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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...