I talked a little about drying beans the other day but I didn’t tell you what we do with the beans once they are dried. Actually, we dehydrate and dry all sorts of things actually and this applies to everything we do. As I have said before, I get hair-brained ideas fairly regularly. I wanted to be able to vacuum seal stuff in jars but I couldn’t see spending the money to get one of the fancy vacuum sealers. Foodsaver makes attachments for their powered products to evacuate the air from mason jars so I decided to give that a try with a modification of how the air gets removed. I needed something that sucks!
I can’t take sole credit for these ideas but I can’t remember where I saw a similar discussion on the idea. Anyhow, a brake bleeder sucks just fine and, in fact, even has a vacuum guage on it to tell how much it sucks. My first plan was to integrate the brake bleeder with the mason jar sealer. Although I wouldn’t want to hand pump a brake bleeder all day long, I can pull a vacuum of 20 inches of Hg in about 30 seconds. The mason jar sealer works perfectly for that.
Moving on to bigger and better, Harbor Freight (a cheap tool supplier) has a vacuum pump for evacuating hvac systems. You simply hook it up to your air compressor and it will draw around 28 inches of Hg. I couldn’t make it work as well with the jar sealer for some reason though I didn’t try too hard either. You can (as I did) fashion some sort of a cup-like end for a piece of hose. You could use a stout film canister or a small piece of tupperware or somehting similar.
Punch a hole in the lid of the jar and put a piece of duct sealing tape (the shiny silver stuff, not regular duct tape) on the lid leaving the hole exposed. Hold the cup over the hole and tape and start the vacuum. When you are finished, slide the cup off across the tape sealing the hole. The vacuum will further hold the tape in place providing a great seal.
With a little effort, you could probably use the hvac pump with the jar sealer too so it is worth a try. My “cup” solution works for things like large pickle jars or other containers that aren’t mason jar sized.
A traditional vacuum cleaner will not pull sufficient vacuum for this to work by the way. You’ll need something designed to draw (from what I have read) somewhere around 15-25 inches of Hg to be sufficient. Also, this is not a replacement for canning stuff that should be canned. We only store dehydrated stuff this way. Anyhow, it’s a pretty cool option for storing garden stuff and it can be pretty cheap depending on the junk you have laying around your workshop.