This post started by a random post on facebook. Aren’t those how some of the best posts come though?! My boys had birthdays this past month within a few weeks of each other and so because I didn’t want to clean my house twice…err….I mean, because I’m a thrifty mom, I did both of their friend birthday parties on the same day. I was also able to talk them into homemade cupcakes if their friends could “make their own”. So, long story short, I bought candy….IN BULK.
Skittles, M&M’s, Cadbury Eggs, Marshmallows, gummy bears and Swedish Fish. Some were for cupcakes, others for games. After the party we had SO much left over, I decided to vacuum seal them to keep the kids out and to make them last like 100 times longer.
It is honestly one of the easiest things I do. A few months ago, I bough chocolate chips in bulk (semi sweet, butterscotch, meltable wafers, white chocolate and milk chocolate chips- YUM!) and have vacuum sealed them to.
So – lets get to the “good” stuff.
WHY vacuum seal them? Well, when you vacuum seal the candies and chocolate, the oxygen is removed from the jar. This prevents the air from making the candies or chocolates dry or stale. It also keeps bugs from getting to them (and kids!).
HOW LONG will it make my candy/chocolate last?? – This I’m unsure of. I have only been vacuum sealing items for a few months. I searched online and found some bloggers who claimed the candies would be good for 2-3 years. Others said 6-9 months. Use your best judgement. I would also be a little more careful if your candies have nuts in them. The lack of oxygen will keep them from going rancid as quickly, but I wouldn’t leave them for like 10 years and expect them to be brand new.
WHAT can I vacuum seal? I have tried candies, chocolate and some dried beans. I have been told that you can also vacuum seal brown sugar, flour, noodles and pasta, rice, etc. BUT (and this is a BIG but) – Vacuum sealing is in NO WAY a replacement for pressure canning or hot water bath canning something. If a food needs to be in the fridge BEFORE you vacuum seal it, it should be in there after. For example – lettuce. You can vacuum seal it in a mason jar to keep it fresh longer, but put it back in the fridge. Meats, cooked pasta, fruits, veggies, jams, etc need to be processed correctly (hot water bath, pressure canned).
HOW do I vacuum seal something? Well, this is the FUN part!
Choose the delicious candy or treats that you want to keep yummy and load them into your clean and dry jars. I hear that this will also work with leftover Halloween and Easter candy (just say’n). I like to use my canning funnel cuz I’m not always as careful as I should be when trying to gently pour candy into the jars and after a time or 2 of M&M’s all over the floor (which the kids LOVED by the way), I decided this was a much safer option.
Be sure to leave about 1 inch of space at the top. This makes sure that you leave enough space to get a good seal.
Next you are going to need a canning lid to fit the size of your jar. As you can see, I have a wide mouth jar and a regular mouth jar. There are also different attachments for my Foodsaver that will be sealing them. One thing to note here is that the lids that you are using when vacuum sealing DO NOT have to be new. This was the BEST news EVER to me! When pressure canning or hot water bath canning it is recommended that you use new lids for every jar, but not with vacuum sealing! I’m saving all my lids now (wahoo!)
(Another important note: I’m using a Foodsaver Vac 1050 model that has an option to seal jars. There are other options for vacuum canning food that I will talk about below this How To)
Attach the hose from the Foodsaver to the canning lid and TWIST the lid onto the canning jar with the lid on top. Twisting is important because it goes on and comes off MUCH more easily (learned that the hard way) and won’t unseal the jars….yep, did that too.
Another important thing to note here is that if the jar itself has any nicks or cracks on the rim or any food particles, etc. the jar simply won’t seal. I run my finger around the mouth of the jar to make sure it is smooth and nothing is on there.
Follow the instructions for your machine after this. With mine, I am to lock to little locks on each side of the machine and then push the ON button. The machine starts to suck out the air and as more of the green lights go on, the louder it sounds and the higher the pitch gets too.
Once it gets to the red, the pitch drops to a lower one and this means it is almost done. When all the air is out, the machine shuts off all by itself. The enrire process takes about 30 seconds give or take. Some foods that have left more oxygen in the jar (like marshmallows) may take a bit longer than foods that leave less oxygen in there.
There have been a few times where I didn’t get the lid on properly and we got stuck on 3 green lights for a while. I am sure to watch my machine and if it seems like it is taking too long, I push the ON button again (that will turn it off) and then take the lid off, and set it up again. I figure it is better to start over than to burn up the machine or something!!
Twist the attachment off and make sure the lid is sealed. (push down on the center of the lid, if it doesn’t move, the jar is sealed…or most of the time if mine didn’t seal, the will just come off with the attachment).
And repeat with your next jar.
Keep going until all your jars are sealed! If you want to, you can put canning rings on over top of the sealed lid, but I don’t worry about this part. One blogger recommended it as a backup in case the jar became unsealed.
So that is it! Now you can vacuum seal your candy and chocolate like a pro!
The Granny Miller has a neat tip- if your lid won’t seal, she recommends placing another lid upside down on top of the first and then placing your attachment on top of that. She says it will cause the jar to seal almost every time. She also says you can vacuum can crackers, raisins, shortbread cookies, walnuts, prunes, baking chocolate, chocolate chips and candy.
Over at Hanging by a Silver Lining, she has a pretty cool hand pump that she uses instead of the Foodsaver. She also points out that you can seal the jars again and again. So you can open your jars, take some out and seal them again. (Note* I wouldn’t do this with marshmallows cuz the more you vacuum seal them, the smaller and more wrinkled they are. They still taste fine, but they look weird)
Another blog (that I can’t find now) pointed out that if you are sealing something that is powdered like cake mix or flower, the fine dust from that item can get sucked up into the machine you are using. They recommended using a coffee filter between the lid and the sucking attachment to keep as much out as possible.
WHAT supplies do I need? I was able to find my Foodsaver at a yardsale for $7. BEST DEAL EVER!! They are going on Ebay for anywhere from
$75 to $150. If you do get a Foodsaver or similar product, be sure it is able to vacuum seal canning or mason jars.
Another great option for in case there is no electricity is the Pump-N-Seal. This option runs about $32.95 plus shipping. I hear great things about this option. The only thing that makes me nervous, is you actually punch a hole in the lid of the item you are sealing. Then those yellow tab things in the picture seal down on top of the hole when the jar has had the oxygen removed.
This handmade option uses the Foodsaver jar attachment and a simple brake bleeder from an autoparts store. If you click on the picture it will take you to the instructions. The site says the brake bleeder is about $20. I purchased my FoodSaver bottle attachment on Ebay for $9.99 with free shipping.