How To Seal Food into a Mason Jar with a Vacuum-Sealer Hand Pump

Sneak Preview: Learn about this inexpensive way to seal food into Mason jars with a vacuum-sealer hand pump. Watch the video to make the process easier to understand.

jar of lettuce and all supplies needed to vacuum-pack it cheaplyPin

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Have you ever wanted to try sealing certain foods inside a glass jar instead of using so many plastic bags?

Many people tell me they are curious about vacuum-packing chopped lettuce but don’t have or can’t afford a vacuum-pack machine. So, a few months ago, I was elated to learn you can vacuum seal a Mason jar with a portable vacuum-pack device. But now I’ve discovered something cheaper, thanks to my blogger friend Vicki.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a heat process, so perishables (like lettuce and fresh veggies) must remain refrigerated. Non-perishables like nuts, cereal, flour, etc., can be stored in the pantry. Either way, your food will last longer than normally expected.

Do I Have To Buy a Full-Size Vacuum-Seal Machine?

Ziplock sells a hand pump(paid link) that will vacuum-pack a glass jar of chopped romaine relatively inexpensively.  It comes with three vacuum-sealable Ziplock bags (helpful in storing big chunks of cheese). Look for these in the same area as aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Or check Amazon.

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 tops 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 Create a Vacuum in a Jar for Less

poking a hole into lid with a thumbtackPin
Use a sharp thumbtack to poke a hole in the lid.
Covering the pin-prick hole in the metal canning lid with electrical tapePin
Cover the hole with a SMALL piece of electrical tape.
removing air with a vacuum-pumpPin
Pump vigorously while holding the bottom of the pump securely against the lid.

How Do I Unseal the Jar?

The easiest way to open a sealed jar is to peel off the tape. Doing this will immediately break the seal.

Or, you can strong-arm the lid if you have substantial muscles.

How Long Will the Seal Hold?

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 breaks, 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 more robust and more dependable seal.

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.  I’m 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-Seal Mason jars with a Hand Pump

If you already have the wide-mouth attachment, you can avoid putting holes in your canning lids by using the attachment with Mason glass jars.

using a wide-mouth attachment to seal the jarPin
Place the flat part of the lid on top of the Mason glass jar, then cover it with the large-mouth attachment.
using Ziplock hand pump with large mouth FoodSaver lid adapterPin
Center the bottom of the hand pump over the hole in the top of the attachment. Pump to remove the air and seal the flat lid. Remove the wide-mouth attachment and cover it with a collar.
lettuce that was vacuum-sealed in a repurposed spaghetti sauce jar 8 days ago. no brown edgesPin
With a hand pump, this lettuce was chopped, dried, and vacuum-packed in a re-purposed spaghetti sauce jar. Eight days later, the lettuce has no brown edges and is crispy and ready to eat.

Parting Thoughts: The blue writing on the hand pump rubs off onto your hands in a swift and annoying way.  You can see in the pictures how half of the script 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.

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately for a quick answer: Paula at Hope to see you again soon! 

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  1. Great idea. Ty for shearing.
    Any idea if this will work with kale ? Or is it also to fragile like spinach ?

    1. Hi Ken,
      I have never tried kale, but only because I’m not a kale person. Because it’s sturdy, I bet it would work.

  2. Awesome suggestions, can’t wait to try. Already have bothered the Foodsaver and the Zwilling vacuum pumps. This should help greatly to reduce waste. Thanks again for sharing!

    1. I hope this works out for you. I’ve been doing it for about 13 years now–still works for me.

  3. Sharon Solutopa says:

    Great tips!! This ziplock hand pump reminds me of the Pump-N-Seal, which was pretty popular in the 90s. I used to use it seal my ball mason jars. Made a really impressive vacuum seal!

    1. You are on the ball, Sharon. Very similar.

  4. doug williams says:

    You can also use 2 liter coke bottles with the electrical tape. I’ve kept dried corn for over 5 years, and it is still sealed! ( I use the corn for seed and also to grind for grits and cornmeal. Sealing keeps out insects and moisture.)

    1. Hi Doug,

      Really, a 2-liter coke bottle? I guess you are punching a small hole in the plastic lid. Right? I’m so impressed the bottle is still sealed after 5 years. That’s absolutely amazing. I sure would like to try some of your home-ground grits. I bet they are delicious! Thanks for sharing the tip.

  5. Thanks for the great idea for lettuce. I’ve been using Food Saver system for over ten years. I seal just about everything: crackers, cereal, cheese, chips, snacks in their own packages. It keeps these items fresher longer. For items with waxed paper packaging I count to 4 then stop the process. Going the full time seems to be too long. Cheese and other snacks like chips I let it seal the full time and then cut off the top when ready to use. I seal cut veggies, hotdogs, cold cuts in mason j

    1. Hi Mary,

      It sounds like you’ve got the whole vacuum-pack thing down. Thanks for adding your ideas.

  6. Douglas Edwin Bartz says:

    Can you purchase the big #10 cans and put them in smaller jars? If so, how long can they be stored?

    1. #10 cans of what? Vacuum packing is only for non-perishables or food such as produce that will be refrigerated even after vacuum-packing. In others words, vacuum-packing will not substitute for heat-processed canning. Vacuum-packing will help prolong freshness in perishables when refrigerated or frozen. This is VERY IMPORTANT to understand. I don’t want you to get sick.

  7. holy cow this thing worked …

  8. M. Copeland says:

    Fast & easy to use it! Saves time and makes freezing food in small portions so very easy!

  9. Eleanor Malcolm says:

    I love my Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer. I use both the bags (mostly for freezer storage) and the mason jar attachments. Did you know they now have..I think it is 1/2 or 1 gallon mason jars. I put my excess flour (after it has spend time in the refrigerator) and sugar in them.

    1. Yes, the large jars are quite handy. Thanks for writing.

  10. I’m so glad I found you. I decided to try with a used lid (previously used for hot bath jelly canning). I save them for things I want to seal short term in the fridge. It worked perfectly and I did get a good seal with just the Ziplock pump and the tape. (I don’t reuse lids from pressure canning.) The ‘hardest thing’ was punching the hole with the tack.

    1. Hi Carmen,
      Good to hear from you. Yes, you can get a pretty good seal but in general, doesn’t last quite as long as something sealed with the large jar attachment.

  11. Thank you sooo much for sharing this.. Love it..

  12. Paula:
    Great Vid….Typically…..How long do the jars stay sealed using the tape method?? I have a fishing application for this system and already secured the Ziploc Hand Pump from Amazon

    1. Joe,
      Depends on how good a seal you make to start with. You’ll probably need to experiment a little.

  13. Hey its awesome. I am thinking to get one of them. So nice to get an idea about the vacuum sealer. Thanks for this post.

  14. Wow Paula! It seems that you are an expert. Maybe you can help me. I don’t like to use the spinner for drying the lettuce, do you know any other way to do it?
    I have arthritis in my hands but I try to live a normal life. However I have to be careful not to over do it. The only way I know: after washing it, put it on paper towel. It takes to much time and does not look fresh after a while.
    Thank you very much for your ideas.
    Regards, Lina

    1. Lina, There are several types of spinners. Mine has a plunger type of mechanism that only has to be pushed up and down. I’m not sure but seems like you could do it without pain. It is an OXO. I like it the best of any I’ve had. But they all worked differently. Have no other alternative for you. Thanks for writing. paula

  15. Thank you very much for your ideas, which I stumbled into while doing google search for sealed salad container. I’m committed to try this for my daily salad.
    If successful, I’ll make my 7-days’ salad on Sat/Sunday. Where do I buy the little hand pump please (make/model, if you still remember). Much appreciated.

    Best regards,


    1. Deb,
      It has been awhile since I looked for the pump, but I have seen it at Walmart. Amazon carried it at one time, so you might look online.

  16. Peter Frazier says:

    wonder if this could be used for cold press.. leave a bit of a vacuum while the coffee cold soaks..

  17. yvonne norton says:

    Ok I LOVE this idea for other things as well (juicing & fusion water), but here are a few questions I have You stated that the Ziploc hand pump was avail in the grocery store? What section ? Also, It appears that you are only putting the lettuce in the jar not the “fixins” I am guessing that I could try that since I would probably only be making 4-5 days worth at a time… For some reason I have been saving ALOT of my glass spag. sauce jars not really sure why but now I have a use WOO HOO !!!

    1. Hi Yvonne,
      Ziploc hand pumps are usually found next to the Ziploc bags in the grocery store. Check Walmart or look online.

      I don’t recommend adding the “fixins” when vacuum-packing because of the reasons stated here.

      Nice that you’ve been saving the spaghetti jars. They are better for sauces than salads because of the narrow mouth. While you CAN use them for salads, they are harder to fill and empty than wide-mouth Mason jars which I heartily recommend. They are cheap and also, they seal easier. Good luck.

  18. Where can you get the wide mouth attachment you mention on your video? I tried Walmart, but couldn’t find it. Could you please direct me where to buy it?


    K. Olvera

  19. wyspa gier says:

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

    After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I
    hope you write again very soon!

  20. Sally Robison says:

    Paula, Thank you so much for your salad in a jar advice!! I skimmed over all the comments in hopes of finding an answer to my question – but if it’s there, I missed it 😉 I’m wondering if. instead of just the lettuce, an entire salad with all its various ingredients could be mixed up and placed in the jar before sealing? If someone likes a different salad everyday, they could mix it up for each jar. Me – I’d probably eat the same salad for a week! 🙂 Thanks, in advance, for your reply!

    1. Hi Sally,
      Check out this post.

  21. I’ve been using Pump-N-Seal for a few years now for my dehydrated foods, with mostly good success. However, I much prefer using the Food Saver–much easier on my arms! Just wanted to point out a couple things: Mice can chew through the electrical tape! So I pay attention to where I store pump-n-sealed jars–if it’s tomatoes or carrots or corn or peas, for example, which mice LOVE, I try to keep them in the house instead of the garage. This year I am trying something new with jars that need to be in the garage–I’m adding a protective layer on top of the electrical tape and then taping that down with wide packing tape. And remembering to let the cats in there more often… Another thing is that there are lots of other jars that will take a mason jar lid, so I try the Food Saver first and then if that doesn’t work I use the Pump-N-Seal. Oh, another thing–some of the smaller jars will fit inside the wide-mouthed mason jars–so you can use the Food Saver to vacuum seal those, too! Amazingly, it does work. I save all kinds of jars but I’m now preferring to use the small ones because they can be vacuum sealed that way–and if not, well, I can still resort to the Pump-N-Seal.

    Now I must try the salad-in-a-jar-in-the-fridge thing. Thanks for the idea!

  22. Douglas V says:

    This is a great idea. How would this work for flower and meats. When I go hunting, I don’t want any of the animal to ever go to waste, ever. I also give about half of the meat to charity or people that I know personally that are having a really tough go of it.

    1. Douglas,
      It works great for flour. Not good for meats unless you are freezing them. Vaccuum-packing is not a substitute for heat-processed canning. Perishable foods must be kept refrigerated or frozen, even when vacuum-packed.

  23. Good information for when the lights go out – however prep your food before that happens lol. Just wanted to mention the Foodsaver seal on a mason jar is much much stronger. You won’t be able to pull the lid off with your fingers – you’ll need something to pry a bit on it.

    1. Dennis, you are mostly correct about getting a better seal with a full-size vacuum pack machine. The hand pump and smaller machines will also seal well but you may have to vacuum longer. I love my Reynolds handi-vac and use it every day with great success. It is small, uses batteries and is easy to throw in a drawer and really does just about as good as a full-size FoodSaver.

    2. Dennis,
      I agree on the Foodsaver seal. Those darn Foodsaver machines just don’t last very long. Thankfully, there are alternatives. Love the Reynolds Handi-Vac as long as it has good batteries. It will give a very good seal also.

  24. I have been making salads in a jar for the last 3 months. I use quart jars for salad and pint jars for fruit salad. Some people say to add salad dressing to the jars, but i prefer to add it when i open the jar.

  25. Paula,

    Would this work for fruits and other vegetables as well? I would definitely love to have my chopped onions last a lot longer, as well as small batches of berries that don’t seem to last as long. I make my own hummus and I’m hoping it will last longer if I put it into a vacuum-sealed jar as well…. Have you ever tried vacuum-sealing other things in your refrigerator?

    1. I have experimented a little but not too much. Can only suggest you give it a try.

  26. Tape wont work of any kind. It cant seal. boil your jars and lids, fill and seal like you would canning jam instead. :0)

    1. I’m so sorry the tape didn’t work for you. I will be glad to explore the technique further with you or you could buy the attachment and vacuum-pack that way. It’s only 10$ and it’s foolproof. The bigger issue I’m concerned about is that you recommend heat canning instead. These two techniques are not interchangeable. If you are making jam, please DO NOT just vaccum-pack it. It must be heat canned. Perishable goods that are vacuum-packed MUST be kept in the refrigerator.

  27. Quick question about the attachment, should I get a wide mouth attachment even though I have regular sized mouth mason jars, or just get a regular sized attachment? Thanks for the help!

    1. Billy,
      Your attachment must match the size of the jars you want to seal.

  28. Hi,

    I was wondering, I already have a handheld food saver pump. Would that work in place of the ziplock pump? Also I saw someone else comment that it worked with regular ziplock bags. Have you tried this? If so and it did work do you think I would be able to use it to freeze stuff too? I hate getting freezer burn on my meats. Thanks for you help!


    1. Yes. A handheld food saver pump works even better than the ziplock pump. Check out this post.

      I don’t see how a hand held or ziplock pump would work on a regular ziplock bag. Even the ziplock bags specially designed for the ziplock pump don’t hold a seal for very long. I have much better luck just putting my food in glass jars and using the attachment to seal them. That is the most fail-proof way to do it. Check out the posts listed on this page for LOTS more information.

  29. This is so cool! I love buying food and making food in bulk, and now I know the perfect way to store them! Can’t wait to try it out. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  30. Evelene Rodgers says:

    Please give me some way to keep my hulled pecans to keep them fresh. If vacuum method will work, please let me know. I have lots of pecans we grow and need my freezer space to store food that has to be frozen. My freezer is just full of pecans.

    1. Hi Evelene,
      I have always frozen them myself but I think vacuum-packing hulled pecans in Mason jars or the plastic bags sold by FoodSaver might be an excellent alternative. But I can’t say that I’ve done it myself for any length of time to prove that it works. I’m going to try it though and see what happens.

      1. Hi Evelyn!
        Saw your question and thought I’d share my experience. I have been sealing both pecans and walnuts in jars for over a year. It just amazes me how fresh the nuts are, even after a year! I recommend the jar method vs the bags. You can just open up the jars and re-seal as you go. The lids can be used over and over (unlike heat canning). I’ve used lids easily 20 times and they are still going. If you do intend to do food storage long term, check the lids monthly as sometimes they do lose their seal. It doesn’t happen very often, but once in a while I have found one. No problem – just reseal. Try it – you will love it!

  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have wanted a Food Saver forever but just can’t afford one. I have used the hand pump on the Zip Lock bags, and then was fortunate to find the little Food Saver pump at a yard sale. It works great on the Zip Lock Bags. But now I can do the jars and seal lots of stuff. I like to buy in bulk and now I can get more foods and use this method. I know not to can that way, but am fortunate to have all types of canners for everything from fruits to meats. This will really be a blessing to me. Thanks again, Joni

  32. Jeanene Lowrie says:

    Hi Paula!
    Great website & ideas!!! So, what about putting meat products like cooked chicken, ham/turkey, eggs…things like that in the salad jars? Does that stay fresh as long as the salad typically does alone?

    Thanks, Jeanene

    1. Hi Jeanene,
      Adding other ingredients changes things, usually shortening the time you can keep the salad. The layered salads you see on other blogs are not vacuum-packed. That is an entirely different game. Check out this post to see my take on the whole matter.

  33. Hi Paula,

    I’m back to report that you have created something short of a revolution for me and my friends. I have been using this system for a little over a month and I’ve gone down 1 1/2 pants sizes. My 10 yo son teased me of starting a business going door to door selling the hand held vacuum, mason jars & accessories. I found the hand held on sale and purchased them for my friends, I purchased cases of jars and split them up. I even went to their homes and demonstrated how to use the system, well one gf is in Canada but had her package for her when she visited, there are 4 friends in total that I’ve hooked. I thought it was funny that he noticed that. Also, my 8 yo daughter came in 3rd place in the science fair. Guess what her project was about? You guessed it- Got Fresh Lettuce. She learned so much doing the experiment. Her hypothesis was that she could spray lettuce on a plate with water daily bc of the sprinkler system in the grocery store and bc water is used to make it grow. By the end of the project she learned that the water made it spoil faster and because it was cut up it couldn’t grow anymore. She also realized that the vacuum removed the oxygen from the jar and the plate was exposed to oxygen in the fridge. I was amazed by all the learning. So thank you! You have affected my pants size, everyone in my house eats more salad and helped my daughter discover so much through her experiment.

    1. Hi Missy,
      Your comment made my day!! Thanks for taking the time to write.

      I’ve never thought about the effect of the whole water sprinkling thing on lettuce or any other vegetables. Very interesting. Congrats to your daughter on 3rd place.

      Also, congratulations to you on losing weight. Makes the 20 or 30 minutes a week it takes to prepare it all worth it, doesn’t it? On top of that, it’s not expensive or weird food and is extremely versatile so you don’t get tired of it. I’ve been doing it for over 8 years now–at least 5 days a week with no change in dress sizes despite food blogging for 3+ years.

  34. I just got my hand-pump, YEAH!!

    QUESTION: Can the same technique be used for liquids, such as fresh juiced greens?

    Then I would only need to juice once per day.

    1. When you juice, freshness counts! Keeping the oxygen out would extend the “life” of the juice. For me personally, I would vacuum seal the juice to use only later that day. I would not keep it for several days in the fridge. Hope this helps!

  35. Thank you SO MUCH for this amazing tip!!! I absolutely never bring salads to work because I can’t stand how quickly expensive/organic lettuce goes bad and gets slimey, or gets crushed in a baggie, etc. I just went out yesterday to buy the Ziploc hand vac (Walmart was the only place that carried it in the SF Bay Area oddly) but was disappointed to find that no store in a 20 mi radius carries the wide jar sealer attachment 🙁 BUT I decided to ‘ruin’ my mason jars with a hole and tape. I did this thinking there’s no way I’d get a good seal on this thing but voila it worked like a charm! I really cannot thank you enough.

  36. Whitedove Apple says:

    ??? love this idea, I have a food saver i haven’t even used YET. ?? though, yu said chopped lettuce and dried, is that dried in a dehydrator. or just wiped off with a paper towel dry, and 2nd ? if this is sealed can it stay on a shelf in cupboard or is it still having to go in frig. i get food from and end up trashing to much. thanks Whitedove

    1. Whitedove,
      When I talk about drying the lettuce I am referring to spinning it or wiping it dry of excess moisture. Although it is sealed, you absolutely must keep in in the fridge until you are ready to eat it.

  37. Hi Paula;

    I’m a “guy” and we’re not supposed to read warm & fuzzy, Home & kitchen blogs like yours (LOL; I have other reasons to vaccum-pack jars.) Anyway another website shows using the same wide-mouth adapter but instead of a ziplock pump, uses a brake-bleeder (sold at Harbor-Freight) that has a pistol-grip like a caulking gun, and can accomodate a vacuum guage. Here’s his link: Anyway, you’re a beautiful person. (wink, wink.)

    1. Thanks Dean. Welcome, especially because you’re a “guy”. I don’t know about the whole brake-bleeder idea so I’ll take your word for it. 🙂

  38. Marlene Zellers says:

    How do you prepare the lettuce for the jar. Do you wash and then dry the lettuce with paper towel and also does it matter the kind of knife used for cutting up the lettuce before jarring. Love this idea, thank you so very much for sharing, Blessings, Marlene

    1. Hi Marlene, All the information you need is on my blog. Start here.

  39. I’m back again. I have 7 quart sized jars and I just want to start with that. How much salad do you think I need? Is this enough for the warehouse romaine or should I start smaller?

  40. Checking back in and it worked!! I’m so excited, I’m starting today. I’m glad I finally decided to Just Do It! I will work with what I have and graduate to the jar sealer if I can’t find it on my thrift runs. Also, it’s science fair time and I think my 3rd daughter will enjoy doing the experiment that you did and it might teacher her teachers a little something too. Nice to have adult Science lingo to help keep us going. I LOVE the BLOG!

    Here’s to a healthier me!

  41. Hi Paula,

    I have been coming back to your website for over a year now, but keep running into trouble getting all the parts together. I don’t like to pay shipping or to wait for things to come. When I read that Big Lots had the renyold’s readi-vac, I set out to find one or two. I looked back at the post and realized it was pretty old, but worth a shot. I drove to 4 Big Lots in my area…nothing. Then I went to 3 Krogers in the area looking for the manual pump…Nothing. I want to scream! I found a foodsaver handheld pump at Walmart, but I don’t have the jar sealer. So… I’m going to give the electrical tape way a try with what I got! fingers crossed

    1. Hi Missy,
      I don’t blame you for being frustrated. I went looking for the Ziplock pump this weekend at 2 different Krogers and they also did not have it. However, they had a bunch a Walmart. Hope you have one close to you. If you find you like the whole idea of vacuum-packing lettuce, I would encourage you to get the wide-mouth attachment. It really works better and easier than the electrical tape method although that method is a great way to try out the process.

  42. Can you provide us a link for the hand pump on Amazon? Thanks!

  43. ???? COFFEE BEAN QUESTION ????
    Illy Coffee cans are vacuum sealed and have a little hole in the bottom of the can. Over the hole is a piece of ‘tape’. Couldn’t the beans be resealed with the pump placed over this taped hole. Then we could have a cute little opaque coffee tin always vacuum sealed. Seems this would work for many formerly vacuum-sealed tins, eh? Love your site!

    1. BB,
      Yes, absolutely. A few things that come to mind: jar of spaghetti sauce, condiments, etc. I used to vacuum pack my coffee but a reader commented that constantly re-vacuum packing my coffee would draw the flavor out. But that was ground coffee. Not sure if it would affect coffee beans the same way.

      Thanks for writing.

  44. So excited, finally bought the pump on Amazon and got work… this is such a great time and money saver. Instead of buying salad at work, I can now grab my jar of salad in the morning and go! Also, I’m storing my fruit and veggies in jars… they last much longer! Thanks for this great DIY! 😀

    1. Your welcome Junell. Hope you enjoy your salad as much as I do.

  45. Am so enjoying your blogs and learning so much. Also saw your making of greek yogurt. Thank you!

  46. Tracy Koranda says:

    Since the thumbtack through the top of a Mason jar worked so well, I wondered if it would also work well on a ziplock bag. IT DOES! I poked a small hole in the bag in the corner with the thumbtack, put a small piece of tape over it and used the Ziplock hand pump to pump out the air. I’ll let you know how long it lasts.

  47. Wow. Thanks so much for sharing this, found it via pinterest. I have been continually frustrated with my ability to keep salad fresh between visits to the store. I usually end up throwing a third to half out because it goes bad and consequently don’t eat as much as I would like for my health. I had to throw out half a bag yesterday because the stuff got all brown and runny. Really ticked me off because I was looking forward to a salad for lunch. This looks like it will change that.

    Thanks again!

  48. I’ve been wanting to do this and I finally remembered to grab the ziplock pump and did it–it’s so exciting! I’m looking forward to just grabbing the lettuce out of the fridge and having it ready to go! Thanks for both the explanations and the videos–they’re great, as are you!

  49. For cookies an things you want to open an close repeatitly. use the zip loc style vacuum bags from food saver an i belive ziploc makes them to, they make the pump. Both have a vacuum (port) on them. I really like sealing in jars an not having to use the electric food saver.

  50. Renee watt says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m going to try it. I’m always throwing lettuce away.

  51. I read your post a few days ago, and then this weekend found both a vacuum machine with bags for $5 at a garage sale…then next stop same day I found the Ziploc hand pump for 25 cents! I am so excited to get the salads in a jar going for better, healthy eating, and I’m always trying to find ways to save money on food–it gets more important every year!

    1. Wow Susan,
      How lucky for you on your garage sale finds. Hope you like vacuum-packing lettuce. It makes it so much easier to eat a lot of salad.

  52. I heard that the salad in a jar stays fresh even without being vacuum-packed. What are your thoughts. And where can one purchase one of these tools?

    1. I did an experiment and posted about it comparing chopped Romaine lettuce that was vacuum-packed with some that was just stored in a closed glass jar. You can read about it here. If you don’t chop the lettuce, it will last longer even when not vacuum-packed but I want lettuce that is ready-to-eat out of the jar. You can buy a hand pump at most grocery stores–the Ziplock brand. See my other posts listed here for information about other ways to vacuum-pack and where you can buy everything you need. Have a good weekend.

  53. Thanks!
    I can’t wait to try this both ways!
    I actually have a Seal-a-Meal and I believe I have attachments somewhere.
    We have only used it to seal our home made jerky.

    1. Jody,
      You’re welcome. Homemade jerky sounds good, too.

  54. The spicy saffron says:

    Hi Paula,
    Lovely blog you have out here!! This post in particular is great. I would have never thought of preserving lettuce in such an inexpensive way. Will have to try doing it soon as I am in a habit of buying big bags of lettuce only to throw half away in a few days. Thanks for the great tip. Will come back more often to read all the other posts on your blog.

    1. Welcome Spicy,
      Hope it will save you some money.

  55. Michael Holmes says:

    If you only press down on one side of the tape until vacuumed it will work easier at first then get harder as you pump and pull more vacuum. It will also get harder to open lid with a few more pump

    1. Thanks Michael,
      Good hint!

  56. jenn nahrstadt says:

    paula–knowing your love for mason jars, i thought of you immediately when i saw this on the pioneer woman’s blog today:

    another great way to use mason jars!

    1. Hi Jenn,
      Thanks for the tip. I jumped right over there to check it out. How cool!

  57. Hi…I’m very, very new to these ideas. Can you do this with other vegetables to keep them fresh? I saw your comments about pantry staples like flour and pasta (which I may do since my husband has to eat gluten-free and buying in bulk is way cheaper!!), but in terms of other fresh fruits and vegetables, I was curious. A blog article that features other foods that this method might work for would be awesome! I find that I often don’t get through all of my veggies/fruits before they go bad…Thanks for all the great information!

    1. Hi Ashley,
      That’s a good idea for a blog article. Some work and some don’t and each vegetable stores for a different period of time depending on their make up and sturdiness. Now that you have a cheap way to experiment, you can try your favorite veggies. The FoodSaver website gives a list of things that are good to store and things not so good although my own personal experience varies a bit from their advice with certain produce.

  58. I’ve had several people ask about seal failure on the lids when using the Ziplock pump. You do have to experiment a bit. If you can easily pry the lids off with your fingertips, try a few more pumps. It should be very difficult/impossible to pry off without the aid of a blunt end of a bottle opener.

    Since I not only seal things for the fridge but also shelf stable foods in the pantry, my seals need to last months and even several years. Once in a while I have had a jar lose its seal. So I check the jars stored in the pantry on a monthly basis and simply reseal it.

    I first learned about vacuum sealing from a Wendy DeWitt food storage seminar that is on YouTube. She shows a jar of sealed chocolate chips that were sealed for several years and were just as fresh as the day she first sealed them. She tells of finding another jar of chocolate chips that was sealed with her Foodsaver machine that somehow lost its seal and the chips were white and not fresh anymore. So, whether using the Foodsaver machine, a battery operated pump, or a manual pump, it’s just a good idea to check those lids to be sure the vacuum was maintained.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting about this, Vicki. Even in the video, I should have added a few more pumps for a better seal.

      I never thought about vacuum-sealing chocolate chips. May have to try that although we go through them pretty fast around here.

      1. Paula,
        A lot of blogs I read encourage families to maintain a grocery stockpile. In my old way of thinking, I would only buy chocolate chips only if I planned to bake cookies in the next week. But in the new plan, I buy extra (even better when they are on sale near Thanksgiving or Christmas or I have a coupon), and when I use some, I buy more to maintain my inventory. That way I won’t run out and I feel great knowing I’ve purchased my grocery items as economically as possible. And thanks to vacuum sealing, I can put the pantry items in glass jars and then months (or even years!) later I can enjoy freshness in longer term food storage.

        I’ve seen where people get a great deal on candy after the holidays and they buy up quite a lot. If vacuumed sealed, it will last a very long time. No one has to pay full price to enjoy these little “treats” anymore!

        But I must say that one of my favorite things to vacuum seal in jars is nuts. Buy a large quantity once in the year and then enjoy them for the whole year WITHOUT the worry of price increases! I know that nuts can be so pricey and they just keep getting more expensive. So this is a great way to save money.

        Although this system can sound intimidating to get started, try having a goal of say $20 – $40 to put aside to purchase additional pantry items you know you need and use all the time. Things like pasta, flour, brown sugar, nuts, seeds, herbs, tea, rice, etc. are all things I use on a monthly basis. I just buy extra – especially if there is a sale. Most grocery stores have a few things on sale weekly that really are a good price. And since they tend to do this in cycles, you can plan your purchases accordingly. And don’t forget that instead of running all over town, Wal-Mart does price match!

        I hope more people will consider doing this. For a little extra money and hardly any time, you can have surplus in the pantry that was bought at the best possible prices. I personally know a large family that routinely did this. When the father had health issues that forced him to leave his job, one thing they didn’t have to worry about was food. They had plenty to see them through for quite a while. It sure left an impression on me to do the same!

        1. For those interested in learning more about vacuum sealing pantry items, here is a video on YouTube by Wendy Dewitt that is a great source of information. The audio portion of her talk isn’t the best, but the info included is so helpful. Here is the link:

          And, for anyone interested in learning to begin a grocery stockpile, the website called The Grocery Game is a great way to begin. Terri Gault has many helpful videos to get you started, she has a great book that has a lot of info that you can get at the library, or to make it easiest – you can just sign up for a month to test the waters where she does all the locating of great deals for you. Then vacuum seal your surplus items and you will have
          “WON” at the grocery game!

  59. Hi Paula! I sure hope I can find one of those Ziploc hand pumps and give this a try. You really have the best ideas and tutorials!

  60. sandi r.... says:

    You just keep great ideas coming. Love your blog. SANDI.

  61. Peggy Helmick says:

    Thanks again for your good ideas! Love your blog.


  62. This is a great and cost effective way to seal your salad jars! I wish they’d come up with something similar to seal my cookie bags 😉

    1. Paula, if you could find a large enough jar with a tight-fitting lid, you could do this with cookies. Absolutely. Many people store flour, sugar, rice, and pasta this way. I also do it with granola and biscotti. Would the wide-mouth gallon Mason jars be big enough or how about the fishbowl type glass cookie jars with screw on metal lids? Poke a tiny hole, cover with tape, and pump the air out.

      In reading over your comment again, I realized you want to seal bags. You can do that with a regular vacuum-pack machine that uses heat to seal. I’m assuming you would not want those vacuum-packed though.

  63. The Café Sucré Farine says:

    Very cool Paula! You got me this time, I can’t afford to not try this! What a simple idea, I’m looking for this pump next time I’m at Kroger, thanks.

    1. I just checked out your lovely blog! I am very impressed. I’ll be checking back often to see what you are up to. Keep up the good work Cafe Sucre Farine!