In the quest to reduce food waste and save money, many of us are turning to bulk purchasing. As a result, long-term storage solutions and the freezer have become our new best friends.
When it comes to storing food, there are plenty of options available to us, including using vacuum sealed bags and mylar bags. But is one method better than the other?
Mylar bags, also known as foil pouches, are made from several layers of laminated plastic and aluminium. These thin flexible foil bags work by preventing the contents from being affected by external environmental factors, such as oxygen and moisture.
They come in varying degrees of thickness, usually between 3-7mm. To use one, you pop an oxygen absorber inside the bag before it’s sealed tight. Any oxygen inside the bag after it’s sealed is then removed.
Mylar bags can be used to store most dry foods and are becoming increasingly popular, particularly as they can be bought from most supermarkets.
The great thing about mylar bags is that they’re relatively inexpensive. They don’t take too much room to store, so you can always keep a roll or pack on hand, making them both convenient and easy to use.
Mylar bags can store virtually any type of solid food. They work particularly well with dried foods such as crisps, nuts or cereal and anything that can be damaged by sunlight. This is a particular advantage of a mylar bag over vacuum sealing as the opaque bags can help to increase your food’s shelf life.
Mylar bags do not need any special equipment to seal them, so you also avoid the hassle of trying to find somewhere to store a vacuum sealer.
Vacuum sealing is a technique that uses a specially-designed machine, called a vacuum food sealer, to extract all of the air from the bag, leaving just the food inside. It then seals the bag airtight so that no air can get back in. This means that there is no air remaining in the bag for any germs and microbes to feed on, which are the main culprits in causing food to go bad.
Some vacuum packaging machines are equipped with a Modified Air (MAP) option, or gas flushing. In these machines, the chamber of the vacuum sealer and the vacuum seal bags are filled with protective gas, which helps preserve food even longer.
The benefits of vacuum sealing are well-known both in food industry businesses and in home kitchens around the world.
Like mylar bags, vacuum sealing is used to store food for longer. By removing any air and bacteria living on your food, you can keep food fresh for longer. When it comes to freezing food, you can keep food for 3-5 times longer in a vacuum sealed bag compared with if you’d just frozen it in its original packaging.
Frozen vacuum sealed food keeps its flavour and texture better than simply freezing your food. By removing the air, you prevent your food from getting freezer burn. While freezer burn isn’t harmful for you, it not only discolours your food but also makes it taste awful!
Vacuum sealing and mylar bags each have their own advantages and the method you choose to store your food depends partly on what you’re trying to store, how you’re going to store it and ultimately, your own preference.
For foods that will be stored in the freezer, your best bet is to opt for vacuum sealing. Vacuum bags are thick enough to withstand knocks and bumps when you’re inevitably rummaging for something in the freezer. The absence of air in the bag means that your food will not get freezer burn. On the other hand, mylar bags become brittle over time and so they are more susceptible to rips, which will allow air to seep in.
For storage of dry foods, though, mylar bags are the superior method. As mylar bags are opaque, they stop light getting to your food. This helps food to stay fresher for longer. Vacuum bags tend to be transparent and so they’re not as useful for storing foods that can be affected by sunlight, such as coffee.
The quantity of food that you’re planning to store may also influence your decision whether to opt for mylar bags or a vacuum sealer. Mylar bags are great at storing large quantities of food in one bag for long periods of time. However, if you’re trying to portion your food into usable quantities, then vacuum sealing is the way to go. Vacuum sealers often allow you to customise the size of the package to fit the food that you’re storing.
The answer is “it depends”! Both methods have their place in the kitchen and the method you choose ultimately depends on what you’re trying to store and how you’re trying to store it. If you’ve got the space to store a vacuum sealer, then we’d say have both on hand!