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The world of vaccum sealers

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I am considering getting one and am lookng for advice on how to use them in freezing food that I have cooked. If you have one, how do you use it with food? If I roasted a chicken, for example, would there be any way of preserving it with a vacuum sealer, then throwing in the freezer (I'd cut the chicken in quarters - I'm wondering how you reheat it). And what to do with flank steaks? What's your advice about soups, stews, and other liquidy items?

Thanks so much!

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  1. I have a FoodSaver and love it. Freeze your liquid foods first, then vacuum-seal. Various widths of bags are available, and you cut them to length, so you can accommodate different sizes of foods. You can actually reheat in the bag, in simmering water (although I've never done it).Have a look at www.foodsaver.com

    3 Replies
    1. re: foodstorm

      Ditto. If you get the Food Saver look at their Video/CD that comes with it, it s not well done and is a bit tedious but worth looking at.They give you some really good tips. I have found that occasionally I do not get a vacuum seal and have to start over. Their tip about using a paper towel as a moisture barrier when vacuum sealing moist products like meat or fish is a good one

      1. re: Candy

        For sealing fish, I first put the fish in a grocery produce bag, wrap to express the air from the produce bag, then put both the produce bag and fish in a food saver bag, that keeps the moisture from the sealing area.

      2. re: foodstorm

        FWIW - I saw the Food Saver at Costco yesterday for $129.99.

      3. I have one of the fancy Foosaver's that flips up and sits on the counter against the wall. I love that thing.

        I cook EVERYTHING and process it into bags. Either I thaw it or for camping, put it in boiling water for GREAT quick meals.

        I even have "stir fry" pouches in the freezer of cabbage in one and peppers and herbs in the other I toss in hot oil (frozen) with protien and have a great meal in minutes.

        I also fish and portion my catch with it.

        Love the Foodsaver. Love.

        4 Replies
        1. re: holy chow

          Boiling bag is great for anything that does not benefit from being served "crisp" -- and I think that roast chicken DOES much better crisped up.

          1. re: holy chow

            hi holy, can you tell us the brand and model # you have, I have been looking for a good one and there are so many different features, it is hard to decide what to get, I'd really appreciate your help, thanks!

            1. re: cheri

              Cheri, scroll down. I just gave the details below...

              1. re: cheri

                jfood has a v2490 Foodsaver. Love it. bought it at Costco about 18 months ago. jfood thinks it was about $130 with lots of extras.

            2. You can vacuum seal just about anything. For soft things, just freeze them first and then seal them. Just don't forget to go back and seal them!

              You can boil or microwave directly in the bags, or reheat it the way you would ordinarily.

              I had a Rival Seal-A-Meal and after that one kicked the bucket I got a FoodSaver. The "name brand" of the FoodSaver is well worth the increased price of admission. It is astonishingly better and easier to use than the Rival product. I didn't think there was really a way to screw up a simple machine like this, but Rival figured out a way!

              1. I have a Food Saver. It works very well for freezing foods that would suffer from freezer burn, and foods that one would want to keep in the freezer for a while.

                Your questions make me think you don't need a Food Saver, the machine costs ~$100-250 depending on model and source, the bags run ~0.50 each, though they can be reused.

                You mentioned roasted chicken, I don't see a need to get a food saver just to freeze a chicken, if you wanted to raise, butcher and freeze a dozen chickens at a time, then a food saver would be a good choice. Same with Flank Steak, I can't see why one would buy a food saver to freeze a flank steak, but you may want to try forcing marinades into meat tissue with the vacuum. I don't vacuum pack liquids, there are more suitable (to me) containers, one doesn't need a vacuum pack to freeze a soup. Liquids don't do well in the vacuum packer, the vacuum will draw liquids into the sealing area, there are work arounds though, such as pre freezing or double bagging.

                I use many more ziplock bags than food saver bags, i.e., most of my freezing is short frame and I use zip locks for that.

                In addition, a frost free freezer is not the best place to freeze food. A frost free freezer is frost free because it goes through warming cycles.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Alan408

                  I love my foodsaver. It is probably the most used small appliance in my kitchen. I use it to store soup all the time. I make a huge pot of homemade soup and then portion it out in muffin tins and loaf pans - single serving and family size. When they are frozen I individually bag and seal.

                  I shop in bulk for meat - chicken thighs, breasts, pork chops and steak. Then I come home and vacuum seal them into meal sized portions - 6 thighs, 2 breasts etc. I seal the steaks individually and then if we are having company over for a BBQ I can just pull out what I need. Keeps meat fresh and NO freezer burn - ever!

                  My other favourite thing about the foodsaver is sealing cheese. I have probably saved the entire cost of my foodsaver in cheese alone. Resealing cheese bricks up after using saves it "as new" and it lasts forever. I now keep 4 or 5 (or 6) types of cheese in fridge at one time knowing that none of it will go to waste.

                  I also purchased the french brand of vacuum seal "tupperware" containers. They are square plastic boxes in a variety of sizes with a vacuum mechanism built into the lids. I store all of my breads, buns, cookies etc in one on my counter to prevent mould - works great. I have a few in my fridge too. One is for salad and one is for salad stuff before it gets made into salad. I also vacuum seal all my berries, cherries, and other fruits. They last a lot longer and taste a lot fresher when you do eat them.

                  I shop at the local farmers market and buy local organic whenever possible. The foodsaver saves me money in that I am not throwing away food that has gone bad before we get to it. When you pay more for your food it matters a bit more that it doesn't go to waste.

                  1. re: Alan408

                    I think vacuum sealers are a "Field Of Dreams" purchase. For anyone that cooks regularly, If you buy it, you will use it. Prior to buying a sealer, I did not buy things like meats and cheese in bulk. I tried to avoid cooking anything large because longer-term freezing didn't work so well. My wife was somewhat hesitant about the sealer, but when I saw the Rival sealer on clearance for $50, she was willing to approve the expenditure.

                    Suddenly we find ourselves sealing anything and everything. Ground turkey was $1/lb. this week. Bought 4 lbs and sealed/froze them in 1/2lb. chucks. Needed a good steak for spedinis - bought a 2lb ribeye and sealed and froze the unused half. 2 racks of spare ribs at BJs - cooked one for the family, sealed and froze the remaining rack.

                    When the Rival one died, it was actually I who chafed at the propect of spending $130 on a new FoodSaver while my wife pointed out that we use it constantly and often feel hamstrung when we don't have it. It was $130 VERY well spent.

                    A lot of people will find themselves changing their practices/habits to maximize the potential a vacuum sealer if they spring for one.

                  2. Jfood is a HUUUUGE fan of the Foodsaver.

                    Let's see why. A long day in the office, return home and in 40 minutes beautiful braised short ribs on the table. The little jfood arrives home from work, exhausted and wander to the freezer and can choose from 8 different main entrees and 40 minutes later, Mediterranean chicken or fish on her plate. That $0.69 oven stuffer roaster leftovers. Make a chicken pot pie and into the freezer for another day. Jfood has done the following, and more, in his Foodsaver:

                    Brisket; Short Ribs; Chili; Lasagne, Canneloni, ravioli, Hazan Bolognese, pigs in the blanket, chinese dumplings, sausage and peppers, meatballs, hamburgers, chicken pot pie, fish with veggies, chicken w veggies, puttanesca, etc.

                    Yes, when sealing wet stuff it gets a little messy, but not unmanageable.

                    For cooking jfood normally places the whole bag in boiling water for 25 minutes.

                    Outstanding product. Costco had the best deal and the replacement bags there are also a good buy although jfood remembers there was a link on CH a while back for an e-seller. you may want to do a search on that.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: jfood

                      You're all making me wish I'd bought it at Costco yesterday. I was looking for one in hopes of vacuum packing some NYC goodies to take to Wisconsin on vacation this weekend, but the price didn't seem to warrant doing so, and it was much larger than I thought it would be, which means that I'd have to store it somewhere relatively inaccessible, and probably wouldn't end up using it for other things .... I need some "virtual" counterspace!

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Double M

                        Jfood is fortunate with a huge double doored pantry when he redisigned the kitchen and moved the washer/dryer out of the original space (blech turned to yippee) and upstairs near the bedrooms. He keeps all kinds of fun kitchen stuff in there and the foodsaver is always at his fingertips.`

                        little jfood and her BF stayed to dog-sit a few weeks ago (from your avatar you understand) and the two of them thought they were in a 4-star resto every night with each having exactly what they wanted for dinner.

                        1. re: jfood

                          I'm unfortunate enough to have a tiny Manhattan kitchen with about 6 square feet of usuable counter space (not taken up with wooden knife holder - no option to add magnetic panel - tile back splash and only one usable drawer, containers of flour, sugar, coffee, dog food and toaster). The paella pan, fish poacher, bamboo steamer, tins and trays, and impulse Le Creuset outlet purchases relegated to shelves above cupboards and accessible only by step ladder. Top of refrigerator loaded with Le Creusets that are used regularly, colandar, salad spinner, salad and serving bowls. Extra kitchen equipment stored in oven and bathtub, extra spices and ingredients stored in baskets attached to inside of coat closet. I'm not sure this food saver would even fit on a kitchen counter.

                          Sometimes I think it is a miracle I cook at all (smile).

                          Any tips as to smaller vacuum packers?

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            My Foodsaver is the flip up deluxe model. It stays on the counter and out of the way most of the time. When you want to use it, push a button and pull it down (think Murphy bed) and suck and seal.

                            The total footprint when up is like 3" x 12". It just sits up against the backsplash and out of the way. I looked for a photo of it up, but there wasn't one I could find, sorry.

                            1. re: holy chow

                              Hmm - I'll have to look into that b/c the one I saw was definitely bigger than that. Don't think I could keep it on the counter, but at least I could "fit it" on the counter and tuck it away somewhere. Do you happen to remember off hand how much it cost?

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                Just ran downstairs to take a peek and some measurements. Footprint of the machine, when flipped up is 4" x 13.5". The model is the 2840. It was regifted to me (greatest regift ever) so I didn't pay a red cent, but it is on Amazon for $150 - ish right now.

                                http://www.amazon.com/Food-Saver-T000...

                                1. re: holy chow

                                  Thanks! Will check it out. With just the two of, and my proclivity to go overboard in both shopping and cooking, I think it could really be a money saver.

                    2. You also have the option of vacuum sealing in Mason jars for freezing. This is not the same as canning. The food still has to be frozen, but it stays well and you re-use the jars.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: yayadave

                        OK Y that's an interesting idea. Are there special tops that go on my mason jars?

                        1. re: jfood

                          You can buy an attachment that you stick on top of the mason jar and suck the air out. I believe you use the regular lids. I really want to get this attachment. There is also a universal sealer which appears to be a lid you can use to seal any old glass jar.

                          1. re: jzerocsk

                            google is a wonderful thing. here is a link but they are $7.50-$8.00 each.

                            http://www.totalvac.com/parts/03-0006...

                            http://www.canningpantry.com/foodsave...

                          2. re: jfood

                            Yes speccial tops. I am going to get the Mason jar fitting before Nov. when I stary my cookie baking extravaganza. I found when experimenting with a baguette and some bread sticks that if I bag them the vacuum sucks the air out and flattens them. I am guessing that would be what happens with the cookies. I do have the cannisters and like them for keeping nuts and the like and when you open the cannister you can close and reseal it easily.

                            1. re: Candy

                              For bread items, this is what I do:

                              For camping trips I'll often cook up an "Egg McHoly Chow". Egg, cheese and sausage on an English muffin. Precook all ingredients and freeze the whole thing until your muffin is solid. I then take it out of the freezer and pack it with the machine. This way the bread says in shape and doesn't flatten.

                              1. re: holy chow

                                I'll have to give it a try. Thanks.

                                1. re: holy chow

                                  Two bread notes. I tried freezing burger buns before sealing. The did deflate a bit. I stopped the sealer before they were too flattened.

                                  I had a lot of garlic naan. I packeged it in packs of 2. They did not deflate but became so stuck together there was no prizing them apart with out tearing them up and making a mess. If I do that again I will put waxed paper or parchment between the rounds.

                                  1. re: Candy

                                    I use plastic wrap for tortillas and it works great. I imagine parchment will do the same.

                                2. re: Candy

                                  Sorry, C, not right. With the Mason jars you use the regular Mason jar lids. The plastic canisters use a special lid.

                                  1. re: yayadave

                                    Well my catalogue from them specifies a seperate attachment to use the jars.

                                    1. re: Candy

                                      Right, but the lids are the standard ones. The jar sealer is just to seal them. Works great for soups and stews.

                              2. re: yayadave

                                I have the wide mouth Mason jar attachment, and it's a great addition to the Foodsaver. Uses the standard Mason jar and lid and screw top. You put the lid on without the screwtop, fit the vacuum attachment over it, suck the air out. You know if it's worked because the lid is stuck firm. The screw top is a formality at this point, but I use it.

                                Works great for saucy foods, liquids, soups, etc. I can keep homemade hummus or baba ganoush for ages with no spoilage. When I make a sauce that requires opening a tetra pak of chicken broth, I Mason jar the rest. Leftover coconut milk when I make a curry. Also, fresh strawberries -- no sauce -- drop them in, suck out the air -- no crushing.

                                1. re: sbp

                                  "When I make a sauce that requires opening a tetra pak of chicken broth, I Mason jar the rest."

                                  Wow....that sealed it for me. How many times have I dumped half a box of chicken broth after letting it funkify in the fridge for two weeks?!?!

                                  1. re: sbp

                                    Oh, so must get... me want.

                                    1. re: holy chow

                                      The icing on the cake is Mason jars are dirt cheap -- especially compared to the Foodsaver canisters (which can't take much abuse as far as freezer and microwave).

                                      1. re: sbp

                                        That is cool. Timing couldn't be better, I just got done cleaning out most of my pickles from earlier this year and have tons of jars ready to be filled. I guess it is time I make the gallons of stock I've been contemplating.

                                        I heart Foodsaver.

                                2. I'd love to know which models folks are using. Never having used one I'm not sure which features matter most etc. There are so many models, v2440, v8y75, v485 and on...

                                  Thanks.

                                  1. Will everyone who has a FoodSaver look at their unit and give us the brand and MODEL #? I have been contemplating purchasing one for the longest time, but they have so many features and variations, I'd like to have some feedback/info on what features to be sure to get and any comments in general - thanks so much!

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: cheri

                                      I got mine on clearance at Best Buy, V2460

                                      1. re: cheri

                                        Like with any purchase that is a "tool", get the best you can afford. Simply put, those little extra features can make all of the difference in the world even though you never thought you'd use them.

                                        What works about my 2840:

                                        The flip up thing is cool (Murphy bed concept) and it sits out at all times, ready to suck the air out of stuff.

                                        I never thought I'd use the hose attachment for cannisters, but I'll be darned if I don't use it all of the time. All of my fruit (fruit for breakfast every day) gets put in cannisters and vacuumed. It keeps the fruit fresh for much longer. My lettuce lives in a cannister as well.... salad greens stay crisp and good for a good week or more. Berries last a week as well, where normally the go to heck in a day or two.

                                        The bag cutter feature in mine is great. I make all of my own bags by buying rolls of the plastic, cut and seal. I buy the bags on sale and in bulk to keep costs down.

                                        I got it in the sexy stainless to match my fridge.

                                        To think this thing was regift has me beside my self. If only someone would regift a Boos block portable work station...

                                        1. re: cheri

                                          I believe I have the 2440. It was a kit at BJs Wholesale for something like $120 and came with 2 canisters and a couple rolls of bags. I'm not sure what features it has compared to other models...FoodSaver really ought to trim down the mind-boggling number of models and variations! It does not flip up, but I have enough counter space that it's not an issue.

                                          The on-board hose storage is nice. My Rival one had none so I had to keep the hose in a cabinet and of course could never find it when I needed it. Not that the canisters actually worked.

                                          My favorite feature is the integrated pen clip under the lid. Genius. I always kept a Sharpie next to my sealer for labelling things but it seemed to always get stolen by my wife and not returned. Not anymore!

                                          1. re: jzerocsk

                                            I'm thinking there's just no way to freeze a roast chicken, then bring it back to life. That's part of its joy, I guess.

                                            So, with cooked meats, though - can you dump a braise, for example, in a vacuum-sealed bag, freeze it, then bring it back to life in simmering water? How long would you cook it?

                                            1. re: lilyanna

                                              Depends upon the meat.

                                              It is great for marinating. I picked up chicken legs on sale last night, covered them with soy, sesame oil and ginger and sealed. Tossed in the freezer and they will be fully ready for the grill at thaw. Tons of flavor as well.

                                              I do the same with sub prime cuts of beef.

                                              I also like cooking chicken, shredding it and then breaking into bags for quick burritos, salad meat etc. The same with steak or pork.

                                              I did a great chimichuri tenderloin a couple of weeks ago and put the left overs in the freezer (it was a huge roast) along with the sauce. Took it to work a couple of days ago and was just as good as the night I cooked it.

                                              1. re: holy chow

                                                How did you heat the tenderloin? I'm just having troulbe wrapping my head around the idea that you can stick a vacuum-sealed bag in a pot of simmering water and get tender meat!

                                                1. re: lilyanna

                                                  The tenderloin was cooked to pink; still nice and juicy inside. This particular item was cut out of the bag and microwaved on a plate (I don't have a stove at the shop). However, I have done like items (carnitas) and put them in warm water (not boiling) and heated them through and ate them while camping.

                                                  Think heating, not cooking in boiling water.

                                        2. FWIW, I'm not sure which model I bought (I'll check at home later), but at Tuesday Morning it was $65. They had several different models all at the same price- I just picked the one w/ the most stuff (canisters, etc) for the price. They also had one, maybe the stainless finish a la Costco, that was still $115.