Is Vacuum Sealing Considered Safe?

It has taken the country by storm, evoked numerous debates at homes and on TV, but left millions putting their health at risk. So, is vacuum sealing considered safe? How does it work? Vacuum sealing is basically the ability to seal food in a low oxygen environment, so that it can stay fresh for longer without being invaded by bacteria or germs.

vacuum sealed foodUsually, food gets bad because of exposure to germs and bacteria, or organisms that thrive in the presence of oxygen. With vacuum sealing however, the rate of food spoilage is greatly slowed down because the amount of atmospheric oxygen in the package tools will get reduced.

This method also limits the growth of aerobic fungi and bacteria especially when used with a combination of other packaging processes and techniques. While this technique sounds safe, vacuum sealing could be a danger to your health as the National Center for Home Food Preservation notes.

It gives a false sense of food safety, because well, there are certain types of bacteria that can survive in very low oxygen environments; like Botulism and Misteria monocytogenes. In fact, these two types of bacteria grow at a faster rate while in low oxygen environments; mainly because there is no competition, and again, that’s their nature. The great danger however is the fact that they don’t affect the smell the looks of your food, which makes them even deadlier.

Before we delve further, just have some facts about bacteria and vacuum sealing you should know:

  • Many food pathogens thrive under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions
  • The longer the vacuum sealing, the higher the risk of anaerobic bacteria- They increase as food stays.
  • Cooking and fermenting food does not really destroy the spore formers.
  • Low PH and aw do not protect against cook chill.

So, do you think vacuum sealing is safe?

Safe Vacuum Sealing

There are numerous types of vacuum packaging devices being marketed out there, and most of them vary greatly in sophistication and ability to vacuum seal food safely. However, as you probably know, vacuum sealing is very different from heat processing for instance. Vacuum sealing requires that you take a lot of precautions especially with the perishable foods, because they are more vulnerable to quick contamination.

is vacuum sealing considered safeBasically as we had earlier noted, vacuum sealing involves removing air from the package’s contents. Why is air removed? Environmental oxygen promotes the growth of bacteria and fungi that could lead to a fast deterioration in the quality of food.

Once oxygen is eliminated therefore, the chances of harmful reaction happening near the food are reduced; and as a result a longer shelf life. However, in most cases, vacuum sealing only eliminates the dangers that you can see or perceive with your senses. For instance, the bacteria that could have changed the color or the smell of food are eliminated, but not the deadly botulism we had talked about earlier.

Why do Health Scientists Insist on Food Refrigeration Before Vacuum Sealing?

Vacuum sealing can be an effective way of extending food’s shelf life when done properly. However, some certain types of foods, especially low acid food stuffs are very vulnerable to the bacteria that grow in anaerobic conditions. You therefore have to freeze or thaw most perishable foodstuffs for more effectiveness. The non-perishable food stuffs crackers are however safe under vacuum sealing.

Effective Vacuum Sealing Tips

  • Wash your hands before handling any food – In fact, try and use clean spoons or anything else but your hands during the vacuum sealing process.
  • Keep your counters and utensils clean.
  • Keep most of the vacuum sealed food in the freezer or refrigerators, with the expectation of non-perishables which can be kept under room temperatures.
  • All low acid foods must be frozen before vacuums sealing- Also always keep such food stuffs in freezers and only heat them when you want to eat.
  • You may label your food sources but most importantly ensure that the seal is complete and free of any debris.

When done properly, vacuum sealed food could stay fresh for up to three years. Yes, your poultry or beef meet, coffee beans and even fish could stay fresh for up to two or three years, while blueberries and raspberries could survive vacuums sealing for a week or two. Be careful with the precautions we had earlier highlighted though. If you wish to vacuum seal meat for instance, ensure it is extremely clean. And when you decide to eat it, be through with the cooking.

Finally, be sure to keep the food stuffs within reasonable times. For example, I often keep the ingredients for my quesadillas vacuum sealed. But I still would use them up pretty quickly. You don’t have to keep the cheese for eight months for instance, and neither should you wait for more than a year before you eat your fish. And as always, if you are in doubt as to whether the food is spoilt, throw it out!

My Favorite Recipe for Quesadillas

Quesadillas have come a long way since they became popular in Mexico. Today, you can try out cheese quesadilla; turkey quesadilla, chicken or even add yesterday’s leftovers to your quesadilla and have your guest screaming out for more at your next cocktail party. In fact, quesadillas can be whatever you want it to be.

Before I give you my favorite quesadillas recipe, which I am very sure you will fall in love with, here are the basics of making a quick quesadillas meal.

  1. how to make a chicken quesadillaUsing a skillet, warm a tortilla and top up with fillings and cheese.
  2. Once everything is warm, fold your flour tortilla gently without breaking it- If you want to get crispy pieces of quesadillas, just use a little amount of oil and butter. Too much oil often leads to a greasy tortilla that will be difficult to fold
  3. Know that temperatures vary, but electric stoves are always quick when cooking quesadillas. Okay, gas stoves can cook fast too, but you will need to adjust the temperatures a little bit higher
  4. Be free to try out fillings from different cultures- Sometimes people feel limited to use South American fillings only. However, as long as your cheese will melt and hold the fillings into proper shape, why get afraid?

Well, here goes my favorite quesadillas delicacy; chicken quesadillas. It is juicy, succulent, yummy and very easy to make. And like preparing tortilla, making a chicken quesadillas for three could take you about forty five minutes. Besides, you will need very few ingredients here. With a pound of skinless, diced chicken breast, one packet of fajita seasoning and ten inches of flour tortillas, you are only one step from making chicken quesadillas!

Additional Ingredients

  • One chopped onion
  • Two chopped red bell peppers
  • Two chopped green bell peppers
  • One table spoon vegetable oil
  • One table spoon bacon bits
  • A packet of shredded Monterey cheese

Directions

  1. quesadilla recipePreheat the broiler and grease it with a baking sheet
  2. Place the chicken seasoned with fajita on the baking sheet and cook it on the broiler for about five minutes. Be sure that the chicken is fully cooked however, unless you want your guests never to visit you again. On average, chicken under 1750 C should cook properly in five minutes.
  3. If you have a large saucepan, use it to heat oil for about three minutes. Place the chopped onion and pepper pieces into the oil and wait for about ten minutes after they are all softened.
  4. After you have cut out your tortilla pieces as you desire, layer them onto the vegetable and chicken mixture, and add your fillings on top. In our case, add the bacon bits, cheddar cheese and the Monterey cheese. Be a good cook and watch the food as cheese melts. Also, been keen not to burn the tortilla.
  5. Leave your quesadillas for another ten minutes in the preheated oven just to ensure cheese is properly melted.
  6. Once cooked, you can place them back to the baking sheet. Slice them into wedges and serve your guests accordingly.

While I love chicken quesadillas dearly, I have severally made the following mistakes. Some of them are tempting ingredients you add, or missing a step or two as you prepare the food.

  • Using corn tortillas – People who enjoy tacos will sometime get tempted to make corn tortillas. From my experience with quesadillas however, stick to flour tortillas. They are easy to flip and fold, and are more delicious with the common quesadillas ingredients.
  • Don’t cut your tortilla into two, yet – While this is not a big deal, using two tortillas to prepare quesadillas could prove frustrating as you try to flip them or hold the fillings together. Instead, just add your filling onto half of a spread tortilla, fold it and add more fillings on top.
  • Just keep it simple – I can’t over emphasize the need to limit the use of oil with your quesadillas. In addition, ensure that all your ingredients are proportional, and that the amount of cheese you use will be able to hold everything together.
  • Seafood and cheese don’t always go well together – Don’t get afraid to use them though, especially if you can limit your cheese to proper amounts.
  • Don’t burn your tortilla – They cook very fast, and a single mistake could see you dealing with totally burnt tortillas. They are supposed to be crispy and golden, remember?
  • Don’t let your food get cold  – Quesadillas is always good when warm, if you wait for long, the cheese will harden and make your delicacy look soggy.

The best thing about quesadillas is that you can prepare it any time as long as you have the basic ingredients. Try the meal a few days and it could soon become your staple meal.

This is my favourite recipe. I like it that it’s so simple, yet makes the most delicious meal. And it’s perfect for taking to lunch at work. Since taking up the 30 day challenge of waking up at 6 am, I not only have time to work out on my inversion table, but also sometimes I have enough time to prepare the quesadillas for lunch or dinner for my kids.