How to Choose a Vacuum Sealer for Your Business
Vacuum sealers in commercial settings are necessary because time and money can be wasted without a suitable vacuum sealer. Naturally, there are different vacuum sealers, and choosing the right one always starts with knowing what you need for your applications. Vacuum sealers are used in restaurants, hotels, catering companies, delis, and meat and food processors. For any volume packaging, commercial vacuum sealers are the way to go.
Commercial vacuum sealers can seal many different items, from potato chips with gas flush or meat from a butcher. Barrier bags provide an oxygen barrier for packagers to remove oxygen or introduce an inert gas. Standard vacuum sealing will remove the oxygen and seal the barrier bag to prevent air from entering and escaping. Vacuum sealing with gas flush pushes an inert gas into the barrier bag to drive oxygen out. After the flush occurs, a pillowed look can remain, or some gas can be removed. The vacuum sealers made just for commercial use accommodate large and small bags, with some sealers having multiple nozzles for simultaneous vacuum packaging.
First Things First
Deciding on the features needed for the application is the first step in finding the proper sealer. Some of the features you'll find in vacuum sealers include:
· Built-in bag storage and cutter
· Special settings for infusion and marination
· Pulse mode that draws the air out in quick pulses
· Special sous vide settings
You'll learn that three primary sealers are available when you get started: flat edge, nozzle sealers, and chamber sealers. While edger sealers are made chiefly for home use, there are a few professional models that work great in small commercial kitchens, and these are still excellent sealers. You place the food in a bag, align it with the edger, then wait for it to vacuum out the air. With nozzle sealers, users put the food in a bag, align it with the nozzle, then wait for it to vacuum out the air. Some limitations apply to edger and nozzle sealers; for instance, liquids are not preferred for either type of sealer.
Chamber sealers create a vacuum within the chamber, forcing air out of the bag being sealed. These sealers are usually heavier and more complex, and more expensive. Chamber sealers can seal several bags of food at a time, and if it's big enough, they can even vacuum package items such as mason jars. They come with several different options, including extraction, marination, and infusion, so you can get one that's a little more personalized to meet your specific kitchen needs.
Do You Need a Commercial Vacuum Sealer?
If you have a commercial facility, you might wonder if you can get away with buying a regular home use sealer instead. The answer to that question is maybe. The bigger and busier your operation, the better off you'd be purchasing a commercial sealer. Many regular sealers can accommodate smaller production levels, but the bigger your facility is, the more likely you'll need a commercial sealer.
You also have to determine precisely why you need a vacuum sealer. Consider how much room is required to store the unit, the budget, how often it'll be used, and how vital efficiency is to operations. The latter could determine how much power, the pump type, and the cool-down time of the unit you end up purchasing.
Consider the following features on the machine when purchasing:
· Pump type. As a general rule, vacuum sealers will have oil pumps or piston pumps. Oil pumps are quieter and require shorter cool-down times, but you'll have to change the oil regularly. Dual-piston pumps are much better, but the cool-down time between each bag can be quite long unless they have a fan.
· The overall strength of the compressor. Stronger/larger vacuum compressors mean faster sealing times and more efficient suctioning. Moisture-based foods such as strawberries can be pulverized with a super-strong vacuum, but most sealers have control buttons that allow users to change settings. For external compressors, an inline air regulator is recommended for preventing too much vacuum.
· Gas flush option or vacuum sealing only. Some applications do not require a gas flush option. Removing the oxygen from a container and sealing may be all that is needed. Use testing to confirm vacuum sealing is all that is necessary. Purchasing a sealer with a gas flush option is essential to do initially when making the purchase. There are no gas flush add-ons after a sealer has been purchased.
· Safety and ease of use. In the end, you'll want a vacuum sealer that is both safe and easy to use. Edge sealers, for example, require that you never touch the inside flat surface after you seal something because it will still be hot. Regardless of the sealer type, make sure to look at all of the safety features to be sure that you won't get injured while using it.
· The size of the bags. As you can guess, vacuum sealer bags come in all different sizes and thicknesses. Pay attention to the bag size and thickness needed to ensure the sealer is capable of accomodating them. There can be significant differences in barrier bags and the materials they are made from.
· The warranty. While most commercial vacuum sealers are reliable and sturdy, things can still go wrong, especially over time. You'll want a vacuum sealer that offers a warranty of at least one year to be on the safe side. Make sure support is available by phone or in-person if needed.
· The price. The size of the sealing bar and the machine's efficiency directly impact the price of a commercial vacuum sealer. Find one to grow into, and do not let the initial cost outweigh the potential benefits of finding a suitable machine.
Some FAQs Regarding Vacuum Sealers
To learn a little more about each type of vacuum sealer and how to use them, here are some FAQs that you may be interested in:
Are there certain foods that should not be vacuum sealed?
Yes. Foods such as garlic, mushrooms, and soft or unpasteurized cheese such as ricotta and brie should never be vacuum sealed. Products such as these are prone to anaerobic bacteria, and this type of bacteria grows and thrives in any type of oxygen-free environment.
Are there foods that need to be semi-cooked or blanched before they are vacuum sealed?
Yes, there are. These foods include cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and turnips. To blanch them, boil them briefly first, then place them in ice water, so the cooking process stops. Then you can vacuum seal and freeze them. Blanching is important because it halts the process that makes the quality and color of certain foods deteriorate.
Can I place foods directly into a vacuum bag after they've been cooked?
For the most part, you should not do this; instead, allow the foods to cool down to a safe temperature first (room temperature). To do this, make sure that you follow the rules associated with safe cooling-down times because you don't want to wait too long to start sealing the foods. But placing hot food in a sealed bag can increase the likelihood of dangerous bacteria forming on it.
Why Vacuum Seal Products?
Vacuum sealed foods can last three to five times longer than they would otherwise, and they'll keep that fresh taste longer as well. Even better, you can vacuum seal just about any type of food, including meats, veggies, bulk goods, and hard fruits.
In addition to consumable products, non-consumable products can benefit from being vacuum sealed. Vacuum sealing metal products with a gas flush will prevent metal from rusting. Vacuum packaging is often used for companies importing and exporting products to protect them from salt corrosion.
When it comes to vacuum sealers for commercial use, there are many to choose from, and we can help you determine which one is best for your needs. A large commercial kitchen can save both time and money with the right vacuum sealer, and because they come with many different features, it's easy to get one to meet all of your kitchen needs. If you frequently use foods such as veggies and even spices in your dishes, a good vacuum sealer will make sure that these items help make your foods taste great and remain fresh for a very long time.
When vacuum sealing, the atmosphere of the packaged product is altered. With the right atmosphere, consumable and non-consumable products can be preserved and protected for longer. Home use vacuum sealers will remove oxygen from the package, but not accommodate higher volumes of products. A commercial sealer will accommodate large quantities and offer many custom options. Choose wisely when making a purchase and give us a call (1-800-441-5090) if you have any questions.