Posted under: processing, hints & tips
Processing your own game meat is rewarding, and nothing feels better than watching it go from field to table. Now that we have our own setup at home we process meat ourselves. Although it can be a lot of work, my husband Ben and I enjoy the process from start to finish.
Bagging and sealing the meat however has always been stressful. We had a few different style vacuum sealers, but most left air pockets in the bag that would increase the chance of freezer burn after a few days. It was also impossible to vacuum seal anything that was liquid based. Our last vacuum sealer needed at least 3 solid seals before it would package our products. After sealing it would fill back up with air in the freezer. It was a never ending battle, and sometimes food ended up going to waste.
I heard about the LEM MaxVac Pro Chamber Sealer from a few different people. They mentioned that it is different than a traditional vacuum sealer. Chamber sealers are built to package liquid and liquid rich foods. This means no more air pockets or leaking juices. You are able to marinate and package meat in the same bag or store fish in a liquid immersion. You can bet we didn't try that with our old sealer!
With a traditional vacuum sealer the vacuum sucks all the air out of the bag, then seals. This sometimes results in liquids being sucked out of the bag and a good seal to never form. The LEM MaxVac Pro Chamber Sealer pumps all of the air out of the chamber at once, including the air inside of the bag. Upon the force of the reintroduction of oxygen, the sealer heats the edges to fuse the bag and prevent any air from re-entering. This gives you an airtight seal. You are able to seal liquids because instead of removing the air from the bag it removes air from the entire chamber leaving the air pressure equal in both inside and outside of the pouch while also keeping liquids inside.
After getting our chamber sealer the first item we sealed was muffin tin breakfast bites. They are a tasty mix of eggs, venison sausage, fresh vegetables and a few seasonings. We were a bit skeptical since the egg bites contain some liquid. After around 35 seconds the eggs were completely sealed in the BPA free low-density polyethylene bags. They can be frozen, boiled or microwaved, but remember to cut a slit in the bag if you microwave them. They feel heavy duty, and they have to be if they can hold soups. The bags come in three sizes. The smallest size bag will fit three egg bites, perfect for Ben's breakfast.
After we packaged our egg bites we tried several other items including steak and even corn dog batter. To our surprise the corn dog batter completely sealed and flattened in the freezer. This allowed us to save space for other items. Our final item was our token venison jerky. We love to make most of our deer into jerky. This is great to have for car rides or for a snack at work. When the jerky was done sealing it reminded me of a meat locker or store bought quality sealing. No more air pockets and a solid seal. There is even a preset tear to make opening your snacks a breeze!
The sealer has 3 different settings: one for meat/fish, liquid and dry food. Each setting is a different time. Sealing can take anywhere from 35-50 seconds which is longer than a regular vacuum sealer; however, we used to seal 2-3 times which would take much longer than 50 seconds. The sealing and cooling time just take a few seconds before the unit pop opens and kindly presents to you your package. Clean up is also a breeze since there is no liquid sucked out of the bag as with a traditional sealer; there is virtually no mess. The link to the chamber sealer can be found here.
The entire unit is commercial grade and meant to withstand heavy use. It has a 1/4 horsepower oil pump. One drawback is that the unit is large and heavy. At around 80 lbs, you will need the space to put it. We have it on our countertop, but have removed all other units such as our LEM Big Bite Meat Slicer and moved it downstairs. Ben jokes that someday when we build our dream house we will have a game processing shop to store all of our equipment. It also has a higher price point at $1,099.99. If you process more than a deer or two per year the chamber sealer is a must! If you have the space and money I highly recommend the unit. You will save time (processing and clean-up) and money in the long run as your food is able to keep better longer.
The chamber sealer has completely revolutionized the way we are able to process food. No more wasted food because it was freezer burned or sealing bags 2-3+ times because there was air pockets. This season we have processed two deer and will hopefully have a few more before season ends. I am excited to start packaging soups this winter and garden goodies for the first time this summer.
Happy Sealing, and remember to visit LEM for all of your processing needs!
Sallie Doty is a bow and rifle hunter with almost a decade of experience hunting and processing. On top of being an avid hunter and processor, she competes as a triathlete! Along with making jerky, she enjoys creating delicious meals like chili and roasts with the meat she harvests each season.
Keep up with Sallie by following her blog: Hunting, Fishing and Staying Fit, and her Instagram: @sallie_doty.