Updated: June 8, 2015
Best Vacuum Sealers ReviewsIn this guide: Research and Buy the Best Vacuum Sealer
There is nothing worse than spending a ton of money on groceries, and then finding your food getting stale or rotten before you even have a chance to eat what you paid for. When it comes to preserving food, your two enemies are heat and air. Ever wonder why food lasts so much longer in the refrigerator? It's cold in there -- cool temperatures minimize bacteria activities that break down food. How about those sealed bags, packages, and cans that sit on the pantry shelf for months at a time? There's no air in there since they have been vacuum sealed. What a lot of people don't know is that you can vacuum seal your own food at home to make it last longer and save money by buying items in bulk. All you need is a vacuum sealer and vacuum sealer bags or canisters. In this guide we will take a look at how vacuum sealers work, what the best vacuum sealers are, and how to save money by vacuum sealing food at home.
How do Vacuum Sealers Work?The technology behind vacuum sealing is really pretty basic. First step, vacuum. Second step, seal. Pretty much all of the consumer vacuum sealers you will find out there either store your sealed foods in bags or special containers. The vacuum unit itself usually looks like a little inkjet printer, or large 3-hole punch kind of device. You put the food you want to save into a special plastic bag, place the open end into the slot of the vacuum machine, and press a button or hold it down and it quickly vacuums out all the air from the bag and then heat seals it. The vacuum seal bags usually come in a roll and the machine seals and cuts the end of each one as you use them. Once sealed, you can safely store the food in the refrigerator or freezer for entended periods of time. The bags can be used in the microwave or boiled, so it is easy to later heat your food up and eat it. Most vacuum sealers also work on vacuum canisters, which look like plaster jars with special lids. By connecting a hose to the vacuum sealer and to the top of the canister, you again vacuum out all the air and seal off the canister. So to get started, you need a vacuum sealer unit, and vacuum sealer bags and/or canisters. Why do people use vacuum sealers? The main reason is to save money -- both by buying food in bulk and by preserving food instead of throwing away stale, rotten food.
As an example, if you look around the butcher section of your market, you'll often find big trays of meat cuts selling at huge discounts. Most of us can't eat that much meat in a week, and trying to freeze it often ends up in freezer burn and thawed meat that never tastes or cooks quite the same as fresh meat. By vacuum sealing the excess, you can keep it fresh and free from freezer burn for months, even years. Another reason is to save time by preparing larger meals and then sealing and freezing them to eat later. Many people also preserve fresh produce from their gardens by blanching and then vacuum sealing their fresh veggies. When cutting and using your vacuum bags, you'll want to leave 2-3 inches at the end of the bag for sealing -- don't overfill your bag. Also, leave an extra inch or so for each time you plan on opening/re-sealing the bag. For vacuum sealing things like soup or other liquids, you need to freeze them first in a container in the freezer, then seal them (obviously, you can't apply a vacuum to a liquid or it will suck out the liquid along with all the air!) -- same thing with stews or other squishy, liquidy items. One word of warning - don't vacuum store mushrooms or garlic -- they become dangerous when air is removed from them and should not be eaten. Some people also like to vacuum seal their fancy silverware to keep it from tarnishing -- if you only use it a few times a year, it is easy to break it out when you need it and then reseal it.
Buying the Best Vacuum Sealer - What to Look For, How Much They Cost
A number of companies make consumer vacuum sealers. VacMaster makes mostly commercial vacuum units, but their VacMaster Pro-150 sells for around $325 and can be used for home use. Deni makes a number of vacuum sealers, like the Magic Vac Select Vacuum Sealer which sells for $150, or the Freshlock Turbo II Vacuum Sealer which sells for about $50. However, the biggest name in vacuum sealers is FoodSaver. They regularly win out in comparison testing reviews, and we've found their products to generally be the best. Many of their products come with useful features like SmartSeal, which sense when liquids are being pulled into the vacuum and reduce pressure and seal the bag accordingly. All their products have a 1 year warranty. FoodSaver makes a number of models, ranging from $80 to $300. At the low-end is the FoodSaver V2060 Vacuum Sealer Kit ($79), which is their most compact model (all these things do take up precious kitchen counter space) and comes with 5 bags and a 10' roll of bags. It's a pretty basic plastic model without a lot of bells and whistles, but it does vacuum seal bags which is what you want it for in the first place. A little fancier is the (RECOMMENDED) FoodSaver Advanced Design V2840 Vacuum Sealer Kit which sells for $150. It has a nicer design with a stainless steel lid and black body design, and more features like Vacuum Pulse, 3 speed settings, and options for dry or moist food. It also has a vacuum port and hose for sealing canisters. The V2840 weighs about 9 pounds and is 16-3/4 by 9-3/4 by 14-1/2 inches. Top of the line is the FoodSaver V3860 Vacuum Sealer Kit which sells for $259, and offers everything you could imagine including marinade mode, upright design, and a sweet black chrome finish. When deciding what model to buy, ask yourself what types of food you plan on sealing and how often you will use it. If you plan on doing just basic light use, you probably don't need to spend $300 on a sealer. If you are the type that comes home from Costco with a van full of food with the intent to vacuum pack 2 months worth of meals, plus everything in your pantry, you are probably better off with a heavier duty model, and the extra $150 or so will be well spent on a more feature-packed sealer. You can browse the entire FoodSaver line online here. We recommend the V2840 as our favorite vacuum sealer -- on Amazon, almost 90% of users rate it 5 stars, the highest rating.