How to use the professional vacuum sealer: accessories, cleaning and maintenance
news | 14th June 2023
Vacuum sealers are becoming increasingly popular in professional and even domestic kitchens, where they provide numerous advantages. If you’re thinking of purchasing one for yourself, this article will teach you everything you need to know about how they work and the necessary maintenance activities.
What is a vacuum sealer used for?
One of the main benefits of vacuum sealing is to ensure a long shelf life for food items. In fact, the near complete elimination of oxygen from the packaging creates an anaerobic environment in which bacteria and moulds can no longer proliferate. In the food service industry, this allows for the portioning of fresh food items, the more efficient management of large quantities, and the elimination of food waste.
Vacuum sealers are also frequent used to prepare food items for cooking under a vacuum, a process commonly known as sous vide. This special slow cooking technique requires an almost total vacuum in order to be performed safely and to obtain optimal results.
How is the vacuum sealer used?
The vacuum sealers used in the food service industry are generally known as chamber vacuum sealers, and consist of an inner chamber in which the vacuum is generated, and a lid with a characteristic convex shape. The steps for using a chamber vacuum sealer can be summarised as follows:
- The bag containing the food is placed directly inside the chamber, the lid is closed, and the machine is started.
- The machine eliminates the air from the chamber, generating a near total vacuum (close to 100%) in both the chamber and the bag containing the food.
- The bag is then hermetically sealed inside the machine.
- The air is reintroduced into the machine, which can then be opened to remove the packaged food.
In the case of vacuum sealers with external suction, the basic principle remains the same, but the bag remains outside the machine. The open end of the bag is inserted into the machine, which extracts the air and seals the bag.
One essential accessory for any vacuum sealer are the bags, which can be purchased at misure diverse, a seconda del tipo di macchina e dell’uso che se ne vuole fare. Per il confezionamento e la conservazione è anche possibile usare contenitori rigidi per il vuoto esterno.
Vacuum sealing bags
There are different types of vacuum bags, depending on the type of machine being used:
- plain bags, for chamber machines
- embossed bags, for machines with external suction
These two types of bags are not interchangeable. The plain bags provide for a better seal, which maintains the vacuum for a longer period of time, but can only be used in chamber machines, which is why these types of machines are considered more efficient. In order to be used in vacuum chamber machines, the bags need to have at least one embossed side, as the air is extracted from the cavities created by the embossing. Both types generally contain a layer of silicone near the opening, which allows the two sides of the bag to be glued together and sealed.Smooth 70 MySmooth 90 MyEmbossed 105 My
The bags used for sous vide cooking contain less silicone, and are made from suitable materials capable of withstanding prolonged exposure to high temperatures.Cook & Chill 80 Μm
External vacuum containers
Some professional machines also provide for an external vacuum sealing process, which can be used to package and store food in special containers. High vacuum percentages can also be achieved in these case too, depending on the containers used.
Vacuum sealer cleaning and maintenance
One important aspect of using a vacuum sealer is regular cleaning and maintenance. In fact, these are essential for ensuring that the machine functions properly, guaranteeing maximum efficiency and food safety.
While all of the machine’s elements must be kept clean, particular attention must be dedicated to the sealing bar and, in the case of chamber models, the chamber in which the food is packed. These are the areas that can come into contact with any food product that has come out of the bags.
On many machines, the sealing bar can be removed to facilitate cleaning, while the chamber requires more attention. Cleaning is usually performed using a soft cloth, after all the visible residues have been eliminated. Sirman’s W8 models are a favourite among users, as they feature a perfectly smooth product support surface, making them particularly easy to clean. In fact, the ample working chamber is covered entirely by the convex lid. When the lid is lifted completely, it immediately exposes the bottom of the chamber, which can be easily cleaned with no need to collect any residues from within a container. Once cleaned, all the elements must be dried thoroughly. It is important to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and to only use compatible products, so as not to damage the machine.
Some state-of-the-art models, such as the W8 Top SanO3, include SIRMAN’s patented self-sanitisation system with ozone, which ensures the complete and thorough sanitisation of the entire machine.
Changing the oil
For machines equipped with oil pumps, the oil gradually deteriorates when it comes into contact with the vapours, particles, and liquids contained in the food items. It must therefore be changed regularly in order to ensure proper machine functionality and a long service life.
Photo: W8 Top SanO3
This can be a more or less complex procedure, depending on the model, and may require a specialised technical intervention. All SIRMAN machines are designed to simplify this process as much as possible, in order to allow the user to do it themselves. Some even offer the option of automatic oil changes, via the patented A.O.R. (Automatic Oil Replacement) system, which allows the operation to be easily carried out in under a minute.
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