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Aug 8, 2013 06:23 AM

Curent best vacuum sealer?

Anyone have any opinions on a reasonable price (less than $200) current best food saver? We eat A LOT of steak and love grass fed meat which our store doesn't always carry so I like to buy in bulk when they have it. I currently triple wrap with plastic wrap, freezer paper and aluminum foil but I thought that a vacuum sealer might be a better long-term option. Does anyone have any current recommendations?

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  1. You want one of the original foodsavers, made in italy (flaem nuova). You can find them on eBay. expect to spend about $50-$60. These units can be repaired easily. They can seal wet bags...These machines are fantastic. I can seal 40-50 items in a row before I have to let the machine rest...

    18 Replies
    1. re: whelmar

      You are 100% right. Unlike the throwaways in the big box stores today, the originals have a heavy duty piston vacuum pump which liquids don't harm, heavy duty transformer & seal bar (not cheap wire) which seals wet slime covered bags with out a hiccup. The proof is whats inside as the old original machines weigh 4 times what the new ones do. They are fully repairable and the parts are still avail from Thom Dolder at PMG. Most common repair is the result of improper storage which damages the pads. New pads are under $20.00.

      With proper care / cleaning & storage the originals will last a lifetime plus. I got 2 from Ebay so each of my girls get one when the time comes.

      1. re: Tom34

        Got my two on eBay too! I use the chamber vacuum seal bags. Run me about 7 cents a bag for a 8x12 bag/4mil bags...
        The 'new' machines can't use these bags...

        1. re: whelmar

          Did you modify the machine or come up with some kind of trick? When I tried a chamber vac bag the bag instantly collapsed together just in front of the flat brown nozzle cutting off air flow from the rest of the bag.

          1. re: Tom34

            Never had that issue. I didn't do anything special. I did replace the gasket material with foam seal from Granger. Item #: 2RRF4
            It's $9 for 10 ft. The machines I have were made in 1989...

            1. re: whelmar

              I used a foam product from Grainger too on an old F/S machine I got & fixed for a friend. It was a more open cell foam and compressed with significantly less pressure than the original pads. I will have to check with him and see if his machine works with chamber vac bags. I posted about the Grainger product on the internet, possibly chow or a barbecue smoking forum. Is that where you got the idea or did you come up with it?

              Home depot also stocks the little "O" rings on the nozzle stem. Warm water & Armor All mixture in the jar port cleans and lubes the pump. Couple drops at a time.

              1. re: Tom34

                I had the stuff laying around in my garage...had enough to try it. Ended up buying more.

                1. re: whelmar

                  Can't beat that. Really great machines. Just can't say enough about them. $$$ went into whats on the inside, not pretty exterior & marketing. Kind of like the old Hobart Kitchen Aid Mixers vs today's kitchen aids.

                  1. re: Tom34

                    whelmar and Tom34,
                    Would you be willing to share the specific details of your foodsaver? Or maybe a picture or two. I'd like to be sure I 'm bidding on the correct one. Thanks in advance.

                      1. re: whelmar

                        Ridiculous...I ordered from that site earlier this sunday and get no tracking number. I get nothing all week and email him on thursday. He got back to me tonight and says he will ship it out next tuesday because he is "out" all this week. Do not order from that site

                      2. re: SScoTT

                        (Ref Whel mar's link).........I have the one on the left and the one on the right. Both pretty much the same. The PMG site also has some old videos of these machines in operation and a page with replacement parts.

                        Most of the time if there is a problem its with the pads from improper storage. They run around $15.00 or you can use roll weather striping like Whel mar did.

          2. re: Tom34

            Try to search on amazon. You can compare prices and quality

          3. re: whelmar

            what are the model number of the Italian made foodsavers

            1. re: wjohnson4566

              They went by name, not number.

              1st: Foodsaver by Tila

              2nd: Vacufresh

              3rd: Vacupack

              Above listed in the order of production. 1 & 2 were made in Italy. #3 was made in China. Pictures are avail, Google: PMG Vacuum sealers & click on nozzle style at the top.

              I have both #1 & #3. No apparent difference in quality or performance.

              Best way to find them is to search EBAY "Foodsaver" and click the used box. there are usually 1 or 2 on there in the $40.00 - $75.00 range.

              There were also 2 Italian made channel vac machine which they go over on the PMG site.

              1. re: Tom34

                Is the FOODSAVER COMPACT Food Saver BY TILIA a good one? The only older model without a number is one from 1988 with a current bid of $150.

                1. re: KFarmer

                  The original Italian made Foodsaver nozzle machine is the one listed on Ebay for $150. It was followed by an Italian made channel style where the open edge of the bag was placed in a channel making it easier to use. I believe it was called the Foodsaver 2. Thom Dolder has pictures of these machines on his website under parts.

                  I am pretty sure the company was sold after that and all the models that followed were mass produced inexpensive throw away machines.

                  That is an extremely high price $150 for the original. They come up frequently between $50 - $100. Usually the only thing that goes wrong is the black pad dries out or get crushed from improper storage. They can be had from Thom for about $20.

            2. re: whelmar

              Yes, Foodsaver is great if you don't have high expectancy about a vacuum sealer... What I mean is it isn't capable of sealing lot of products in short time. What I'm using is Vacupack Elite and it's wonderful in its role. You can read about it here: http://www.vacuumsealerpicker.com/

              1. re: meakes

                That machine is made with high quality components just like the original Italian made Tila Foodsavers only its much more modern with many new features. Not cheap but it will out perform just about all other suction machines, last a lifetime and parts will be avail 25 years from now just like parts are still avail for the orig Foodsavers.

            3. I have had the FoodSaver V3880 for about two years, mostly for sous vide. I don't use it much (probably about 500 seals since I've bought it) but I have never had a problem with it once. I've done maybe 20 seals at once and haven't had any issues. It works really well for me.

              I think problems could come if you're doing a lot of seals (40+) in one sitting, or if you're adding a lot of liquid in your seals. Sometimes I'll seal something with 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil -- after a dozen seals or so the light will come on saying there's too much moisture. There are a couple tricks you can do to minimize the liquid seepage into the system. Overall, though, if you're sealing with liquid you either have to freeze the liquid first or move to a more expensive chamber sealer.

              I haven't tried any of the original foodsavers, but have heard what whelmar suggests in that they are better than the ones out now.

              1. Don't know much about different brands. Have had Foodsaver for a while.... from a yard sale. Worked great until not too long ago... then became finnicky about vaccing & sealing. Was told probably needs a new gasket?? Then I find another one at a thrift shop for $5... less than cost and aggravation of getting new gasket.

                The bags can be a little pricey. Actually bought a unit at a thrift store SOLELY cuz it had a full roll of bags inside!?! Have periodically found bags while yard saling. Have several of FS cannisters... hose goes in hole in top to vac seal... good for things like crackers. FS also makes a gizmo that will allow you to vac seal stuff in wide-mouth canning jars... DRY stuff only. I use that for stuff like rice & small pasta... stuff that never really goes bad, but could get a little stale tasting.

                I'm cooking for one most days & hated finding mystery items in the recesses of freezer all freezer burned and dried up. When something like boneless/skinless chicken breasts are on sale, always a BIG package of 4... WAY more than I would cook/eat by myself. I repackage into individual servings and vac seal. A rock hard hunk chicken it defrosted and ready to cook in maybe 20-25 minutes in room temp water.

                1. I have a FoodSaver. I use it ALL the time. In fact, when I bought it I had no idea how useful it would turn out to be.

                  They're very available. They're inexpensive enough. I use the simple low-profile one. I had the more expensive upright model but I found the cheaper one was much more versatile in terms of sealing unconventional things that aren't in FoodSaver bags.

                  You know, when you talk about concern for the integrity of expensive meat, you are probably asking more about the reliability of the BAGS than the sealer.

                  I am also happy with the quality of FoodSaver bags and they are also widely available from Costco to Target to Bed Bath & Beyond.

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: rainey

                    Hey Rainey,

                    I used to use the foodSaver bags but switched to the Vaccustrip bags several years ago. Very tough material & 3.5 mils thick. Very consistent seal and very resistant to puncture.

                    Cheapest I have seen them is at "webrestaurantstore". With shipping (pints 12 - 14 cents), (quarts 15 - 17 cents), (Gallons 20 - 22 cents). These prices are about 50% less than the FoodSaver bags at the club stores.

                    1. re: Tom34

                      Thanks for that! I'll look into it.

                      While we discussing savings, I suppose you've experimented to see how many of the bags things come in can be resealed too. As can ordinary zip top freezer bags if you want to resize them or make the seal more permanent.

                      I make my own bread and a 2 gallon zip top bag can be sized down to conveniently hold a loaf once it's cut.

                      PS Do you think WebRestaurantStore could have discontinued them? I can't located them on the site with a search.

                      1. re: rainey

                        No they still have them. Go to the search box in the upper right on their home page and type in "vacuum sealer bags". Several small pictures will come up. Click on the one that has a couple bags in the picture with "vacuum packaging machine bags / accessories" written under it. This will take you to the right spot.

                        The vacstrip bags are the ones I buy and they seem to be higher quality than the ones called full mesh bags which are a little cheaper. I also buy in 300 count which saves a little more. You will see this when you click on a certain size bag.

                        I am lucky that I have family & friends who all vacuum seal and we pool our order which gets us into the 300 count for all three sizes (pt / qt / gal) & it also cuts down on the shipping. Shipping to a business is also a little cheaper.

                        Sealing other bags: I did that at first but most of the stuff we get in bags gets opened every day so its not really practical for us.

                        Zip Top freezer bags: We occasionally use these but its more for quick convenient storage but not long term freezer storage. The freezer rated zip tops are pretty pricey too. They can be held under water with just the very top above the water to remove the air too (old fishing guide trick)

                        One trick I did learn is that to keep bags from being punctured while the air is drawn out, things like sharp shell fish can be wrapped in cheap butcher paper or cut up brown grocery bags and then stuck in a vac seal bag.

                        If your really into Vac sealing, its worth looking into (ebay) the "original" Foodsaver models made in Italy. They had 2 models, the original nozzle and the 2nd generation channel style. Both are EXTREMELY powerful units both in terms of suction & most importantly sealing wet / slimy bags. They are also fully repairable and the parts are avail.

                        1. re: Tom34

                          Thanks. I was doing my search on "vaccustrip" and nothing came up but when I used "vacstrip" I got it.

                          I've put the address to the bag order page away for future reference. I still think I'll need the rolls that I can make really long tho. I do some large things.

                          1. re: rainey

                            Glad you found it.......Vacstrip also comes in rolls. I don't know the cost factor but it may be worth an internet search to see how the $$ compare to Foodsaver rolls.

                      2. re: Tom34

                        What's the difference between vacstrip bags and chamber vac bags, performance and usage wise?

                        1. re: takadi

                          CHAMBER VAC MACHINES: (big, heavy & expensive) have a chamber that the bag is placed into and then the chamber is depressurized.

                          HOMESTYLE EXTERNAL VACUUM SEALERS:(small, light & cheaper) the bag is placed outside the machine and air is drawn out from the front open edge of the bag. As this happens the smooth surfaces of the bag collapse and air can't be drawn from below the collapse.

                          The inside of the original Foodsaver bags had a raised textured surface (much like textured paint on a wall) which allowed air to continue to be drawn after the bag collapsed. They were extremely expensive which rendered the machines unpractical for many applications.

                          To combat the high cost of the original F/S bags, a very clever and now very wealthy person came up with the idea of attaching a strip of mesh inside a cheap smooth bag that runs from the top to the bottom of the bag. This mesh provides a passage for air to continue to flow (be drawn) beyond the collapse. Ala the Vacustrip bag was born.

                          They are much cheaper than the original F/S bags, seem to work well in most machines and many claim they hold a seal better that the original F/S bags.

                          There is also a "full" mesh bag which is cheaper but is said to be thinner and not as good at preventing long term freezer burn

                          1. re: Tom34

                            Thanks so much for the very informative reply! I recently invested in a Waring Pro vacuum pistol that uses zip style vacuum bags and they have proven to be very under par. Many bags lose vacuum within less than a month and they are extremely prone to being punctured or torn.

                            I just bought a original foodsaver based on your recommendations from ebay. It ran a little expensive (about 75). But they said that the "seals" needed to be replaced due to age and should be replaced every so often...I'm assuming they are talking about the pads?

                            1. re: takadi

                              The pads are normally the problem.....happens from improperly storing the machine with the top half in the run position leaving the weight of the top half pushing down on the pads. When not in use, the top 1/2 should be supported by the plastic extensions on each side.

                              PMG sells a new pad kit for about $20.00. Some dense weather stripping will also work but the kit is the best. If properly stored when not in use it will last practically for ever.

                              There is little round "O" ring (#7...... 1/2" outside diameter x 3/8 inside diameter x 1/16" thickness) on the stem of the nozzle. Sometimes they dry rot. A small pack of them is avail at Home Depot / Lowes in the plumbing dept for a few dollars. There should also be a little piece of foam inside the nozzle. This acts like a filter to keep solids from being sucked into the pump. Any foam will work if its missing.

                              On the bottom side of the machine there is a plastic plug with a seal. This can be cleaned and lubed with a little Armour All.

                              There is a jar port with a round switch that activates it. With the jar port activated, a "couple" drops at a time in the port of (warm water and Armour All silicone) will clean and lubricate the pump.

                              1. re: Tom34


                                I just thought of something. If they are a regular seller on E-Bay and you used PayPal, you may be able to get a $25.00 credit for a new pad set. Most regular sellers will give credit and E-Bay / Paypal can put pressure on them.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  How would I be able to do that? Don't I already implicitly accept the agreement that I would be receiving everything as is including worn out pads by paying for it?

                                  Also it looks like he only has a feedback score of 246 (albeit 100 percent) so I don't think he counts as a "regular seller"?

                                  1. re: takadi

                                    My mistake, I missed the part about being informed about the worn pads prior to the sale.

                                    1. re: takadi

                                      Let us know how it works after you get the new pads.

                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        Will do. I'm excited to try it out with the vacstrip bags. I'm crossing my fingers that there are no more punctures

                                        1. re: Tom34

                                          I got a new bottom plug plus nozzle gasket and pads. The vacuum sealer itself works decently but is a little fickle. Sometimes I will be vacuuming forever and it won't seal. I think it mostly has to do with the way I orient the bag on the nozzle and pads...if the opening of the bag is wrinkled or cut weird it wont' fully vacuum.

                                          The vacstrip bags though are a MIRACLE. At least compared to the waring pro bags. I was able to vacuum pack 3 lbs of beef bones with NO punctures. So far no vacuum loss either. I love it. Tough bags they are. My only problem is that they don't fit whole chickens because they are a little short, so I had to buy the bag rolls for that. Bag rolls work just as well btw, it's just a little more hassle cutting them.

                                          1. re: takadi

                                            Hey Takadi,

                                            Glad you got it working. There is a little line going across the flat part of the nozzle about 3/8 of an inch from the end of the nozzle where the hole is. Best if the end of the bag does not go past that line.

                                            WRINKLED BAG: If you sit the machine on the counter you will notice that the clamp & seal bar are raised about 2 1/2 inches above the counter level. I found that sitting something like an old phone book on the counter in front of the machine raises the bottom of the bag up to about the same level as the sealing bar. This helps keep the bag from wrinkling & also helps keep the front edge of the bag from pulling out from under the nozzle.

                                            I also noticed that the thick vacustrip bags work much better in the old original machine than some of the thinner textured bags. They are all I use now.

                                            Definitely takes a little getting used to. With practice and a few tricks you will get the hang of it.

                                            For extra wide bags, you can seal the outer 2 edges of the bag on an angle & trim off the excess triangle shaped pieces of bag on the outside of the seal. This will leave a smaller front section to seal after the air is drawn out.

                                            1. re: Tom34

                                              "For extra wide bags, you can seal the outer 2 edges of the bag on an angle & trim off the excess triangle shaped pieces of bag on the outside of the seal. This will leave a smaller front section to seal after the air is drawn out."

                                              I am so glad you told me about this. I was about to think that my order of 15x18 bags was going to go into the trash

                                              1. re: takadi

                                                They work fine once you seal the corners and cut off the excess on the outside of the seal.

                                                Do try elevating the bags to the same height as the sealing bar on the orig Foodsaver. Then run your finger across the bag on the sealing bar to smooth it out. You will get the hang of it.

                        2. I have a seal a meal my husband gave me 7 years ago for christmas. (last Christmas he gave me a Shun knife. . . he can learn) but It has been working well for me. I use the food saver bags I find at costco. I use it only once or twice a month, but when I do, I seal a bunch of stuff