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Any alternatives to FoodSaver?

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I'm on my third FoodSaver, and it's about to go kaput again. I've had this one for about a year and a half. My last one I've had for about two years, and my first one I've had for about a month. I've been reading reports about it lasting anywhere from a few months to seven to eight years. I don't think I'm mistreating my machine -- all of my other appliances last for quite some time. But I just don't seem to have good karma with my damn Tilia FoodSaver.

I'm not willing to shell out the big bucks for a super duper commercial one. But I'm willing to pay a bit more (up to $400) if it will last me about 10 years. Any recs? And as I use mason jars more than I use the bags. So it must have an attachment for the wide mouthed mason jars.

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  1. Hey I've had the problems with the food saver as well. I happened to have purchased mine from BB&B and save all of my receipts and they have an unlimited return policy so I would just change out my broken ones for new ones. eventual I got tired or returning them and for paying top dollar for the bags. I ended up going with a "Sinbo" http://www.sorbentsystems.com/sinbose... it seems to be branded as the snorkelvac on that site. It's a snorkel type vacuum sealer that has a tube that goes into your bag and pulls out all the air at the products. you can use significantly cheaper bags that aren't the channel type vacuum bags. it also has a better sealing strip which is what failed on most of my foodsavers causeing air to come back into the bag. Most vacuum packing in food industry use either a snorkle type or a vacuum chamber type packer because they're reliable and cost effective. and the sinbo only runs for 100 bucks

    1 Reply
    1. re: Loki

      Loki,

      The 6 month warranty is not reassuring. How long have you had your Sinbo/Snorkelvac?

    2. I looked into foodsaver and the research found that there are reliability problems with the product. So you are not an isolated instance. I use plain old zip lock freezer bags, fill them up and submerge them in water to get as much air out as possible then seal.

      1. No kidding!

        I've had mine for 3 years or so. Use it all the time and I can't say I've ever had a problem with it.

        Do you put it away with the latch securing the lid? That's supposed to be a no-no. Don't know what else could go wrong because it's a simple machine.

        Hope you have an alternative like taking it back to BB&B.

        1. I have a Pro 2300 ( http://www.provacuumsealers.com ) Excellent machine, last sealer that I will ever have to buy. All metal construction, this really is a commercial machine, but it falls right at the top of your price range.

          The 2300 is just over your price point ($419) but for $20 dollars less you can get the 2100 which isn't stainless steel but enamelled white.

          We use it here in the studio to package leftovers for the crew to take home, and I use it at home to package sausages etc that we make for our family.

          G.

          4 Replies
          1. re: legourmettv

            True, I never invested in a Food Saver because I thought it was overpriced and way too bulky, but I did use a Seal-A-Meal for several years until I got tired of buying all those bags which never fit exactly and spending all that time sucking the air out, only to have it sneak back in while lounging in my freezer. Then I had an epiphany that requires the same effort at a fraction of the cost. I place portions on freezer wrap, fold securely, label with sharpie, and stick in large freezer bag. It works just as well as any other method. For more liquid items, I store and freeze in pyrex containers.

            1. re: Ambimom

              I am able to store vacuum-sealed frozen food much longer than carefully-wrapped-then-bagged items. There is never freezer burn or deterioration of product in the vacuumed bags - not so for other storage methods.

              1. re: greygarious

                I'll second that. Even just storing vac sealed stuff in the fridge, you get a much longer shelf life.

                G.

            2. re: legourmettv

              I've been researching these a lot (both here and elsewhere) and just pulled the trigger on a Pro 2300. I found it for less at a different website: http://www.qualitymatters.com/Vacuum-... $335 for the 2100 and $350 for the 2300 with free shipping if you buy bags or the maintenance kit at the same time. The bags are about the same price as at BCU, and you need them anyway. $50 less than BCU plus free shipping works out to a pretty significant savings...

            3. I picked mine up at Tuesday Morning. It was about $65, IIRC. Have had it for 2 years now without any issues. The only time I have problems sealing is when I try to scrimp on bag size and get folds in the seal.

              At one point, they also had a box of bag rolls that was $16 or so. Same box is $40 at Costco. Keep hoping to see more of those at TM.

              1. Just wanted to report back that I purchased another FoodSaver at Bed Bath and Beyond. A few months later (maybe 5-6?) it stopped working -- way before the 1 year warranty.Thanks to Loki, I returned it. I was thinking about getting something else except that I've got a ton of bags left (purchased from Ebay) and have four moulard duck legs in the fridge waiting to be turned into duck confit.

                WHEN (by this point, it's not a matter of IF) this one breaks down and I've used up my bags, I will be looking for another brand.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Have you started to consider the chambar vacuum units? Better seal, stronger vacuum, (supposedly) better duty cycles.

                  1. re: wattacetti

                    Are you talking about those machines that cost about $4,000? If so, I'm afraid not. That is way too expensive for my budget.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      This site sells several machines under $400 that use the same type bags as Foodsaver (they call them channel vacuum pouches). I think one will let you use a mason jar attachment, but you should contact them to see if you could use the FoodSaver gismo as is or would need to get some sort of adapter.

                      http://www.vacnbags.com/page/374902387

                      1. re: Zeldog

                        Thanks for the link! Do you have any experience with this brand?

                2. Cabela's had in their ad yesterday a stainless steel model that is made for them that is usually listed at $450 for $350 in an ad that was in the local paper. Looks like it has VERY positive reviews from a lot of people who also got fed up with buying cheaper units.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sumrtym

                    Here's the link to the actual unit on sale...not sure when the sale ends, and it's a 4.7 star rating out of 5 over 171 reviews at the site:

                    http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/tem...

                  2. This is what I don't get. I sat down and did a rough calculation. FoodSaver does not save money -- in my case anyway.

                    1. I've had my FoodSaver for over 6 years and haven't had any issues. It works great to portion pack meats, vegetables and other items I want to break down into serving sizes.

                      As for the bags -- you can reuse them. I wash them with soap and hot water and air dry them. Saves money on buying new bags. I've heard some people put them in the dishwasher to wash too.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: boogiebaby

                        Weston makes a nice unit for $429.00
                        http://www.westonsupply.com/Weston-Va...

                      2. Our original, white plastic, close lid, set clips and push the button on each end Compact Foodsaver Tilia lasted for literally decades until it was accidentally dropped from about 7' onto a ceramic floor and partially broken, (it still vacuum seals but a broken hinge on one side makes it a bit complicated). We bought the fancy schmancy V3825 Foodsaver at Costco for $250-$300 to replace it. Guess which one we use? The new one is all bright and space age looking with it's black plastic, brushed stainless case with lots of buttons and colored lights. It's mostly upright which saves space and between that and it's looks is worthy of a permanent counter spot. However, it takes at least 10 times as long to clean, with parts that must be removed to wash and that black plastic making it hard to see if you're missing anything. I could live with that though since it's only a few minutes (it took about 20 seconds to wipe the old one clean), but what I really don't like and what makes me get the old one out is two things. #1 To seal a bag you slide it into a narrow opening at the base of the unit. The sealer will not activate until you have the bag pushed in as far as it will go. The result is a full inch of bag wasted. Double that if you aren't using pre-cut bags already sealed at one end. #2 No, you can't reuse the bags with this machine which is a deal breaker for me. When you wash and dry a bag for reuse, the cut edges curl in a bit. The slot you have to put the bags through to seal is as I said, narrow. Very narrow. There is no way that a bag with even the slightest of curl on the edge is going to fit through that slot. I've tried. You can drop the front and sometimes manage to shove it in far enough to activate the process, but it is a huge PITA and still wastes a good inch of bag. With the old one, you lay the bag on the sealer exactly where you want the seal, close the lid and seal. Curled edges aren't a problem and you leave as little or as much margin as you like.

                        We will continue to use our original Foodsaver as messing with the hinge is less annoying than the hassle and bag wastage of the new one, but when it finally gives up the ghost (if it ever does), I'll either be searching Ebay for another old one or trying the Pro 2300 which allows you to put the seal where you want it.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Sandi13

                          The snorkelvac looks very interesting, and less money that the cheapest FoodSaver (though all mine have come from thrift stores for $3-6.) Why haven't I heard about them until now?

                          1. re: KWagle

                            Somebody gave me a brand new Sinbo (I think that is how its spelled) which is a snorkelvac which uses the cheap chamber vac bags. Very poor sealing bar. Ok for dry items but USELESS for wet greasy bags. Been sitting on a shelf in the basement for about 2 years now.

                            1. re: Tom34

                              SnorkelVac comes from Sorbent Systems. Are the Sinbos coming from the same assembly lines, or are they copies?

                              1. re: KWagle

                                I just checked the unit and it does not say who the manufacture is but it appears identical in appearance to the SnorkelVac and currently retails for about the same price so if I had to guess I would say they are made by the same Chinese manufacturer to the same specs and marketed under different names. I would also guess that a 1/4 teaspoon of liquid being sucked into the pump from 1 piece of wet meat or seafood would kill the pump. One thing for sure is the SnorkleVac vacuum sealer at about $100.00 is not being made in the Sorbent factory where just the vacuum pumps alone start at over $500.00.

                                Why the retractable snorkel vac concept has not caught on and somebody has not built a $300 - $400 SnorkelVac with a higher quality pump, transformer & sealing bar is a good question. My guess would be that the new cheaper mesh style bags reduced the need for a unit that uses cheaper chamber vac bags.

                          2. re: Sandi13

                            I have an old and basic Foodsaver (flat white vs newer vertical models) and it's been going strong for at least 6 years. I see a lot of complaints about the vertical models.

                            Any meat that goes in my freezer is in Foodsaver bags, and also anything I cook sous vide.

                            As with printer manufacturers, I think they really make their money from the bags and rolls. But still worth it to me... I find it an essential piece of kitchen equipment.

                            1. re: drongo

                              i've been using my FoodSaver regularly since I bought it in the mid 1990's. Still works like it did the first day.
                              It has saved me a lot of money by preventing foods from getting freezer burned as well as extending the life of bulk purchased items.

                              1. re: The Professor

                                I believe the older FoodSavers were made in Italy. They were not throw away units like the current $129.00 made in China Walmart specials. They can be found on EBAY / Craiglist & garage sales. Because the bags were so expensive when vacuum sealers first hit the market many of the older units have little internal wear. Many people who are selling them have no idea what they have and let them go for next to nothing. Finding a spare at the right price might be a good idea as parts on the older models should be interchangeable and they were made to be taken apart and serviced.

                            2. re: Sandi13

                              There are currently 2 used older Italian made "Foodsaver" vacuum sealers on Ebay. I think one of them was about $75.00 & the other was about $120.00. One of them still had the original boxes & attachments and a few original bags indicating it was very lightly used.

                              Thom Dolder at PMG group (Vacupacker) still has replacement parts for these machines. Because the pumps on these machines are so tolerant of liquid, have such a powerful sealing bars & no fancy electronic controls to fail or seal before all the air is out I would take one over a $400.00 diaphragm pump machine any day of the week. Like so many other older well built things, these machines were no frills, straight forward and the $$$ went into the key components that are critical to performance & longevity, NOT eye catching stylish appearances
                              and fancy electronic controls that take away operator control & often fail rendering the unit useless like so many of the current big box store price point machines. The fact that 20 plus yr old used machines are selling for as much or more than many new ones is all that really has to be said.

                              1. re: Sandi13

                                Maybe someone addressed your issue already, but here goes --- when the edge of the bag is too curled to fit into the narrow slot, drop open the plastic front and then open up the unit by pressing the gray button on each side. Then the unit acts just like a regular, non-vertical unit -- insert the edge of the bag and flip the top part closed. Voila --- it works every time.

                                1. re: Sandi13

                                  Maybe someone addressed your issue with the curling bags already, but in case not, here's an easy solution to the problem. Simply open up the machine as if it were a regular horizontal unit. Do this by dropping the plastic cover, and then pressing the gray button on each side of the opening. With the buttons depressed, flip open the top of the unit, revealing the trough for the plastic bag. Set bag edge on the trough, close the unit, turn it on, and voila! Works every time.

                                2. Several yrs back I did a ton of research on vacuum sealers. I ended up having a very long phone conversation with Thom Dolder who owns PMG and has over 25 years experience both selling and repairing vacuum sealers.

                                  He explained they really are nothing more that a pump, transformer and sealing bar. He told me that moisture was the # 1 cause for failure in units with diaphragm pumps and it is very hard to control moisture when sealing wet items like meat. He stated the 2nd biggest problem was cheap sealing bars failing to properly seal wet / greasy bags.

                                  He sold many different brands including the Pro 2300 & his proprietary brand "VacuPack". He asked me what I would be using the unit for and I told him almost exclusively steak & expensive seafood. Because of the high moisture content of these items, without hesitation he recommended the Vacupack which costs less than the Pro 2300..

                                  He told me the Pro 2300 was a very good unit but was extremely non tolerant to moisture. He explained that unlike most sealers which have Diaphragm pumps, the VacuPack had a traditional piston pump and the machine was actually made to be flushed out with water. He also told me the unit has a very powerful transformer and heavy duty sealing bar that seals wet slimy bags very well. He also said the controls are 1970 style with no fancy electronics to fail.

                                  I bought one, about $300.00 and sealed at least 400 wet slimy bags to date. Only problem was a seal on the drain plug failed. Called Thom, new drain plug arrived by mail w/in a week, no charge. Just bought 600 more bags recently and the VacuPack just keeps chugging away.

                                  Unfortunately, the factory that produced the VacuPack for Thom closed. The machine is not a throw away and is made to be repaired and Thom still has plenty of parts. They pop up used on EBAY from time to time around $175.00 - $200.00. Those $$$ numbers for a used machine speak volumes to the quality of the unit.

                                  As far as bags, when bought in bulk, the Web Restaurant Store has very good prices. Cost to the front door was about .14 cents for the pints bags and about .17 cents for the quart bags.

                                  1. I've had the Foodsaver V2840 for a number of years and been very happy with it.

                                    Recently it started giving me problems. When I push the "vacuum and seal" button it stays on vacuum. I have to manually hit the "seal" button...which allows a small amount of air back into the bag..unacceptable.

                                    I called the company and they told me that the plastic/rubber gaskets can fail after extensive use and told me they sell replacements for $12 or so. They are on their way to me by UPS and I'll post and let you know if this solves the problem.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: 9lives

                                      Just got my new gaskets and replaced them in a few minutes. Tested the machine and it works perfectly again..."vacuum and seal" button works.

                                      Hope this helps other's who've had problems with their FoodSavers.

                                      1. re: 9lives

                                        On a sportsman's forum for Alaskans posters often recommend units from Cabelas as foolproof and excellent value.

                                        Note these are people who process large quantities of fish & meat to last them through the winter.

                                    2. Ziploc has entered this market, or more precisely someone using their name has. I saw two units at Meijer, one for $50 and one for $80 or so. Can't find any useful information about them by Googling.

                                      1. Have older model of FS (horizontal type) that I picked up at a yard sale for $10. Original owner said it worked great and she thought she'd be vac sealing all those money-saving "family" packs of meat/chicken. Then she realized that with THREE boys from about 10-16 yo... NOTHING stayed in freezer long enough to even worry about freezer burn!!

                                        Cooking for 1 most times and EVERY package of meat/chicken is WAY too much for even dinner and lunch next day. I repackage stuff as close to one portion size as possible. Though my freezer periodically needs serious reorganization (to avoid avalanches), I don't find anything unexpected that's totally freezer burned.

                                        Have found SEVERAL of the cannisters (for dry stuff) & attachment to seel wide-mouth mason jars (again for dry stuff... NOT the same as canning).

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: kseiverd

                                          I go through a couple hundred bags a year with my Vacupacker (Original food saver model) and it does a great job with wet slimy bags. Just broke down a case of shrimp and a case of lobster tails. Wrapped the sharp shells in butcher paper and then into the vac bags. They will last up to a year or more with no freezer burn. Two whole strip loins will be next after a little more age. Great prices on bulk bags (300 Count) at the Web Restaurant Store.

                                        2. I bought a FoodSaver V2460 at Costco for $50. It works fine except the "moist" mode is kind of misleading, if there's liquid in the bag it just sucks it out and makes a mess. The manual makes it clear that it can't really handle liquids.

                                          I guess when I've seen people on TV sealing bags containing liquids that's different technology? E.g. 1'19" in this video:

                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvcqgQ...

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Unfortunately, when using an external vacuum sealer that draws air out of a bag, wet things like beef, chicken & seafood release moisture toward the end of the vacuum process which will ruin most vacuum sealers if the moisture reaches the pump. In addition, the moisture being drawn between the layers of plastic will usually prevent the heat sealing bar from thoroughly sealing the bag on the cheaper machines because of cheap transformers and sealing bars.

                                            Google " Foodsaver history, PMG" . Best read on the net by a pioneer in the industry. After you read it, go to PMG's "vacupack" web site. Look for the parts page. The site will show you pictures of the original 1980's Tilla Foodsaver under 3 names. All 3 have the same parts and unlike today's big box store throwaway junk, these were made to be repaired and PMG still has the parts. They come up on Ebay for under $100.00. Moisture won't hurt the pumps & the seal bars are twice as powerful as the current junk on the market.

                                            Costco has a good return policy. Bring it back and pick up a used original on ebay. Your kids will be using it someday.

                                            1. re: Tom34

                                              That Google search brings up this topic.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                YES. "Foodsaver history, PMG" What will come up is "History, origin, buy a home style vacuum packer". You then click on that and the article will come up. After you read that you can click on the PMG videos. There is a least 1 video covering the original Vacupack and how you actually flush it out with water. Under the parts part of their website there will be pictures of the original machine sold under 3 different names.

                                              2. re: Tom34

                                                I bought a FoodSaver v3880 mostly for sous vide. I've done about 80 seals so far and no problems at all. It seems to handle a little moisture okay but it isn't designed to do a seal if there's any substantial liquid in the bag.

                                                I wanted the VacMaster VP112 chamber sealer but didn't want to spend the extra money or give up the extra counter space.

                                                1. re: calumin

                                                  Where the newer machines seem to have real problems is sealing slimy / greasy bags. This often happens when placing a piece of bloody meat in the bag. Best to wipe off any grease from the area where the seal will be made. The other problem occurs during the last few seconds when the the very last bit of air is being sucked out of the bag. This is when the bloody / greasy liquid is pulled from an item such as steak and flows across the area where the heat seal is made.

                                                  The primary components are the Pump / Transformer / Seal Bar. If you took apart both an original Foodsaver and the best new Foodsaver made today and placed the parts side by side on a table you would be astounded. No comparison.
                                                  Good read on this @ "Foodsaver history, PMG"

                                                  1. re: calumin

                                                    The VacMaster VP 112 is a major accomplishment in terms of bringing a ChamberVac down from $1800.00 to under a $1000.00, however, those in the business of repairing them are less than impressed with whats inside. I think I would take a wait and see approach.

                                                    1. re: calumin

                                                      Depending on how often you vacuum seal, the VacMaster vp112 could end up saving you hundreds of dollars every year you don't use a FoodSaver. I did the math for myself so I wasn't about to fudge numbers. After finding amazon.ca has consistently the best overall prices for bags and rolls because of their free shipping, I started comparing the consumables. Chamber vacuum sealer bags various sizes and thickness from 3mil to 5mil came in $0.07-$0.12 per bag (and are truly reusable.) Foodsaver bags, all of which are 3mil, including a generous bags per roll came in $0.60 to $1.25 per bag (and really aren't resealable.) I looked at my usage per week, averaged in the summer CSA increase, and came up with 20 bags per week, or 1000 per year. At the lowest cost, that's $70/yr for chamber bags. The equivalent in Foodsaver bags, at the same lowest cost, is $600/yr making a difference of over $600 per year when that $530 has Ontario taxes added to it. The VacMaster vp112 sells for $799 (cheaper if you search Make An Offer) while my Foodsaver cost me $199. (No taxes included for clarity.) so, in my first year of ownership, the VacMaster vp112 costs me the same overall as the Foodsaver but next year it will save me $600 over and above any claims Foodsaver makes. And I have to say, I was totally in love with Foodsaver when I first got it but there's a limit on how many trinkets I'll buy a sweetheart. In the short time I've had my VacMaster I realise I was in love with the vacuum sealing process but not the harlot who will empty my wallet while I sleep. Financially, the VacMaster vp112 is the better choice for moderate to heavy users of vacuum sealing. Not affiliated yada yada.

                                                      1. re: seahare

                                                        I've considered the vp112 but it's so big and heavy. It would take up a lot of real estate in my kitchen.

                                                        1. re: seahare

                                                          Yes and No. Chamber vacs have significant advantages with liquids & to some extent dag costs.

                                                          I can get extremely high quality vacustrip bags to the front door (.15 pints, .17 quarts and .25 gallon).

                                                          The cost alone for high quality oil lubed chamber vac pumps is around $400.00 and a good transformer & heat sealing bar is another $300.00. Thats before profit. Bottom line is high quality repairable chamber vacs "start" around $1800.00.

                                                          The verdict is still out on the plastic made in China "non" oil lubed 112 in terms of longevity. Even the metal 115, 120, 210 & 215 have serious skeptics.

                                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      I buy FoodSaver rolls at Costco. I'm on my second box so am spending less than $60 a year. The bags are reusable provided you cut them long enough to start.