After vacuum packing strawberries, asparagus, and apple pieces into canning jars with my Food Saver, I moved on to the trial and error parts of the project. Specifically, trying alternate ways of repackaging powdery foods, and, how best to store leftover oxygen absorber packets.
The foods I pulled out for this experiment were: Tomato Powder, Whole Egg Powder, Onions, and Baking Powder. (Yes, I know Onions are not a powder but they do have a powerful stink that I didn’t want to suck into my Food Saver!)
I had recently opened a 16 oz container of Baking Powder and even though baking powder doesn’t “go bad” it does apparently lose some of its potency over time and not perform as expected. I found recommendations to use opened baking powder within 6 months, within 12 months, and within 24 months. Who knows what’s right, so, I decided to repackage some of this supply.
Next, I opened the Tomato Powder. It was hard! Why? Maybe because it’s been on my shelf for 10 years? Anyway, I had to hack at it with a knife to break off clods and then bash the clods with a spoon to make it powdery again before putting it into pint jars. Good grief, that took an hour by itself!
Powder … Chunks
The eggs were powdery just like they should be so other than being a little messy and the powder wanting to cling to everything it touched, I got that into pint jars very quickly.
The onions were put into jars last: I didn’t want their smell to transfer from the funnel to any of the other food!
Here they are, ready to go:
Tomato Powder, Baking Powder, Whole Egg Powder, Dried Onions
#2 – Test the Coffee Filter Method With Powdery Food Items
First, I tried the coffee filter experiment – and got …
Using a coffee filter to vacuum pack powders with the Food Saver did Not work
A Mess. The coffee filter did not work as hoped. We tried it several times but could not keep the powder from pulling out and preventing a seal. If someone knows how to make this work, I’d sure like to hear from him/her!
Ever stubborn, J did, technically seal tomato powder using coffee filters. Completely wrapping the powder in the filter, though, is not what you’re supposed to have to do!
Completely wrapping the powder in coffee filters will, technically, work.
It’s sealed but there’s probably more paper in the jar than tomato powder!
Obviously, we need more information to make this a successful endeavor.
#3 – Use Oxygen Absorbers To Vacuum Pack Powdery Food Items
One thing about working with oxygen absorbers is that you have to work fast to keep their exposure to air to a minimum (less than 10 minutes). To accomplish this, I had all my jars ready to go and J provided an extra pair of hands.
I cut open the package of oxygen absorbers. While I stuffed a bunch of packets into canning jars and vacuum packed them with the Food Saver, J placed a packet into each jar of food and covered each with a lid.
I thought the response – of sealing the jars – would be nearly instantaneous. Not so. J had the idea to put bands on the jars to hold the lids in place. We tried that and waited awhile. I tested a jar after about half hour (I don’t know if it would have been sealed sooner than half an hour because I was practicing patience – well, a version of it that included pacing, finger tapping, and clock watching).
Miracle! It was sealed!
Tomato Powder sealed with oxygen absorber packet
All of them were sealed!
For future reference: I should have put less food into each jar. I had left the standard 1/2 inch headspace used in canning. I think leaving at least an inch of headspace would have been better.
#4 – Test Vacuum Pack vs Clip Methods of Keeping Leftover Packets
As I said, I quickly vacuum packed two quart jars with oxygen absorber packets. This should keep them viable. I also have a special clip for the bag they came in and left a few packets in that bag so I could test the effectiveness of that option.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to complete this test at first because I didn’t know how to tell if a packet is viable or not. When I purchased them, I was told spent packets would change color, but one I left on the counter to test did not change color. Now what? Thank goodness for the Internet. A quick search led me to a few sources that indicated a spent packet will be hard because the iron powder inside will have fused together. So, I pulled out one I knew was spent and sure enough, it had a stiffer texture and the unused ones were more flexible and you could feel that there is powder inside. We’ll give these leftover packets a couple of weeks and do further testing with them.
After all the excitement, here’s my lovely array of jars:
A beautiful sight!