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Shrink Wrapping. I'm Exhausted
Last week I stuck a nice bull in Washington, drove home the next day and delivered it to the butcher the following day.
I picked it up this morning and got it home by 10:30.
Six HOURS later, I'd shrinked-wrapped 160 packages.
My back is tired, I suppose from leaning over the counter for six hours while I worked on it.
The primary issue is that the Food Saver I have seems to be designed for shrink-wrapping leftovers, not for doing an entire elk.
As a result, it overheats and shuts down after you've done 8-10 packages. After that, it shuts down after two-three packages unless you let it sit for :10 or so.
I'm sure some of you guys also shrink wrap your game.
Do I need to upgrade my Food Saver, or is there a better solution?
Kyle - It's more fun if you have elven helpers. We double wrap in freezer paper and then put the packages in gallon Ziplock freezer bags that get re-used repeatedly. No freezer burn issues.
My butcher wraps in Freezer wrap, but does not shrink wrap.
In my experience, shrink wrapping keeps your game forever!
Food savers are great. Even though mine seems to run longer than yours before overheating, I found it could be annoying too.
I like the higher visibility of the writing on the freezer paper and think that the double wrap and Ziplock make the packages less likely to pinhole with rearranging the freezer to rotate things.
It's fairly rare that I have anything that stays in the freezer for a couple of years, but when I've come across something that's been overlooked, I have had no problems.
Just explaining how we do it and why. Not trying to sell it.
Zip lock freezer baggies of proper size. Partially zip closed and then submerge in water to push air out and seal. I use this method for garden produce and sous vide cooking.
Saran wrap and then freezer paper works pretty well.
Hard to beat the vacuum pack machines though. My latest food saver works pretty well. I use it for tenders, backstrap and hind roasts.
For ground meat I use a stuffer with a large tube to fill the plastic tube ground meat packages. IMO that's the best way to go. The large tube fills the bag from the bottom out and no air in the bag at all. They have tape sealers for the bags but I have a metal ring crimper that seals them. Not only keeps forever, looks very professional if you plan on giving away any ground meat. I'd guess ground is about half the meat I put up.
We vacuum pack everything.
Vac sealers are the second best hunting invention, right after the Thermacell.
My wife uses a vac sealer and it works great. Have done a ton of fish and deer and the meat lasts a long time. The kind of sealer she uses lets you make your own bags as you go. You can do small stuff or large stuff and make the bag fit the meat. I think she got it at Sam's Club and gets the rolls to make the bags in there too.
I have experience with all mentioned methods and they all work but the best improvement I can think of for you, Nva, is get your butcher to do it! (Old man!)
Sorry, I couldn't resist pulling your chain!
A bigger unit will solve that problem Kyle. I have a Foodsaver brand, plain Jane kitchen model, it works great, but it too will overheat when used heavily. My girlfriend has a big one from Cabela's, it never overheats, and it will handle a wider bag, but it does take up a lot more room.
I just found a few packages of ground beef in the bottom of my chest freezer. Tasted as good as when they were fresh 8 years ago.
^^^^^Eight years?!?!??! Woah!! Even with freezer replenishment due to "fence deer" and shared meat, we go through our stock with fairly quick turnover. My cancelled Elk hunt has me liking my chest freezer less.
I've got two chest freezers, one of which I've had for forty years and the other is about thirty years old.
Right now, the bigger one is almost completely full and the smaller one is 2/3 full. The problem is I still have two deer hunts left this year.
I vacuum pack the loin and tenderloin, and let the butcher cut up and wrap the rest. He just uses plastic wrap and butcher paper, but I've never had issues after a Year or two with freezer burn (although we pretty much eat an elk up in a Year)
But, if I'm doing my own cutting and vacuum packing, I run into the same issue with overheating. So I cut and trim some, vacuum pack it, cut and trim some more, etc. Mix up my routine, to allow the unit to cool in between packings.
Best of Luck, Jeff
With the older freezers you don’t have to worry about freezer burn as much. The new frost free freezers actually freeze dry by removing all the humidity. So vacuum packing is one way to avoid it. I use industrial sized plastic wrap called Cut Rite. Double wrap and then into zip locks. I use the vacuum sealer for fish though.
Just got an old bull, and all but the back straps went to ground. The ground stacks so neatly when it is in the tubes.
I just ordered a GameSaver from FoodSaver. It's supposed to handle 80 bags before it needs cooling. My current model won't even handle 10. If the GameSaver will do even 50, it will save me a ton of time.
After going through 2 of the cheaper units I've had the GameSaver for 3 years. It's serving me well. No over heating frustrations.
The units from Cabella's are superior but I couldn't justify the $. When I saw the GameSaver at half price i bought it.
Btw I tried generic rolls and had too high a seal failure rate so I use FoodSaver rolls exclusively..
I don't have one but I've heard chamber vacuum sealer are the way to go.
The only down side if the cost.
And it ways 80lbs, but if you do alot of packaging they are the only way to go. A good friend has one I get to use when we fish together.
Weston makes one the best non-chamber units on the market today.. .
I have a Magic-Vac Maxima made in Italy, I do not think they are imported any longer
My butcher doesn't shrink wrap. He simply wraps the meat in freezer paper and labels it, ie., 'Hamburger," "Backstraps," etc.
As soon as I bring the meat home from the butcher, I shrink wrap it and write the year of harvest, the state of harvest, and the type of critter it is, ie., "2017 WA Elk" on the plastic bag.
Thanks to those here who weighed in and spoke well for the Game Saver.
I ordered one as a result and it arrived yesterday.
What a hoot that it includes a long cord you can plug into your truck's cigarette lighter port!
I mean, who in the world is going to clean and package their game on the tailgate of their pick-em-up truck?
I've got a food saver that I hardly use. I wrap my cuts in saran wrap a few wraps, then butcher paper. Seems to work for me and I have come across stuff in the freezer 3+ years old and it is fine and not burned. I bought my food saver in Juneau, Ak when I lived there in 2001-04 and used it for all the fish I was catching. Problem I didn't like with it is it would pull moisture into the seal, and it would fail after a time or I wouldn't be able to seal it at all.
These new Savers handle the moisture a bit better? If so, I may have to upgrade.
I've had only very minor issues with my old FoodSaver having any trouble in properly shrink-wrapping moist or soft meats/fish/leftovers.
NVA. You can just drop those deer off at my house, I will keep them safe for you!
The easiest way to avoid liquid is to partially freeze the meat in the bag before you seal it. Or You can buy the meat maxi pads like the grocery store uses a cut them into strips to put between the meat and the seal. It stops the moisture. Some people just use a piece of paper towel.
Wish I saw this thread earlier. With the deer and hogs I get every year and the meat I buy in bulk at Restaurant depot I've gone through a few food saver brands. Upgraded to a Weston model that cost $250 on sale and I can go all day long without a problem. Once it seals , I mark the package and get another bag set and the machine is ready. The bags are cheaper too. I had the gamesaver pro model and it only lasted a couple of years for me. The Weston has been going strong for 5 years.
I've had a Food Saver model V2222 for nearly 20 years that I bought on sale for about $20. Never had it overheat on me. In line with what Whitey said, the instructions stressed that you should partially freeze your meats to prevent liquids from damaging the unit.
Kyle, actually have butchered several deer on the tailgate of the pickup. Would get too warm during deer camp and had to butcher rather than let hang in the pine trees..... We always had our big cutting boards, so it wasn't like it was "ON" the tailgate.
Have the smaller model of the game-saver vacuum sealer. Works great but it will eventually overheat. We vacuum seal all our meat now, along with our summer sausage when done. Summer sausage comes out juicy like it was just cooked. Even after a year in the freezer. Roast and loins come out of the freezer and look like they were just butchered. Will never go back to the old paper wrapping. And we tried all the various tricks over the years, saran wrap, zip lock bags, etc....
And major back aches are standard...... :)
Second best butchering investment dad and I have made, only behind our big Cabela's grinder.
Solo, that's amazing. I was going thru Foodsaver ones every two years, even the turbo and pro models until I picked up a Weston.
Mint, I've only used it for relatively short periods at a time. The hardest I've strained it was for the fish I've caught, which were maybe 15-20 x 2-pound pkgs. Then, I'll use it for meats I buy at the store now & then. I always freeze them for an hour or so first to the point where I can barely dent them with my finger.
I have a couple extra gaskets, but haven't noticed a need to replace one yet.....
I always pay extra have the butcher seal & label my game for me. I feel it's worth the money.
Whitey, I have used paper towels and they seem to work to a point. Still would get leakage around the edges once in awhile. I agree that partially freezing the meat would be the best way to go. Going to look at the Weston and a couple of others. Great thread.
The Weston double piston is a higher level for sure. Might be what the Cabellas units are. If i did more i'd have one.
The Gamesaver FoodSaver is good enough for my moderate use. And much cheaper.
Most all of the game I shrink-wrap is frozen.
I pick it up from the butcher, who's already wrapped it in freezer paper and frozen it, drive home, then start shrink-wrapping right away.
Mint & Solo, the old food savers were great, the new ones not so much. Like mint said the Weston is the top for this style of vacuum in the US right now, it can handle heavy constant use.