Monday, July 19, 2010

Retort Canning and Vacuum Sealers

Retort Canning With A Vacuum Packer

Retort canning with a vacuum packer allows you to preserve your own food but with many advantages over traditional cans. Below, I explain how a regular vacuum packer used to package food in plastic can also be used to "can" food in high quality retort pouches.

Why Do Your Own Canning?

Many of those who do their own canning intend to distribute and sell their finished products. Canning allows the product to be shipped great distances and reach more customers. Transportation and other costs can be kept to a minimum as the final product also has a long shelf life.

Retort Canning

Retort canning is a process used by food producers to, not only produce they are easily transportable stored cans of food, but also to destroy any bacteria in the can.

Bacteria naturally occur everywhere can be present in fresh food. If eaten quickly, such bacteria present no threat to people due to existing only in tiny amounts. However, extra precautions must be taken when packaging or canning food because bacteria will multiply to dangerous levels if given enough time. Evacuating the air will ensure the food lasts longer but it will not get rid of the bacteria. For maximum shelf life, the food must be treated to destroy any bacteria.

Retort canning involves putting the food into a sealed container or vessel called a retort. This is then subjected to a high temperature heat cycle, which kills bacteria such as the deadly neurotoxin, clostridium botulism. This sterilization process is sometimes also called pasteurization.

Canning With A Vacuum Packer

It is possible (and much cheaper compared to regular cans) to do your own retort canning with a vacuum packer.

Vacuum packers are usually used to seal food in plastic. The plastic pouch is evacuated of any air and a heat strip seals the open end. This is especially useful for dividing up a bulk food purchase.

They can also be used for retort canning. This requires the use of special retort pouches, which are a flexible plastic and metal foil laminate pouch that have become very popular on the supermarket shelf in recent years. In decades gone by, you may have seen them in the form of an MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat, a US military field ration).

Retort pouches hold many advantages over traditional cans. They do not easily corrode, are sturdy and inexpensive. Compared to glass, there is no risk of breakage from dropping.

Some vacuum packers are dual purpose and let you can using retort pouches. Because retort pouches are thicker than plastic packaging, they require greater heat to seal them and for the heat to be applied for longer.

Once the pouch is sealed, it can be subjected to a sterilizing heat cycle in a pressure cooker or via other means.


Machine4food said...

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Ernest said...

Great post! Thank you for the information.