garlic releases natural gas, which can inflate the vacuum bag and lead to air leaks. Garlic should be stored in a cool, dry area. 

·      Onion: Like raw garlic, onions also release a natural gas that can lead to leakage in the vacuum bag. Onions shouldn’t be vacuum-sealed for storage. 

·      Mushrooms: Uncooked mushrooms decay faster in a vacuum-sealed bag than when they’re left out in the air. 

·      Bananas: Just like mushrooms, vacuum sealing can cause bananas to ripen more quickly than if you’d left them alone. 

There are many foods that can be safely vacuum-sealed with a little extra effort. Mushrooms can be vacuum-sealed if you cook them first. Similarly, you can vacuum-seal bananas if you peel and freeze them first.


In short, a vacuum sealer can make it easier and quicker to age foods such as meat or cheese. So you’ll get the deeper flavours and tender textures associated with dry-ageing, without the time and effort that typically goes hand-in-hand with the process. 

Explore Our Range of Quality Vacuum Packers

At First Food Machinery, we have decades of experience serving the food trade and stock a wide range of quality vacuum packers. We can offer brand new or refurbished machines for sale, and even the option of renting or leasing a machine for your business. Get in touch today to discuss your needs.