Food storage is vital in a preparedness lifestyle. You don’t want to have too little food to get through an emergency situation, and you don’t want so much that you let it go to waste because you can’t use it quickly enough or track it.
The FDA has some relatively strict guidelines for the purchase and storage of food. (See the graphic here.) Do you always follow it? I know I can actually freeze eggs though these folks don’t recommend it. You can scramble them and freeze in ice cube trays or just plop them in whole. Though once refrigerated, eggs need to stay that way, but did you know that you can actually store farm eggs on the counter with no refrigeration? Butter, too (depending on your climate). I can also freeze cheese much longer than they say, without noticeable loss of flavor when used in dishes.
Nor does this graphic explain other ways to preserve food for a longer shelf-life like canning, fermenting, pickling or dehydrating. Sure, I understand that it’s what you buy off the grocer’s shelf and how long it can last, but you can make things last much longer with just a little effort!
The straw. Most of the time we give it so little thought as we throw it out with our fast food cup containers. But it can do so much more, especially in regards to food storage!
If you are one of those families that doesn’t have a Food Saver to vacuum seal foods, nor do you want to buy special plastic storage bags to fit the gadgets coming out on the market, think about using a clean straw!
How to “Vacuum Seal” Zip Top Storage Bags
1. Fill your FREEZER storage bag with the food you want to include. (it is important to use freezer storage bags as they are more durable, less likely to be punctured, and better for long-term storage).
2. Flatten your food. If you are storing food that can be flattened (like raw meat, dough, etc.)
3. “ZIP” your closure 3/4 of the way closed. Zip your zip top bag closed, leaving an opening about 1″ from the edge.
4. Roll your bag. If you have a solid product that you can do this with, consider rolling the bag to remove more of the trapped air. This will make the next steps a little easier. I don’t recommend doing it with anything liquid. You’ve been warned!
5. Insert straw into opening. Don’t go down all the way to the food, but just enough to have it inserted into the open cavity of the bag.
6. Pinch the opening. Where the opening of the zip top bag meets the straw, pinch it firmly to help close off the air leakage.
7. Suck out the air. Really. Truly. And when you think you’re done, suck some more. You an use your tongue on the end of the straw to stop air if you need to take a breath.
One word of caution. Don’t suck super hard. You can actually suck up some food particles (like bits of ground beef) and choke on them. Be resolute, but be careful. Also watch for liquids pulling to the top of the bag as you do this for the same reason.
8. Squish the bag. Just when you think you have gotten the bag to conform to all the airless pockets, squish the bag around a little to make sure.
9. Pull & Seal. When you’re ready to seal it up, quickly pull out the straw at the same time as pinching the opening closed, then run your fingers across the zipper to finish sealing it.
There. You have a ‘vaccum packed’ zip top food storage bag full of wonderful food, and you didn’t need a machine to do it!
You can then store these upright in baskets either in your pantry or fridge/freezer.
I still adore my Food Saver and use it all the time. But sometimes, it’s just not worth getting it out to set up. I do not use this method if I have more than 2-3 bags to seal. I’d go dizzy.
Words of caution. Do not use dirty straws. Do not put the straw into your food. Do not use suck so much that liquid from raw meat enters the straw (and promptly change the straw if it does). Do not use a straw from a raw product to then seal a different product. These cautionary word brought to you by the chick who doesn’t want to get sued because you didn’t do it right! :)