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Does anyone own a vacuum sealer?

Is it worth the investment for a home cook? If so, what makes/models are recommended?

Thanks!

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  1. It is likely that my information will not be of much assistance to you since my Rival vacuum sealer dates from the Nixon administration. I used it extensively when we did a lot of sailing; made extra portions of 'oven' meals to be reheated on the boat. The big bonus for me was no lengthy cooking aboard, no pots to wash and ready hot water for other uses. I haven't used it for a long while since I do a lot of à la minute cooking now. Since this was a SuziHomemaker model and not designed for commercial use, it may have no bearing on your decision. I have no idea if a good vacuum sealer would be "worth the investment for a home cook" as you ask. I used the hell out of mine, but it had a specific purpose.
    NB: be certain to really seal the bags. Any gap renders your food worthless.

    Edit: it was not a Rival brand, It was a Seal-a-Meal. This post has jogged me into getting it out onto the counter for some more use. Thanks.

    1. We've had a foodsaver for years now, we even bought one for my parents! It's not as fancy as a commercial chamber model, but I think it's a great option for a home cook! We use it for many things, freezing on sale meat in portions for our household, marinating for a last minute dinner idea, sous vide,and even making our own "instant dinners" for at home or camping/cottaging. Some of the newer models even have a wine corking setting so when ours dies, we've had it for 5 years now, I think I'll get one with that option. :)

      1. We have the foodsaver. It does work really well for individually freezing steaks, vegetables, etc., they won't get freezer burn. The freezer bags themselves get expensive, though.

        2 Replies
        1. re: foreverhungry

          I'm not sure where you are so this may not be any help, but we buy our bags at Costco. The pack (4 large and 2 small) usually last us 6-8 months and cost around $20 CDN.

          1. re: foreverhungry

            We get our bags on Amazon... 100 medium sized bags for $20.

          2. I use a Vacmaster VP 215C. At the price in the link, this machine is a steal.
            I got it from here: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/ary-v...

            Absolutely love it, crazy versatile machine, it earned a space on my kitchen counter full time after the first month.

            Edit: I have a super nice foodsaver too, just sits now that I have the vacmaster. I'm going to give it to a family member who got an Anova on Kickstarter.

            4 Replies
            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

              I have the Vacmaster VP112, and love, love, love it! Beats the hell out of Foodsaver.

              1. re: pikawicca

                Right on. I heard those are nice machines, few folks over on Chefsteps have those as well. You can quick pickle and do infusions in them right? Or is the vacuum not quite there? I guess you could always run multiple cycles anyway.

                Edit: Great thing about chamber sealers is that the bags are much cheaper. I buy them by the thousand.

                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                  It can infuse and compress at top power. Haven't tried quick pickles.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Nice.
                    I highly recommend trying quick pickles. I like beets especially. Chefsteps has some good pickling liquid recipes.

            2. Weston commercial model. expensive & worth it (assuming you have freezer space and/or do sous vide. Even better is a chamber sealer but they're unwieldy even for me.

              1. I have a pretty basic Foodsaver and feel it was a worthwhile investment of money and storage space.. I freeze a lot of things and it does a great job. Sometimes I use it for dried fruit or beans which won't be used for a while.

                1. I have a Seal A Meal that I found in it's sealed box at Goodwill for around 6 bucks. Its awesome and I've never felt like I needed to upgrade, it works great and I use it a ton (repackage meats to meal sized servings when I get home from the store, preserving garden harvests, etc.) I buy the bags and rolls on ebay and occasionally find them on the clearance endcaps in the kitchen section at Target.

                  I see them at estate sales all the time, maybe you could pick up one cheap like that and then upgrade if you feel you need to.

                  1. We have a foodsaver too. I would say it gets moderate use, worth the cost and storage space. We do some sous vide cooking, plus (since I am frequently cooking for 1) will freeze smaller portions of chicken or sausage, or leftover cooked meats. It's also handy to freeze fish that the family catches. The only thing I wish it would do is pull a vacuum on liquids (for doing some sous vide things), but I'm not willing to spend the $$$ for a commercial vacuum system.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: firecooked

                      My folks have had a series of foodsavers... they wear them out! (mostly bagging up venison and elk from hunting) plus they tend to but the economy size meat packages and repack. I would still recommend a foodsaver, and if you wear it out, then pop for a commercial version.

                    2. I'm on my second FoodSaver - the first one broke down and, upon explaining the situation to their customer service person AND it being three months out of warranty - I received a new one for a nominal charge.

                      My only caution is that the seals do not hold well for boiling. I've messed up a few soups and sauces by lifting the bag too quickly and having it break. Simmer and then drain off the water before opening over the saucepan. Otherwise, a much-used investment for almost 20 years.
                      CP

                      1. Wow .. great responses. I think we will mainly be using for freezing portions, leftovers, etc. so this is very, very helpful. Thanks everyone!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: EaterBen

                          We've had some type of vacuum sealer since 1995. Well worth the money; we buy large blocks of cheese,that once sealed, will last for months on end. I cure and smoke my own bacon and often will open up a frozen bag of bacon that's 6-8 months old and as fresh as if I've just smoked it.

                        2. On 3rd or 4th Foodsaver... all found at yard sales or thrift stores. Have asked WHY people were practically giving units away? Typical answer has to do with being sold by infomercials about buying "family" packs of meat and then discovering that if household has 4-5 people, stuff never hangs around in freezer remotely long enough for needing to be sealed.

                          As someone cooking for one, it's a GREAT thing to have. Any time favorite meats go on sale I buy as much as I think freezer will hold. Aside from getting 4-5 nice big sea scallops at seafood counter, EVERYTHING else comes in a package that's WAY more than I want to cook/eat... IE. boneless/skinless chicken breasts (usually 4 BIG hunks of meat), pork tenderloin (often 2 per package), and ground meat (a lb is about twice what I want at any given time). It takes a little time/work, but I repackage into individual servings and vac seal. And when freezer needs a periodic reorganization cuz starting to avalanche... I don't find anything freezer-burnt. Just about anything I vac seal can go from rock hard frozen to ready to cook/eat in less than half hour soak in room temp water.

                          Have made several MAJOR yard sale finds of the actual machine, bags and rolls of bag material.

                          1. Quite a few discussions on this subject on Chow. Definitely worth searching them out.

                            They are very simple machines consisting of a pump to draw vacuum, a transformer to supply energy to a sealing mechanism and the sealing mechanism itself.

                            The old original Tila Foodsaver nozzle machines which were sold under 3 different names (Foodsaver, Vaccufresh & Vaccupack) were extremely well built with the money going into the 3 main components listed above. Their PUMPS were piston style, powerful & tolerated water. Their TRANSFORMERS were big, heavy & powerful. Their SEALING MECHANISM consisted of a heavy duty bar, not a cheap wire. They were lifetime products and replacement parts are still available today. They can be found on Ebay for between $50 - $75 on average. Usually a thorough cleaning, followed by flushing the pump out with hot water and Armor-All & $20.00 pad replacement and and your good for another 10 or 20 years.

                            Unfortunately, the machines found in most retail stores today use a much more fragile diaphragm pump, cheap marginal transformer & very cheap wire heat sealer. Sealing wet bags with a coating of animal fat on the surfaces can be a challenge. As others have noted, they are throwaways usually lasting a couple years.

                            As other's have stated there are good ones out there where the money still goes into the key components & not flashy exteriors but they start around $300.00.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Tom34

                              Completely agree. The recent foodsavers are pretty badly made. Weak pump, crappy materials. I've been told the Cabella's brand is well-made.

                              1. re: sal_acid

                                I keep hearing that as well, but I have had a FoodSaver V3880 for about three years and have never had a problem with the pump or anything else related to it. It is a bit more expensive than some of their other ones though.

                                Sealing wet bags isn't a problem for me, but sealing anything with liquid (e.g. anything more than 1-2 teaspoons of oil for flavoring) will be a problem with any of these products, until you move up to a chamber sealer. It could be that the old FoodSavers were a bit better with liquid but mine doesn't seem to be as bad as others.

                                1. re: sal_acid

                                  Even those not mechanically inclined would be blown away seeing the components of the original Foodsaver side by side with the components of the new Foodsavers.

                                  Cabella's, Weston and a few others are well made. Most of these high end machines have pretty elaborate systems to keep moisture from reaching the pump as today's pumps don't tolerate even a little moisture. The old originals could be flushed out with water.

                                  As a few others have pointed out, the price is high and not too far from the entry level Chamber Vacs. Start out budget, frequency of use, type of use & counter space all have to factor into the jump to a chamber vac.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    I'm loving the oil pump on my Vacmaster 215C.

                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                      You made the right choice. There was another model, possibly the 210 that did not have an oil lubed pump.

                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        Yeah, avoided it specifically for that reason.
                                        Changing the oil is super easy anyway and it doesn't need to be changed too often. More if you seal warm foods.

                              2. Another FoodSaver here. It's probably 8-10 years old. Lost some oomph and suction (took forever to seal) and ordering 2 gaskets for $12 fixed that.

                                1. I have a Black & Decker model and it has been getting lots of use for well over a decade. I just used it last night to seal up some pork chops and salmon filets.

                                  1. Originally the cost of the bags was very high which caused most machines to sit in a cabinet and not get used. Good news for those looking for an old original machine as many aren't even broken in.

                                    Today, bags are 1/2 to 1/3 the cost they used to be especially when bought in bulk on the internet.

                                    All my high end proteins, of which the volume is significant, (beef, pork, seafood ....) get vacuum sealed with outstanding results. For shellfish I pre-wrap the sharp shells in butcher paper then place in the bags. Same with bone in steaks & pork chops.

                                    Bottom line I would never go without one.

                                    1. Here's some good advice: if you cannot find a good foodsaver at a garage sale, buy it from Costco. Mine was 2-3 yrs old when it stopped working properly; I returned it to Costco and they gave me a new model .. I just add to pay the slight difference in the price.

                                      For some items it's rec. to freeze first on a tray in the freezer and then put into a foodsaver bag and vacuum seal it.

                                      1. Through the end of the month Costco has one for $69 with an instant $20 rebate, so I finally got one. I really like it so far, and look forward to using it mainly for freezing soups, chili, etc. in single servings.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Barbara76137

                                          Sealing liquids is going to be a pain with an edge sealer style machine. You'll always end up with some air in your bags.

                                          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                            I think I remember jfood saying that he would put the bags with folded over top fastened with paper clips on tray in freezer. He'd leave it there until they were 1/2 frozen then flatten and finished the sealing in the machine. (I have not tried it yet.)

                                            1. re: walker

                                              I'll go for fully frozen at -20 degrees F. All should be rock hard before you suck the air out. Otherwise, I've had my vacuum tray fill with juices from soups or beautiful pastries flattened to hockey pucks. FoodSaver works great if you allow foods to deep freeze overnight and seal the next morning.
                                              CP

                                              1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                Yeah, that's what I used to do when I only had an edge sealer.

                                                1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                  Overnight solid freeze is what I do with liquids. Works great.

                                          2. Another vote for the Foodsaver model. Works very well and is worth the investment for the savings you get if you cook or buy in bulk, or if you have a big garden or hunt. You can get a barely used one cheap on eBay or at garage sales or thrift stores.

                                            Most people forget this fact about the bags: you can reuse them. Reuse is not recommended if you bagged raw meat, but any other items are fine. I put the bags inside-out in the dishwasher (I have one of those dishwashers that doesn't have a heat dry setting).

                                            1. I bought a FoodSaver around 23 years ago and it is by far one of the best kitchen investments I ever made. Having followed their directions for occasional cleaning and flushing out the unit with hot water and vinegar, it still works just as well as it did the very first time I used it.

                                              The bags are less expensive now than they once were, but really, cost of the bags was never an issue factoring in the money saved on food that previously would have been wasted, bulk purchasing of things like meat, and the fact that the bags are reuseable several times.

                                              1. hmm after reading this thread I think I need one - right when I was convinced there was "nothing" I needed

                                                1. Whether or not it's worth buying a vacuum sealer, depends on how often you will use it. If you will use it often, it is definitely worth the investment! If you will be using a vacuum sealer for home purposes, a Sinbo vacuum machine is perfect for the home user.
                                                  We sell Sinbo machines here http://www.dougcare.com/foodstorage/h...
                                                  Let me know if you have any further questions.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: DougCareEquipment

                                                    I had a Sinbo Doug. Absolute cheap Chinese made POS. The thin little heating wire and thimble sized transformer couldn't melt a good quality bag with a coating of animal fat on it to save its life.

                                                    If your going to take advantage of Chow's new rules allowing advertising at least advertise a product worthy of serious kitchen use. While your at it, tell everyone how much experience you have repairing vacuum sealers. Oh, thats right, you don't have any.

                                                  2. I just replaced an 8 year old Foodsaver 2460 with a FS 2461 (only difference is the color)for $49.00 at Costco. you can't beat it.