Small Ingredient Storage
Buying ingredients in small quantities can be expensive. For instance caraway seeds sell locally for almost $4 for 1.75 ounces. I was going through a couple of those a month and decided to shop around on the internet. I found a much less expensive source at about $10/pound + shipping. When I bought some other items at the same time my shipping cost for the caraway seeds came in at $2.50. My total cost was approximately 78 cents/ounce. The local cost was $2.29/ounce, and then I had to factor in driving, time, etc....
The problem then was how to conserve the "freshness" of those seeds, etc. without breaking the bank. I looked at the FoodSaver by Tilia, but during my research on it became discouraged. You get what you pay for with it, and the better units are not inexpensive. Not only that but it didn't seem "quite right" for the items that I had in mind. Then I stumbled upon the "Pump-N-Seal". Here's the link: http://www.pump-n-seal.com/ It's not a high-tech item. In fact it's very low-tech. It looks much like a small bicycle pump and operates much the same. Not only that, but it's been around a long time, and parts are available should one wear out something. The Pump-N-Seal works best to seal glass jars that use a single piece metal lid with a rubber-type seal. Perfect for me as I toss out at least one or more of these glass jars a week. So I bought a Pump-N-Seal for just under $30 delivered - didn't need the extras with the higher priced packages and the pump is the same no matter which package you buy. To make this short - it works just great! It's simple, easy to use, and economical. I highly recommend it. I've got caraway seeds, poppy seeds, parsley, bay leaves, and nuts currently sealed/stored with the Pump-N-Seal. As soon as I get some more jars I'll seal some other items too. The tabs used to seal the jars can be bought or made at home. Buy it, you'll like it.
For those of you who want to make your own valve seals for next to nothing: Cut a length of some sticky tape, such as electrical tape, and place it sticky side up on a table. Cut a strip from a plastic shopping bag (or whatever else you have - it can be quite thin), about one third the width of the sticky tape and stick it along the center of the tape. Stick this strip onto some easy release paper, like baking paper, or the backing of some sticky labels (finally a reason to save that stuff!). That's it. Cut a strip as required. Valves can be opened many times if the seal is lifted carefully and no particles get underneath. It is best to use a tape with good adhesive qualities for more reliable storage. Electrical tape can vary in quality and adhesion. 3M tape is top quality.