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Food Savers/ Vacuum Sealers: Do you use them and are they worth the expense?

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I'm really trying to be mindful of wasted food in our home, and have gotten to the point I cannot abide tossing unused items. Unfortunately, out lifestyle means dinner doesn't always get cooked as planned. So, I'm thinking of investing in a food saver to give me those extra days I sometimes need to get to use fresh produce and meat.

I'd love to hear from Hounders that use them, love them, and hate them. ;-)

Your perspective on these things is always so helpful!

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  1. I have a food saver. I used to do a lot of hunting and fishing, in a addition to shopping at Costco.

    Bags cost about 50cents each.

    Based on your posted needs, I recommend ziplock bags or storage containers. I don't see the economics of a food saver to give you those extra days.

    They are great for longer storage, buying in bulk, but for a couple of weeks or less, I use zip locks or storage containers.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alan408

      I usually only vacuum seal big ticket items like meats or seafood for long term storage in my chest freezer.

    2. Mine paid for itself in the first year. Not only do I save money by being less wasteful it allows me to take advantage of family packs, stock up sales, etc. I break it down in serving for our family and it keeps for months. And the bags are washable/reusable

      Also I buy less convenience foods like shredded cheese, bread crumbs, etc. I can buy big blocks of good quality cheese and shred it myself and freeze. Save breads to make my own crumbs.

      Being a working mom it's a life saver too. I do a lot of batch cooking/feed the freezer on the weekends. During the week I can grab a bag of meatballs/sauce, beef stew, chili, whatever and throw it in the crock pot. When I get home the main part of dinner is done.

      1. Foodsavers are great if you want to buy in bulk, portion and freeze for later use. For Christmas dinner this year I pulled a beef tenderloin roast that I had vacuum sealed and frozen last Christmas and it was still in excellent condition. It probably wouldn't be my first choice for short term storage, I'd probably just wrap in plastic wrap or use Ziploc bags for that.

        1. I've never considered FSing uncooked produce and don't think one would somehow. But for meats, you bet. ALL THE TIME. And I'll freeze 'better' meats that I wouldn't have before. With the air removed a steak is still bright red months later. Mine has certainly paid for itself.

          11 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            My SIL swears by hers and seals all of her produce but keeps it in the refrigerator. She says she can keep most of her produce fresh for weeks. Now, I'm not saying that's always the case, but this is what she claims.

            I do like the idea of buying some meats in bulk.

            1. re: FoodChic

              She must not vacuum seal just seal? And if that's the case wouldn't zipping bags work just as well. I'm sure I'm missing something here.

              1. re: c oliver

                When I use Ziplocs, I press all the air out by hand before closing. Same difference.

                1. re: coll

                  We grind our own meat and when I freeze burgers I wrap each one VERY tightly in plastic wrap and then in a zipping bag. Works great.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Keeping the air out is what it's all about. No matter how you accomplish it.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      If you have the freezer space, put each ground beef patty in a plastic sandwich bag, fold shut, and stack them in a metal coffee can---put the plastic lid on---freeze.

                      1. re: Querencia

                        We put a bunch of the tightly wrapped ones in gallon zipping bags.

                        Does coffee still come in cans?!? :)

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Usually 12 oz instead of the usual 16 oz. :/ So the burgers may have a smaller diameter.

                2. re: FoodChic

                  Strawberries, raspberries, etc keep perfectly for 3-4x as long as any other storage method when in the FS storage jars, especially the ripe local fruit as opposed to the supermarket "two tone" picked way too early. Important not to rinse them before storage.

                  1. re: axial

                    Or any type of sealed jar, for that matter.

                3. re: c oliver

                  I FS chicken all the time. I freeze them in portions. It's great.

                4. Just sold my "like new" Foodsaver plus tons of extra bags on eBay. There was quite the bidding war since I thought I'd have to let it go cheap, but not so!

                  I discovered that Ziplocks were a lot easier and a lot cheaper. I kept the tubs for saving compostable items in my kitchen, so it wasn't a total loss.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: coll

                    Hi, coll. Curious why you got rid of it.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I was going through my kitchen cabinets before Thanksgiving, and was digging way too hard to find something, so I decided anything that hadn't been used in over a year or two would get put up for sale on eBay or Craigslist for the holidays. It's a little hobby of mine lately.

                  2. I have a Food saver and use it a lot.

                    I'm an avid fisherman and occassional hunter and often have a lot of fish/game that I want to freeze. It works remarkably well at maintaining quality/texture for extended periods..think months.

                    I don't often buy meat in bulk but it works well for that.

                    My feeling is that they are not that expensive; I haven't priced them but a low speed/home machine was around $100 when I bought it 5+ years ago. You can cut the bags to size. That's where the cost is. I suppose you just have to decide how much you think you'll use it.

                    For short term freezing, a week or 2, a zip lock bag with as much air as possible is squeezed out works ok.

                    BTW, for those who own the these, after a lot of use; lots of tuna...:) the vacuum sealer stopped working. I called the co and they suggested getting a new plastic seal..where you put the bag in. For around $8, the machine is good as new.

                    I swear by mine..but it's all in how often you think YOU will use it to justify the expense. For a few days freezing, maybe not. Few months, yes

                    eta..I don't think I've ever used it for produce and have no experience with comparisns of a FS and just a well sealed bag.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: 9lives

                      Half of my bags seemed to seal, but then when I pulled them out of deep freeze they had lost pressure and were puffed out. That's mainly why I stopped using it, all that work for nothing. At least Ziplocs stay airtight.

                      I used it maybe 10, or 20? times, so it basically didn't work out of the box.

                      1. re: coll

                        I've taken to double-sealing mine about 1/8 of an inch apart...

                        1. re: coll

                          What manufacture & model Coll. At this point I am past 1000 bags without a failed seal. Sharp edges like bones can tear them though. I pre-wrap with butcher paper over bones.

                          1. re: Tom34

                            No I don't remember any bones or punctures. The bags just didn't hold the seal except occasionally. This is the one: Food Saver V2440 Vacuum Sealer with Seven Extra Rolls of Assorted Size Bags.

                            I'm not buying anywhere as much meat anymore anyway, what with the way the price keeps going up, don't regret selling it. I really have to stop buying every gadget out there!

                            1. re: coll

                              I don't have the V2440 in front of me to be sure but If it came from a big box store it likely has a weak transformer & a sealing wire rather than a sealing bar. They work pretty well with dry products that don't coat the inside of the bag with anything when you fill the bag.

                              Meat, fish & chicken can be a problem though because when the product is being put in the bag it often rubs against the inside of the bag right where the future seal will be made leaving a coating of animal fat or fish slime. The transformer & heat seal "wire" are marginal at best in most of the big box store machines they have a tough time melting the two layers of the bag together with that grease coating. You could try folding the bag back so the area that gets sealed does not come in contact with product.

                              The article I pasted below, while long, is extremely informative regarding vacuum sealer history and how they have evolved into far "inferior" products over the years. Almost identical saga of the old Hobart KitchenAid mixers vs the new ones. Yeah, the new ones sure look pretty, but its whats inside that counts, or now days, whats not inside that counts.

                              1. re: Tom34

                                Got it at BJs, as I like to say the name says it all ;-) Anyway it's someone elses problem now!

                                And I do have a Hobart Kitchenaid which they'll have to pry out of my dead hands someday.

                                1. re: coll

                                  The Hobart KA's had metal gears and I am pretty sure actual bearings. Nothing to listen to but real work horses. I think parts are still avail.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    Yes mine has metal gears and the only thing I've replaced since the mid 70s is a screw on the plate that the bowl sit on. It was starting to wobble. Free of charge, just a couple of years ago, they sent the whole assembly! New plate and all, now that's service.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      That's a great deal. I have heard the new mixers have a lot of plastic in them and you have to move up to the 600 series to get anything that lasts.

                          2. re: coll

                            Have not had that problem with my FS.

                            I use mine almost daily. Most times I'm cooking for two and can portion out fish, meats and poultry and vacuum seal.

                            Toss packages in sink with cold water and they defrost in about 20 min. Quality of stored items is excellent. Better than if just zip bagged

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Do you have a newer model, though? Or is it the one I mentioned, by any chance? Because the one I had was worse than a Zip Lock in most cases.

                              1. re: coll

                                Just looked. Model V3880. It was the tall one that Costco was selling about 2-3 yrs ago

                          3. re: 9lives

                            Sometimes when ours stops vacuuming too well, we just clean those little gaskets or whatever they are and all's well. I should probably go ahead and get a replacement for when the day comes. Thanks for the tip.

                            1. re: 9lives

                              I get at least six months out of Zip Lock Freezer bags. Probably more, never got in the habit of dating them.

                            2. In a word. YES!

                              1. Vacuum sealers are great. But the ones I've had have not been very well made. Switches die, vacuum sensors fail. I'm on my 3rd Foodsaver. This one has lasted two years touch wood.

                                Zip Loc bags are a great alternative so long as you get the ones without the zipper which tends to leak after a while. A tightly rolled zip loc will get 99% of the air out. Alternatively you can immerse the bag in water up to an open corner of the nearly zipped bag to force out the remaining air.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sal_acid

                                  Great tip!

                                2. I love it and wish I had bought one years ago. I found it (Seal a Meal,) at Goodwill in it's original packaging for $7.99. My freezer is so neat and organized now- many things are "filed" in plastic shoeboxes so they take up very little room. My garden produce doesn't go to waste now if we can't eat it or share it fast enough.

                                  I buy Italian made bags on ebay, 100 6x12 bags for $22.99 including shipping, 100 8x12 for $23.99. They're boilable.

                                  1. Have had 2-3 Foodsavers... all found for CHEAP at yard slaes or thrift store. If bags failed to seal, usually gaskets needed a good wiping down.

                                    When I found first one (for $10), asked WHY owner was selling? She bought the unit figuring she'd save money buying "family packs" of beef/pork/chicken for her family... which included husband and 2 TWEEN boys... bottomless PITS!! Said even buying large packages of meat, they never stayed in freezer long enough to become remotely freezer burned.

                                    I've found a lot of the FS attachments... cannisters & sealer for wide-mouth mason jars. Work well with dry stuff that really doesn't go bad, but could get stale... like crackers/cookies.

                                    I'm cooking for 1 and EVERY meat product seems too much for me?? When boneless/skinless chicken breasts are on sale... usually 3-4 HUGE hunks of meat. ONE can be dinner with left-overs for next day lunch. I repackage stuff into one serving size. Stuff goes from rock-hard frozen to ready to cook in less than half hour in room temp water. A meal sized burger can be just that or enough ground beef for chili or sloppy joes for 2-3 servings max. Have gotten into the habit of dating stuff in freezer. When freezer needs a major reorg, have yet to find something freezer burned.

                                    Bags aren't CHEAP... nobody ever seems to have them on sale. Haven't bought off ebay, but have seen what looked like great deals?? At first, I tried to cut bags from rolls so they JUST fit. Now I'll make one much longer than needed... then can be opened, THOROUGHLY cleaned and reused.

                                    1. FoodSaver absolutely rocks.
                                      I bought mine in 1990 or 91 and it has performed flawlessly ever since in what is probably heavier than average use, with no issues whatsoever. The big advantage it has over ziplocks (other than the obvious advantage of the vacuum) is the fact that the FoodSaver (and other similar bags) are oxygen barrier bags. That feature is part of the reason that long term freezer storage is possible.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: The Professor

                                        I have a feeling that like everything else, the current models have been cheapened and are just riding on their brand name.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          That;s a shame. The one I bought 20+ years ago is a real beast of burden. They were expensive back then, but it has proven to be worth every penny.

                                          1. re: The Professor

                                            20 plus years ago puts it during the time frame of the original Italian Foodsaver which became the Vacufresh which became the Vacupack. Unlike today's mass marketed Chinese throw aways, these were designed by "engineers" for performance, longevity, are fully repairable and parts are still available. They had very powerful piston pumps that fluids did not hurt, in fact they were meant to be flushed out with water. Key to sealing were the large, heavy, powerful transformers & a heat sealing "bar" rather that a wire. They melt right through animal fat which is where the later models fall flat on their face. Still avail on ebay, usually $50 - $75 but sometimes over $100. They will outperform any machine made today under $300.

                                          2. re: coll

                                            Mine is probably ten years old and is a workhorse.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Mine was about five years old and a piece of junk.

                                              1. re: coll

                                                But you were still able to sell it. Gotta be that old trash/treasure thing :)

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  I think they wanted the six cartons of bags more than the machine, to tell the truth.

                                            2. re: coll

                                              You know what? Mine is soooo useful if I had to trash it and pay for a new replacement I'd do it in a heartbeat.

                                              New construction may be the result of cut corners and I could wish for the gold standard one that will go on forever but the utility it has makes it worthwhile for even a limited lifespan.

                                              Of course, YMMV. ;>

                                          3. I've had mine for 8 years now, and my use of it goes in streaks. I like it for repackaging bulk meats from Costco so I can portion down to what the 3 of us can eat. Occasionally I will freeze sliced up fresh peppers if I wind up with too many.

                                            I love it for freezing things like lasagna. Put in how much you would need for a meal, seal, and stack flat

                                            Keep a permanent marker around when sealing to LABEL LABEL LABEL! Half a leg of lamb and a beef chuck roast look very similar when rock hard in the same packaging. And are not readily interchangeable . . .

                                            1. We use our FoodSaver quite a lot and think it's well worth the counterspace, this is the 2 or 3 model we've had and it's aobut 10 years old.

                                              We had been shopping for model #3 because we found that the bags weren't sealing as well as they should have and we'd discover packages with telltale ice buildup inside, plus the vacuuming process was taking much longer than usual. Reading on CH forums revealed that this is usually because the soft foam gasket needs to be replaced. Called FS with the model # and after quickly diagnosing the problem they shipped out the new gasket immediately, somewhere around $10 or so. Made a world of difference.

                                              Agreed on the priceyness of the bags; we recently bought some alternate bags listed on Amazon (Weston brand). Good quality product, slightly "crisper" than the FS bags, marker pen writes on them just fine and significantly more economical.

                                              1. Hi, FoodChic:

                                                Yes, I use them to lengthen freezer time and for sous vide.

                                                Economical? Sort of. The rolls of bag material are 'way too expensive, like ink cartridges for inkjet printers. But for longer-term freezer storage, they can save you money (provided you visit the back of your freezer).

                                                I do have a pet peeve about them, though. Unless you have very orderly and organized bin storage, the frozen bags tend to avalanche. If they fall far or hit hard enough, you will perforate the bag, thereby losing the seal and the advantage of having the FS in the first place.

                                                Another hint. Buy a good one. FS has declined in quality. You might want to compare makes/models at a place that specializes in catering to hunters and fishermen, like Cabelas.

                                                Have Fun,
                                                Aloha,
                                                Kaleo

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Watch out for the avalanche effect. Because all the air is "gone" there isn't much friction to slow things down. I have a stand alone up right freezer (replaced my now deceased chest freezer, what a welcome home from Austria! present that was. . .) and I stand back when opening it.

                                                  I try to organize the shelves by food type, so prepared stuff top shelf, homemade extras (marinara, lasagna, soups) second shelf with frozen fish tending to join this shelf as space allows, raw meats get their own zone, then frozen fruits/veggis in the drawer at the bottom. breads go in the freezer door. This helps me know which "zone" I need to look in

                                                  1. re: autumm

                                                    Anything in a zipping bag is either in a box (like a plastic shoe box) or on the door.

                                                    1. re: autumm

                                                      For my stand up freezer, 2 empty beer cases completely fill a shelf. (front to back, side to side & top to to bottom)

                                                      Each case is marked for different products.

                                                      Also helps keep cold air in because of less open door time. I open the door, remove the appropriate case, shut the door, sort through the case and remove what I want by type and date. They I open the fridge door and slide the case back in. .

                                                    2. re: kaleokahu

                                                      The BBQ forums are also a good resource to find a better "FS" and cheap good quality bags.

                                                    3. We bought our first one in September; used it a few times then put it away...Fiance hunts small animals and fish and neighbors give us venison each year so that was our reason for buying it. We used the first one a few times then it stopped sealing. I took it back to the store and exchanged it;the second one did the same thing after about a week. Took it back and exchanged it and now am on the third one (all were exchanged for the same model so no extra money was shelled out). Food Saver Model 3230

                                                      The bags are expensive but I reuse them, usually cutting the bags larger the first time to allow for trimming off the seam which makes it easier to use the second time. I also use zip lock bags for things I know will be used quicker as within a couple of months.

                                                      Zip lock bags are not for long term storage; In my experience, even if you make sure every bit of extra air is pushed from the bags, after a few months I notice some ice forming in the bags.

                                                      19 Replies
                                                      1. re: Cherylptw

                                                        Are we talking Zip Lock Freezer bags or just the regular thin ones?

                                                        1. re: coll

                                                          I use freezer bags

                                                          1. re: coll

                                                            ziplock freezer bags

                                                            1. re: Cherylptw

                                                              I pulled out some PSMO today that has been there since summer, and it wasn't fully compressed. There was definitely a bit of ice forming, not that it's stopping me from using it! I'm going to be more careful in the future though and really suck it dry.

                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                WTF is PSMO?

                                                                1. re: sal_acid

                                                                  Filet mignon without the fat and skin.

                                                                  1. re: sal_acid

                                                                    "peeled, silver skin, side muscle on"

                                                                    Not a common term.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      Actually it's Peeled Side Meat On.

                                                                      If you're in the food industry it's as common as all get out. If you're not, then listen and learn, it can't hurt. At the very least, you can impress your butcher with your inside knowledge.

                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                        I'm guessing the vast majority of CHs aren't in the food industry. And when I Googled it there were a number of other things that came up in addition.

                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                          Let's change the topic.

                                                                          Did I tell you that I bought a package of MatCha (tea) and prepared some just 15 min ago. I didn't know how strong this thing is. I think I prepared too much. I guess I will have to refrigerate the rest and drink it tomorrow. I know. It is not the best thing for tasting tea, but it will be better than overdosing myself with tea, right?

                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                            http://www.thekitchn.com/post-51-88458

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              OK that's not a PSMO, but they are making a PSMO out of an unpeeled filet. There is a directory called NAMP (North American Meat Processor Association) which is the official bible of beef, cut and dried (haha) and that is what I refer to. I'm not even going to get into it since it might be a waste of time if you don't want to know. Actually might be a waste of time for most people. You can call it whatever you want, no "skin" off my back ;-)

                                                                              http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=n...

                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                "peeled, silver skin, side muscle on"

                                                                                My only point was that this is what the letters stand for.

                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  The silver skin isn't part of the official description. Otherwise it would be PSSSMO.

                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                    Okey dokey. Then what DO the letters stand for. The link I gave was the only one listed.

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      You have to look at a NAMP butcher site, not a blog. Sorry but I don't want to get too technical at this point, for obvious reasons. Here is the simplest description I can find • Tenderloin, Full, Side Muscle On, Defatted (PSMO), IMPS/NAMP 189A -- All surface fat removed; attached side muscle and silver skin remain.

                                                                                      The silver skin remains on but is not part of the PSMO designation. I am realizing this is way too technical for this discussion so I will leave it at that.

                                                                                2. re: coll

                                                                                  Thank you so much for mentioning this. I'd never heard of the NAMP before. There was a book published in 1977 called "The Meat Board Book" by Barbara Bloch. I'm surprised how often I refer to it, but it's getting a bit out of date and I've been looking for a replacement. It's considerably more than I would have expected to spend, though. Is it very technical? Or is it something the home cook would find interesting? I'm sorely tempted.

                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    It is the bible, the final word, for meat purveyors. Not so much for home use though. All technicalities, not much usage info.

                                                                                    It gives the specification of each numbered cut of meat; where I worked we sold a lot of meat but there was only one copy in the whole building, on the meat buyers desk. I remember him saying how expensive it was, he wouldn't let it leave his sight. So for me, if a chef ordered a 189 rather than a 189A, we'd know if he wanted a peeled or an unpeeled filet. Of course ordering by number rather than name didn't happen on a regular basis! They would normally just say I need a couple of PSMOs (which is what started this whole brouhaha!) or a case of Tenderloins and so on. But just in case....

                                                                                    Anyway, I have to confess. Before this thread, I had also told a friend whose husband owned a restaurant about my PSMO plans, and she didn't know what it was either. Although she could guess that it involved a filet at least. Sorry to all involved if I got a little frisky last night; as I said I won't be going down that path again!

                                                                                    Did you look at the official NAMP website, seems like they do have some other interesting info besides the manual online.
                                                                                    http://shop.urnerbarry.com/mm5/mercha...

                                                                        2. re: coll

                                                                          I think if you wrap it tightly in plastic wrap prior to putting in the bag you'll eliminate that problem.

                                                                  2. I got a FoodSaver about 4 years ago as an impulse buy at Costco. I thought I'd use it occasionally. Turns out I use it almost every day.

                                                                    In addition to preparing things for freezer storage I use it to:

                                                                    • marinate meat; don't get a dedicated "box", just use a bag
                                                                    • reseal commercial bagged foods; don't use a FS bag, just trim up the one your pasta or snack comes in and reseal
                                                                    • mail foods -- even delicate cookies hold up when compacted into units (use that "manual" or "seal" button so they don't go on to get crushed!) and frozen soup arrives thawed but safe and delicious
                                                                    • do advance prep for major meal like T-day a week in advance
                                                                    • use the sealer to make custom sizes out of commecial zip lock bags from the snack size to the 2-gallon babies (which are excellent for keeping homemade bread fresh when you chop the length down to loaf size). The sealer will work even through the zipping strip so if I'm packing days of meds for a trip, I scale snack bags down into 2 or 3 itsy bags.

                                                                    I'm probably forgetting a lot since I just use it now as second nature. But my advice is get one! They're great.

                                                                    PS I gave my first little one way when a bigger upright one came along. I put that one away and re-replaced it with the simple small one that can do much more. …especially since they've introduced the ziplock type bags and the inexpensive adaptor end for the vacuum unit.

                                                                    1. Forgot to say we once had a serious grain weevil prob after being out of our house for 6 months.

                                                                      Now I reseal all my pantry and baking supplies that have grains --s ome in their own bags; some I seal in cheap ordinary zip locks. Lasagna noodles are one thing that I never use up once a box is open. I put the unused ones in a zip lock and seal it and put it back inside the cardboard box for storage that protects the noodles from breakage.

                                                                      No pesticides around my stored foods. No more grain weevils. Reason enough to buy a FS in my opinion!

                                                                      1. EXPENSIVE BAGS: Many patents have expired and new types of bags have also hit the market which has dramatically reduced the price.

                                                                        - 3.5 mil Vacustrip bags work in most machines and to the front door cost about .15 for pints, .20 for quarts & .30 for gallons.This is not much more than "freezer rated" zip lock bags. I order them in 300 count from "webrestaurantstore" and get them even cheaper.

                                                                        Use butcher paper or cut up brown grocery bags to pre-wrap items with bones or shells like lobster to keep the sharp edges from puncturing the bags. Bone guard is even better but more expensive.

                                                                        1. Many good articles in Chow covering vacuum sealers, their history, how to find older repairable machines & factory replacement parts for older machines.

                                                                          Thom Dolder at PMG is a pioneer on them.

                                                                          Here is a great article on the machines history by Thom:

                                                                          This guide was written to give you the consumer some background on the Home Style Vacuum Packers. Where they originated and some vital information you should take into consideration before buying a home style Vacuum Packer. It will break down into categories, so you can read what interests you and what your focus on a particular area of question might be.

                                                                          Home Style Vacuum Packers:

                                                                          How and when they began:

                                                                          In 1984 a gentleman named Hans Christian, developed the first home-style vacuum packer. He called it the Foodsaver. The corporation was the Tilia Corporation.

                                                                          Professional Marketing Group was at that time heavily involved with sales of Oster Commercial Blenders and Dehydrators. Hans Christian and his partner Bob Warden approached PMG and enlisted them to be the first to sell his new product. Within a few short years of selling at Fairs and Expos's the product was a huge success. It was then picked up by retail outlets such as Costco and spread to retail connection world wide. The original machine was a nozzle style. New comers to the industry have adapted the name "snorkel" to this type of vacuum packer. The nozzle style machine was bullet proof. It was literally designed to compete with the commercial chamber style machines that had been out since the 1940's but for a home user. Hans and his engineers put extensive thought into the development of this vacuum packer. Still today 22 years later this machine can be found in excellent working condition in many homes. This same nozzle style machine is still sold today and has proven the engineering is still superior to any of the new models produced and sold. The drawbacks Professional Marketing Group found for store shelf retail with this machine is people do not clean their machines. They leave food and debris in the pump and nozzle. This is a simple problem to fix but surprisingly difficult to get people to do?

                                                                          The Second Generation of Home Style Vacuum Packers:

                                                                          In 1990 the original Tilia Corporation had a "designer" developed a new machine this machine was not developed by the original "engineers". This new stylish machine was called a channel style machine. This channel style machine was quickly put into retail locations. The machine was easier to clean, and simpler to lay the bag into the channel. This style of machine is still today the most popular style of machine, on the retail market. Manufactured in many versions under different names. But they are all still the same "style" with the same inherit problems. This style requires very little explanation to operate, easy to see food and debris, thus lending it's self visually in need of cleaning. The draw back of this style of machine is it over heats very fast. As a result of the over heating it is not as consistent with the amount of air drawn from the bag. This problem still exists in all manufactures of this style of machine. To put it simply this design style of machine is not a high production machine able to rival, the smaller chamber style machines as the original nozzle style machine did and still does. What followed was a mass production and sales. With the simplicity problem solved the Tilia Corporation was able to secure a wide range of retail outlets. This was also very easy as there was absolutely no competition at that time.

                                                                          The Corporation's First Sell Out:

                                                                          In 1993 the Tilia Foodsaver Corporation original founders sold. The Tilia Corporation has been sold multiple times since then. The original machines both nozzle and channels were built in Italy. These machines in good working order still have a decent resale value. They are quite highly sot after and are a gem to find. There is an independent web site not run by Tilia to repair these old machines. The new owners of Tilia quit supplying parts for them in 1993 when they moved all production of machines from Italy to the Orient.

                                                                          Manufacturing and Repair Parts:

                                                                          In today's market there are many players manufacturing and marketing vacuum packing machines. Most home style machines now a day are produced in the Orient. Production in the Orient offers less expensive labor but also for reasons of less costly regulations in productions. Be this good or bad this is a huge controversy that I care not to get into with this information page. Nonetheless there are differences in current quality. A product can be made anywhere in the world with quality parts or cheap disposable parts. It is not the origin of the product but the intent of the manufacturing company the quality they order to be manufactured. I have products from the Orient that are superb high quality items that last years. I have also purchased products from the same region that break and are in the garbage in just a few uses. This same goes for USA, Italian, German, and all other countries that manufacture products. Getting parts for these machines is not hard it is just up to the repair companies to stock them. Working with a company that repairs the products they sell will enable you to get parts easily no matter where they are manufactured. Purchasing from Internet sites that only drop ship and do not service what they sell directly, can leave you stranded when you need servicing. These types of Internet sites selling products cheap sets you up for paying inflated repair rates from the factory repair center. My thoughts when I purchase: "No parts, No in-house repairs, No sale" Most people would not buy a new car that could not be fixed at the location it was purchased from! Why buy any mechanical item that cannot be fixed where it was originally bought.

                                                                          So the question comes how do I know if a product is top quality or not? Ask yourself, are you purchasing a product and you can return it for a new one, or a full refund after a year of use? This is a great clue: You are buying a lot of hype and very little quality! Remember it is not the store that gives you a refund or exchange it is ultimately the manufacture that stands behind their products. In order to offer you this type of supposed value the cost of that exchange is factored into the manufacturing of your product. A company that can offer this has very low cost of goods. There is a thought in manufacturing to put a lot of cheap product on the market and hope a percentage will stick. Lots of time and energy goes into color, advertising, presentation of the product but very little into the actual product it's self. All in hopes you will not use it much and it will last just long enough to pass their exchange refund warranty. With most people that is just what happens, or with our busy lives it is to much hassle to send it back to get an RA number. So you are now prime to buy their new version, as they do not fix your old machine of just last year, past it's warranty.

                                                                          The Core Issues You Really Need To Know:

                                                                          Vacuum packers unlike other small kitchen appliances are simple in nature. Vacuum Packers or as the new comers say Vacuum Sealers have a pump that pulls or moves air, a transformer that runs a heat-sealing bar. This varies widely with each machine. A large pump and transformer to run a heavy-duty heat bar is the expensive part of the machine. But you don't see that! What you see is pretty packaging. That is what mass production is hoping for. They hope you are swoon by their wonderful advertising and don't look at their actual products abilities or durability. Since the original two versions came onto the market in the 80's and early 90's there have been no other improvements on performance. Remember the "design" has not changed only the cosmetic appearances, and extra bells and whistles and automation. Hans Christian started out with a very heavy-duty pump, transformer and steel hear bar. In the move for mass production and cheaper prices these features were removed. They can only be found today in the original nozzle style machine the VacUpack and the original Italian factory machines still being produced under different names. All others on the market today produce lightweight operation parts. They do however come out every year or so with "New Styles" "New Looks" New Packaging" Same old light weight operating parts.

                                                                          As Americans insist on cheaper prices the quality is becoming cheaper also. Telling you that paying more is going to get you a better machine would not be accurate. Instead be armed with the information of mass marketing, and the three quality parts of a home-style vacuum packer that you must have. 1) A large pump that pulls at least 23 hg prefer 26 hg 2) Large transformers to allow enough electrical current to operate the heat bar to seal a wet bag each and every bag. 3) A solid heat bar of steel or aluminum for wet sealing. If a machine you are thinking of buying does not seal a bag when it is wet. And all kinds of excuses are made as to why but "buy it anyway". Run the other way! Do not buy a machine that cannot seal a wet bag at least 30 to 60 times in a row. It takes a bigger pump, heat bar and transformer to seal wet items. This gives you better sealing and much better vacuuming with the large pump. The cheapened models no matter the manufacture have taken this feature out of the machines. They are thus disposable machines not worth your money, and remember the design issues. Channel-style vacuum packers are slow production machines, they require cooling off periods, however easy to clean and load the bag. This style of machine is found in most retail outlets, by several manufactures.

                                                                          Quality nozzle-style machines require someone to clean them! The benefits are nozzle-style vacuum packers run three to five times longer before over heating, pull 26 hg vacuum consistently and will seal a wet bag each and every time. Nozzle-style vacuum packers are still the most durable home-style vacuum packer built. Nozzle-style machine are usually found in commercial outlets, Internet or at some Expo shows. These machines are harder to find but worth the effort.

                                                                          We have found there are two types of people no matter what the product. Our society has the ever-growing disposable generation of instant gratification. They want things cheap and for the product to work like the expensive items. I hear all the time at shows "there's no difference" This type person is not in touch with the true cost of manufacturing products. The fact is there are extreme differences. The second types of buyers are those who realize buying quality is actually cheaper in the long run. "If you can't afford to do it right the first time, you surely can't afford to do it twice". The question is which type of person are you? Decide this question before buying.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Tom34

                                                                            Just as I suspected! I'm too late to the fair.

                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                              I normally don't cut and paste but Thom's article on the history & quality really is comprehensive and a great read for serious kitchen folks like Chow Hounds. I bought one new one from Thom many years ago and a 1000 bags later its still going as strong as when new.

                                                                              In the last 2 years I have bought a few more used Italian machines off ebay for between $50 - $75 dollars. Thorough cleaning & replacing the pads and they work like new. Gave 1 to a close friend who owns a restaurant & have 2 stored for my daughters.

                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                In the early 90's, I remember Tilia in Canada servicing FS. Several of my fishing buddies had problems with their units. The problems was caused by the vacuum mechanism sucking liquid. They sent their FS to Canada and for S&H received refurbished units, a couple of them sent in discontiued FS and received upgraded refurbished units.

                                                                                We solved the liquid problem by placing the wet fish into a supermarket produce plastic bag, rolling out the air, then into a FS bag, then vacuum and seal.

                                                                                I have two FS, one from ~1990 and another from ~2000. One is at the cabin, one at home. They both perform well, I have not tried substitute bags, my fishing buddies had mixed experiences with non Food Saver Bags, but some of them have had problems with FS bags too, some of those guys are the same ones trying to suck and seal wet bags.

                                                                                As Axial wrote, pre freezing works with wet objects.

                                                                                The cut and paste from Thom looks familiar, did you find it on a Fishing Board, maybe Allcoast or WMI?

                                                                                1. re: Alan408

                                                                                  I found the article from Thom on the net several years ago when I was researching the product, but I can't remember where. I then called him & had a long conversation with him on the phone ( "he" answers the business phone).

                                                                                  At the time, Thom was selling several different machines, the 2 best being the Weston (just under $400) and the Vacupack (around $300) He asked me a lot of questions & based on the fact that I was going to use it for wet products (Steak / Seafood) he recommended the Vacupack nozzle machine which was identical to the original Foodsaver Nozzle machine (he bought the patent). His reasoning was liquids would not hurt the pump, it had the most powerful transformer and seal bar on the market to burn through animal fat & slime and because the controls were manual.

                                                                                  According to his article, the Italian made channel machines hit the market in the early 90's. They were much more heavy duty than today's channel machines and from time to time they show up on Ebay. To the best of my knowledge though, like most channel machines, they did not like liquids (possibly diaphragm pump rather than piston pump). Its likely its this early 90's FS channel machine your friends had problems with sucking fluid from extremely wet fish fillets.

                                                                                  Liquids will not hurt the original FS nozzle machine. Its made to be flushed out with warm water and silicone (ArmorAll) to both clean and lubricate it. I turn the knob to the Jar Port & use an eyedropper and drop by drop put the solution into the jar port which goes straight to the pump. To much at once will freeze up the pump and you will have to let it drain to resume.

                                                                                  Thom's site, Professional Marketing Group, has pictures of each generation of both nozzle and channel machines. He also has a page with all the replacement parts. I think the best way to see the pictures is to search his site for parts.

                                                                                  The vacustrip bags work flawlessly in my nozzle machine. I just did 13 steaks today that I cut from an aged 0x1 striploin.

                                                                            2. re: Tom34

                                                                              thank you

                                                                            3. For anything that's got a lot of moisture, I freeze in the freezer by portions first, then seal the frozen "objects".

                                                                              Gravy or soup or chili I freeze in flat-ish 8" square Rubbermaid containers, approx 2" height to the liquid, making a perfect shape to slip right into the FS bag and seal. Much easier to vertical stack these flat packs in a drawer, and minimizes wasted space in the freezer.

                                                                              For burgers I make patties, put parchment paper squares over and under, freeze them on a tray, then FS bag and seal. This avoids the burger edges getting squeezed flat when vacuuming unfrozen patties.

                                                                              1. One of my kids gave me a food saver a few years ago, and it was one of the best gifts ever. I use it weekly or every other week when we go to Sams Club for most of our meats. Meats are my primary use, and I know it has saved us bundles. Since there are only the 2 of us now I can buy in bulk and repackage with FS according to our meal needs. I never waste meats now. And I love having a full freezer of meats to choose from when meal planning.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Nanzi

                                                                                  I also love having lots to choose from. A starch and a vegetable and we have a meal.

                                                                                2. I have a FoodSaver v3880 which I use mostly for sous vide. I've used it probably 200-250 times and have never had a problem with it.

                                                                                  I like it because it is fairly compact - I keep it in a drawer and pull it out when I want to use it. I would have preferred a chamber sealer because they can seal packages with liquid, but they were too big and bulky for me (and more expensive).

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: calumin

                                                                                    I think you could save money with the chamber vac to pay for itself. The bags are a lot less expensive than FS bags

                                                                                    The counter real estate and the weight is what holds me back.

                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                      The Vacustrip bags work great in my old nozzle machine and are about 1/2 the cost of the original FS bags. Small samples can be ordered and tested in a particular machine.

                                                                                      Chamber Vacs have a lot of advantages but the consumer versions vary greatly in quality and cost from 1. plastic junk 2. metal with light duty "dry" lube Chinese pumps 3. metal with light duty oil lubed Chinese pumps. If I were going to bite the bullet and move up to a chamber vac I think I would save up a couple extra hundred and get the model with the oil lubed pump and possibly an upgraded sealing bar for retort sealing.

                                                                                  2. Have both a Food Saver and the Reynolds hand held with bags. Use both regularly, especial when buying packer cuts of meat, whole fresh fish, etc. I generally cut to portion size for meals and vacuum seal for later use. Also, when smoking meats in the smoker such as pork shoulders, I will pull after smoking and vacuum seal for later use. A real time saver.

                                                                                    1. this sort of product is not my style.
                                                                                      1) i try to minimize plastic contact with my food--there really is no telling what could be leaching out of it.

                                                                                      2) if you don't like wasting food, why is using disposable plastic any less wasteful?

                                                                                      because it is more inert than plastic, i prefer glass.
                                                                                      i use glass storage dishes with washable lids, or reuse glass jars (peanut butter jar lids come with gaskets, also like mayonaise jars, and any jar with a wide lid).

                                                                                      for storing individual servings of iced tea, my friend saves me her discarded starbucks frappachino bottles and caps which are easily cleaned in the dishwasher.

                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                        How do you package meat for freezing without it being exposed to air?

                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                          Not too long ago, peach butcher paper was the choice of most.

                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                            http://www.webstaurantstore.com/blog/...

                                                                                            Actually this site specifically says to NOT wrap in it without first wrapping in plastic because it leaks.

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              That's because they want you to buy two different products from them. Not necessarily the website you want to get your info from.

                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                All the sites I found were selling the product. Most said that it's primarily used for display because of the color and that it helps hide the red juices that leak out. It's not a bad product for freezing but not great either, from what I read.

                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                  After you actually try some, then let's talk.

                                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                                    I've been completely happy with my FoodSaver so that's not ever going to happen.

                                                                                        2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                          " i try to minimize plastic contact with my food--there really is no telling what could be leaching out of it."

                                                                                          Plastics are pretty hard to avoid with food products as so many raw product ingredients are stored / shipped in plastic as are finished bulk products and retail packaging especially.

                                                                                          If there is a danger I would think it would be with re-heating / cooking in plastic but even then many manufactures have product lines specially made for this.

                                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                            <1) i try to minimize plastic contact with my food--there really is no telling what could be leaching out of it.>

                                                                                            At freezing temperature, there isn't much leaching out of plastic. All freezer papers or butcher papers (that I know) are coated with plastic lining.

                                                                                            http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_K7i5jmOGl_o...

                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                              I suspect your the right person to explain that as chemistry is a faded memory to many of us ;-)

                                                                                          2. Ziploc make vacuum bags that you pump the air out with a handheld pump that must be purchased separately (a $3.00 item not included with the bags). A Wine Saver pump works too. I also use for sous vide cookery.
                                                                                            http://www.amazon.com/Ziploc-Vacuum-R...

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: zackly

                                                                                              Yeah, that little accessory was well worth it for things I am into more frequently.

                                                                                              I made an elaborate frozen dessert for Labor Day last year. It was very rich so we didn't finish it. I put the remaining half in the freezer in one of those bags. I finally finished the last of several slices just before Thanksgiving. The last slice as as good as the first one.

                                                                                              1. re: rainey

                                                                                                Prior to vacuum sealing I carefully double wrapped steaks in commercial plastic wrap and they were good for about 6mths. Vacuum sealing gives me about a year so IMHO there is a difference.

                                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                  I really agree with you. Can't remember if I mentioned here but I recently 'discovered' a pound of lamb shoulder that was FS'd two years ago. It was still red and tasted good.

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    I did the same thing with a dry aged steak one time. Came out perfect. In addition to the vacuum created, I think the thickness of the vacuum bags helps and the chemical makeup of them may also be different as the Zip Lock freezer bags are significantly more expensive than their regular heavy duty bags.