In a commercial kitchen space is everything. This is especially the case when it comes to organising your freezers. If you pack a freezer too tightly the air can’t circulate properly creating a risk of increased bacteria growth within your not-quite frozen foods.
In addition, freezers take up valuable floor (or worktop) space that could be used for other essential kitchen activities. This is where a commercial vacuum sealing machine can help. In some cases they can save you up to 50% of your freezer space.
What is a vacuum food sealer?
A vacuum food sealer wraps food in a thick layer of plastic then sucks out all the air. This brings a number of benefits:
- Increased space efficiency. The removal of air greatly reduces the size of the package you intend to freeze making for better use of your freezer space.
- Much longer shelf-life. Frozen vacuum sealed foods maintain their quality for years rather than months (as opposed to using zip-lock bags or shrink wrap).
- Improved food quality and safety. Vacuum sealed foods are protected against freezer burn and, because of the lack of oxygen, bacterial growth is slowed to a much greater degree than freezing alone.
There are a wide range of commercial vacuum sealing machines on the market. As with everything it’s important to do your research to ensure you’re buying the right product. Vacuum sealers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from tabletop to floor standing.
Here at First Food Machinery, we will happily advise you on the correct setup for your business, providing both leasing and purchasing options.
How does vacuum sealing compare to other forms of freezer storage?
There are a number of options to consider when freezing food. Each of them should be considered against a number of criteria:
- How much space will it take up in your freezer?
- What kind of freezer shelf-life do you need?
- What method will best preserve the quality of your food?
We’ve considered these criteria below by comparing vacuum food sealing vs. other forms of frozen food storage. In all cases we found that vacuum food sealing was the clear winner in terms of space, longevity and preserving quality.
Vacuum sealing vs. zip-lock bags
Common Sense Home carried out an experiment where they froze two chunks of broccoli. One was vacuum sealed, the other was in a regular zip-lock freezer bag.
After five months the vacuum sealed broccoli looks like it’s just been frozen and took up half the space of its zip-locked companion. In addition, after only three months the zip-locked broccoli was also near-inedible due to freezer burn.
Add to this the increased bacterial growth for the zip-lock option (due to increased levels of oxygen) and the vacuum sealer is the clear winner.
Vacuum sealing vs. shrink wrapping
When you shrink wrap food you are reducing the space needed by – say – a Tupperware container, though the process itself doesn’t actively remove all the air surrounding the food. The existence of air (or continued exposure to air, depending on how well the food is shrink wrapped) will have a significant impact on the shelf life of frozen food.
With vacuum sealing, you get around this problem by removing all of the air which also results in significant space-saving results. True, the vacuum sealing material is typically thicker than traditional shrink wrap, but this only modestly impacts the space-saving qualities of the former.
Vacuum sealing vs. plastic containers
Not all plastic containers can go in the freezer, but several brands (e.g. Tupperware) make ones that are freezer compatible. By creating an airtight seal a good quality container will help prolong the freezer shelf life of your food by helping to minimise bacteria growth.
That said, the main issue here is one of space. Unless you’re freezing liquids (e.g. soup), containers simply take up too much space. Vacuum packing machinery does away with this problem. Vegetables, meat and range of other products will typically use 50% less freezer space than plastic containers.
A vacuum food sealer brings significant space savings, in addition to increased shelf life and reduced risk of food deterioration. They make it easier to navigate your freezer, potentially reduce the number of freezers you need and minimise the risk of overloading your freezer. For this reason alone, vacuum sealers are a logical investment for the majority of businesses within the food and catering industry.