pumpThe other day I was talking to a friend and we touched on the subject of the Pump-n-Seal gadget , I have had mine for a while, but I must admit that I haven’t been using it as much as I should. So I pulled it out and waited for an opportunity to use it.  I didn’t have to wait long.

Yesterday, I was cutting up an apple and only ate half of it, I needed a way to store the other half. You know what happens to apples, without chemical intervention (an acid, lemon juice, vitamin C…), apples quickly begin to turn brown, they oxidize. I took a wide mouth jar, poked a hole in the lid, placed a tab-chek over it, cut the half apple into smaller pieces, placed it in the jar, put on the lid and pumped out as much of the air as I could. When I removed the Pump-n-Seal, the lid was indented and there was a tiny little dimple where the tab-chek goes over the hole in the lid. It was well sealed. I placed the jar on a shelf, I didn’t even put it in the refrigerator. The temps inside the sky castle range from the 50s at night to the 90’s during the hot part of the day (F). I checked on the apple a few hours later, there was a tiny bit of moisture inside the jar, the apple slices had the smallest bit of oxidation on their edges. I know that happened because there is no way to pump out 100% of the air, what was left did oxidize but once that process happened, the apples stayed the same, they didn’t get any worse.

I glanced at the apple jar for the rest of the evening, and the following day, the apple slices remained the same, no more oxidation had occurred. I decided it was time to eat the remaining apple half, I tried to open the jar, it would not budge! Atmospheric pressure is an awesome thing! I finally had to release the tab-chek, I heard the air rush in, the lid button popped up and then I could open the jar. The apples inside were nearly as fresh looking as when I put them in. And they tasted just as good, all without refrigeration and without chemical intervention. I will be using this a lot more. :)

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bagsThe other thing I have discovered that has made my life easier, they’re called “Forever Bags” —  these bags make foods last longer. These come in different configurations, the ones I have are Forever Bread Bags and Forever Cheese Bags. The one for bread is shaped like a bread bag, what I do is buy a loaf of bread, I open both bags and slide the store bought bag inside the Forever Bread Bag (FBB), I then grab the end of the store bought bag and slide it out, the bread remains in the FBB. I use the bread tie from the store bought bag to tie up the FBB, I take the store bought bread bag and save it for other uses. I have used this with regular sliced loaf bread as well as hamburger and hotdog buns.

The Forever Cheese Bag (FCB) is shaped a bit different. It has a zip closure, it looks like an oversized ziplock baggie. I have placed shredded cheese in one, I also used one to save some leftover bagged salad mix. I put the lettuce in the refrigerator and forgot about it. A few days later, I found it, I expected the lettuce to be brown and nasty. To my surprise, the lettuce looked just fine, I did have to pick out a few pieces of lettuce that had gone brown around the edges, but if I hadn’t put it in this FCB, I would have found a soggy, brown, drippy, disgusting mess in the refrigerator! I am impressed!

It seems that the FBB and the FCB works, and it works great. I found these in a dollar store (though they weren’t a dollar). I had gone to the store with my Dad while he was still visiting. These were sitting on a rack outside the store, my Dad suggested that I get a couple of them, I would have walked right past them, I wouldn’t have bought them thinking they didn’t work. Well, I’m here to tell you that they do work. These bags absorb and remove the gas buildup that foods release as they age/ripen. This apparently helps the foods stay fresh longer, I don’t know exactly how it works, I just know it works. These can be used for fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, breads, cookies, just about any food that will fit in the bags will last longer. This saves money, pure and simple. If you can’t find them at a local dollar store, then use the link above

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The Forever Bags are reusable too, according to the packaging, you can use each one at least 10 times, since you get multiple bags in each box, they are a real bargain. When I get done with the food in the Forever Bag, I rinse it well, turn it inside out and set it aside to dry. When it is dry, I turn it right side out, fold it back up and put it away until the next time I need it. I think I will use a marker to place a small mark on the outside of the bags each time I use it, that way I can keep up with how many times I have used each one. The bags seem sturdy enough to last at least as long as they say they will.

If you have a Pump-n-Seal or the Forever Bags, please comment and let me know what you think of them. If you have these items and they are laying, unused in a kitchen drawer, I hope I have inspired you to get them out and give them a try. I would also be interested in learning about any other gadgets that would work well in an off grid lifestyle, anything that makes life easier, uses little or no electricity, anything that saves time and/or money, and is on the inexpensive side, please comment and let me know about it. Thanks!

Read my previous article on the Pump-n-Seal.

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