Vacuum pack it!
We all know about “freezer burn” that can happen when you put opened bags of stuff back into the freezer. I’ve found something that ameliorates that. We’ve all observed that products that are vacuum-packed hold much better than those that are not. So–when I put opened bags vegetables back into the freezer, I use a clever gadget from Reynolds®. Lest you cringe thinking expense–I’m not talking about the “big” vacuum sealing system. I’m talking about the little hand-held pump and bags with a valve on them.
This is the Reynolds® Handi-Vac® system (reported to be discontinued, but still available from eBay and Amazon). It operates on AA batteries. For storing opened frozen products, I put the original bag, folded and air squeezed out into the vacuum bag, and vacuum! This is not as “hard” a vacuum as achieved with the counter-top vacuum sealing products, but it hides in a drawer and is inexpensive–no lost counter space which can be important.
It does help extend the freezer-life of opened packages of frozen products. If it’s something I use a lot of (e.g the petits pois, or “baby” peas that only come frozen–we’re ignoring canned), then I may buy the family size package and portion and vacuum those in serving size. For the most part, I leave the veggies in the original bag–this way I can reuse the vacuum bags. For meats or seafood, I generally don’t reuse the bags. I just don’t feel I can be sure that they are sufficiently clean.
Here is a partial bag of frozen corn (another thing I like to buy in bigger packages). I confess that I’ve not done any scientific studies here, but using this seems to have decreased the number of times I dump a partial bag because of the freezer burn.
I’ve also discovered that using this really helps with the celery dilemma common to single-serving cooking: wash and cut celery into length that fit into these bags (you can also get bigger bags), wrap in a damp paper towel, and vacuum seal. It’s’ amazing how long it lasts that way. When you wish to freeze servings of big-batch cooking you can use these if there is not much liquid, but it can be tricky. What I usually do for those is to put the food into a “light” storage zipper-lock bag, squeezing out most of the air, and then into one of these. Again, I can reuse the bags; they seem to stand up to reuse quite well.
My only experience has been with the Reynolds® Handi-Vac® though I’ve noted that Ziploc® and FoodSsaver® both now have hand-held systems (as well as the counter-top). Just from trawling the internet, I can’t tell if the Handi-Vac can be used with the Ziploc® or the FoodSsaver® bags; there’s contradictory information (what a big surprise). Of note, the Ziploc® pump is manual rather than battery operated, and I would suspect that it will create a less strong vacuum than battery-operated pumps.
There’s an advertisement for an adapter for the Handi-Vac® pump to be used on Ziploc® bags. It’s called the “ReynLock Adapter™”; I’m NOT including a link because of the contradictory information I’ve found, and the price of the gizmo, and I’ve not used it so I don’t know anything other than the advertisement. (See My Opinion page, please).
Updates when I have more information because I will be looking for another product to do this. Maybe I’ll be lucky and the Ziploc® bags will work!