February 07, 2011
Paper or Plastic?
By David Draper
When it comes to preserving fish or wild game, there are a few schools of thought—the two most popular of which are wrapping in butcher paper or sealing in vacuum bags. I’ve done both and each method has its pros and cons.
For years, I was a wrapper, mostly because I couldn’t afford a vacuum sealer and its pricey bags. I’d take my cuts or burger, roll them tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap them in a square of butcher paper, going from corner to corner and tucking in the side to form a tight and (hopefully) air-free package secured with masking tape. It was economical and, for the most part, kept my venison free of freezer burn. But it was slow and if the meat did start to turn white with freezer burn, I wouldn’t know it until the package was thawed and unwrapped.
So, in moment of weakness, I broke down and bought a vacuum sealer. I was instantly smitten. I could package a deer in half the time and the bags were guaranteed air free. The love affair was short lived, however, as that first, admittedly bottom-of-the-line, sealer barely lasted a couple of seasons before it stopped sucking. But by then I was hooked on the process, so I bought an expensive, commercial-grade vacuum sealer.
Despite a rekindled love of the vacuum sealer, my cheapskate nature makes wistful for the days when a commercial sized roll of butcher paper would last me through several seasons. This melancholy is especially pronounced when I have to break the bank stocking up on vacuum bags at the beginning of each season. And even with a commercial-grade sealer, I can see the day when she’ll break my heart by refusing to remove all the air from a bag, which will probably happen in the middle of processing an elk.
So, before that happens, I want to hear your side. How do you store nature’s bounty: paper or plastic? Or is there another way I should know about?