How Do Vacuum Sealers Work: A Beginner’s Guide

Vacuum sealing is typically associated with the sous vide cooking technique. However, you can put it to work anywhere. How do vacuum sealers work? The summarized version is that they automatically draw out the air from a packet of food.

Oxygen accelerates food damage and inhibits proper cooking. Chefs and households with sous vide machines will attest to the latter. You don’t necessarily need a vacuum sealer, but this device will make you grateful for the purchase.

If you’re wondering how to use a vacuum sealer the correct way, keep reading.

Why Do You Need a Vacuum Sealer?

Using a vacuum packaging food. Plastic sealing machine

A vacuum sealer provides a tight seal on your food. The absence of air goes a long way in inhibiting bacterial growth and, when done right, can add two to three years to your food’s shelf life.

Simply put, vacuum sealers keep food fresh. You want to improve food storage? Or do you want to preserve solid food or liquid food? There are many affordable food vacuum sealers that can work jars, canisters, and plastic bags to keep your food fresh. Even your wine bottles can be sealed with a vacuum sealer.

Vacuum sealers save you money by helping you preserve large quantities of food. This encourages bulk purchasing and meal prepping, old and golden ways of reducing the money you spend on groceries.

They save you time as well. The sous vide cooking style is no longer reserved for the elite. You can prepare a perfectly cooked dish at home and save time with your vacuum sealer.

After adding your spices and oil of choice to your meal, you can suck out the air from the plastic bag with a vacuum sealer. Less oxygen means even circulation and cooking, and the bag won’t float to the surface.

When cooking sous vide meals in large quantities, a chamber vacuum sealer will help speed up the air extraction and sealing process. You can place multiple bags into the chamber unit for bulk food preparation.

This encourages you to use your sous vide machine not only for food preparation but also defrosting. If you have pre-sealed your food, you can bring them out daily for consumption. This prolongs shelf life and helps you store bulk food at a go.

Using a vacuum sealer removes all of the air completely, which helps you avoid that dreaded freezer burn.

Vacuum sealers also improve the taste and quality of your food. A perfectly cooked meal does exist, and you can create it yourself in your home. With the perfect cooking time and temperature, your mind will be blown.

This is because cooking food in its juices or fat means no diluted taste. You are eating the pure dish, enhanced by adding spices and lubrication.

However, oxygen impedes the achievement of this culinary precision. A vacuum pump can be used to help remove air pockets from the plastic wrap, ensuring even and proper cooking.

Handheld models are great for sealing items like potato chips and other delicate products that you should not leave exposed after opening. Handheld models assist with quick dispensing of goods.

Here is a pro tip when sealing liquid foods: freeze first and vacuum seal later. In addition, you may also consider adding some olive oil while seasoning your food.

How Do Vacuum Sealers Work?

The Vacuum Sealer for Dry Foods

Vacuum sealers work by sucking out the air and placing a seal on bags to preserve the flavor, texture, quality, and everything you love about food. It is a modern way to prevent food waste on a large or small scale. Big food manufacturing industries use them, and households enjoy their services too.

You can use a vacuum sealer for dry foods, chips, grains, or just about anything that oxygen may destroy. Some options allow you to switch to a moist mode, which you can use for vacuum-sealing liquid foods.

The vacuum creates an airtight condition for the food, thereby delaying food spoilage. As the name describes, a vacuum sealer uses pressure to extract air from the bag and seal it afterward.

You may not know this, but arguably the best way to deal with tough cuts of meat is by cooking them sous vide style. This technique allows you to tenderize tough cuts through prolonged cooking at the ideal temperature.

To cook this way, place your food inside a food-grade plastic bag and run it under the foot-long sealing bar or vacuum pouch.

The Types of Vacuum Sealers

There are different types of vacuum food sealers to choose from: handheld sealers, vacuum chamber sealers, and external sealers. Depending on the brand you choose, your vacuum sealer may come with additional accessories.

Clamp-Style Sealing Machines

This is one of the external models available for purchase.

They are also called external vacuum sealers and are among the best for the tabletop.

You can use most clamp-style sealers on the market to seal not only plastic bags, but also mason jars, bottles of wine, and canisters. There are versatile control options that make this a great purchase.

The FoodSaver V3460 is a favorite of mine when hunting for clamp-style or external vacuum sealers. The FoodSaver prevents food waste on a large scale. If you want impressive vacuum strength, this is your guy.

When using this type of vacuum sealer, you will only place the upper layer of the plastic bag into the seal bar and let the machine do its work. This external sealing process allows you to double seal when required. This item will also seal packets of frozen food.

Chamber Vacuum Sealing Machine

Alternatively, you can choose one of the chamber models. These types will get the job done within a short period of time.  A chamber-style vacuum sealer is a machine that sucks out the air from your plastic bag and seals it immediately.

The internal space reserved for sealing is sizable, so you can put together more than individual servings. This device is best for defrosting or cooking food in bulk. You should get this if you have a large household.

You can consider the VacMaster VP215 Chamber Vacuum Sealer if you want to learn how vacuum sealers exactly work. This sealer does the job without making noise, is efficient, and is a nice option for everyday use because it has enough space for bags of food at a go. However, it has a bulky size, which means you should consider counter space before making this purchase.

Portable Vacuum Sealers

They are also handheld vacuum sealers and are an affordable option if you live alone or are new to sous vide cooking. Add this item to your starter kit and preserving your food items for extended periods will be a walk in the park.

Compared to the remaining food vacuum sealers, non-chambered vacuum sealers offer less vacuum pressure, but they are perfect for individual meals. This is a cheaper option to consider if you are not into bulk meal preparation.

It is also great for sealing pantry items or delicate items like chip bags.

How to Use a Vacuum Sealer 

Using a vacuum packaging food. Plastic sealing machine

The idea behind using vacuum sealers is to extend the shelf life of anything of food by reducing oxygen levels to 0.005 percent. The less oxygen in the bag, the better the chances for proper storage and cooking.

A vacuum sealer is easy to use, even if you aren’t tech-savvy. Go grab that FoodSaver and follow this guide to put it to use:

  • Step 1: Gather your supplies: Bring everything you need together so you won’t need to move around when sealing starts. This is more important when dealing with a large quantity of food.
  • Step 2: Fill the bag: Place the food you want to seal into the bag and add the required ingredients to complete your meal preparation. If you are cooking a dish that can stick to the body of your plastic bag, it is best to add some oil for lubrication. Do this now.
  • Step 3: Leave enough space: There should be adequate space between the food and the clamp of the vacuum sealer. Three inches will do the trick.
  • Step 4: Get started: At this point, you must have set everything in place; hit the start button and seal away. If you are using a FoodSaver, it automatically comes on when you place one of the vacuum storage bags.

P.S: If you are sealing liquid or moist food, there is a different procedure. The best step is to freeze the item first, then use the moist mode if your sealer has one.

Using a handheld sealer for a task like this may be tricky, but you can give it a shot. Typically, the best machine is one with a vacuum pouch.

What Foods Can Vacuum Sealers Work For?

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Berries and nuts
  • Fresh herbs
  • Fresh meat and frozen meat

Don’t vacuum seal:

  • Onions and garlic
  • Unsliced and uncoated apples
  • Cabbages and lettuce
  • Soft cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Bananas

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Do you need a vacuum sealer?

No, you do not particularly need a vacuum sealer. You can use the water displacement method to remove excess air pockets, but a vacuum sealer will get the job done easily, especially on a large scale.

2. Are vacuum sealers worth the price?

Yes, they’re worth every last dime! You can use this device to prevent food spoilage, prolong shelf life of foods, and improve how your meals taste. However, you must stay faithful to its care instructions to prolong its lifespan.


We bet you are no longer asking how do vacuum sealers work, but are now looking forward to putting this device to the test. Vacuum sealers can significantly prolong the life of foods like meat, fish, veggies, and just about any perishable food.

Although you will need to pay a significant amount of money for this gadget, making that purchase will ultimately be worth your while.

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