Food & Drink

What vacuum sealer should I get?

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  • Sep 14th, 2017 2:29 pm
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Also the yeast is a perfect example of "buy far more than I need because it's the same price"

Walmart wants $5 for 113g.
Costco wants $5 for TWO FREAKIN' POUNDS.

$0.32/loaf for yeast at Walmart.
Assuming you bake more than 16 loaves over 2 years, you've paid for the Costco yeast.

And that's if you buy bulk. It's like 100x stupider to buy the 3 pack.

So as long as I bake one loaf of bread a month, I'm ahead of the game even if I throw out 85% of Costco's pack.
Or I could vacuum pack it and freeze it and have it last probably forever.
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death_hawk wrote:
Jan 25th, 2017 2:49 am
Also the yeast is a perfect example of "buy far more than I need because it's the same price"

Walmart wants $5 for 113g.
Costco wants $5 for TWO FREAKIN' POUNDS.

$0.32/loaf for yeast at Walmart.
Assuming you bake more than 16 loaves over 2 years, you've paid for the Costco yeast.

And that's if you buy bulk. It's like 100x stupider to buy the 3 pack.

So as long as I bake one loaf of bread a month, I'm ahead of the game even if I throw out 85% of Costco's pack.
Or I could vacuum pack it and freeze it and have it last probably forever.
Devils advocate here on this one. Sometimes the reality hammer has to hit.
The yeast example is not very good. You have not included the cost off the bags. Separating the 2 pound pack into usable portions use a lot of bags. When you include the cost of the bags, it may just be better to buy as you need it.
While I think vacuum sealing is great, you need to be realistic too. Sometimes buying huge portions and vacuuming them into small portions is just not economical either.
Is it solipsistic here? Or is it just me?
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death_hawk wrote:
Jan 25th, 2017 2:49 am
Also the yeast is a perfect example of "buy far more than I need because it's the same price"

Walmart wants $5 for 113g.
Costco wants $5 for TWO FREAKIN' POUNDS.

$0.32/loaf for yeast at Walmart.
Assuming you bake more than 16 loaves over 2 years, you've paid for the Costco yeast.

And that's if you buy bulk. It's like 100x stupider to buy the 3 pack.

So as long as I bake one loaf of bread a month, I'm ahead of the game even if I throw out 85% of Costco's pack.
Or I could vacuum pack it and freeze it and have it last probably forever.
Yes, and have enough yeast to last you the rest of your life!

Well now I'm sold! :facepalm:
"I'm a bit upset. I've been grab by the back without any alert and lubrification"
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Pete_Coach wrote:
Jan 25th, 2017 8:36 am
The yeast example is not very good. You have not included the cost off the bags. Separating the 2 pound pack into usable portions use a lot of bags. When you include the cost of the bags, it may just be better to buy as you need it.
With a foodsaver, yes.
With a chamber, no.
I have some ridiculously small 2.5x10 bags that cost $0.01 specifically for a purpose like this.
But even if you used reasonable sized bags and split it into like 8 portions, it's still cheaper than buying single packs because my cheapest bags are $0.04 each.
Sometimes buying huge portions and vacuuming them into small portions is just not economical either.
This is only really true of extremely low cost items (my line is under $0.50) or if you have a Foodsaver or other sucker type.
Using my 2.5x10 bags I've actually individually portioned out some things to make my own single serve condiments.
It's not for preservation in this case (it kind of is) but sometimes you only need like 50mL of something.
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as @death_hawk said, chamber sealer bags are dirt cheap compared to FS bags, and don't forget milk bags come in handy too!

in this example, I can cut off the seal, use what I need and reseal the same milk bag several times ...
Image

edit: sealing error corrected in post #40
Last edited by canadaodyowner on Jan 25th, 2017 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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canadaodyowner wrote:
Jan 25th, 2017 2:22 pm
as @death_hawk said, chamber sealer bags are dirt cheap compared to FS bags, and don't forget milk bags come in handy too!

in this example, I can cut off the seal, use what I need and reseal the same milk bag several times ...
Image
Doesn't look very vacuum sealed.
Is it solipsistic here? Or is it just me?
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onlineharvest wrote:
Jan 25th, 2017 3:20 pm
Of course both machines pay for themselves, given enough time. But, greater the price variance, the longer it takes to make that up. If someone did the math and it suggested it would take 10-15 years to recoup the initial outlay (if I recall your other threads), not many would choose that route.
Actually it's 10-15 months. Obviously depending on how much you use it and what you're preserving.
People are fickle and while they may vacuum seal every day in the first month, it quickly becomes every week, to a couple time per month, etc. Not everyone has the zeal and gumption to vac seal like death_hawk does! :)
That's how I was with my Foodsaver.
Sealed everything when I first bought it.
Then less. And less. And less.
I was down to a couple times a month myself actually.
With a chamber, I'm sealing more every day since everything that comes in the door that isn't compromised by vacuum is basically sealed.
The example that comes to mind here is fruit. Compressed fruit is a thing, but to me it's overrated. I like uncompressed fruit better.
I wasn't comparing, say, a single boiler to a double boiler. I was comparing a pod system to a decent HX + grinder setup, for instance. If you consume enough coffee, the price of the pod system becomes very expensive when compared to a prosumer espresso machine + grinder on demand. I've done the math myself because my coffee usage is high, and I would be better off spending THOUSANDS on a coffee setup instead of a COUPLE HUNDRED for a pod machine and pod coffee. So, in my case, I would recoup the difference easily, whereas some people it would take 10-15 years or more.
I'm actually surprised at how much people pay for pods.
I can't talk because I bought in too then realized how stupid it is.

Similarly, the more expensive chamber sealer IS better, but there has to be enough usage to justify the initial outlay variance if you're considering making up costs.

Strangely... it's only better in some regards.
If I could find a clamp type sealer that didn't suck I'd probably buy one of them too.
Literally the ONLY advantages of a chamber is bag cost and the power of the vacuum.
The sucker types draw air out but don't really do a vacuum really well.
Usually not a big deal unless you want really significant air removal.
I used to get "gaps" where there's air trapped with my Foodsaver.
I don't get those any more with my chamber. Although strangely I did get them at work with their oil based chamber. It confused me.
You simply may not care and just want the best. THAT would be like comparing a SB vs HX vs DB setup, where you don't want to bother with temp surfing, don’t want to wait for the boiler to be ready, etc. You won't recoup the cost difference because the function is the same.
I understood some of those words.
Also I honestly don't think the chamber is the best, but it is the cheapest.

You can also consider Foodsaver like people who get a 'starter coffee setup' - let them get a few years under their belt and determine, rather inexpensively, whether or not that is something they want to do.

I wish I found someone like me 10 years ago. I wouldn't have spent more on Foodsavers than I have on chambers.
So here I am now regretting every single dollar I ever put towards Foodsaver and basically announcing to the world as to why you shouldn't buy one.

How many people would you recommend spending $3000+ on an espresso setup initially, especially if they are just getting into making espresso?

For coffee? Maybe not so much, unless you're going in as a coffee snob.
But in this case where it applies to a bunch of different use cases, I would disagree and go for the "good stuff"
Similarly, if you are just getting into vacuum sealing, the Foodsaver is a great choice and has been enjoyed by people for a long time as well. Machines are relatively inexpensive and easily last 5+ years. It's not like people are unhappy with their Foodsavers.
I think I disagree with all of this.
I've been firmly in the Foodsaver camp for over a decade.
I've broken more machines than I can count and towards the end I was just fed up.
I didn't seal anything because it was a pain in the nuggets for one reason or another.
The only reason I did it recently (before my chamber) was sous vide. And even then it started getting ridiculous because I had to do 6 operations (triple seals on each end) just to get my stupid bags sealed and leak free.
And it's not like they don't know there are superior options out there.

Honestly... I don't think they do know.
Or those that subscribe to my idiotic rantings know, but don't truly "know"
Hopefully the dollar would continue to climb upwards and the variance will decrease, but the initial outlay is still a magnitude of 5x to 7x buying a Foodsaver system.

It's actually a bit more than that once you count bags because you want to buy a large volume for volume discounts.
A chamber sealer is not a pretty device. I'd say not wanting a device like that to live on your counter is certainly a decision to consider.

I keep forgetting that people care about aesthetics. For me it's basically always function > form.
What happens when an appliance doesn't live on the counter? It likely will not get used. Just the way it is.

That's 100% true.
I never used my foodsaver because i was too lazy to dig it out. Well that and it took too long to use.
The foodsaver being lighter may actually have a higher likelihood of compliance because it's easier to put away. In your case, vac sealing is so functional to your household, it doesn't matter if it's aesthetically pleasing on a countertop - it's purpose is just too important.

Strangely, it never became important until I used it.
Once I started using it, I really didn't stop.
That is simply not the case for everyone and I can bet most wives wouldn't want a chamber sealer living on their counter top.
See above for function > form.
This is definitely something more suited to the garage or basement though.
I will not argue the ugly factor, nor the dimensions and certainly the weight.
Once it goes down, it's probably not moving.


Jars are not that expensive, and come in various sizes. If you don't reuse your bags, the USAGE COST per jar is certainly lower than even chamber bags!
I would somewhat dispute this actually. Technically you're right, but you're also sitting on quite a few jars in terms of cost. Hear me out. Here's my math:
I guess it depends on what your'e storing and for how long.
Reusable is one thing, but for every $1 worth of jar you're sitting on, I'm paying $0.05 for the same storage volume.
So if you're storing let's say 20 things, I can store 400 things before I meet your costs.
Granted... my initial outlay is actually more so there's a breakeven point.
At $0.05/bag (for under 1L, just for this argument) and 1000 bags per box, the magical meeting point is 50 jars or 1000 "stores"
If you're over 50 items or are storing less than 1000 items for the entire life of the jars (due to breakages, lid costs, etc) I think I'm still winning.
This is dependent on what your'e storing and the sizes of things too.
Without even considering sale prices, these are regular prices, 1L jars are about $1/each, and I can get 750ml and 500ml jars anywhere from $0.60 to $0.75/jar (and this includes lids).
If you only buy these jars during the height of canning season and tomato sauce making season in Woodbridge, even cheaper. :)
This also adjusts the formulas above.
$0.60/jar means 83 things and still I think 1000 "stores". The math is getting a little harder at this point, so I think both sides of the argument are YMMV.

A side note, I'm just getting into pressure canning and I didn't think jars were this cheap.
There is no empty space because you can get jars of various sizes (even 1.9 L), down to 250ml, you just need a small headspace. They're clearly not at easy to store as a thin vac packed bag, but the total cost considering all the many usages they get is tough to beat.
My main issue with jars is item size. While you can cram a bunch of (let's say) chicken wings into 2L, it's harder to cram a whole chicken or a steak into a jar.
Well maybe a steak into a 2L.
Sure you can use bags (which is what it was designed for) but it's an order of magnitude more for bag usage.
I think the jar argument is about the only really sound argument FOR the foodsaver in this case.
Hilariously though... I just thought about putting jars in a chamber.
The chamber is only 5" high so I think only like a 500mL will fit in the VP112S (unless you're extra nuts and get one with a huge chamber) but the same concept applies to the chamber, at least for small jars.

Consider my previous numbers. Foodsaver bags, on sale, roughly $0.30-$0.50/foot. Even the jar for $1 can be used FOR YEARS. Not everything is appropriate to seal in mason jars, but for many things it is, and the per usage cost for me is quite low (I can even prepare entire salads ahead of time for 7-10 days in advance). These jars are simply not that expensive. All you need is a simple attachment for roughly $10.
Not counting bag cost, because I think I worked it out to $0.025/inch in my other thread for Costco (assuming you count every inch, including their premade bags, if not, it is more)
I did the math above. Assuming a buck a jar, you need to seal less than 50 things or 1000 things for the life of the jars.
I seal a lot of things (obviously) and I haven't quite hit 1000 in my smallest size yet.
I will soon though. I think I'm down to my last pack of 250 so 1000 things is A LOT.
I hope I'm making sense. It sounds good in my head but I'm not sure I'm translating it well.
NOW, because I use mason jars so much, I WOULD consider a chamber sealer just because it is so much more efficient (e.g., vac 12 jars at a time). But that is more of a "I want a double boiler" vs "I need a double boiler"
Actually for you, it'd be better to save the jars for canning as the VP112S has a chamber height of 5 inches.
For taller jars, you'd need a much bigger (read: RIDICULOUSLY more expensive) machine. I think you'd have to spend $1600USD on a VP320 to fit a 7" quart jar.
Then again... the other models have a domed lid so you might be able to get a VP215 for $700USD, even though it has a 5" chamber, it has quite the dome to the lid. I think it might buy you the 2" needed for a quart jar.
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death_hawk wrote:
Jan 26th, 2017 3:16 am
Strangely... it's only better in some regards.
If I could find a clamp type sealer that didn't suck I'd probably buy one of them too.
Literally the ONLY advantages of a chamber is bag cost and the power of the vacuum.
The sucker types draw air out but don't really do a vacuum really well.
Usually not a big deal unless you want really significant air removal.
I used to get "gaps" where there's air trapped with my Foodsaver.
I don't get those any more with my chamber. Although strangely I did get them at work with their oil based chamber. It confused me.
In that case, have you ever investigated clamp type sealers from industrial/kitchen suppliers? If I recall, the last time I was in Nella Cutlery, they had clamp type sealers from brand names I didn't recognize. They were of course more expensive than Foodsaver, but perhaps they also add an improvement over Foodsaver and Chamber sealers you're looking for? Especially if you can use those ultra cheap bags on a different branded clamp sealer.
I think I disagree with all of this.
I've been firmly in the Foodsaver camp for over a decade.
I've broken more machines than I can count and towards the end I was just fed up.
I didn't seal anything because it was a pain in the nuggets for one reason or another.
The only reason I did it recently (before my chamber) was sous vide. And even then it started getting ridiculous because I had to do 6 operations (triple seals on each end) just to get my stupid bags sealed and leak free.
Is it possible there have been improvements since you last used Foodsaver? The reason I ask is because it is very VERY popular and if there was wholesale inferiority, the kind that would require 6 seals to get a proper seal, wouldn't that be known and an obvious reason to avoid? I'm not saying it works as intended because it's popular, but whenever there is a defect, you can rest assured when it is that popular, the internet will reveal that! People complain more easily than they celebrate. Right now when I search, the top listing on Google are pulling up RFD threads from some guy named death_hawk. :P
I would somewhat dispute this actually. Technically you're right, but you're also sitting on quite a few jars in terms of cost. Hear me out. Here's my math:
I guess it depends on what your'e storing and for how long.
Reusable is one thing, but for every $1 worth of jar you're sitting on, I'm paying $0.05 for the same storage volume.
So if you're storing let's say 20 things, I can store 400 things before I meet your costs.
Granted... my initial outlay is actually more so there's a breakeven point.
At $0.05/bag (for under 1L, just for this argument) and 1000 bags per box, the magical meeting point is 50 jars or 1000 "stores"
If you're over 50 items or are storing less than 1000 items for the entire life of the jars (due to breakages, lid costs, etc) I think I'm still winning.
This is dependent on what your'e storing and the sizes of things too.
Don't forget I also need to wash the glass jars if it was messy! Bags you can throw away.
And honestly, my choice of glass over plastic is not necessarily related to costs anyway. I like to try and avoid plastics as much as I can. I know it isn't completely possible, but just trying to mitigate it. And the items I use in glass are generally dry, to make cleanup and reuse easier (often times just a wipe if it will hold the same kind of product). I wouldn't put a steak in a 1L mason jar, that would look silly! ;) It might work, but again I'm just trying to mitigate my exposure to plastic since you can't escape it completely.
A side note, I'm just getting into pressure canning and I didn't think jars were this cheap.
I bought Bernardin mason jars because that as well as Bell and Kerr are the only jars Foodsaver guarantee it will seal (their jar attachment accessory). I purchased a dozen for $12, which was regular price, at Canadian Tire. However, if a chamber sealer doesn't have that requirement, and you can get some generics, It should be even cheaper (perhaps $10/dozen, or less). It's the wrong time to buy now, but at the end of our harvest season, or approaching it, these items go on sale, so the price is even better.

But considering how many jars I need (<50), I see the cost saving as nominal.

Just double checking CT, and I don't know if they're the cheapest, depending on size Wal-mart is either cheaper or more expensive...:

Bernardin (lids included) at CT
1L, $12.99/dozen, $1.08/each
500ml, $9.99/dozen, $0.83/each

Golden Harvest (lids included) at WM
1L, $8.87/dozen, $0.74/each
500ml, $7.38/dozen, $0.62/each
My main issue with jars is item size. While you can cram a bunch of (let's say) chicken wings into 2L, it's harder to cram a whole chicken or a steak into a jar.
Well maybe a steak into a 2L.
Sure you can use bags (which is what it was designed for) but it's an order of magnitude more for bag usage.
I think the jar argument is about the only really sound argument FOR the foodsaver in this case.
Hilariously though... I just thought about putting jars in a chamber.
The chamber is only 5" high so I think only like a 500mL will fit in the VP112S (unless you're extra nuts and get one with a huge chamber) but the same concept applies to the chamber, at least for small jars.
It's funny you say that because putting things in jars WAS my first and primary purpose of getting a Foodsaver. Perhaps that's why it makes so much sense for me! :)
Not counting bag cost, because I think I worked it out to $0.025/inch in my other thread for Costco (assuming you count every inch, including their premade bags, if not, it is more)
I did the math above. Assuming a buck a jar, you need to seal less than 50 things or 1000 things for the life of the jars.
I seal a lot of things (obviously) and I haven't quite hit 1000 in my smallest size yet.
I will soon though. I think I'm down to my last pack of 250 so 1000 things is A LOT.
I hope I'm making sense. It sounds good in my head but I'm not sure I'm translating it well.
No, you are. That's why I try to make it easier by mainly vac and freezing dry goods in my mason jars (e.g., 2-3 days off roasted coffee beans). In my case, I don't have or am interested in roasting, so I buy from a roaster in bulk (cheaper, free freight, etc) and vac and freeze immediately (FYI, in a COLD home freezer, people have done investigation and it's about 1 day of aging per 1 month of freezing, even less in a very cold chest freezer - but I believe you roast your own beans so it's moot for you), and it's easy to wipe down any excess oils, etc. That's one example. Having to disinfect after having chicken or steak? Not a chance! I'll use a bag/roll every time.
Actually for you, it'd be better to save the jars for canning as the VP112S has a chamber height of 5 inches.
For taller jars, you'd need a much bigger (read: RIDICULOUSLY more expensive) machine. I think you'd have to spend $1600USD on a VP320 to fit a 7" quart jar.
Then again... the other models have a domed lid so you might be able to get a VP215 for $700USD, even though it has a 5" chamber, it has quite the dome to the lid. I think it might buy you the 2" needed for a quart jar.
That's what I thought when I was investigating chamber sealers. It didn't look like the smaller cheaper models would house a 1L mason jar - maybe in the center of the bubble - 3 in the center, smaller on the sides, but it usually meant looking at the bigger models.
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@Pete_Coach Thanks for the heads up, good eye. User error corrected :facepalm:
reason: the folded yellow bag trapped some air
remedy: made few tiny slits in the inner bag

Before:
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After:
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onlineharvest wrote:
Jan 26th, 2017 4:39 pm
In that case, have you ever investigated clamp type sealers from industrial/kitchen suppliers? If I recall, the last time I was in Nella Cutlery, they had clamp type sealers from brand names I didn't recognize. They were of course more expensive than Foodsaver, but perhaps they also add an improvement over Foodsaver and Chamber sealers you're looking for? Especially if you can use those ultra cheap bags on a different branded clamp sealer.
Sure. But my thinking is that the entry chamber is $450USD. The "good" clamp is $300USD.
The items I (mostly) seal all fit in the 12x14 chamber of the VP112S so the price difference means the price in bags will pay for the difference in a short time.
I just didn't think it was that short.

And ALL clamps require mesh bags. I don't think anyone has a cheap source of bags that are significantly cheaper.
Is it possible there have been improvements since you last used Foodsaver? The reason I ask is because it is very VERY popular and if there was wholesale inferiority, the kind that would require 6 seals to get a proper seal, wouldn't that be known and an obvious reason to avoid? I'm not saying it works as intended because it's popular, but whenever there is a defect, you can rest assured when it is that popular, the internet will reveal that! People complain more easily than they celebrate. Right now when I search, the top listing on Google are pulling up RFD threads from some guy named death_hawk. :P
It very well could be. My latest model is a couple years old.
Usually I'm the first one against anecdotal evidence but I've had weak seals over a half dozen machines over a decade, including the one that's a couple years old.
I'm usually pretty adamant about cleaning the sealing area from food debris too.

You should see the machine at work. The thing makes a sealing strip like 2cm wide.
I don't even clean bags there. It just powers through water, food, oil, etc. It's actually incredible.

Also to note, the sealing issues are moot if you're using jars.
Don't forget I also need to wash the glass jars if it was messy! Bags you can throw away.
I don't think this is a "downside" because I think they're dishwasher safe.
If they aren't, I'm going to sell my entire canning setup.
And honestly, my choice of glass over plastic is not necessarily related to costs anyway. I like to try and avoid plastics as much as I can. I know it isn't completely possible, but just trying to mitigate it. And the items I use in glass are generally dry, to make cleanup and reuse easier (often times just a wipe if it will hold the same kind of product). I wouldn't put a steak in a 1L mason jar, that would look silly! ;) It might work, but again I'm just trying to mitigate my exposure to plastic since you can't escape it completely.
Fair enough. There's no way to argue that point, and to be honest, there's no point.
It's probably a good thing to avoid plastic but it's just SO handy.

Ok, now you just have to put a steak in a mason jar and take a picture.

I bought Bernardin mason jars because that as well as Bell and Kerr are the only jars Foodsaver guarantee it will seal (their jar attachment accessory). I purchased a dozen for $12, which was regular price, at Canadian Tire. However, if a chamber sealer doesn't have that requirement, and you can get some generics, It should be even cheaper (perhaps $10/dozen, or less). It's the wrong time to buy now, but at the end of our harvest season, or approaching it, these items go on sale, so the price is even better.
I'll keep that in mind.
I just bought a pressure canner for stock storage but I haven't actually had a chance to use it yet.
I'm surprised there's a "guarantee" behind which jars work.
I know Foodsaver is owned by a large brand. I wonder if they also own the jar brand.
Just double checking CT, and I don't know if they're the cheapest, depending on size Wal-mart is either cheaper or more expensive...:
Do you know anything about canning or do you just use jars in your vacuum sealer?
Are the generic jars any good for canning purposes?
I always hear about Ball or Bernardin.
It's funny you say that because putting things in jars WAS my first and primary purpose of getting a Foodsaver. Perhaps that's why it makes so much sense for me! :)

Strangely I think that's the reason I "upgraded" in my history.
I never really got around to using it much but now I think about it I probably should have.


No, you are. That's why I try to make it easier by mainly vac and freezing dry goods in my mason jars (e.g., 2-3 days off roasted coffee beans). In my case, I don't have or am interested in roasting, so I buy from a roaster in bulk (cheaper, free freight, etc) and vac and freeze immediately (FYI, in a COLD home freezer, people have done investigation and it's about 1 day of aging per 1 month of freezing, even less in a very cold chest freezer -

Depending on what your usage cycle is, jars do make more sense.
If I had to vac pack something like coffee where I used every day, you'd easily win.
Other dry goods (eg spices) where I only open when my main supply is low makes more sense.

You know... I have a butt ton of spices. Most go unused for a fairly good period of time.
I may actually start jarring them in like 250mL jars.
I currently use deli cups because they're thin and stackable. That's basically jars too.
but I believe you roast your own beans so it's moot for you), and it's easy to wipe down any excess oils, etc. That's one example.
Actually I don't even drink coffee....
Having to disinfect after having chicken or steak? Not a chance! I'll use a bag/roll every time.
You don't have a dishwasher?

That's what I thought when I was investigating chamber sealers. It didn't look like the smaller cheaper models would house a 1L mason jar - maybe in the center of the bubble - 3 in the center, smaller on the sides, but it usually meant looking at the bigger models.
Dimensions wouldn't really help either. You'd have to ask someone who owns one.
I know it wouldn't fit in mine. 500mL maybe, but I'm not even sure that'd work.
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My Weston Pro 2300 conveniently has a hose port accessory which I purchased for the purpose of sealing jars, had to purchase the FS lid attachment and it works great. It sucks so much air that I have to use quite a bit of force from the edge of the spoon to release the air. Last time I tried opening a sealed can of chili powder the entire contents of the jar went flying to my face from the pressure it was withholding, lol.
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OrangeBerry wrote:
Jan 31st, 2017 2:07 am
My Weston Pro 2300 conveniently has a hose port accessory which I purchased for the purpose of sealing jars, had to purchase the FS lid attachment and it works great. It sucks so much air that I have to use quite a bit of force from the edge of the spoon to release the air. Last time I tried opening a sealed can of chili powder the entire contents of the jar went flying to my face from the pressure it was withholding, lol.
If you don't have trouble removing a vaccum sealed mason jar, it was not a good seal (either bad job or perhaps the lid has run its course). With canning specifically they say not to reuse lids, although non canning situations that isn't a set rule.

I just use a soup spoon, apply just enough prying leverage to create an opening - gently. Perhaps something like a beer bottle opener might work too? I'm not aware of a specific tool intended for this purpose, but I hear beer bottle opener quite a bit.

Or if you have strong enough teeth...
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I have a Foodsaver (slightly over 1 year old) and love it. I have had no problems with it.

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