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Oxygen Absorbers, Mylar Bags & Vacuum Sealing
Wow, planning on freeze dried food storage options can be kind of overwhelming. Life can sometimes be a little bit of a battle! And it’s not always between the classic Good vs. Evil. Often times it’s just with being SO human! I make check lists….and yes, I do sticky notes. You try to be organized and then things just get busy!
If you’re new to this I need to let you know, freeze drying can be addictive. The machines are expensive, so I know I want to keep mine working for me around the clock as much as possible–that keeps me busy. So, you do need to think ahead, create good habits and routines so that when distractions come along, you’re alerted that something is missing.
Bonnie told me right in the beginning to always put your Oxygen Absorbers in the Mylar bags FIRST! If you don’t develop that habit and a definite routine of packaging your items, you WILL sometimes forget or second guess yourself and end up having to open up the bag just to double check. Been there, done that! Ugh!
So, now I always write on the bag first in permanent Sharpie, usually on the side where it’s been sealed commercially (then you know it won’t permeate the Mylar). Then I put in the oxygen absorber before any food goes in.
How Do I Close My Mylar Bags?
If they are Mylar Zip Seal Bags (which I prefer), you can fill them full, then zip close. This helps hold them flat for sealing. Zip seal bags that you seal from the bottom are best, but they don’t seem to be available right now. Maybe everyone is building their freeze dried food storage!
After I’ve finished filling them all, I seal them with the Harvest Right Impulse Sealer that comes with the machine. My husband takes over from there putting them into the nice yellow/black Costco storage containers and labeling them. (You cannot buy these bins online).
For now, I’ve just labeled what is in each container, but I’ll organize each bin in categories of: Meats, Veggies, Fruits & Berries, Candies & Desserts, etc. I noticed that Bonnie has one labeled “READY TO EAT” –I love that!
In case you didn’t know, Mylar bags are NOT mouse-proof! Yes, I learned that the hard way too, and so did Bonnie recently. Costco’s storage containers are virtually mouse-proof, they are a heavy duty plastic and they stack! They also go on coupon about every 6 months, so ask and they’ll let you know when. ($2 – $3 off each one is great!). Freeze dried food storage is a huge way to save money in the long run, but it has definite costs initially.
Why Do I Need Oxygen Absorbers?
Early on, I had a problem with my HarvestRight Freeze Drier but customer service was amazing in helping to resolve it! They sent me some complimentary gallon Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers for my trouble. I noticed that they were 900cc and the ones with my quart Mylar bags were 300cc. Knowing absolutely nothing about them or their sizes, I figured I better learn!
Fun Facts About Oxygen Absorbers
These little packets are basically filled with iron! Really, they are! They look similar to the little silica packets you find in shoe boxes, but they are completely different.
When you place one in your Mylar bag with your food, it works to remove the oxygen. They remove oxygen, not air.
As oxygen and moisture touch the iron inside the packet, the iron oxidizes (or rusts) inside the packet and forms iron oxide. As that forms, it pulls out the oxygen and produces nitrogen. Ultimately, nitrogen keeps food from spoiling, keeps mold from growing on dairy items and reduces browning of fruits and vegetables. Amazing little critters!
The size of the Oxygen Absorber indicates the amount of oxygen it can take out of the environment.
They range from 20cc to 2000cc. A size 300cc can remove 300cc of oxygen. Generally, you can expect to use a 300cc absorber per gallon of food. But something like flour is very dense compared to say, chopped freeze dried onions, so a 200cc packet would work for the flour. Don’t use Oxygen absorbers with sugar or salt–they’ll get rock hard!
It seems that HarvestRight knows their stuff and they do a little bit of over-kill to make sure our foods are well cared for, so I’m okay with sticking with 900cc for gallon and 300cc for quart.
While my freeze dryer was busy this week with all the fresh garden produce, I wanted to put away some Egg Noodles in my gallon Mylar bags and Lemonade Drink Powder packets in my quart Mylar bags for long term storage.
What CC Is Good To Use?
Of course I used the 900cc for the pasta and 300cc for the lemonade packets (yeah, I just left them in the pre-measured packets). Two of these packets make a gallon of drink. So, I put enough for 9 gallons in each of 2 Mylar bags.
I like to mix about 4 tablespoons of my freeze dried Raspberry Powder in each gallon for a simple refreshing punch.
Something that’s important as you seal your bags, make sure to lay them as flat as possible on your sealer. Then seal a second time and sometimes I have done a third if there are puckers. Oxygen Absorbers don’t create an oxygen free environment if there is any air leaking in.
FoodSaver Jar Sealers Are Great
I also like to use the FoodSaver Jar Sealers to use for my freeze dried food storage. They will vacuum seal well even using an already used lid. I used to keep things like nuts and chocolate chips in the freezer. But, after I learned about vacuum sealing I put them all in jars and save my freezer space. People who don’t have the vacuum sealer can use oxygen absorbers in jars too and they’ll get a good seal.
One more thing for your freeze dried food storage! When you open your packet of oxygen absorbers, just cut a slit long enough to take out what you need right then. Squeeze out excess air, fold over & stick a Chip Clip on the opening as you load up a couple of bags (or a Bag Clip works well). Then you can easily open it back up to grab a couple more.
When you take out all you need, immediately seal it to preserve them in good condition. (Some people vacuum seal them in a jar).
There’s a little bit to learn and remember, but isn’t it fun! Go ahead and use your sticky notes or whatever it takes to keep yourself organized and on track and you’ll win the battle!