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Old 02-23-2009, 07:49 AM
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Default Canning with vacuum sealer bags?



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Okay, last night I had a brainstorm that has to be all wet. You guys are the ones to show me the error of my ways;-);-)

Okay, we all know about canning using Ball Jars. The idea is to raise the heat inside the sealed jar to the point where the bacteria is killed off, and, being sealed, new bacteria cannot enter to contaminate the food and start the spoilage.

My idea/question;

Why can't we do the same thing using vacuum sealed bags (ala Food Saver) instead of Ball Jars? Is there any reason we couldn't prepare the food (pre-cook) the way we want (e.g. scrambled eggs and fried bacon) put the food in a sealer bag, vacuum out the air and heat seal the bag. Now take the sealed bag and drop it into a stockpot of boiling water for 15 minutes or so. Then remove from the hot water and allow to cool. Wouldn't this accomplish exactly the same thing as the Ball Jars? Wouldn't we be able to store the sealed package for years at room temperature?

This has to have a fatal flaw or we'd see it in the stores AND we'd be hearing about it here on the SurvivalBoards, among other places.

If you don't like the scrambled eggs example substitute hamburgers, chicken wings, baked codfish, beef stew or whatever...

Where am I wrong?

Allan
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Old 02-23-2009, 07:56 AM
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Now this sounds like a great idea birdman!

Awaiting with baited breath to hear from the experienced preppers if this will work.
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:58 AM
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From the Foodsaver site:

Is vacuum packaging the same as canning?

No. Both canning and vacuum packaging involve sealing food in a container. However, in canning, the sealed food is heat-sterilized which kills microorganisms. Therefore, canned foods don't need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. In vacuum packaging, the food inside the container is not sterile - the natural microorganisms in food are still present. Therefore, vacuum-packaged perishable foods must be refrigerated or frozen. But, because air is removed from the storage container, the vacuum packaged foods will stay fresh longer in the refrigerator or freezer than those that aren't vacuum packaged.

Doesn't really say if you cook it after you seal it it would kill those organisms though - checked several other sites canning and vacuum sealing and all say it is not the same
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:41 AM
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I tried a long time ago with a chicken breast. I 3/4 cooked the chicken then I vacuumed it in the bags then boiled the bag until the food inside finished cooking ensuring that the food was done and all bacteria was killed. The bag initially bloated after being sealed and cooked due to the steam inside but quickly vacuumed back down after cooling. I left it on the counter for a few days to see what would happen. After about a week the bag started to bloat back out again indicating that bacteria had gotten back in and was spoiling the chicken. My guess is that the seals are compromised when you add the heat of cooking an item inside the bag, not to mention, what toxins can be leached by the bag when heat is applied? So homemade MRE's are out of the question, at least with the plastic bags, now the mylar may work better, anyone wanna give that a try?
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:43 AM
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The food continues to rot as it is in the bags. Even if you killed of all the micro organisms off when you cooked it, the traces of crap left behind from them would kill you.(Botulism)
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahn View Post
I tried a long time ago with a chicken breast. I 3/4 cooked the chicken then I vacuumed it in the bags then boiled the bag until the food inside finished cooking ensuring that the food was done and all bacteria was killed. The bag initially bloated after being sealed and cooked due to the steam inside but quickly vacuumed back down after cooling. I left it on the counter for a few days to see what would happen. After about a week the bag started to bloat back out again indicating that bacteria had gotten back in and was spoiling the chicken. My guess is that the seals are compromised when you add the heat of cooking an item inside the bag, not to mention, what toxins can be leached by the bag when heat is applied? So homemade MRE's are out of the question, at least with the plastic bags, now the mylar may work better, anyone wanna give that a try?
If it was 3/4 cooked then the bacteria wasnt fully removed. The internal temperature of the chicken is suppose to be about 160-180 degrees.(180 for my taste)If the bacteria wasn't fully removed, it would still continue to decompose the chicken. If the seals of the bag were breached, a rancid smell would have been detected, and the bag would try to return to a normal shape. If it bloated up then the seal must have been intact as the fermintation of meat would cause pressure.(just like making wine or beer)
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voyuer1 View Post
If it was 3/4 cooked then the bacteria wasnt fully removed. The internal temperature of the chicken is suppose to be about 160-180 degrees.(180 for my taste)If the bacteria wasn't fully removed, it would still continue to decompose the chicken. If the seals of the bag were breached, a rancid smell would have been detected, and the bag would try to return to a normal shape. If it bloated up then the seal must have been intact as the fermintation of meat would cause pressure.(just like making wine or beer)
Read again.....

Quote:
I 3/4 cooked the chicken then I vacuumed it in the bags then boiled the bag until the food inside finished cooking ensuring that the food was done and all bacteria was killed.
chicken cooked 3/4, placed in bag, sealed, dropped back on boiling water to finish cooking and kill bacteria in the bag. In other words it was canned in the bag at 212 degrees.

It was fully cooked, the cooking finished in the bag.

As for the bloating and bacteria getting in, has it ever occurred to you that some plastics are poor barriers to certain things, and even plastics can be porous. Remember these bags are made to vacuum lock and then freeze, not boil can and store. Hell Zip Lock bags really don't even keep oxygen out worth a flip, and the material here doesn't feel much different.
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:23 PM
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The point I am raising is there was no way to read the internal temperature of the chicken itself. Hell all the manufactures of the bags and sealers warn against using them this way. And no it wasnt canned in the bag, because if it was sealed before you put it in the water, a vacuum couldnt be formed from boiling water,as there was no liquid in the pouch to replace air with. Things do not boil in a closed, vacuume system. This is the same basic principle of how a car radiator works.
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Old 02-23-2009, 04:14 PM
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So how do they do those chicken breast in foil? What about MREs? They must have some reliable method of cook/sterilize/seal.
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Old 02-23-2009, 05:04 PM
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Meat is a no-go for traditional canning... you have to bring the temp up to 260 F to kill the botulism spores. Thus a pressure-canner works for canning ground beef, etc.

I'd like to see somebody try boiling the food-saver bag with something 212 F safe (like some veggies with acid content). Should work theoretically, but I think you need to get some liquid in there to get the heat distributed, and liquid does not work in food saver bags.
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Old 02-23-2009, 05:07 PM
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Now if you irradiated it! Where can I get a home irradiating kit for food storage?
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:26 PM
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Water boils more easily in a vacuum. Thats why you must boil things longer at altitude, because the water never reaches 212F, it can't unless you apply pressure. A pressure cooker cooks faster because you can get the internal temp above 212, I think in the 220-240s. It takes more heat to boil water under pressure.

I think what happened was that you got bacteria in the bag and on the chicken when you transferred it. When you put it back in the pot, you never got the entire contents of the bag up high enough, and/or for *long* enough. This can be done with the right bag, probably with a method like conventional canning, or in a steam chamber.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:09 PM
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We've been using the Food Saver system for about 16-17 years. Actually have two models. Use it for left-overs, freezing, storing dehydrated foods, etc. We also do conventional canning of everything from tomatoes to rabbit and fish.

Everyone above is right: you MUST use a pressure canner for meats and low acid foods (beans, carrots, nearly all vegetables). High acid foods like tomatoes, peppers, anything you add vinegar to in pickling, can be "water bath" canned at 212 F degrees.

I've done numerous experiments with vacuum sealing. I've cooked entire meals (bacon, scrambled eggs, grits) and let it cool rapidly in the fridge. Placed in the bag and vacuum sealed, they lasted well up to a week. Never tried for longer than that.

We've done things, like chili,soup, in bags. Again, HIGH acid stuff suitable for water bath canning. But you have to use the same procedure as with glass jars.
Boil the bags to sterilize them, inside and out, at least 10 minutes.
Set the bags in another bath of hot water and ladle in your product. It helps to have the product simmering (near boiling) first. Fill the bags about 2/3 full and bring that bath to a boil. Keep it boiling until the contents are simmering again, for another 10 minutes. Pull out the bags, and seal immediately. Get as much air out as you can. Being it's boiling liquid, that can be interesting. As the contents cool, the vacuum will increase and all the hot air should disappear. Hint: wear gloves and use tongs!

If you're taking a week-long backpack trip, there's not a reason in the world you can't FULLY COOK your product and seal it. Keep it refrigerated until you hit the trail, and throw it in your pack. Like Khan said, it took a week for his chicken to spoil. I think it might have lasted longer if his second boiling had been in an UNSEALED bag, and then sealed hot.

As an additional note, I'd advise using a 3rd party bag instead of the Food Saver rolls. Pre-cut bags are great. Most of these have a more agressive texture than the Food Saver diamond pattern, and seem to get a better vacuum, especially with soft foods.

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Old 02-24-2009, 08:49 AM
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Water boils more easily in a vacuum. Thats why you must boil things longer at altitude, because the water never reaches 212F, it can't unless you apply pressure. A pressure cooker cooks faster because you can get the internal temp above 212, I think in the 220-240s. It takes more heat to boil water under pressure.

I think what happened was that you got bacteria in the bag and on the chicken when you transferred it. When you put it back in the pot, you never got the entire contents of the bag up high enough, and/or for *long* enough. This can be done with the right bag, probably with a method like conventional canning, or in a steam chamber.
In a closed vacuum system water does not boil until it is unpressurized again,hot liquid in a closed system does expand if it is overheated it can get over 200 deg. without boiling,At high altitude, you have less air pressure(more vacuum) so that is why it takes longer to boil water at high altitudes. Simply put, LESS AIR= HARDER TO BOIL, MORE AIR= EASIER BOIL.
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Old 02-24-2009, 11:14 AM
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The issue is not how water boils in a vacuum, but at what temp it boils under pressure! Right from the git-go, somebody used the figure of 240 degrees. That is the minimum temperature to kill bacteria in low-acid foods.
A pressure canner (and canning tables) is usually used between 11 psi and 15 psi. 14.7 psi is one atmosphere. (That's on top of ambient pressure of 14.7 psi at sea level.) At 1 atmosphere of additional pressure, water boils at 120 deg C = 248 deg F. So we're concerned with water temperature under pressure! Canning times, under pressure, depend upon the size of the canning jars, and the type of food.
If you could put your product in a vacuum bag, unsealed, and put it in a pressure canner, and raise the temp to 240 deg F, you could can anything in a vacuum bag....but you'd need some special bags, because those temperatures would destroy most commercial bags. All of the above is probably why even the manufacturer says "no-no", because it's too complicated to try to explain to Ma and Pa Kettle how to do it correctly.
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Old 02-24-2009, 11:37 AM
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the main issue with using vacuume bags for "canning" is that they leak air. check out this info from a previous thread on mylar bags for storage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The lame duck ZigMund
Part of the reason for the mylar bags is that even though vaccume and plastic bags claim to be "air tight" they are not. The O2 trasmission rates (the amount of air that can pass through the plastic) is extremely small on mylar.

The water vapor transmission, and O2 transmission rates on the 4.3 mil bags used for 5-6gal buckets is as follows
Total Thickness (mils) 4.3 mil
WATERVAPOR TRANSMISSION RATE (FED 101)
(routinely measured at .0003 -we certify to .005 maximum)
Required = < 0.005 gr./100in.2 24 hrs.
Measrued = (.0003 measured)

O2 TRANSMISSION RATE (MOCON)
Required = 0.001/cc/m2 /24 hrs.
Measrued = (0.0006 measured)

Lets look at the rates for standard food grade vaccume bags:

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES (Polyester/Adhesive/LDPE)

Total Thickness (mils) 3.0 mil
WATERVAPOR TRANSMISSION RATE(MOCON PERMATRAN)
0.03 gr./100 in2 24hrs.
O2 TRANSMISSION RATE (MOCON OXTRAN)
0.03 cc./100 in2 24hrs.
================================================== ======
Notice a few things about these rates.
standard plastic is measured in cc per 100 inches square.
mylar is measured in cc per meter sqared.
by converting the plastic transmisson rate of O2 to cc/m^2 you get 46.5 cc/m^2 every 24hr
this is why standard vaccume bags and plastic bags are not reccomended for LTS.

If you look at the math, if the above mylar bag transmits .0006 cc/m2 per 24hrs, in one year, you will have .219cc transmitted. over 30 years, that's only 6 cc. For the plastic bag listed, per 24 hrs is 46.5, that's 16971.5 cc per year.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:18 PM
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the main issue with using vacuume bags for "canning" is that they leak air. check out this info from a previous thread on mylar bags for storage.
No argument here on that subject. So you just need commercial bags and heat sealing equipment. No problem.

Now, if Birdman wanted a shelf life of 2 years on his product, without refrigeration or freezing, he's out of luck with over-the-counter bags. We kinda already said that. But the stuff we've sterilized and "hot packed" in vacuum bags has been good after at least 5 years stored at 0 degrees in a freezer. Stuff that hasn't been pre-processed, only lasts about 2 years. Last night, as I cruised the Forum, I was enjoying Smoked Salmon that was vacuum sealed and frozen---for NINE years!

So the bottom line to his question is "What do you want to do with the stuff, and how long do you need it to last?"
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