Well, with the lead-in about food preservation methods, what I want to do is highly recommend that the serious home chef acquire all the modern devices. A high quality vacuum sealer is an obvious example. Those devices have started to become popular as low price models have become available, but few home chefs understand how their whole concept of food preservation and freshness can and will change if they learn to use a vacuum sealer. Add to that a high quality meat slicer and the home chef can literally make all the cold/lunch meats the family might want for sandwiches easily and cheaply and with refrigerator shelf life of around a month. And this is done without any of the preservatives found in the cold meats at your local delicatessen. That is very impressive, and I will illustrate that point now with a "prime" example.
I cooked a three pound piece of eye roast of beef, trimmed of fat, in an oven at 350º F for 45 minutes. The end product was brown on the exterior and medium rare throughout inside and very juicy. I immediately processed the warm roast through our meat slicer to create thin sliced roast beef for later use in making sandwiches. I then vacuum sealed four packages of the sliced juicy meat and refrigerated it. Three weeks later I opened the last package and it was as fresh and delicious as when it was first made … same color, texture, taste and no spoilage! Here is the best part. I paid $2.59 per lb. for the eye roast at Costco® (The 2012 price is $3.49/lb.). Comparative premium roast beef in our supermarket delicatessen was selling for $11.99 per lb. and it does not have a very long shelf life in any refrigerator. Sliced meats from the delicatessen typically must be eaten within one week or less.
If you do the arithmetic the conclusion is obvious. The same excellent economics and freshness results are obtained for ham and turkey breast, etc. I routinely buy bulk quantities of many cheeses at Costco® and package and vacuum seal them for what is likely to be used in one sitting, thus, the cheese is always fresh and there is no mold or bacterial contamination. Think about this as a quality of life issue as well as intelligent economics. What should you do?
For those of you who might be reluctant due to fear of bacterial contamination let me make the single most important point … all of our normal bacteria that might contaminate food, like salmonella, cannot live or reproduce in an oxygen free environment. Vacuum sealing really works to impede almost all bacteria as well as molds. One exception is botulism which is found, albeit rarely, in canned goods … recall the consumer warnings about never using canned goods where the can is swollen. You will refrigerate or freeze any food item that you have vacuum sealed that would degrade if not refrigerated or frozen. Hence, with even a tiny bit of common sense you will have no problems, only product cost, quality and shelf life benefits.