Sunday, July 10, 2011

Update on Vacuum Sealing

I brought all my beans and rice up from food storage this afternoon, divided them into meal-sized portions and vacuum sealed them in clean canning jars.    It was a little work washing and drying all the jars but it was worth it because now instead of knowing I have so many pounds of whatever kind of dried beans or so many pounds of rice in storage, I now know how many meals I have of those things in storage. 

Whether quarts or pints, I only filled each jar half full of whatever I was putting in it because when I cook them this fall and winter, the amount that's in the jar now will still fit in the jar after it's cooked.   It was suggested to me to fill the jars completely before sealing to minimize how many jars I had to wash and dry and make more efficient use of the storage space in the jar.  But right now it's more important to me to know how many meals I can get out of what I have stored.  Filling the jars with only as much as they would hold after the contents are cooked gives me a better idea of whether my stores are adequate.

I lost a whole 8-pound bag of pinto beans in this process.  A good number of the beans in the bag were visibly moldy and they smelled 'off' they all went to the compost pile.  Losing 8 pounds of anything is a shame, but it just convinces me all the more that vacuum sealed in glass containers is the way to go.  

It's just the two of us here most of the time, so a quart jar of red beans & rice is a meal.  Filling the quart jar only half-full, each one ended up with 1-1/3 cups of Red Beans and 2/3 cup of rice.  I ended up with 19 quarts which translates to 19 meals for us.  Fresh chopped onion and Cajun spices will be added when I cook the red beans and rice so that when I pressure can them, they will be ready to eat.  When I serve one for dinner, I'll only need to cook a little sausage and cornbread and Yeoldfurt will be happy.

Pintos and great northern beans were sealed in pint jars because they will be consumed as side dishes more than full meals.  I ended up with 24 pints of those or 24 meals worth.  Once all the beans were in jars, I filled quart and pint jars all the way to the top with what was left of the rice.  I ended up with 7 quarts and 16 pints.  Served as a side dish, that much rice translates to 60 meals worth for us.    

The vacuum sealer attachment to the Foodsaver worked very well with the wide-mouth jars ...a success every time.  When I ran out of clean wide-mouth jars and tried to seal the regular-mouth jars, I had a little trouble at first but not that much.  I had one jar that seemed to seal but then 'popped' a few minutes later and was a failure.  When I removed the loose lid, I could see rice powder residue on the gasket it was my own fault.  I got a clean lid and it sealed, no problem.  I did have to double-load when doing the regular-mouth jars.  I put one lid on the jar and then set a second lid on top of it, then put the vacuum sealer over the jar.  Double-loaded like that, when I removed the vacuum sealer, the bottom lid stayed with the jar and the second lid was still in the vacuum sealer.  Not a big deal. 

This method of storage won't be for everyone but considering the 8 pounds of Pinto Beans I had to throw in the compost pile today, I would say it's an improvement for us.  It was worth the effort as far as I'm concerned.  When I'm ready to start pressure canning again this fall, I can bring up only as many jars as I want to do that day.   My pressure canner will hold 7 quarts, so if I only want to process one batch, that's all I will be bringing up from storage. 

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Blogger Rose said...

Can you please go into a little more detail with your process of putting rice and beans in jars? Am I right that you put in the amount of rice and beans you would need for one meal in the jar "dry", and then vacuum seal it? What do you do to use it? Do you then soak the beans and rice overnight, and cook for 2-3 hours with added seasoning? I have been looking for some meals in a jars recipes, and found a cookbook called Dinners in a Jar, but if you have a nifty and easy method that works, I'd be interested in giving it a try. Could you be more specific, please? Thank you!

July 11, 2011 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

Yes, Rose, I only filled the jar with the amount of dry rice/beans that it would hold after they were cooked ...approximately half full. I am storing all the vacuum sealed jars an insulated, climate-controlled shed that we have here. It's a concrete floor, very well insulated, and stays cool. When the weather is cooler this fall, I will bring up however many jars I want to process ...probably seven because that's what my pressure canner will hold. If all of the jars contain red beans & rice, I will dump the contents all together in one big pot. They will soak for 12 hours, then be rinsed and fresh water added. Then I will add the seasonings I want to use and bring it all to a boil. I will keep it a boil for one hour while I prepare the canning jars ...the same ones that the red beans & rice were stored in. I will probably use new lids with six of the jars and try one of the lids I vacuum sealed with on the seventh jar. I think if they look good and the gaskets look good, they should be fine, but I will try it with one in each batch for a while and see. I will mark that particular lid so I know which one it is and it will either seal or not seal.

By the time the jars are all washed and rinsed and the water is heated up in the pressure canner, the beans & rice will have boiled for an hour and I will be ready to fill the jars. I should have enough cooked beans & rice to fill the seven jars with one inch of head space. Quarts are processed for 90 minutes and pints are processed for 75 minutes. They will be left to cool on the counter undisturbed overnight. The next day, I will check for good seals on each jar, then label them with the contents and the date they were processed and move them back down to storage.

I hope that helps. I like the meal-in-a-jar concept too. We put up several quarts of chili and several more quarts in 2009. It's very convenient to have heat and eat food in the cupboard, especially if it's homemade and you know exactly what's in it!

July 11, 2011 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger The Orange Jeep Dad said...

We're almost done collecting our raw foods (wheat, rice, sugar, etc). Then we are considering putting together meals in jars, like you are talking about. I like the concept of just opening a container and having a complete meal ready, as opposed to opening several mylar bags, scooping out what you need, resealing etc etc.

Great post!

July 12, 2011 at 1:40 AM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

Thanks, OJD. With the commute and the work schedules we keep now, It's all about easy!

: )

July 12, 2011 at 5:44 AM  
Blogger Julie Harward said...

I have done this too and it is a great way of perserving food for a long time! :D

July 12, 2011 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Arsenius the Hermit said...

That must take up a lot of room, storing all those jars.

July 12, 2011 at 8:27 PM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

The jars don't take up any more room with food in them than they when they're empty, Arsenius. The way I look at it, I have the jars ...I use the jars ...they might as well sit on the shelf with food in them.

: )

July 12, 2011 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

Hi, Julie...
That's reassuring. I'm fairly new at this and I'm sure you're lightyears ahead of me on long term food storage.

Have a wonderful day!

July 13, 2011 at 5:55 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

Thank you for your more detailed explanation. I have never canned rice. Does it turn mushy and fall apart after being pressure canned? Your method sounds great. Do you ever add sausage to your beans and rice. I just canned up black beans, corn and sausage in a tomato base and it is delicious! I like having jars of meals on hand too. Quick and tasty.

July 13, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger HossBoss said...

When I make the skillet stew on the stove, the rice is less firm than if I just cooked and served rice ...because it simmers in the stew for an hour. It's not as mushy as say the 'rice' in Campbell's Chicken n Rice soup.

I do add meat to the RBnR but I always add it last when I'm making it from scratch. When I'm ready to cook and process the RBnR this fall, I could add meat to it before I pressure can it but I probably won't. The goal was to store just as much as the jar would hold after it was cooked so that I'm cooking/processing exactly one batch. When discussing it with my husband, he liked the idea of me adding the meat after we open up a quart for supper one night because he likes the idea of having as much meat as he wants in it. LOL

July 13, 2011 at 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Diane said...

I was able to get tons of Snapple tea for free by using coupons and I'm saving the bottles to store rice and beans. Hopefully, Snapple will continue to package their tea in glass.

September 10, 2011 at 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Margaret Brown said...

I'm using Foodsaver V3880. Although the price is low, this product is high-qualitied with all the features of a vacuum sealer I wish

June 25, 2015 at 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Margaret Brown said...

I'm using Foodsaver V3880. Although the price is low, this product is high-qualitied with all the features of a vacuum sealer I wish

June 25, 2015 at 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Jessie said...

Nice information. What a great opportunity to try out something you have been wondering about and can really use!!

August 16, 2015 at 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Abigail said...

I've never stored rice with a vacuum sealer before. I may try after reading this tip from you, thanks for very detailed explanation!

May 3, 2016 at 2:36 AM  

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