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Food vacuum packing machines (eg Tilia foodsaver): do they work?

  • d

I'm curious whether folks use a Foodsaver (available for $100 on Amazon for example) and whether they think it materially changes the shelf life of their foods.

Here's why I want it: I am starting to have someone to come and do food prep (both basic chopping as well as complete dishes) once a week. It would be very helpful to know that anything they do will keep for at least a week... so that they don't need to come twice. While something like the Foodsaver guarantee a week in the fridge? Or is it really only ideal for freezing?

Are there things that don't work well in the Foodsaver?

Are there other brands people like?

thanks.

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  1. Yes, they do work very well. Keeping food in the fridge for a week or longer is no problem - for example, I buy sliced cheese in bulk for the kiddie sandwiches, and seal them off into 2-3" thick groups which sit in the bottom of my meat drawer for more than a month (nobody likes frozen cheese). They seem to last as long as I don't open them - once I open one, I transfer it to a regular zip lock and the cheese is always good while being used up.

    I have been making my brined and smoked pastrami and yakibuta and sealing them into bags to send to my friends and relatives. They definitely last a lot longer than just wrapping in plastic wrap and sealing in a zip lock. I still ship them with an ice pack overnight, but once they get them, they can just toss it in the fridge for weeks without worrying about it.

    And of course, they work wonderfully for freezing - no freezer burns, month after month.

    I'm on my second Foodsaver. The first lasted about 10 years, then I bought a Black and Decker POS - it just didn't have the power. So I bought another Foodsaver at Costco last year - couldn't be happier. It is a noisy bugger - my wife hates my late night kitchen shenanigans when she's trying to sleep and I'm finishing off a batch of yakibuta down the hall. But anything quieter would be suspect, in terms of power.

    The bags aren't very good for wet things - even hamburger sometimes doesn't seal right when the blood gets sucked up into the sealing area.

    And the technology for their plastic containers isn't very good. I've been caught a couple of times, lifting the container by the lid, expecting that the vacuum is still holding the top on, and spilling coffee beans and mill ground corn meal all over the floor (rats!). They seem to seal well enough initially, but 2 weeks down the road, the seal is gone. When I bought the original Foodsaver, it came with both a regular and wide mouth Ball jar adapter - those sealed really well, just like they had been boiled and "popped". I often needed a can opener to pry the tops off. I'm going to have to look for those adapters again, since I can't find my old ones. Of course, the limitation is the 1 quart jars, where the new plastic containers can get much bigger - enough to hold a 2-lb bag of coffee beans. (What's the use, if they don't work?)

    11 Replies
    1. re: applehome

      Thanks. I wonder if some of the wet things would freeze better if you wrapped them in plastic first (or does that defeat the purpose!?). Or perhaps pre-freezing them slightly.

      1. re: Dylan

        Wet things work very well if they are either frozen or partially frozen first. Then they don't get sucked up to the top where they affect the seal.

        Also, wraping in plastic wrap works well too. It doesn't defeat the purpose, since it helps to prevent the moisture from affecting the seal, but still enables a perfectly airtight seal, thus preventing any freezer burns, etc.

        1. re: adamclyde

          Don't overlook the fact that frozen portions can be reheated in the Foodsaver bag by just putting it in boiling water like the boiling bag concept. I usually let things partially defrost first, but it is a great way to handle left over meats, barbeque, and works for soups and chili if you seal them after they are partially frozen. We use ours a lot and wouldn't want to be without it....

        2. re: Dylan

          I always put a strip of paper towel between my meat and where I am going to seal. That way, when it sucks any juice up, it gets absorbed into the paper towel and doesn't mess with the seal. I love my Food Saver!

        3. re: applehome

          "Of course, the limitation is the 1 quart jars"

          It won't work with 2 qt or gallon Mason jars?

          1. re: MikeG

            No reason why they wouldn't as long as they use the same tops (standard or wide-mouth). I guess I'll have to look for some bigger bottles - we just never used them.

            1. re: applehome

              Cool, thanks. I don't have a big enough freezer (or fridge) to make the foodsaver really cost effective but it's been on my "some day, mostly for the hell of it" list for a while now.;)

              1. re: MikeG

                FS is not limited to frozen and refrigerated storage. Pretzels, potato chips, bread, breakfast cereal, bread crumbs, oatmeal, flour, dried fruit, etc. all are stored in FS canisters at room temp in my house. It is one of the most worth-it kitchen gadgets I've ever owned.

          2. re: applehome

            just how noisy are they? noisy enough to warrant ear protection?

            1. re: toodie jane

              No - nothing like that - just enough to bother people trying to sleep in an otherwise quiet house, or watch TV. Just don't stay up all night processing food like I do!

              1. re: toodie jane

                "...noisy enough to warrant ear protection?"

                No - mine's a little louder than a garbage disposal, nowhere nearly as loud as a smoke alarm.

            2. I love our foodsaver. I also got mine at Costco it came with all the little extra's (canisters, wine cork, etc.) Since there are only two of us, things like heads of lettuce or bags of lettuce will be good for upwards of 2 weeks in the canisters. I grate my own italian cheese blend and it keeps for weeks on end.

              The one thing I wish it did better, even though you do have some control of when the sealing stops is bread. I can't seem to get it to the right place. I either wind up squishing it or leaving too much air.

              As far as wet stuff goes, they recommend folding a paper towel and sticking it towards the top right before the seal to absorb any juices so it doesn't get into the sealing part. You can also partially freeze stuff that is wet before sealing it up.

              Also, I ordered the square marinade canister. Works really nicely, the marinade gets sucked up into whatever you're marinading in half the time.

              So, yes - is it worth it - absolutely. I don't throw away nearly as much stuff. One word of caution, I would stick with the FoodSaver brand bags, the generic brand bags don't work nearly as well.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cbauer

                I ditto everything here. It does work - and is great for buying in bulk and freezing or keeping in the fridge. I love it. The bags aren't cheap, but I haven't found a suitable alternative yet...

                1. re: cbauer

                  Just to get the idea, you can marinate in the jars that come with some of the offers. I put some drumsticks and marinade in the jar that came with my Foodsaver. I could see them getting fatter while the machine was pumping out the air. It's a quick marinate.

                2. I signed up for this site just for this post!

                  I highly recommend the Foodsaver! I bought one back around 2000 (paid $100) and after 7 years it died on me. The sealing strip went out. I was frantic about getting another one but couldn't decide which one I wanted. My original one was just a sealer and I had seen the ones that did jars and canisters. Today I found one for $64.00! It is the V2830W model, which is likely an out of date model, explaining the good price. It came with 2 canisters, the wide mouth jar sealer and 2 rolls of bag material. It also flips up for easy storage if you want to leave it on the counter top.

                  The features for this model include:
                  hands-free operation
                  easy clean drip tray
                  built in roll storage and cutter
                  extra wide sealing strip
                  two speed settings
                  adjustable food settings
                  crush free instant seal

                  If anyone is even having a passing thought about getting one of these don't let the thought pass too long! I can't imagine anyone regretting having one!

                  1. M&M Jfood going to the theatre tonight and little jfood alone for dinner at the house. When she arrives she will have the choice of:

                    Lasagne
                    Sausage and Peppers
                    Chicken Parm
                    Braised Short Ribs
                    Beef Bourguignon
                    Meatball
                    Chicken Pot Pie
                    Grilled chicken
                    Breaded Chicken
                    Sauteed chicken with vegetables
                    Hazan Bolognese
                    Puttanesca

                    All in foodsaver bags in the freezer.

                    Does jfood love it, YUP!!

                    1. Living in Alaska - we need to pack fish and such and the foodsaver is the only option for that. Keeps in the freezer through the winter with no problem. Wetness isn't usually a concern if we just pat the fish dry before packing.

                      Our first one just gave up the ghost - I can't remember when we bought it but its been more years than I would care to admit as it would then give a fair approximation of my age. :-) Wasn't sure about the new version at Costco so am glad to hear good things - will be off to get mine this weekend.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: AlaskaChick

                        It's wonderful to be able to save fish for extended periods of time. I live in Florida and each year look forward to the Pompano run. Pan seared Pompano is a heavanly food, but the season is short. The Foodsaver allows me to have fresh Pompano all year long.