Learn about this inexpensive way to vacuum-pack lettuce for less using Mason jars, a thumbtack, electrical tape, and a hand pump. Watch the video to make the process easier to understand.
Addendum as of August 2018: Unfortunately, since I first published this post, the price of the Ziplock hand pump has increased. It has not been spotted in grocery stores for a long time. Luckily, you can still get it on Amazon here.
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Many people tell me they are curious about vacuum-packing chopped lettuce but don’t have or can’t afford a vacuum-pack machine. A few months ago, I was elated to learn it can be done with a portable vacuum-pack machine costing much less. But now I’ve discovered something even cheaper, thanks to my blogger friend Vicki.
Ziplock sells a hand pump that will vacuum-pack a glass jar of chopped Romaine quite inexpensively. It comes with 3 vacuum-sealable Ziplock bags (useful for storing big chunks of cheese) and can be found in the same area as aluminum foil and plastic wrap. In addition to the pump, you will need a thumbtack, electrical tape, and a clean glass jar.
Regarding the jars, use a glass canning jar or a repurposed glass jar (such as one spaghetti sauce or jelly might come in) with a screw-on lid. Some twist-on lids may also work if they form a tight seal.
Note: New to the idea of vacuum-packing prepared lettuce? See this post for more details about the why and how-to of this technique.
How to vacuum-pack chopped lettuce in a jar for less:
The easiest way to open a sealed jar is to peel off the tape which will immediately break the seal. Or, you can strong-arm the lid if you have substantial muscles.
It’s a good idea to check the seal occasionally while the jars are in the fridge to ensure the seal holds. Do this by bouncing your finger quickly on the lid. If sealed, it will not move.
When the seal is broken, the flat lid will move up and down slightly and make a noise. Re-vacuum with a new piece of tape if you aren’t quite ready to eat the contents.
Of course, the sooner you discover the broken seal, the better. In general, the large vacuum-pack machines make a stronger and more dependable seal. However, the hand pump is a good way to try the whole “vacuum-packing-lettuce-in-a-jar” concept if you don’t already own a machine.
You can also do this with Mason glass jars with two-part lids. See the video above for a complete demonstration.
What if the jar won’t seal?
- Try a smaller piece of electrical tape.
- Tape too tightly adheres to the lid before you start to pump. Remove and replace with a light touch.
- Make sure there are no cracks in your hand pump. (This actually happened to me when I first tried this technique leading me to believe it wouldn’t work. Glad Vicki encouraged me to give it another try.)
- The lid may not be sealing the jar completely. Twist-on lids are the most frequent offenders.
How to vacuum-pack Mason glass jars with a hand pump and a wide-mouth attachment:
If you already have the wide-mouth attachment, you can avoid putting holes in your canning lids by using it with Mason glass jars.
Happy Salad Eating!
P.S. The blue writing on the hand pump rubs off on your hands in an amazingly quick and annoying way. You can see in the pictures how half of the writing is already gone. Coat the plastic barrel of the pump with vegetable oil and then use a paper towel or a little scrubby pad to remove it.
Pin this picture to save for later.
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