Need Advice About The Best Vacuum Sealer Machine

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link54's picture
link54
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Need Advice About The Best Vacuum Sealer Machine

I am an enrolled member for almost three years and today I have been searching the site for about an hour looking for a discussion on peoples experiences with vacuum sealing machines.   I am trying to determine the best and reliable machine and reccomendations on the best sealing bags / materials to use with such a  device. I have gone through the Food Storage Threads without finding an discussions on any particular machines. If I missed a discussion on this topic somewhere on the site if you could point me in the right direction it would be much appreciated. Primary use for the machine is to vacuum seal meat chicken and fish etc. in a chest freezer.

I have also spent many hours surfing the net and I have found a number of machines but no overwhelming evidence on the best product out there.  There just seem to be just as many negative reviews as positive ones on any particular machine.  I am seeking the real world unbiased input and or reccomendations from the community as to their experiences on this topic.  Thank you.  Michael R.

Dmelen's picture
Dmelen
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I'm with you!  Hope there are

I'm with you!  Hope there are some posts, as I too have been looking for advice.  Quite a few negative reviews out there.  I might try the one at Costco since I could return it for a refund if it's not up to snuff.  

tictac1's picture
tictac1
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I've used my neighbor's

I've used my neighbor's (can't remember the brand) and I've used "ghetto vacuum sealing".  The cheap method works just as well for certain foodstuffs, you just need the bags and a standard vacuum.  I use mylar heat-seal bags, I seal them almost all the way across.  Then I insert the vacuum crevice nozzle, and run across the gap with the iron.  This works especially well with O2 absorbers.

My neighbor's machine works very well, and he's used it lots over the past 4 years.  I'll see what brand he uses...

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MasterOfMyDomain
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FoodSaver

I just bought the FoodSaver 3880 at Costco for about $150 plus a box of extra bags for about $35. I've used it on about a dozen items including 5-pound bags of flour and bags of seeds, etc. and I've been pleased with the performance. Of course, time will tell if they stay tight. I put them in large tin "lard" cans which I've been getting from Lehman's out of Ohio.

There is also an attachment for the FoodSaver (on Amazon) to suck the air (or some % of it) out of standard wide-mouth canning jars. I haven't used that yet.

link54's picture
link54
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Food Saver Products

tictac1

What is a ghetto device. Could you tell me a liitle more about it.  Thanks Michael R.

link54's picture
link54
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Food Saver Products

MasterOfMyDomain

Thanks for sharing on the Foodsaver 3880.  I have seen at Costco and it is in the price range that seems reasonable.  Yeah, I never thought about just trying it and if I have the same problems that I have read about like horizontal machine perform better or Foodsaver products waste a lot of bags. The thing that concerns me the most about the entire Foodsaver product line reviews is that the users seem to have to try multiple times before they get a good seal. I am hoping your experience is very different because I would like to keep my purchase price in the 3880 range.

link54's picture
link54
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Food Saver Products

MasterOfMyDomain

I have been researching the Foodsaver reviews and other models of Foodsaver prouct line and what I discovered is I found as many negative reviews as positive views.  This why it is confusing to come to a conclusion on Foodsaver.  I have looked at other models from Weston and Cabela's which are more expensive in the $400.00 range and these products get very good reviewsconsisently but as always the price differential is hard to swallow.  By the way the common theme in the Foodsaver reviews were the older models seem to perform better then the newer ones. 

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MasterOfMyDomain
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FoodSaver - my results so far

Hi link54,

I bought the FoodSaver 3880 on July 9, 2012 and went home and sealed up about six 5-pound bags of flour plus about a dozen bags of rice, beans, etc. I cut little holes in the bags of beans, rice, etc. to let the FoodSaver suck out the air from them. I read carefully and followed the FS instructions meticulously, did a few test seals and then sealed up the above items nicely. I had no problem with getting good seals during the process. I was impressed with how tight the FS got the plastic bags around the food items. For instance, a bag of rice feels like a rock after the process. I have no complaints at this point. But the caveat is that we're only talking about a six-week test period. If online reviewers are complaining that the original sealing process is problematic I'm inclined to say "user error." If, however, they're saying that the seals fail after a certain period of time - then I can't provide any more help than that after six weeks all my sealed bags look fine.

Maybe in six months I'll find they've all leaked...

link54's picture
link54
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MasterOfMyDomain Thank you

MasterOfMyDomain

Thank you for taking the time to share some details of your experience so far with the FS3880.  Your point is duly noted about the original seal at the time of original packaging and a seal holding over time.  I will go back to decipher which of the problems that were being experienced more.  In addition one reviewer wrote that it is extremely important to read the instructions and follow them to the letter to avoid the issues other reviewers were addressing. I will let you know on my findings on a second pass through the reviews.  Again I appreciate your input.  Michael R.

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tictac1
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The Ghetto Method

Or redneck method, whichever you prefer...

I use a normal household vacuum, with the crevice nozzle attachment and a hot iron (no steam).  If the material is loose and lightweight, a nylon stocking over the nozzle tip prevents it from sucking up any contents.  You fill the bag (I use mylar), then seal all but the last inch or so, then insert the crevice nozzle, turn on the vacuum, and seal the rest as the vacuum maintains suction.  I usually throw in a few oxygen scavengers.

This produces very tightly sealed bags, and can be done with mylar bags in plastic buckets.

My neighbor uses and recommends the FoodSaver he got from Costco.  He also uses the method I outlined.  Actually, he showed it to me.  He only uses the FoodSaver for meats.

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link54
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Thanks Tictac1

Tictac1

Thanks for taking your time to get back to me to explain the ghetto method and also letting me know that your neighbor is using the Costco Food Saver brand machine for meats.  Michael R.

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vacuum sealer

I have and use this. the advantage is you can use regular bags. With the foood saver you need the textured bags that can be pricey. I also bought bags and absorbers  in bulk from the same company. Service was good, and I even got a follow up call from them.

http://www.sorbentsystems.com/sinbosealer.html

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Organic Raw Veggies
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Vacuum Sealer

Hello, I have used a VacMaster that costs $1200.00 commercially for 4 years and the heat sealer just went up. Oil never needed to be changed yet. It is a Chamber Type sealer. Don't try to do powders though, pop goes the weasel. We mainly do nuts, cashews. My experience with nuts is, they stay good at least two years with no refrigerator and no oxygen absorber. I wonder if you could salt cure meats, or jerky, vacuum and store unrefrigerated. Then you could soak the salt out or make soup. Just add water. I wonder about salted fish? I wonder about life in 1800's Williamsburg?

New one: http://vacmaster.aryvacmaster.com/cgi/ary.wsc/product.html?p-item-num=VP...

You can find VacMaster sealers from $99 on up to $3,000.00 . Many size bags are available. here are the less expensive ones: http://vacmaster.aryvacmaster.com/cgi/ary.wsc/category.htm?l=Vacuum_Pack...

I have used homestead harvest for sealer bags for years: http://www.homesteadharvest.com/vacmaster-vacuum-chamber-sealers.html

Snag a dehydrator and dry some apples too, vacuum with an absorber, pack into #10 metal paint cans with removable lids or 5 gal buckets. You can use dry ice to vacuum seal a 5 gallon bucket.

Blessings!

OV and ORV, 12 years....still alive

link54's picture
link54
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Sorry duplicate post

Sorry duplicate post

link54's picture
link54
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Vacuum Sealing Machines

Alambka & Organ Vegan Raw

To both of you I want to say thank you for your input and experience with these machines and bags used. Alambka you said you can use any bag.  Could you elaborate on this point since I can draw many conclusions from this information since I have no experience in this area. 

Organ Vegan Raw if you would share why you felt you needed to go to a $1200.00 solution to meet your needs it would enlighten me greatly.

Lastly the bigggest question I have is:  When properly vacuum sealed how long can meat chicken or fish stay in the freezer and then be unfrozen and still be ok to eat.  Just a rule of thumb would be great.

Thanks Michael R.

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earthwise
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My observations

We had a Foodsaver from Costco and it worked okay sometimes, but other times, not so much. We noticed that the unit worked once or twice, and then it wouldn't operate. Couldn't figure out why at first but then after doing some research concluded that it was because we were vacuum sealing too many items in quick succesion. My wife would buy food in bulk or we would slaughter an animal and we would try to seal it. Sealing one item after another causes the heating strip to overheat which in turn would cause the machine to shut down as a preventative against self-destruction. The heating element has a recovery time that requires it to cool down after each sealing operation. Thus, if we were sealing a large number of bags, we would be forced to wait for the unit to cool down between bags before it would operate again. This dramatically slowed down the processing of packaging bulk foods on shopping day or meat on butchering day.

We eventually bought a Weston Pro-2300 which from appearance is the same unit that Cabela's sells. Not only did the heavier duty unit eliminate the overheating problem, allowing us to seal an unlimited quantity of food as quick as we could load it, but it has a significantly wider sealing strip that yields a much wider seal on the bag which produces a more secure closure. Also, this machine (and other higher grade units) can draw a stronger vacuum (higher inches of mercury: the method to measure vacuum) that reduces the amount of air left in the bag. Less air means less oxygen which in turn means less bacterial activity that degrades food quality.

The Foodsaver unit was okay for occasional sealing but we are much more satisfied with the better quality unit; to us, it was well worth the higher cost but YMMV.

As for storage shelf life here is a quote from the USDA website:

Freezer Storage Time

Because freezing keeps food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times are for quality only. Refer to the freezer storage chart at the end of this document, which lists optimum freezing times for best quality.

It would appear that food quality is affected by time but food safety is not. There's a lot of good info at that site.

My personal opinion is this: since vacuum sealing dramaticaly reduces the oxygen exposure, foods packaged this way will have their shelf life significantly extended relative to other packaging procedures, even from the quality standpoint as well  the safety perspective. How long, who knows? We have meat from well over a year ago and it seems just fine. Any longer than that I have no experience with.

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The bags used for the

The bags used for the foodsaver are textured to facilitate air removal, and you must buy the special textured bags. the snorkel vac actually has a metal straw that enters the bag, alllowing you to use regular flat mylar bags.

http://www.amazon.com/FoodSaver-FSFSBF0226-11-Inch-1-Quart-Pre-Cut/dp/B001U005B8/ref=pd_sbs_hg_3

compare the price on bags.

http://www.sorbentsystems.com/vacuum_bags.html

and read the faq  on the snorkel-vac, it will explain better than my limited typing skills allow.

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link54
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Appreciate The Feedback

Alambka

Thanks for taking the time to provide the bag information on both machines and the heads up that Amazon sells bags.

Earthwise

Your post may explain some of the frustration with the FoodSaver machines I read about in the reviews.  It also verifies one gentlemens comments that if you read the manual and use the machine as intended (Wait times for element  to cool) then the machine works extremly well.  Also I had previously looked at the Weston Pro-2300 and yes it looks exactly like Cabela's machine and both machines have numereous positive feedback from it's customers.  Earthwise I appreciate you letting me know about your experience and views on both the machines that you have used.  Michael R

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Organic Raw Veggies
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For business

$1200 sealer was purchased for business use. You can do a bag every 30 seconds. Adjust vacuum and sealer, do bottles. We vacuumed and sealed thousands of bags so far. Heat sealer just fried. Will fix.

I would go in the $99-$199 range for home use to start.

Even at subzero temps food will break down. I have eaten non-heat sealed frozen blackberries after 12 months and they were fine. Bananas start to liquify after a few months. I am guessing foods are different. Chicken and fish are probably at least 12 months vacuumed.

My dad once won a turkey playing golf and had that in his freezer 2 or 3 years maybe more and then decided to have a holiday gathering. Everyone lived. I did not attend that function because I knew what the old turkey was serving. Big spender.

Blessings.

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FoodSaver V845

I picked up a Foodsaver V845 about 3-4 years ago and use it only for frozen foods. I agree with other comments that you can't seal too many items one after the other; I can do about 6-8 before it starts to heat up. Other than that, it works perfectly. I buy 10-12 pounds of whatever is on sale (salmon, chicken, pork, etc.), break it up into family size servings, seal them, and throw them in my chest freezer. They keep their seal and I've had no problems with food that's12-18 months old.

The Foodsaver bags can get expensive so I buy 11" x 50' rolls from either VackPak Products (http://www.vackpak.com/Westonbags.html) or Meat Processing Products (http://www.meatprocessingproducts.com/vacuum-sealer-rolls.html), whichever site is the least expensive at the time.

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link54
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Vaccum Sealer Feedback

Organic Vegan Raw

Thank you for explaining the logic behind your purchase (Business Usage) and your most valued reccomendation on a price spread you believe ($99-$199) that would work for a family.  This information helps focus my search.

MikeShap

Awesome explanation of a Foodsaver product capabilities and the limits on the machine.  Now things are starting to make sense after reading both the positive reviews and the negative reviews on the Foodsaver.  The negative reviews seem to center around the machine would just stop working after sealing a few items. I think this correlates with a post below from earthwise on his/her experiences with the machine.

My Conclusion To Date

One need to read the Foodsaver instructions carefully and use the machine as the mfg built it. Therefore if you need to seal a few items (6 or less) at a time be prepared to give the machine a rest so it cools down after reaching it's limitation.

If you need to seal a whole lot of things without interuption than some of the other units mentioned in this thread may be a better selection. And yes these machine would cost more because the user is asking the machine to do more.

Now Have I drawn the right conclusions from the input from you all??? Please let me know.

Thank you all.   Michael R.

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Vacuum Sealing

About 8 years ago I did extensive research on vacuum sealing, not just for food before parts and other essentials that need protection from the enviroment. For most sealing I use SnorkelVac sold by Sorbent Systems (http://www.sorbentsystems.com/sinbosealer.html) which can handle bags up to about 11 inches. It has a flat metal insert that is inserted into the bag and is spring retracted when you press down to heat seal the bag. This sealer will work with any bags, not just the special bags sold for FoodSaver. If I recall correct the Foodsaver need special bags (at least it did years ago when I researched them). At the time, I could not find a better machine than the snorkelVac, that wasn't an expensive commerial machine.

I ended up making a small modification to the SnorkelVac so I could perform dry nitrogen flushing. Dry Nitrogen flush is used for commerical sealing since it helps remove moisture in dry goods and flushes it with an inert gas (nitrogen). I usually perform a few flush cycles to make sure I get all of the oxygen out before sealing. For the Dry Nitrogen I purchase an 80 CFT compressed gas cylinder and regulator from a Welding gas company (AirGas). I used the Dry Nitrogen method for both food and non-food items (ammunition)

Not all bags are alike. The time you can store goods in a sealed bag depend on the type of bag used. Standard vacuum seal bag (clear) are oxygen and moisture permable. Over a few months oxygen and moisture will seep through the bag. This may be fine if the goods your storing are for short to mid-term storage, however if you need long term storage than it would be recommend to use bags with oxygen and moisture barriers. These are usually the silver foil bags since oxygen and mosture can't penetrate the metal foil (usually aluminium). For additive measure, Oxygen and moisture absorbers can be put in the bag before its sealed. This will consume any oxygen or moisture left in the bag or that seeps through the bag. 

Sorbent Systems (http://sorbentsystems.com) has a lot of information about the various types of bags, O2 Absorbers and moisture desiccants. In addition to sealing the SnorkelVac (About $100 USD) they do sell commerical sealers for high volume needs. 

Hand impulse sealers are useful if you need to seal large bags. The issue with the SnorkelVac and other retail sealers is the limited bag width. If you need to seal large bags (ie for 5 Gallon Pail mylar bags), you need something larger. I did construct my own sealer (without the impulse sealer) to seal large bags (up to 24 Inch) using a pair of 1 inch aluminum square stock that was clapped down using a pair of quick clamps. I created a silicone bead on both aluminum square stock for the seal. I purchases a cheap harbor freight vacuum pump (about $150 USD) and connected using a hose and a small diameter stainless tube (3/32 outer diameter) so that I could insert it into the bag before clamping. The Harbor freight vacuum pump can pull down a much harder vacuum than the snorkelVac, which is useful for the large bags. I used the 24 Inch hand Impulse sealer to the bag, the only disavantage is you need about 2 inches since you can butt the hand sealer right next the the Aluminum bar. I did purchase a spare sent of replacement elements for the 24 inch hand impulse sealer so that I could intergrate the the impulse elements into the aluminum square stock to reduce the bag length needed to perform a seal. However I have not spend the time to persue this project further. For the Stainless tube insert, You need to round off the end and polish so that it does scrape the bag when you remove it before sealing. The process is you insert the stainless tube into the bag. Then clamp the bag shut (using the two alum. square stock). Then pump down the back. pull out the stainless tube and apply the hand impulse sealer. This provided a good vacuum tight seal. You can build a dam frame using either a peice for wood and a wood router to mill out a slot, or simply joint four pieces of wood in a frame with long slim hole. I made my slot 24 inch by 1/4 inch. The trick is to use cheap ruban tape (the type referred as scotch tape for office supplies). For some reason Silicone does not stick to ruban tape. Put a strip of silicone on both aluminum square stock so that create a seal on both sides of the bag. 

If also used the hand impluse sealer for non food storage, such as storing spare tools and equipment (such as a spare blender or extra pots and pyrex pans that I don't need). 

Here is a list of online vendors selling bags, oxygen absorbers and desiccants:

http://sorbentsystems.com

http://www.plasticbagsforyou.com

http://www.aplasticbag.com

http://www.theboxdepot.com/cgi-bin/shopper.cgi?search=action&keywords=fo...

http://beprepared.com/metallized-liner-for-buckets.html

http://www.laserlabels.com/MIL-DTL-117-TY_III.asp

http://protektivepak.descoindustries.com/ProtektivePakCatalog/Bags/Prote...

http://www.packagingcenterusa.com/bags/ppe.html

http://estore.ultrasourceusa.com/vacuumpouches.aspx

http://catalog.amerivacs.com

http://www.vacsealers.com/

http://www.agribags.com/

http://www.matr.com/store/pc/Static-Shielding-and-Moisture-Barrier-Bags-...

Two Stage Harbor freight vacuum Pump:

http://www.harborfreight.com/3-cfm-two-stage-vacuum-pump-60805.html

You can by Alum. stock from many online metal suppliers. Just buy a 5 foot 1 x 1.5 inch square stock and cut it in two using a hacksaw:

http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant.cfm?pid=1185&step=4&showunits=inche...

http://www.speedymetals.com/pc-2337-8351-1-x-1-12-6061-t6511-aluminum-ex...

http://www.amazonsupply.com/brass-c260-seamless-round-tubing/dp/B003TFFC...

(Brass would also work for the metal tube to be inserted into the bag. I don't recall where I purchased the stainless tubing from).

Online Book about Food Preservation

http://athagan.members.atlantic.net/PFSFAQ/PFSFAQ-1.html

http://ndfs.byu.edu/Research/LongTermFoodStorageResearch/ResearchOnFoodS...

http://grandpappy.info/hshelff.htm

zengran's picture
zengran
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Vacuum pack machines Video

Packit's picture
Packit
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Vacuum Sealer

Well the best vacuum sealer currently has to be the DZQ:

DOUBLE CHAMBER VACUUM PACKAGING WITH GAS FLUSH: DZQ 500
Chamber size : 525 x 525 x 100mm
Sealing length : 500mm x 2
Vacuum : < or = 1Kpa
Capacity : 2 to 3 times/ min
Voltage & power : AC 220V/50Hz  110V/60Hz  1.6KW
Pump power: 0,75KW
Sealing Power: 0.9KW
Machine Dimensions: 660 x 580 x 960mm
Weight: 120Kg
 
These are just one of the few machines that Packit has to offer. See more by visiting our vacuum sealer products
gilc0011's picture
gilc0011
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Ideal vacuum machine, table top model.

Hey kids, so here is my question. I have an Ideal vac pack machine and I am replacing the seal on the top lid. My question is, should I apply a small amount of silicon in the groove to secure the seal or not. What do you think ??  Thanks in advance.

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