DIY Vacuum Food Bags

Submitted: Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 10:53
ThreadID: 105250 Views:2638 Replies:6 FollowUps:8
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I have tried a search for this...But there are just so many threads about vacuum food machines...almost as popular as batteries :) I have read through several but I have not found one yet to answer this question.

Is anyone successfully using standard plastic bags? If so, what method are you using?

I have looked around the net and although I have seen some "logical" suggestions, I have not found a sensible suggestion. What I have seen is hot glue, straws, and zip-loc. Of those I have tried the zip-loc method but my machine does not get hot enough to melt the zip-loc. So I wont bother with the straw method, if it wont melt a zip-loc then it wont melt a straw. The hot glue sounds OK, but it is a stuff around and I am not sure about what the glue might do in a low oxygen storage.

The only successful thing I have tried, is to cut a thin strip of vacuum bag and run it down each side of the standard bag. Although this works, it takes a good 5 or 6 times longer to pull a vacuum. So this is over working the pump. Using a larger piece of vacuum bag works a treat but defeats the purpose!

The reason I am asking, is because I have about 8000 A4 sized food grade bags. If there is some way to use these bags, it would be great.


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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 11:38

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 11:38
Plastics ain't plastics I guess. We've only ever used the quilted genuine bags on our Sunbeam cryo machine - the quilting allows the air to be drawn out of the bag, while still being held flat in the press. The heat level and pressure required for welding poly films must differ for various film formulations. Crikey..... it might even be science :-o).
AnswerID: 522069

Follow Up By: Herbal - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 12:15

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 12:15
haha... Yes, I think there is a little bit of science involved :)

Agreed...plastics aint plastics... The person with the hot glue idea will cause someone death one day. He actually suggests using recycled plastic sheet to make the bags !!

It needs to be thin enough to be clamped and thin enough to be welded...and food grade.

I was thinking of trying some of those textured gloves like they use in Subways...Ticks all the boxes, if they will allow the air to be pulled out.

FollowupID: 802982

Follow Up By: Ross M - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 13:52

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 13:52
There is a big difference in a normal plastic bag formulation compared to a vacuum bag.
Heat conduction is just one factor, shrinkage rate another.

Only gynaecologists would use a special glove, but they may be ok for Fish fingers, that is if fish do have fingers.

Normal clear A4 sized bags would be good for pictures of food though.
FollowupID: 802989

Follow Up By: Herbal - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 14:09

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 14:09
Of course they do...It just like dogs are born with fleas, so too are fish born with fingers...They are called - fingerlings - hahaha.

FollowupID: 802992

Reply By: Member - allan t (NT) - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 13:40

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 13:40
Hi Herbal
Ordinary plastic bags cant be used. they need to have ribs internal otherwise the air cannot be sucked out.
AnswerID: 522074

Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 15:32

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 15:32
Ummm, not true!
None of the bags we use have ribbing at all. They are teh same ones that the butchers use for packing roasts, corned meat etc in. Thicker than the supermarket food bags, and nowhere near as prone to splitting.
FollowupID: 803001

Reply By: Member - johnat - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 15:29

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 15:29
We have a commercial vacuum packing machine for use with our food business, but we have found that the bags can be resized by cutting to the size required and uysing the machine (set to do zero - or as near as dammit zero - evacuation and then seal) then use the two parts as normal.

We get bags in bulk from a local supplier, and they carry a huge range of sizes.
TBH, I don;t think it's worth stuffing about with using bags not designed for vacuum work, they are just too thin. Were I you, I'd be keeping the 8000 bags, and using them as fridge etc storage, and buy decent vac bags for the vacuum process.
AnswerID: 522079

Follow Up By: Herbal - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 16:45

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 16:45
Thanks Johnat.

I have been using the bags for freezer and fridge. I also use them for doo doo bags (dog poo) :) Not that I keep that in the fridge...But because I have so many (8,000 is a guess) and they are food grade, I figured why not use them for vac.

Yes, it is proving to be a stuff around.

The bags are thinner than proper vac bags, but still quite strong. My only success so far, has now lasted 48 hours...and still looking good.

My machine is only a domestic grade. It handles upto 30cm. I have been using the 28cm roll which allows me to make bag sizes to suit. It has a seal only feature.

I am keen to give the glove a try...They are those thin plastic disposable gloves with the dimple type texture. But if that fails, I will give up...But I will leave the question open because someone just might have something.

Being quite qualified in cookery (albeit retired), it is good to get some firsthand feedback from someone in the industry.

Thanks again :)
FollowupID: 803008

Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 20:18

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 20:18
What I'm talking about is something like this

Ours has 10 settings that are programmable, though, so one is "seal only" and we have various programs for different things (such as marinated olives, 1kg soup, antipasto mix, etc).

It is a fully commercial beasty, though!
FollowupID: 803032

Reply By: Hopper-51 - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 19:41

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 19:41

Food vacuum sealing machine
We have been using one of the above machines for a number of years now to vacuum seal fish fillets when we go on one of our fishing trips. It has probably sealed a couple of thousand bags now and is still going strong. The design of the machine allows you to use plain plastic bags instead of the dimpled bags which are quite a bit more expensive to buy.
We always run a little hot water through the machine after use to prevent the fish juices from clogging up the pump.
We also usually buy the bags on eBay because we have found the quality better than what we get from the Master Butchers outlet here in Adelaide.
Chris W
AnswerID: 522091

Follow Up By: Herbal - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 20:46

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 20:46
Thanks Chris.

I am not in the market for a new machine just yet, but I will certainly take a close look at your suggestion when I am. I have noted the model number.

If you are getting juices from the fish, you might try paper towel. That is what most people do... either lay a sheet of paper towel in the bag and put the fish on top of the paper. Or, what I do (mostly for bait) is roll some paper towel into a cigar shape, then use it to push the bait in leaving the paper to absorb the juices.

I did some salted squid only yesterday. Tomorrow I will take a pic or two to show you what I mean.

Thanks again.
FollowupID: 803035

Follow Up By: Hopper-51 - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 10:37

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 10:37
We only wash the fish in salt water - not fresh, and we do not like to contaminate the fillets in any way before we vacuum seal them. The fillets keep better when they have a little bit of sea water in with them anyway. Some of the King George whiting stays in the freezer for up to 12 months and is not affected by freezer burn or dried out when it is thawed. A little bit of fish juices to clean up is a small price to pay for superior quality vacuum sealed fish.

FollowupID: 803058

Reply By: Ron N - Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 20:51

Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 20:51
Herbal - I tried ordinary plastic bags in our el-cheapo $27 vacuum sealer, and they don't work, full stop.

The plastic is too thin to seal properly around the vacuum pump seal, and too thin to seal properly in the heat seal section.

We picked up a box that contains 2 of the Sunbeam vacuum seal bag rolls in it (28cm x 5.4M in each roll) from Target, and these work just fine in our el-cheapo machine.

If you've got 8000 bags in your stockpile, I'd suggest you sell about 4000 or 5000 before the PVC degrades and becomes useless, and buy some fresh vacuum bag rolls with the money.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 522098

Reply By: Herbal - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 11:49

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 11:49
Thanks everyone for the feedback.

My test bag lost it's seal over night. So it lasted almost 2 1/2 days. So the bags will not be any good for long term storage, but might be OK for day trips or bait.

Selling them sounds good :) But I will keep them. I actually use maybe 5 or 6 each day.
AnswerID: 522126

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