Vacuum packing a product reduces the amount of oxygen that surrounds it and limits the growth of aerobic bacteria and fungi. This means that food products can be stored for longer than would normally be possible. In the case of food such as cereals, nuts, smoked fish and cured meats these storage times can be lengthy. Although fresh foods, such as vegetables and meat, cannot be stored for such long time periods, vacuum packing can still be used to preserve them in good condition for shorter periods of time.
This is the basic premise of vacuum packing. But, how does a vacuum packing machine work? It’s actually quite a straightforward process.
How vacuum packing machines work
The basic working parts of a vacuum packing machine are a hermetically sealed chamber from which all air is removed, a pump which uses rotating blades to remove the air and thermal strips which are used to seal a vacuum pouch within the machine. There are different types of vacuum packing machine but the basic premise is the same.
Depending on the power and size of the pump in the machine, the average time taken for the sealing cycle to be completed is approximately 20 to 45 seconds. The more air there is which needs to be expelled, the longer the process takes. It is possible to improve the efficiency of the vacuum packing process by ensuring that as many vacuum pouches as possible are placed on the thermal strips, without compromising the sealing process. It’s often possible to place pouches on top of each other, depending on the type of pouches being used.
Different types of vacuum packing machine
As we mentioned earlier, there are many different types of vacuum packing machine on the market. They use the same basic premise but work slightly differently to each other. Two of the most popular types of machine are the traditional chamber model and external suction model.
Chamber vacuum packing machines
Using a chamber vacuum packing machine involves placing a vacuum pouch and its contents into the chamber of the machine and withdrawing all of the air from the chamber. The pouch is then heat-sealed.
External suction vacuum packing machines
Using an external suction vacuum packing machine involves placing a vacuum pouch underneath a lid, outside of the vacuum packing machine. The machine is then used to withdraw the air from the pouch and heat-seal it.
Both of these types of vacuum packing machine are efficient, and effective in helping you withdraw air from the packaging limiting the growth of aerobic bacteria. However, chamber machines provide additional flexibility such as increased precision, double sealing and the use of additional thermal sealing strips. In some circumstances, including when space is at a premium, it makes more sense to use the external suction vacuum packing method.
Advantages of vacuum packing food products
There are several benefits to be had from using vacuum packing in domestic and commercial environments.
- Improved portion control. Food can be prepared at once and then some can be eaten and some vacuum packed and frozen for use at a later date.
- Reduction in freezer burn. Linking to the previous point, vacuum packing food products helps to reduce freezer burn.
- Reduction in waste. Being able to vacuum pack and store food reduces the amount that is thrown away and wasted.
- The ability to cook sous vide. This is a popular method of cooking which has many benefits, including the ability to control temperature more precisely.
- The ability to prepare food in advance and spread the workload. This can be a major advantage when one or two people are attempting to prepare a meal for a large number of people.
- Less risk of cross contamination
As you can see, vacuum packing food items provides many benefits. The process is a fairly simple one, and vacuum backing machines work quickly and accurately, to seal many items in air tight pouches, ready for future use. As we explained, all vacuum packing machines work to the same principle, although the different types of machine operate slightly differently to each other. It’s important to choose a machine that provides value for money and is able to complete packing projects as required. This means that both budget and the tasks as hand need to be considered when making a purchasing decision.