This weekend was a weekend to take care of things. As the seasons change, so does the kitchen. Casseroles and roasts and pastas make way for lighter fare. In our case, we invariably migrate to the quick and easy protein of Mexican food similar to what my counterpart was exposed to as he came of age in Escondido and San Marcos. This always serves us well as the longer, warmer days pull us out into the yard to make further inroads into the holly and creeper and roses gone to seed that surround our home.
This focus on resolving longstanding problems was heralded by the arrival of the long-awaited VacMaster P112 we ordered back in January. For those not familiar, this is the prosumer vacuum sealer with the engineering of the professional food service vacuum sealer scaled down for home kitchen use. It does carry a price tag, but the bags that go with it are about a dime apiece. For anyone who stocks a lit of cheeses and specialty meats like we do, this device will pay for itself in the increased shelf life of your food.
The real value of a good vacuum sealer is that it protects your food from its two greatest enemies - air and water. While a bad vacuum sealer can give you a false sense of security about your food only to have it go to rot and ruin despite your efforts, a good vacuum sealer more than doubles the shelf life of perishable items.
The devise is fairly straightforward to use. Start with a clean, dry bag and place your perishables inside.
Wisconsin sharp cheddar - highly valuable and highly perishable
Cutting the bag to size
Now here is where it differs from those inferior vacuum sealers we have tried in the past. Most consumer vacuum sealers attempt to suck the air out of the bag and then apply a heat seal. The VacMaster has a chamber that you place your perishables in. Then, the air is removed from the chamber.
In the chamber it goes
TheVacMaster VP112 in action
Vacuum sealed cheese
The vacuum strength and the duration of the sealing time are independently adjustable as well. so you can seal anything from hard cheese to chicken stock. Which we did. In fact, we vacuum sealed half the kitchen. Even bread. We even resealed a bag of MSG in its original bag.
In every instance, my counterpart gleefully declared "Suck It!". And, in every instance, a good, strong, airtight seal was formed, making our food safe for long-term storage in either freezer or fridge.
Labeled and ready for storage
For dinner, we turned to a couple of classics - roast chicken, Spanish rice , and beans.
Deboned chicken stuffed with jalapenos, cilantro, and blue corn chips
Gareth tried his hand at deboning again. This time, he stuffed the empty carcass with a mixture of diced jalapenos, fresh cilantro, and crushed blue corn chips,a wonderful combination that was spicy with a slightly peanut undertone.
He also made a cheesy sauce from flour, cheddar cheese, heavy cream, and the succulent drippings from the chicken roast.
Here's that chicken roast with the beans, Spanish rice, cheesy sauce, and a little creme Mexicana
And he vacuum sealed the leftovers.
Vacuum sealed chicken roast