vacuum sealer

Submitted: Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 11:47
ThreadID: 137475 Views:1935 Replies:11 FollowUps:18
hello everybody.
I don't know a lot about vacuum sealers.
just a few questions please ,
can you give me the name of a few good ones .
are the bags freely available .and approximate cost.
does the food need to be kept in freezer or bottom of fridge .
how long will the food last in fridge or freezer .
can they be reused ,
thank you chris
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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 12:32

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 12:32
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Hi Chris,

There are numerous vacuum sealers available at a range of prices. Just Google it.

We have had a Eurolab machine (less than $60) operating faultlessly for some years.
Some bags came with the machine, more are available online or from supermarkets. The cost?.... not much.
Food needs to be kept at normal fridge temperature of 5C or below. Freezing is an option which will extend storage life.
Safe storage time varies with food types but exceeds about 8 weeks.
I suppose bags could be reused but would be some trouble with cleaning. Would get smaller with reuse too because of need to cut bag for opening.
Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Member - nickb "boab" - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 12:41

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 12:41
We have a sunbeam vacuum sealer they're ok
when it comes to getting the plastic bags I purchased from eBay Australian stores save a good bit of money that way.
Cheers Nick b
P.S your all entitled to my wisdom.......
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Reply By: Life Member - Duncan W (WA) - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 12:50

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 12:50
Hi Chris, I've had a Chinese cheapy that I got of Catch-of-the-day donkey's years ago and it's great. In K Mart, Big W and the like there are the sunbeam varieties that look ok for around the $100 mark. There are dearer and more flashy units around but unless you're going to be using one just about every week, one of the commercial ones available at the department stores.

Bags are easy come by and readily available at the above mentioned stores. Think my last bags were about $24 for 2 x 5m roles. Bags are cut to whatever length you want just seal one end and then cut to the desired length.

I pack and then freeze keeping all the meat as flat as possible so as to reduce wasted space in my fridge/freezer. i have both so I transfer some frozen into the fridge as I go and let it defrost in the fridge. You can depending on the type of protein you're bagging keep it in the fridge unfrozen for about about a week for fish up to a number of weeks for unboned beef, lamb or pork. Chicken I'm always wary of.

Snaggers need to be frozen before you vac seal otherwise you end up with smashed snags. Stuff like casseroles I always freeze before the final vac seal. Bag the wet casserole (or similar) fold the unsealed end over a number of times and seal with pegs or bull dog clips. Try and get the ingredients as flat as possible. When frozen seal the open end.

As to reusing the bags I guess you could but I never do as quality control over the washing would be paramount. Besides the bags are cheap and unless you intend to carry your vac machine on your trips then who's going to carry empty used bags.

having said that there is a product on the market which is designed around reusing the bags and that system works on a small vacuum compressor (looks a bit like a doctor's ear torch) or hand pump. The bags have a small non-return valve in them.

cheers
Dunc
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Follow Up By: chris a - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 15:04

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 15:04
THANKS every one will have a look at the sunbeam
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 10:46

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 10:46
Hi Duncan

Why pre freeze the casserole. Also what to you mean by "smashed snags"?

Are you just saying that the weight from any other items above will squash them until they are frozen?
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 11:25

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 11:25
Malcolm

I preference my "casserole" type foods into a square/rectangle shaped container and then seal in the bag. It keeps the food in a regular shape to stack better. It also stops the liquid content getting into the seal.

Soft foods, like sausages, will deform and squash as the air is drawn out by the vacuum. Sausage meat will squash out of the skins quite easily.

Cheers
Anthony
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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 17:24

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 17:24
Hi Chris - I bought a Chinese no-name cheapy for about $27 from memory, about 5 or 6 years ago. Got it off some place like Crazysales.com.au.

It worked reasonably well, but the lid retention lugs were made of plastic and they just popped into their locking position with springs that were compressed with push buttons.

The setup lacked adequate clamping force on the lid, so I usually had to lean on it a bit, to get a good vacuum seal.
I've still got it, it still works O.K. - but now I use it for packaging protection for new spare filters and small workshop parts, that need protection from corrosion and dirt.

I bought a mid-range Luvele off eBay early last year (they have their own website as well), and it came with a package deal that included glass containers with special lids that you hook up a hose and connectors to, to suck the air out of the glass containers.
I seem to recall it was around $99 for the Luvele sealer and another $30 for a set of the glass containers.
The glass containers are oven-proof, microwave safe, and dishwasher safe, as they're borosilicate glass, like Pyrex.

We use the glass food containers at home, vacuum packaging makes most foods last longer.
You'll find there are some foods that vacuum pack and last better than others.

Vacuum packaging in the glass containers tends to suck the moisture out of juicy foods, drier foods vacuum pack better in the glass containers.

Using the food storage bags is good for full cooked meals or chunky soups when travelling - but you have to watch out for excessive juices or liquids getting into the seal when sealing, this will stop effective sealing.

You can store the vacuum packed items in either fridge or freezer - but freezing them makes them last a lot longer.
Some foods freeze O.K., some are not so good, after being frozen - they lose flavour and texture if frozen. It's a matter of trial and error.

The rolls are readily available from K-Mart, Target, Woolworths and Coles and camping supplies places.
I've found the Sunbeam brand rolls are more expensive, without any real advantage.
I seem to recall about $28 for 2 Sunbeam rolls, and about $20 for 2 K-Mart rolls.
They come on special occasionally, so they often come down 25% on those prices.

Watch out for sizing of the rolls and the machines.
There can be several widths in the vacuum sealers - some are 26cm wide, some are 28cm wide, some are 30cm wide - and the rolls also vary in width, according to where you purchase them from.
The roll needs to be a good fit, width-wise, in your machine.

When sealing, you must ensure there's no wrinkles in the sealing joint, which means being careful to stretch the PVC bag out, so it's sitting flat on the sealing element contact points.
Wrinkles in the seal means the seal won't be air-tight, and you risk food leaks and air getting into the bag, and reducing shelf life.

Don't know of anyone re-using the bags, I don't think it's worth the effort - but I store bacon in them, and when I take several slices of bacon out of the bag, I cut the bag down, and re-seal it again.

On the subject of food storage, I've found a neat trick to preserve the lifespan of fresh vegetables.
Don't just throw them in the vegetable crisper when you buy them - wrap them in a couple of layers of paper roll towel, nice and snug - then store them in the vegie crisper.

The paper roll towel appears to be just the right level of vegetable protection to allow the vegetables to breathe, and to stop them from drying out, or becoming limp or rotten.
The paper towel also seems to inhibit any attack by mould spores or other food-spoiling bacteria that inhabit the crisper.

I've found the paper roll towel trick extends the life of fresh vegetables by at least a week, sometimes two weeks.

If you use a part of the vegetable (say, cutting a 1/4 off the head of a cabbage), just re-wrap the remainder of the vegetable in the paper roll towel again, and it will go on extending the life of the remnant vegetable.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 18:57

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 18:57
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Hi Ron,

You say...." I've found the Sunbeam brand rolls are more expensive, without any real advantage."
I have found anything from Sunbeam is more expensive, without any real advantage! I have been called upon to repair a number of Sunbeam appliances and you would swear that they are constructed to defeat access for repair. I have in earlier times bought Sunbeam only to later regret it. I won't go near their stuff now. So there!

However, on the subject of wrapping vegetables in paper I wholeheartedly agree.
I learned the trick from the Beadells, Connie and Mick. When they 'go bush' it is for five months at a time. They wrap every piece of vegetable separately in newspaper and then carry it in a cardboard box, not plastic. Their vegetables stay fresh for many weeks.
Incidentally, the Beadells carry no refrigeration or icebox. Their diet is contrived to food that will survive without refrigeration, or vacuum packaging for that matter. I think of them when I see people with 90 litre fridges plus 50 litre freezers. I know, I know, each to their own, but it can be done if you are tough! lol
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 22:10

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 22:10
Allan - "I have been called upon to repair a number of Sunbeam appliances and you would swear that they are constructed to defeat access for repair."

So you apparently missed the little decal on every household electrical item today, that says, "No User Serviceable Parts Inside"! [;-)

IMO, the paper roll towel works better than newspaper. I've tried newspaper in the past, and even though newspaper does improve the life of the vegies, the paper roll towel appears to have just that right amount of "breathability" and absorbency, that seems to do the trick perfectly.

In the bad old days, we didn't know what fresh vegies were! The only vegies we got, when in the bush, came in a can of Tom Piper Irish stew! LOL

I can remember the brother buying a can of "French Bacon Consomme" soup, thinking it could offer something a little superior to the regular diet of canned meatballs and spaghetti, or Tom Piper steak and onions.

We watched as he heated and opened it - and sighted his total disgust, as he viewed the watery contents, as he poured it into his bowl!

I can still recall his disgusted comment - "Bacon soup!! This is just the water they washed the pig in! ..."

Dad thought it that funny, he lost it, and was laughing until the tears ran down his face.
It was all too obvious, the brother had no idea what "consomme" was in French cuisine terms - and I can tell you this much, he never bought any more "French" food, in cans!!

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 23:25

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 23:25
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Ron, I wasn't a "user"...... I was the serviceman.

I'll pass on the tip re the paper roll towel when I next see the Beadells. lol
Cheers
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Reply By: Craig H4 - Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 21:12

Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 21:12
I don't have one so can't say from experience but this is a good video from Snowys outdoors of what you can do with a vacuum sealer.

They're a good shop to deal with and fast delivery.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvMnLmb0Y5A
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Follow Up By: Member - shane r1 - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 10:27

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 10:27
I agree Snowys are great , by far my favourite camping shop!
We have a dometic from Snowys I think it was 120 odd dollars has been great , 12 and 240 volt , bit dearer than some but I chose a name brand hoping the quality is there.
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Reply By: Member - westauzie - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 00:13

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 00:13
Hey Chris!

I've been using a Sunbeam FoodSaver for a few years now and its been great. Ebay is a ripper place to pick up additional rolls for around $3/$4 each and ive never tried reusing bags.

I mostly freeze and defrost what i need each day. 2 month trip and everything from pre marinated Steaks to Currys all came out perfect ??

Had some Coral Trout that got lost in the bottom of the freezer. Was around 16 months old and still tasty.
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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 19:40

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 19:40
And hasn't killed you yet ... need to be very careful with seafood (anything, really) that's been in the freezer for a wile.
Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

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Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 11:55

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 11:55
I started with a Sunbeam model and when it broke halfway through a job I went and bought a Campfire model from a camping store that was closing down. I got it for less than half price with a couple boxes of bags thrown in as well as two boxes of rolls. So far it hasn't let me down after 4 1/2+ years of pretty good use.

I use it at home before we leave on a trip and I also use at home as part of my daily use. I do a lot of sous vide cooking (without vacuum) and it seals the bags without leaks. When using the vacuum, I've never had a bag leak or take in air yet.

For vacuum sealing on the road, I use a Vaclock handheld portable unit. I got it in a bundle sale - battery operated pump, hand powered pump and 3x sets of bags (10 x large,med and small in each set). Haven't bought bags for it yet and I still have two sets I haven't used. The bags are a double ziplock setup with an extraction valve at the top. Once used you wash them and reuse. I found a piece of speck I had sealed, frozen and forgotten about - it was still vacuum sealed after 2 1/2 years (didn't eat it but no air had gotten in).

Liquid type foods - freeze in squarish container first - easier to stack/better seal
Soft foods - freeze first it stops them squashing. Also for good fish fillets do them in a single layer it stops them mashing together (it just looks better in the plate)

If I'm going on a trip, I have a freezer I set as cold as possible - put food into be frozen (once it is cold) and freeze quickly. Frozen food then needs to be vac sealed as quick as possible to prevent water crystal build up. Hot/ warm food put into the freezer will cause steam/condensation which will cause water crystal build up.

Cheers

Anthony
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 13:32

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 13:32
Hi Chris a,

Another vote for Dometic brand, 12 / 240 volt. Yes it is more expensive, but it is 12 or 240 volt. We take ours with us so that when restocking supplies, we can use from 12 volt. Comes with bag rolls, two different widths, so you can use the narrower one on smaller items. Bags are readily available from Dometic stockists. Sorry, can't remember the price of bag rolls.

Agree with others re pre-freezing wet/moist/soft foods.

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Reply By: Greg J1 - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 21:02

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 21:02
Hi,
I can’t understand why people vacuum seal meat and then freeze it.

cyrovaccing as it used to be called years ago was for preversing meat when there was no freezing available.

We had an old commercial cryvo vac machine years ago when we worked out bush. I would go to the butcher and buy 5 whole rumps, 5 whole rib filets and 2 sides of bacon. My wife would cut it up and cryovac it. We would fill a 60l Engle with meat. It lasted at least 7 weeks.

Actually was better the longer it was cyro
vacced. The only meat I won’t cryovac is meat with the bone still attached because it can rub together and break the plastic bag.

Not trying to be funny here. But why vacuum pack meat when freezing is available. Seems like a waste of money to me.

These days 99.999999% of butchers have a cryovac machine. What’s wrong with buying some meat out in the smaller towns out Bush. God only knows their meat is much better than city people can buy at coles, woolies or Aldi. And small country town businesses need all the support we can give them.

Cheers Greg
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 21:35

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 21:35
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Hi Greg,

You are right that vacuum packed food will keep for extended time at refrigeration temperatures of 5C or below, but as I said above, freezing will extend the storage time.

I can't speak for others but in our case our annual treks can exceed 12 weeks and often in that time we are are not in areas where fresh meat is available. So we keep our vacuum packed food in a small separate fridge run at about 0 to -4c so as to be certain that it will be safe for 12 or more weeks. There is also a bonus in that if perchance a bag loses vacuum the food will still be safe, although this has never happened.

Incidentally, the word "Cryovac" is a long-time registered trade mark of the Sealed Air Corporation but is often incorrectly used in relation to any brand of vacuum packaging.
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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 22:05

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 22:05
As a man I highly respect on battery topics Allan I can expect you understand that the old thing where an Engle uses much less power running at 2 or 4 rather than minus 18.

I have no idea of trade mark naming. I just know I can keep steak fresh at 4 degrees rather than freezing.

I’m talking about days of no solar. No dual battery systems.

12 weeks and you don’t see a butcher shop ?? There’s a few butchers shops between the Sunshine Coast and Arnam Land.

Cheers Greg
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 23:37

Monday, Nov 19, 2018 at 23:37
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I did say "minus 4" Greg, not "minus 18". Not a deep freezer, and there are other things in there other than vacuum packed meat. Its only a little 11 litre freezer so uses not much more power than the 35 litre fridge. Anyway, my 12v power system manages it all well.

But there are no butcher shops where we go in the western deserts, only a few indigenous communities with frozen meat of dubious quality and we sometimes go a long time without even visiting them.

But to each his own, eh?
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018 at 13:51

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018 at 13:51
Greg J1,

I have to agree with Allan B, we also spend long periods of time in remote areas that do not have adequate food supplies. Also, Vacuum sealing has the added advantage of reducing the "bulk" of the food item being sealed. So you can actually fit more items in your fridge or freezer. We have also found that ziplock bags are not "air/water tight". We have had blood leak from meat packed in ziplock bags on several occasions.

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Follow Up By: Member - Trouper (NSW) - Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018 at 16:08

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018 at 16:08
My wife always cryovacs meat. She says it stops blood oozing into the fridge after the meat has thawed. Works too, she only uses boneless meat because of chafing
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Follow Up By: Paul T2 - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 08:35

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 08:35
You can buy bone guard tape in rolls, cut it to length & place it over the bone then just vacuum it. You can also get bags with bone proof patches in them or toughened bags,
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Follow Up By: Greg J1 - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 18:20

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 18:20
I’m sorry if I upset you Alan but I was just curious about freezing vac packed meat.

It’s just something I’ve never done or thought of.

But yes I totally agree. To each their own.

Cheers Greg
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 19:02

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 19:02
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I'm not upset Greg. Far from it. Just explaining why I vacuum pack, then put it in a freezer. If I had a bigger fridge and no freezer then I would put the vacuum packs in the fridge. Gotta put them somewhere. lol

Dunno what others do.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 19:51

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 19:51
One other option, especially when carrying the food yourself (rather than having the vehicle carry it for you) - such as when trekking, is to dehydrate and then vacuum pack. We did this when we walked the Overland Track in Tasmania. Dehydrated meals for the whole trip, shared the load among the 4 in our party. Each day, dinner would be rehydrated with water from the morning cuppa, in a container that was carried by one of us. Cook would heat it up in the evening, fabulous flavour.
One caveat - do not vac pack dehydrated spag bol, as the spag becomes very sharp, and penetrates even the heaviest bags.
Saves carrying water, which is really heavy filler.
Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

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Reply By: My Aussie Travel Guide - Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018 at 19:35

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018 at 19:35
I’m a big fan of vacuum sealed meals. I’ve used a cheap machine off EBay that’s worked a treat over several years, and I’ve also used a Dometic 12/240v unit which I won. Both are excellent. I get bags for both machines from EBay as they’re much cheaper. I prefer ready cut bags rather than the rolls which you then cut bags to size. As I prepare our food for trips way in advance, I vacuum seal then freeze. This goes for plain meats and I also do this for precooked meals.

I was told red meat can last several weeks in a fridge if vacuum sealed, and chicken around 3 weeks. But as I freeze mine, I haven’t tested these times. When we want something for dinner, I’ll take it out the freezer in the morning while camping and transfer it to the fridge for it to slowly defrost for dinner that night.

If it’s a precooked meal, I then place the bag in simmering water over the campfire for around 10 minutes and dinner is done. Meals like stews, curries, mornays, pasta sauces, and shepherds pie are perfect done this way. Otherwise, if it’s just bbq meat that’s in the bag, it’s nice and defrosted and ready for cooking. I don’t reuse the bags.
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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 19:55

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 at 19:55
Reusing the bags is a recipe for food poisoning - you only have to miss a tiny portion of the previous meal and you have the beginnings of a disaster.
Besides, the bags are so blooming cheap, it is penny-pinching in the extreme to wash and re-use, as well as being dangerous.
Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.

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Reply By: Gary W3 - Friday, Nov 30, 2018 at 16:35

Friday, Nov 30, 2018 at 16:35
I have a manual/battery one which pumps out air through a non return valve from resealable zip lock bags. OK for using off the grid, but wouldn't rely on it too much as they can be a bit hit and miss..
I bought a 240v Kings vacuum sealer (app $60) which is excellent. Preparing meals and food beforehand, sealing, then freezing is very convenient for use when off grid.
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