Vacuum Sealer

A vacuum sealer is a fantastic tool for preserving food.   While there are a few different kinds that accomplish this in a variety of ways, the basic principle is that they remove the oxygen from a plastic bag or pouch containing food, and then seal that food inside.  So why would you want to use one instead of more standard options? There are many good reasons to invest in one of the most useful appliances available for the kitchen and home today.

 Superior Food Storage

Removing the oxygen before sealing significantly inhibits the growth of bacteria and allows food to be kept for much longer. It also eliminates freezer burn which can severely affect the taste and quality of food.  In many cases using a vacuum sealer can allow foods to be stored for four to five times longer than their average shelf-life particularly with goods that are frozen afterwards. Vacuum sealing locks in freshness so well that many frozen meats can be eaten up to three years after sealing.  Using foil, zipper bags, or plastic containers can’t even come close to this. Being able to keep food longer also means less waste and more money saved.

Vacuum Sealer

 

They Pay For Themselves

Vacuum sealers often pay for themselves often within the first month or two through the savings they provide. The average family throws out a huge portion of the food it purchases each month due to spoilage and rot which can quickly add up to a lot of money over time.  Having an efficient way to store your food for longer gets you your money’s worth since you’ll have much more time to eat and enjoy it.

And with the best deals today often available when you buy in bulk especially with the popularity of places like Costco vacuum sealers help save even more cash for the consumer by letting you buy in large quantities and not have to worry about food going bad.  You’ll also be able to take advantage of sales and discounts when they come up by simply sealing your purchases for future use and you can keep leftovers for much longer.

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Save Time

Unfortunately we all don’t have the time we need to spend with our families; however we still need to provide them with high quality foods.  And by keeping that food vacuum sealed not only  does that mean you’ll have portions of different types of foods and ingredients ready to go at any time for the family to cook or heat up but you can also marinate in advance, and cook many foods without having to take them out of their bag( sous vide style).  Many busy parents will cook meals and then vacuum seal them for the entire week in advance which can save hours of time.

Neat and Controlled Portions

Having portions which are already divided is not only convenient for faster preparation but means much less temptation for people who are dieting or trying to control their eating.  Because everything is neatly packaged and sealed it also makes organizing your fridge and freezer a cinch leaving you with no mess, spills, bad smells, or sticky residue.

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Benefits For Everyone

Since they can be used with so many types of food just about everyone can benefit from owning a sealer.  Of course, they are a huge money saver for families but also let singles and couples without children enjoy the full savings of bulk buying and sales as well.  They are an outdoorsman’s dream since you can quickly and easily store huge portions of meat and fish to last you throughout the year or much longer. Because they will be neatly packaged it makes sharing wild game meat and fish with friends and family simple.

Anyone who cooks a lot or bakes can obviously not only seal what they make but their ingredients too. Vacuum sealing sugar, flour, spices, and herbs is very common.  If you are someone who is interested in sous vide cooking a vacuum sealer is a must have item. And for businesses owners in the food and restaurant industry commercial sealers are an appliance that ensures freshness for customers and clients.   An added bonus is that you can also use a vacuum sealer for many other items which aren’t food.

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So What Can You Seal Other Than Food?

There are many items that can be sealed for protection against air and water or just need a protective barrier.  People who enjoy the outdoors and go boating, fishing, camping, or hunting often seal valuables inside a vacuum sealer bag along with anything that shouldn’t get wet like phones.   You can also seal items before going to the beach or pool to keep them dry and safe.

Jewelry and valuables which are easily scratched or tarnished can be stored away without having to worry about damage. Passports, important documents, along with photos can be protected when at home and on trips. Toiletries can also be vacuum sealed to prevent unwanted spills inside your luggage when on vacation or travelling.  You can even use your home vacuum sealer to make ice packs in a hurry by placing iced cubes inside a bag and sealing it; these can of course be refrozen and reused.

Of all the non-food uses for a vacuum sealer clothing is probably the most common.  This is because it reduces its bulk but also keeps it dry and protected.  This can help with storage, saving space when packing clothes for trips, and of course keeping clothing dry when in the outdoors.  They are also ideal for hunting outfits that will be worn in the field since they can be sealed and kept scent-free until it’s time to hit the woods.

Vacuum Sealer

 

Different Types Of Vacuum Sealers

There are actually a few different types of sealers to choose from, each with their own advantages and methods of vacuum sealing both for home and commercial use.  Fortunately for the average consumer, the huge rise in the popularity of these units particularly for home use has led manufacturers to come up with some very inexpensive and user friendly options.   But for the more serious home chef, someone who will do a large quantity of sealing, and commercial users there are  many excellent choices to help make preserving food easy too.

There are two main groups that all sealers belong: external or chamber sealers.  Most external choices are considered “home style” units while the chamber variety are thought of as more for commercial use. However smaller single chamber sealers can work wonders in the home kitchen as well.  Here’s what you can expect from each type:

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External Vacuum Sealers

These are the most popular type of food vacuum sealers for the average kitchen since they are inexpensive and small in size. They are called “external,”sealers because the food does not have to be placed inside of the unit to be sealed.   External food vacuum sealers can be classified as either “handheld,” or “clamp type,” sealers.

-Handheld Vacuum Sealers

The smallest and least expensive are handheld units. These can be a few different shapes and have different grips. Some are made to fit in the palm of your hand and require you to press a button, while others have a pistol grip where you pull the trigger for it to work.  Handheld units function differently than other types by extracting air from a nozzle tip, and because of this require special bags that have a valve.

Vacuum Sealer

Small Is Space Saving

Unlike with other methods the bags do not require any heat sealing.  Because the unit itself only takes the oxygen out of the bag and doesn’t seal it, it allows it be small in size.  Most can be stored away in a utensil drawer or cabinet or placed on the counter where they will hardly take up any room at all.

How They Function

So how do they work?  It’s pretty simple: food is placed in the bag, which is either zip sealed by hand or using a simple zip tool that comes with the machine.   The nozzle of the sealer is placed on the valve of the bag and when you press the button or pull the trigger depending on the model you have the air is vacuumed out and you’re done.  Handheld vacuum sealers are typically cordless and use a rechargeable battery.

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Vacuum Sealer Bags For Handheld Units

While some bags normally come with the unit, manufacturers make their own that you can purchase separately in different sizes and amounts to suite your needs.  Most brands offer bags which are reusable and dishwasher safe in addition to being able to be used in the microwave, kept in the fridge, frozen, or boiled in water.  Some brands such as Foodsaver, also sell plastic containers with a valve on top so you have the convenient option of using bags, containers, or both to store your food.

You’re In Control

Many people like using a handheld unit with delicate foods like berries or cereals because you manually control how much air is taken out.  It’s up to you if you want to take it all out or stop slightly before which prevents them from being damaged.  They are also ideal for using with foods that are used in the fridge or the freezer on a regular basis since the seal of their bag can be unzipped and does not have to be cut like they do when sealed with other types of machines. Cold cuts, cheese, coffee, and bread are all very popular foods used with handheld vacuum sealers.

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-Clamp Type Vacuum Sealers

These are the most common type of food vacuum sealer seen in the home kitchen.  While they are bigger than hand held units these rectangular shaped sealers are still are quite compact which makes them ideal for countertop or table use.   They are also usually very lightweight and can accommodate larger food items.  This type also has a stronger vacuum pump yet can be very inexpensive.  Their price can range from around $50 for a basic model to up to about $500 depending on their features.

Vacuum Sealer

Manual  Vs. Automatic

Clamp type vacuum sealers don’t use a nozzle and valve instead the edge of the bag is placed in the mouth of the machine which then removes the air and heat seals the bag. There are two varieties: manual and automatic.  Manual operation units require you to place the open end of the bag in the machine and then close the clamp on the bag which is then vacuumed and sealed. With the automatic variety you simply place the open end of the bag in the mouth of the machine and a sensor starts and completes the process on its own with no clamping involved. Manual variety is normally less expensive.

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Vacuum Sealer Bags For Clamp Type Models

With both types you have the option of using two different kinds of bags.  You can use zip style vacuum sealer bags or bags from a roll.  Zip style bags are typically sold in pint, quart, or gallon sizes and will fit most portions of food easily.  The other option is to use a roll of bags which comes can come in rolls of up to fifty feet and are usually  eight or eleven inches wide.  These are the best choice for very large or odd sized amounts of food.  Since you cut the bag yourself, you can customize to your needs, just be sure to cut so the bag is a few inches larger than the food itself ideally three to four.  Sometimes these can sometimes save you some cash too. However unlike zip style bags you will need to seal both ends.  Both types are reusable and can be used in the freezer, fridge, are boil-able, and microwave and dishwasher safe.

 

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Features To Look For

Some units also come with very handy features. A removable drip tray is one which is very important as it will catch liquids which are drawn towards the machine during the vacuuming process which can prevent damage and extend the life of your unit.   Being removable lets you wash it keeping it clean as well.  Having storage for rolls of plastic bags inside of the machine and a cutter while not a necessity is also of course a space saver and convenient.

Vacuum Sealer

An unbelievably helpful attachment is a retractable hand held sealer which means you get two sealers in one. Like other handheld units these are commonly used for foods which are taken out of the fridge or freezer often and then returned, smaller items, and more delicate foods.  They use the same method for removing air as other handheld units they use zip seal bags that have a valve that connects to a nozzle through which the air is extracted.

Many Sunbeam vacuum sealers have this feature and this brand has its own incredibly popular Foodsaver line. For this reason they are also marketed as Foodsaver vacuum sealers.  The Foodsaver line also has come up with a ton of fantastic accessories to go with their retractable handheld sealers as well standard handheld units such as deli containers for lunch meat storage, marinators for marinating in minutes instead of hours, and jar sealers which allow you to use your retractable unit as a Mason jar vacuum sealer that can be used with both regular and wide mouth jars.

Vacuum Sealer

Of course there are many other features too that can be really appealing.  Some units will have a “seal only,” function which is great for heat sealing all sorts of bags (without extracting the air) from open potato chips and snack bags, to cereals and bags of salad.  An angled vacuum chamber will also to help prevent liquids from getting inside the vacuum.

Semi-Commercial Clamp Type Sealers

If you are will be doing a large quantity of sealing it is definitely worth investing in clamp type semi-commercial vacuum sealer.  These work in the same way but are built to last longer, from tougher materials, and to seal many more bags in a row.   While they are more expensive, heavier and larger they can also handle larger bags and have a much stronger vacuum with a fan cooled motor. For anyone who is a hunter, fisherman, needs to seal a serious amount of groceries bought in bulk, or just wants a higher end machine they are worth it.  The Weston vacuum sealer below is a perfect example.

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Chamber Vacuum Sealers

Often considered for commercial use, and they are, many smaller chamber vacuum sealers can be an excellent choice for home users who demand the highest quality and function as well.  Unlike the external variety, with chamber vacuum sealers everything takes place inside of the unit.  Foods are placed in a bag with one unsealed end.  The bag with the food is placed inside the chamber and then the lid is closed. The air is then removed, not just from the bag but from the entire chamber. These units reach higher vacuum levels and are more efficient than external options since they extract around 99.9% of the oxygen.   The bag is then sealed and the air is returned to the chamber where your vacuum sealed food awaits.

The chamber variety is larger and heavier than other types. They are also more expensive, usually at the very least somewhere around $900.  However this may be the best vacuum sealer option for you if you are going to be buying large quantities of food and sealing things on a regular basis, are an outdoorsman, or have a business that requires a high volume of items sealed.

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The Top Choice For Sous Vide Cooking

They are also the best choice for sealing liquids, liquid rich foods, sauces, soups, and meats which are marinated. This is because of the fact that when in the chamber, the air pressure is equal both in and outside of the bag, so liquids are not pulled out with the air and cause damage to the seal which can be the case with other types of units.

Since they do work so well with liquids and liquid rich foods they are ideal for anyone who wants to enjoy cooking sous vide style.  This cooking method developed in France in the 1970’s. In fact “sous vide,” actually translates from French language to mean “under vacuum.” And that is because food cooked in this way is not removed from its sealed bag.

Vacuum Sealer

The bag is usually slow cooked in warm water and because it has no contact with oxygen it keeps much more flavor, color, and shape than if it were simply boiled in hot water. Cooking in a bag takes much less effort to prepare and that means less time as well if you are cooking for many people. It is considered much tastier than reheating food that has been cooked in advance and is actually a very common method in five star restaurants around the world.  If you are looking for a sous vide vacuum sealer going with a chamber style unit is a must.  Many consumers actually start off trying to use a hand held or clamp type unit with liquids and liquid rich foods and have problems only to end up switching to a chamber style one later.

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Mason Jars Are No Problem

This type also functions amazingly well as a Mason jar vacuum sealer.  You won’t need to purchase any special lids or attachments, you can just put your Mason jars right inside.  Multiple jars can be placed inside the chamber together to be sealed at the same time.  As the oxygen is removed from the chamber and the inside of the jar, the lid will shut tightly and all you have to do is tighten the metal ring when you remove the jar.  The fact that most vacuum sealers with a chamber have a lid which is curved instead of flat gives them the extra height to easily fit jars inside.  You should take the lid into consideration when thinking about where to place your unit since when opened it will add to the height.  However, some manufacturers make models with a low profile design so that the lid tucks backward instead of up saving a lot of space particularly for home user.

 

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Bags For Chamber Vacuum Sealers

Another advantage they offer is that you don’t need special bags with a valve.  They do not use bags which are zip sealed or come from a roll they use open ended vacuum sealer bags which are boilable, microwavable freezable, can be refrigerated .   This can end up saving up you quite a bit of money in the long run as these bags are much cheaper and can be purchased in bulk, often in boxes of up to 1,000 bags.  There are many generic brands as well so you don’t need to buy bags from the manufacturer of your machine.   If you use a few bags per day or week this can be a real money saver.

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Single Chamber Commercial Vacuum Sealers

While the smaller countertop models are often used for light commercial use or serious home users chamber units which are a little larger are ideal for commercial use.  This is usually the case with restaurants, catering businesses, meat and fish packing businesses, supermarkets etc. where you must have an extremely reliable, long lasting machine which guarantees freshness and flavor for your customers.  While they do cost a few thousand dollars they are a necessity in many businesses and are therefore an important investment.

Vacuum Sealer

The majority of commercial vacuum sealers look like the smaller single chamber variety only bigger and with a larger and deeper chamber. They are designed for sealing a higher volume of items, greater speed, and can handle larger amounts of food at one time. Since there chamber has more space they can also seal individual items which are more substantial in size as well.  Their vacuum pumps are also more powerful and because of this some may use oil and require an oil change a few times per year.   Many single chamber commercial vacuum sealers are made to have a small footprint and can still be used on counter tops.  Others are may have to be placed on a stand or table.  And there are even freestanding units that have wheels.

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Double Chamber Vacuum Sealers

For heavy duty use and sealing hundreds of bags per day larger units are needed. Double chamber vacuum sealers use the same method as single chamber machines but are much bigger and use two chambers instead of one to increase speed.  They normally have lids which are fully automatic or are spring loaded.  The two chambers share one lid which swings from side to side to cover each one.  They are one of the most commonly used large commercial food vacuum sealers since they can be used for a very big items, large quantities at one time, as well as liquids.

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Purchasing The Best Vacuum Sealer 

When choosing what type and model sealer to buy there are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure you purchase one that meets your needs.  The most important is how often you will use it and for what.  Determining this will help you quickly weed out what doesn’t work for you.  For light use with smaller size items you’ll probably be able to get away with a handheld unit.

Most families and consumers sealing larger items and on a regular basis for groceries will be fine with a clamp type sealer.  For commercial use, sous vide cooking, or serious home use, a single chamber vacuum sealer is the way to go. And for heavy commercial needs a double chamber unit is necessary.  When shopping for one your best bet is to do so online in places like Amazon since you’ll not only get better discounts and have a larger variety of options to choose than in local stores but also you’ll be able to read the vacuum sealer reviews which can tell you of other peoples experiences with particular models before you buy.

Vacuum Sealer

Be sure to follow the advice above (and tips below) to quickly be on your way to enjoying longer lasting and fresher food.  With options that everyone can use and benefit from vacuum sealers are one appliance no home should be without.  Neat and controlled portions, less time wasted, and being able to eat the food you want when it’s convenient for you make this handy tool that pays for itself a top choice.

Extra Vacuum Sealer Tips

-Used with a blast freezer they are the ultimate combination for preserving food, in particular ones which have already been cooked or baked.  Blast freezers rapidly lower the temperature of foods faster than any other type of cooling and by doing so before vacuum sealing can keep food even longer, with even less nutritional loss, and better texture.

-The best time to use your vacuum sealer is right after you’ve gone grocery shopping.  The quicker you seal your foods after you purchase them the longer they will last.  You can even make it a family affair with one person prepping the food, another, vacuum sealing, and a third putting it away in the fridge and freezer.

-Since you’ll be removing the original packaging for most items, you’ll need an efficient way to remember when you sealed it.  Simply writing the date on the bag itself will leave out any guesswork.

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-If you are going to be using an external vacuum sealer for liquid rich foods a smart idea would be to pre freeze meats and sauces, and liquids for around an hour beforehand to decrease the chance they are sucked up by the vacuum and compromise the seal.

-Because they are so inexpensive and yet highly functional handheld and clamp type units make outstanding gifts people will both appreciate and use often especially since they will save the recipient money.  Whether it’s for a university student keeping snacks and lunch meat for sandwiches in their compact refrigerator or a family who buys in bulk a vacuum sealer will be sure to please.

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