Sealing bags takes on a little greater importance when you’re on a boat. Ashore, a chip clip or a clothespin is usually sufficient to keep chips, crackers, cereal or whatever fresh. In the typical humidity aboard a boat, stronger measures are needed to keep them from going stale.
Lots of times, the bags themselves are pretty airtight — it’s just that it’s hard to really seal them up well. For years, I coped by rolling the open top down, using a clip and then sticking the whole thing inside a 2-gallon Ziploc. And if I didn’t have any big Ziplocs, I’d have to divide things up or see if I had a Lock & Lock that was empty and the right size . . . or whatever.
Bruce Balan,* who we met in the Sea of Cortez aboard his tri Migration (he and his now-wife Alene are currently in Thailand) recently told me about a much better way to do it: the bag sealers shown in the photo at the top of this article. They really do make an airtight seal!
Each seal has two parts — a tube and a 3/4 tube that snaps over the tube. Place the tube on one side of the bag, fold the bag over it, then snap the other half over it.
I bought some over 5 months ago to test and they are working great. I’ve never had one pop off and whatever is in the bag has stayed fresh. The only thing to note is that the bag you’re sealing has to be airtight itself — paper bags and even waxed paper bags will still let air in, and using a seal that is shorter than the width of the bag will also let air in. Since I made the cardinal mistake of not measuring how wide my bags are before choosing the size of seals (I know — I always say to measure everything!), I discovered that if I pleated the bag, it would fit and I could still get a good airtight seal.
If one is too long and the ends get in the way, you can cut the tubes to size — you probably want about 1/2″ overhang on both ends (1″ longer total) so that you don’t have to line things up perfectly every time you seal up a bag.
I’ve been seriously contemplating cutting one down to use on my open bag of coffee beans, instead of putting them into a Lock & Lock container. I’m thinking that since I could squeeze most of the air out of the bag — which I can’t do with the Lock & Lock — it might be a better way to store coffee. (UPDATE: it worked well — read about it here.)
They go by a variety of names — Banana Seals were the original ones, but they’ve become quite hard to find, unfortunately probably the victim of less expensive knock-offs.
The ones I bought — Clip-n-Seal — come in several sizes, but I found the larges to do pretty well for most things:
- Clip-n-Seal bag seals on Amazon (package of 10)
No, they’re not going to totally replace Ziplocs for storing things . . . and for longer term storage, you’ll probably want to overwrap the bag something came in with a plastic bag. But for keeping many items fresh for a week or 10 days, they work really well.
*Bruce is a children’s book author and recently released his award-winning “Buoy, Home at Sea” as an ebook — great book for anyone who loves the sea . . . even adults! See it on Amazon.