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Reynolds Handi-Vac?

Has anyone used the Reynolds Handi-Vac yet? I saw a coupon for it ($2.50 off) in the Sunday paper and found it at Ralphs ($10) but haven't used it yet. It's a small wand-like vacuum sealer that you use with special Reynolds resealable bags (ziploc type seals on top, small vacuum hole on the side) that come in quart and gallon sizes.

We had been pondering the splurge of a FoodSaver, but I'm not convinced we need to seal enough food to justify the purchase or the loss in counter/cabinet space. Then I saw the Frisper in Sharper Image (have yet to see it at LNT) for $80 and a much smaller footprint. However, $80 + cost of bags is still a considerable investment. The Handi-Vac looks similar to the Frisper operation.

We're probably only $15 out (with the coupon and the purchase of both sized bags) so I won't be heartbroken if it just doesn't work as well. And, if we find we're using it a lot, I guess we'll know an upgrade to a FoodSaver would be worth it.

I was just wondering if anyone else has seen them or played around with them?

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  1. someone posted in the last couple of days that they bought a Reynolds Handi-Vac, and really liked it - search the boards.

    1. Hope it works better than space bags which notoriously leak and can't hold the seal for very long.

      1. I bought 22 pounds of ground chuck and saved more than enough to try the little gadget out. I've got a large vacuum sealer, but the refill bags/tubes are outrageous off-the-shelf. So, with stacked savings, got in for only $4.00 on the pump. Got a box each of quart and gallon bags, total investment: under $12.00.

        I made quick work portioning out the hamburger into one pound blocks. Wrote GROUND CHUCK DA/TE on the bags in Sharpie -- there's ample space provided for writing contents. (Note: use a black medium point Sharpie for best results). I found that I could drop 1.5 lbs of coarse ground beef in a quart bag. For standard 1 lb portions, the quart bags were great.

        The neck opening is a little narrow for a bulky product like blocks of hamburger, though, and they're regular bags -- they don't have a gusset to sit flat on end. I can immediately see that there will be the usual juggling act filling the bag, and if you've tried to pour something soupy or lumpy into one, you know what I mean. That's common to using storage bags, so I'm just belly-aching about it.

        Okay, the little breast-pump looking thing is ready to go out of the box. You pull a paper strip to allow battery contact, sanitize the nozzle and whirrrrrrrrrrr away you go. I found that hitting the target just right is necessary for success, which makes the thing seem a little finnicky. With 20 portions to bag, I had plenty of quick practice; still, hitting the valve on the bag just right had me double-checking the zip strip for proper seal every other bag. There seems to be a "sweet spot" you can hear and feel when the stars align and pump-valve-bag all come together for vacuum goodness.

        I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Overall, I like the product. The price of supplies is better than my big unit's, and that should improve with a heavy-hitter popular brand like Reynolds. It's compactness makes it easy to have in the utility drawer for quick jobs.

        For example, I trimmed a half-dozen hens to go in the smoker this afternoon, and pitched all the scraps into a bag for use later making broth. Whirrrrrrrrrrr and into the freezer for use at my leisure.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Uncle Joe Adamson

          I wonder how well the bags will hold their seal? Like someone else mentioned, the Space Bags seem like a good idea until they loose their seal over time. I like the idea of the Reynolds in addition to my FoodSaver- thinking of the Reynolds for more short term, multi-access storage & using the FoodSaver for long term storage were I definitely do not want any freezer burn.

          1. re: anniemax

            That was my comment about the space bags. So far I have a bag that is holding vacuum after two weeks. Better than space bags at this point.

            1. re: anniemax

              I've had one of these gadgets for a couple of months now. I found one bag that wouldn't hold a vacuum for more than a few hours, but I've had some in the freezer for over a month that seem to be holding up just fine. I saved that defective bag and figure that if I find a few more, I'll send 'em to Reynolds with a letter and they'll send me back a nice letter and a coupon for a fresh box of bags. ;)

              I got mine with a $2.50 off coupon and a $5 rebate. figured that the six AA batteries and three bags that came with it were worth the $1.50 it actually cost (plus the cost of a postage stamp, whatever that is) even if the sealer didn't work. But it does, and I'm happy with it.

              I noticed the same need for target practice as Uncle Joe, but at worst, it takes a second try to get it to start sucking. I've been wrapping boneless chicken breasts in Saran wrap and putting two or three in a quart bag so I can use them individually. Same with burgers. And it works fine for half packages of frozen vegetables, too.

              1. re: anniemax

                I've had a head of lettuce sealed for 3 weeks, over a month old and still mostly green. Occasionally I will have lunch meat that appears to have leaked, but I read a review where they found that some foods omit gasses which expands in the bag. Some bags give me problems getting started, but I can put up with it with all the food that's saved.

                1. re: anniemax

                  Some do and some don't and I have yet to figure out why. I have been using mine for several months. Sometimes I find it hard to get all the air out in the first place. When they work, they work really well.

                2. re: Uncle Joe Adamson

                  I bought a Reynolds Handi-Vac a couple of months before Christmas for my wife. The day I bought it, I sealed some marsh mallows with it and placed it in the top of the cabinet, primarily to see if the seal remained sealed when I gave the Handi-Vac to my wife as a gift. At Christmas, I checked the bag of marsh mallows I had sealed and the bag was still sealed as tight as it was when I first sealed it and the marsh mallows were still as fresh as when I sealed them in the bag, so I'm very pleased with the Handi-Vac.

                  1. re: Uncle Joe Adamson

                    A trick that I use to fill those bags with soft or food with tricky consistancies is to take the bag, put it in one of those 16oz disposable drinking cups, fold the top of the bag around the outside edge of the cup, and it's a piece of cake to fill. I often make large batches of chili and it works well.

                  2. I am excited about mine. We have a FoodSaver too but this should be great for stuff that you need to get into and then reseal. With the FoodSaver you lose ca 1.5" of bag every time you get into it. So far I am using it for chicken-stock base. I reduce my stock to a glaze, let it gel in the fridge and then cut it into chunks that will reconstitute in one cup of water. Put the chunks into the freezer bag, then get them out and reseal as needed. I have used it several times in the course of a ramen project and it looks great so far.

                    I am also thinking that it will be good for freezing stacks of chicken or pork cutlets, separated by layers of plastic wrap. I used to cut and pound out pork cutlets for schnitzel, then freeze them double- and triple-wrapped, but I got tired of all the wrapping. With this system I could go back to that program, and it is really handy to defrost a dinner's worth of cutlets in the fridge in just a few hours. A thin enough cutlet could go straight into a soup from the freezer too.

                    You can't boil-in-the-bag as with a FoodSaver but I hardly use that feature at all anyway now that I am over the novelty of it.

                    Also it should be really good for keeping stuff fresh in the fridge. Fresh meats and leftovers last a lot longer in the fridge in a vacuum bag. Veggies too.

                    1. After having used one for a month, I hope Reynolds makes a lot of money off of these because this is one NICE little device.

                      The only quibble I have with it is that sometimes it is hard to get the nozzle positioned just right to evacuate air from the bag. Any advice on this?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                        I found that you have to press hard enough to make a good seal but not so hard that you don't leave enough space in the bag for air to come out. I usually press down on the "spot", hold the "on" button down and then gyrate the wand until air starts getting sucked out.

                        1. re: leanneabe

                          I have also found that it helps to press your thumb and index finger on each side of the target zone and move them apart, stretching the valve area slightly...

                      2. I bought one when they first came out. None of mine hold up well over time in the freezer. At room temp or in the refrigerator they do much better. But the valves in the bags are fairly new technology, so I'm hoping that with time Reynolds will lick the problem. They are a LOT more convenient than my great big vacuum sealer. However, with those I can boil right in the bag, which is not the case with the Reynolds bags. And they wilt very serioulsy (frighteningly!) in the microwave. The more expensive vacuum seal bags don't. I guess you get what you pay for. <sigh>

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Caroline1

                          Caroline, I have 3 bags of short ribs in the freezer that are holding well now going on 3 months. I have found some bags are defective and don't hold a seal well. Others seem perfect. Hope they improve but the % of defective bags is low.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            Wish I could say the same. To date I have had 100% failure in the freezer, though it has taken some longer to fail than others. But I have used only one box of the bags so far. Maybe they're from a bad lot, but whatever the failure reason, I'm not too thrilled with the result.

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              Caroline, I found that if I filled the bag to "full" and put it in the freezer, the expansion distorted the valve and caused the seal to loosen... Give yourself some expansion room like in the food saver bags and you might have more success.

                        2. I love mine! I gave one to every family member this Xmas. I like the fact the bags are resuable. I put cheese in and just reseal each time after removing some. One hint: just don't press too hard on the counter when sealing.

                          1. I've had mine for maybe 6 weeks and at first I loved it but now I am having trouble sealing the bags. About half the time it won't suck the air out.

                            Also, I have about a 75% freezer failure rate.

                            It is a great option for things you want to open and reseal, though.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: C. Hamster

                              My failure rate hasn't been as high as yours, but after about a month, results have been mixed. In the freezer, it's worked best for relatively uniformly shaped, or moist, foods, ideally both. Wrinkly Chinese sausage has been a dismal failure, the vacuum just doesn't stay tight enough to pull the plastic "permanently" around the very irregular surface and keeps losing vacuum in a day or two. Ravioli, partially frozen then bagged and pumped on the other hand are holding up well - I suspect because the moist dough gave better grip than the dry wrinkles of the sauages, but who knows? I haven't been keeping track of which bags are reused more or less, which is probably a factor too. At room temperature, coffee and pita bread, both of which get opened often are successes; a basically experimental bag of beans on the shelf loses noticeable vacuum after a couple of weeks, but is I guess a lot better than being loosely bagged. Seems to be working well for cheese, but that always holds up well enough anyway.

                              For light use, especially things you'll use fairly quickly out of the freezer or that you open often from the fridge or at room temperature, it's a pretty cool gadget for $10. The bags aren't cheap, but not too bad if you don't go crazy with them and much cheaper than Foodsaver bags. But between the relatively low pump strength and the suprisingly thin bags with lots of spots to lose vacuum over time, I don't see it threatening good plug-in appliances like the Foodsaver with their sturdier, more tightly sealed bags for longer term storage if you have a real use for that.

                              I'm not surprised that it does seem battery hungry which might be part of your problem; I'm not sure but it sounds like you've had more trouble as time has passed? Mine sounds and feels like it needs a new set by now - after a month - but since it needs 6 AAs, it's going to have to wait for a Home Depot run...

                            2. I've got both the Handi-vac sealer and a Food Saver... I actually prefer the Handi-vac because it's so much easier to use, a handheld device to vacuum out the air instead of a bulky plugged in tabletop wich MAY or MAY NOT work, I've had problems with the "Food Saver" creating a total seal because of a defect which occured within a year of use... the Handi-vac is very easy to use, yes you need to use it on a flat surface to ensure the vac to work and as long as you can close the top correctly *no diffrent than the average ziploc bag* you should have no problems... I've had personal sized pizza's in my freezer for most of a month without any vacuum failure... I just wish that the supermarket that I usually go to would carry the bags so I don't have to make a special trip to a Target that has them... enjoy!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mdebonville

                                I LOVE this little gadget. It's so much more convenient than my cumbersome Foodsaver. Sometimes, I have to start pushing the air towards the machine to get the "sucking" action going. I haven't had any problems with food that's been in the freezer for several months. I haven't used my Foodsaver since I got this.

                              2. Has anyone seen this product for sale in Toronto?

                                1. I finally found one at Wal Mart and have used it twice, both times successfully. The packages are still in the freezer but it sealed them up so that they looked just like the vacuum-sealed packages at the grocery store.

                                  1. I have tried to use some of the bags a few times and they don't reseal right and the air gets right back in them. Anyone else have this problem? They are very expensive too.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: javaandjazz

                                      Yes, I had that problem but mostly with one particular box of gallon bags. I have it out to take back to WalMart and see if they'll give me a new box. Like others, I have found that you have to hold the sucker just so to get it to work, but it seems to be OK except for bags from that particular box.

                                      1. re: javaandjazz

                                        I would say that maybe you have a faulty box of bags. Another thing that I would look out for is to make sure that the zipper seal is completely clean and free of small pieces of food.

                                        These bags are much cheaper than traditional vacuseal bags that are required for the large machines.

                                        I have had about a 90% success rate with these bags, so for the money savings I think that's OK.

                                        MAC

                                      2. I just bought a Handi Vac yesterday, for $4.99 on sale at ShopRtite.

                                        1. I think I have given up on this thing. I can no longer seem to get the air out of my bags. I cannot seem to make a good connection on the suction plug using a bag for the 2nd or 3rd time. It's a waste of money as far as I am concerned and I don't have the time to try and fiddle around trying to get the thing to seat right on the connection plug!!!

                                          1. I have had about a third of the bags will not vacuum down. back to the old food saver. not happy with this product at all.

                                            1. For as long as I can remember, my mother has been "vacuum sealing" freezer bags by closing them almost completely, inserting a straw in the small opening, sucking the remaining air out and closing the bag as she pulls the straw out. She cooks and freezes lots and nothing ever has a freezer taste. Yes, she triple wraps but still... Many years ago she froze the top of my wedding cake for my first anniversary and, when we defrosted it and ate it one year later, it really tasted just about as good as it did when it was fresh (which was very, very good). No one could believe it! Save your money, buy a few straws.

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: lisaud

                                                This whole thing baffles me. If something is fairly rigid, plastic wrap properly applied will have zero air pockets. If it's non-rigid, then put it in the bag, seal the bag except for a corner, hold the corner up, squeeze out the air, then complete the seal.

                                                Do people still use the word "gimmick"? Gimmick can be a very useful word and deserves to be used more often.

                                                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                  I don't think that vacuum sealing is a gimmick at all. I used to use freezer bags with all the air squeezed out, and that didn't work nearly as well as the Handi Vac, my chicken and pork chops taste as if they had never been frozen, far better than the freezer bags alone. My cheeses also last a lot longer before molding in a vacuum sealed bags.

                                                  1. re: bakeman

                                                    I finally threw the Reynolds vacuum sealer in the trash this weekend. I will save my pennies and spend $$$$ and buy the Food Saver system. The Reynolds thing is a piece of junk!

                                                    1. re: javaandjazz

                                                      Really? Even with moist foods? For me, it's been great for freezing filled pasta and so far so good with the chicken breasts and pork chops bakeman mentions, though I do usually give it an extra pump once it's hard frozen. I haven't found it at all useful for dry or even fairly dry things in the freezer, but they do semi-OK out of it. There are a few long threads on the topic by now so I don't remember where I posted it, but I've found it most useful for things I consider "critical" like ground coffee, amenable bread types, and some moist things in the fridge. Honestly, it's not worth the bother for hard/er cheese which I find lasts quite a while in a couple of layers of plastic wrap as it is.

                                                      I do think comparing it to a Foodsaver is a little extreme but at 1/15 - 1/20th the price I consider it a "useful gimmick" ;) Similarly, you'd have to be pretty hardcore to use a Foodsaver for things like daily-used coffee, pita bread or even things like bacon...

                                                      FWIW, I've already bought a back-up machine (on sale). I guess they've been around for a little while, but it strikes me as one of those things you'll go looking to replace in a year or 2 to discover they no longer exist...

                                                      1. re: MikeG

                                                        The bags stopped sealing after using them a few times and I am not about to keep buying bags and throw the old ones away.

                                                        1. re: javaandjazz

                                                          Yeah, if reuseability is an issue, the Reynolds "system" isn't a great choice. They're not designed to be reused at all and I don't even try once they've been in the freezer steadily for a while. I'd guess that if they made them significantly sturdier, they might end up costing as much as F/saver bags which are silly-expensive for short term storage.

                                                          1. re: MikeG

                                                            I don't reuse the bags, but I like the easy resealable feature of the Handi-Vac. I've been storing veggies, cheese, pita bread, and fruit in them and I like just opening the bag, pulling some food out, and sealing it back up without dragging out a huge machine.

                                                            It seems like a lot of people are unhappy with it, but I still love mine. I've had it for over 6 months and the batteries are just now dying. It also gives me extra time to go through the Costco bags of produce we've been picking up.

                                                          2. re: javaandjazz

                                                            You better save more pennies because you will be buying new bags with a Food Saver system as well and they are not cheap. They are not made for reuse either. Maybe I'm one of the lucky ones because I've had far more Hanid Vac bags seal well and stayed sealed until I open them than those that didn't seal.

                                                2. I've been using one for a number of months and really like it. Ours is a small household which likes a lot of variety - so this has helped extend the life of sliced cheese & deli meats for lunches. I have had pretty good luck washing and re-using the bags. It is such a handy contraption! For the price & ease of usage I wouldn't choose to be without it.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                    I still love mine! As a single person, I use it constantly! Can buy bigger quantities of frozen foods and seal them in gallon bags and continually seal and reseal the packages. I have never had a bag failure! I love it that I have no ice crystals anymore!

                                                  2. The bags suck, they won't hold a seal. I will find whole boxes of bags defective. 100%
                                                    won't hold a seal

                                                    1. Tip: I find they work a bit better if I lift the bag a little with my left hand while my right hand is working the vacuum seal part. I like them a lot. Maybe people need to read the directions and just practice a little. I have the food saver, too but the bags are very costly and the Reynolds is easy to open and then reseal.

                                                      1. I've been reading all the pros and cons of the Handi-Vac and decided to try it anyway - we've inherited a small upright freezer and can't afford a Food Saver-type system. So far I'm very pleased with the Handi-Vac. I've sealed and frozen fish fillets, shredded cheese, and veggies of all kinds, and they all thaw beautifully (except Brussels sprouts, which I thought were indestructible - they came out of the freezer brownish and mushy in the center). One bag split open on a sharp edge of something, and one or two bags out of 20 or 25 had a little frost inside. All of mine have sealed well and maintained a nice hard vacuum pack. For the price I'm satisfied! I know more than a few people have complained about the noise. I don't think it's an issue, and any appliance that doesn't startle my cats is OK with me! (They don't even notice the Handi-Vac.) Mine still has the original batteries and is going strong, and that's not really a problem anyway because I use rechargeables. As for reusing the bags, I've done so with no problem. They're kind of pricey, so I'm glad they can be reused with some success. Overall it works for me...

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: Kinnexa

                                                          I wonder if anyone else has discovered that Reynolds has discontinued this product. I loved it and have found it kept me from tossing a lot of food ! The hand vacuum offered by Glad, I think, just doesn't look like it would work as well. The option of buying bags from another source does not look economical. Does anyone have a recommendation on the pricier food sealers? As a now family of two, we have a lot of small amounts of food that need to be saved effectively.

                                                          1. re: kaykayv

                                                            Can't help you with the bags, but last Fall, Kroger's had the bags on sale at an incredible low price , so I bought a lot of them! Lucky me!! At the time I thought that I was nuts to stock up on that many, but who knew!!

                                                            1. re: Mother of four

                                                              I, like many of you, have run out of bags and can not find any to buy. Walmart quit stocking them and that was the only store in my area who had the shrink vac bags and the machine. If anyone has a source to buy the quart and gallon sizes, I'd appreciate hearing some idea. These worked great for me. I'd hate to have to junk the machine.

                                                              1. re: stellar973

                                                                Stellar, Reynolds has discontinued the sealer. But there is another out there. I'll refer you to this thread.

                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/655203

                                                                1. re: stellar973

                                                                  I just bought the ziplock bags with the pump thing -- works like a bicycle pump -- no need for batteries. I like it -- hope this is not going to disappear, too.

                                                                  1. re: stellar973

                                                                    Stellar, I can't find my Reynolds vac but I tried using the Foodsaver Freshsaver on Reynolds bags (of which I also have a lot) and it worked. So conversely, maybe the Reynolds vac will work with Foodsaver bags.

                                                                    However, I did some research on the Foodsaver Freshsaver bags and they are labeled as being refrigerator use only. Thats a big limitation for me. I guess that explains their thinness...

                                                            2. Just saw this advertised on TNT tonight (12/13/2012). Maybe it is making a come back. Licensed by Reynolds. They also list bags for sale.

                                                              http://www.debbiemeyer.com/debbie-mey...

                                                              Anyone still using one?

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: THoey1963

                                                                Hope they improved on their bags. Had a lot of them that leaked

                                                                Using a food saver now but miss the zip top of the reusable bags

                                                                1. re: THoey1963

                                                                  Debbie is trying to make some fast money here. If you look carefully at their pricing, which is rather deceptive, one box of 15 1-gallon bags will cost you about $1 per bag (I didn't go so far as to see what the shipping cost would be, but the bags alone are $13 if you look carefully). They won't sell many at that price, which leads me to suspect they have bought Reynold's old stock and are trying to ditch it for a quick profit.

                                                                  I still have mine but seldom use it because it's so hard to get it to seal and then the seal often doesn't hold well in the freezer. Good idea, not-so-good execution.