Food Saver recommendations...

lizbeth-gardenerOctober 9, 2013

I am thinking about purchasing a food saver and would like input from those of you who own one. Is there a brand/model that is favored? Is this something you would buy on e-bay? Are the jar lid things functional? Anything else I should consider?


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Not Black and Decker I just threw one out not even fit to donate piece of carp. Following this thread with interest. Adding another question.

How does your model work with wet food like fish and stews?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 4:20AM
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I have the FoodSaver brand. Nothing to compare it to. It works as it should after 5 yrs or so.
Might need to do a search for some other posts discussing some tricks for use.
-wet ingredients like processing tomatoes or things with liquid just need to be frozen first, then 'shrunk' and sealed. My gasket failed at one point but easy order and fast delivery using their website. (i ordered a few while i was at it.)
I like the ball jar sealers. Some have trouble but i use new lids since i don't do traditional canning. Might be an issue re-using them after canning?
It does have a learning curve but speedy now. So worth it for keeping frozen foods much fresher and so much longer.
I was surprised to read that some think it is for storing prepared foods for a pantry.
Soups, stews, fresh con off the cob, blanched beans and garden produce must be frozen.
Prevents freezer burn by removing the air, then it seals. It will keep open packages of nuts and granola, etc. fresher longer though i freeze those as well...
Making the bags a bit longer they can be cut, take out a few nuts or fruit, then re-seal the same bag...

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 4:52AM
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This has been a topic we've shared information about many times over the years on this board, so do a search for other threads on the topic.

I've owned 3 FoodSavers since 1986, and the 4th is in the basement waiting for #3 to go to "appliance heaven". Number 4 was purchased at Tuesday Morning at a bargain price. My first one was used as a demo. unit and I bought it from a friend, and that's the only used one I've owned. You'll have to take your own risks buying on eBay.

I would say if you can possibly keep the unit out, you'll use it more than if you store it in a cabinet. I have a baker's rack near the refrigerator that keeps my FoodSaver, hand-held FreshSaver, and all the "stuff" I use with them in baskets on other shelves.

None of the units I have owned have been the same model, but they all did the same thing - seal both sizes of bags and have a port (hole) for the hose so I can use the jar sealer or the bottle sealer, FoodSaver canisters, and Universal Lids. Personally, I wouldn't pay more to have it hold the bags (I've had one of those). There are probably other features you pay more for that may be nice, but are not all that necessary if $$$ is an issue.

I do home food storage and find the jar sealer the BEST part of the unit because I can store dry goods in canning jars at room temperature. I have a food storage room in the basement.

Food you store in jars at room temperature needs to have less than 10% moisture or you risk the potential for bacteria growth in the oxygen-free environment. Things not to vacuum-seal due to the moisture level are brown sugar and popcorn (typically has a higher percentage of moisture than 10%), and anything noticeably moist.

I have hundreds of pounds of grains/seeds/beans stored in FoodSaver bags that are placed in large plastic totes with lids. The oxygen-free storage is the best for preventing pantry pests. In all the years I've stored food I've never experienced any infestations of bugs.

If you vacuum-seal flour, place it in a canister or a jar where it remains free-flowing. The user manual (which you should read completely) suggests NOT packing flour in bags because there is enough moisture in flour to cause the flour to smell musty over time if sealed in a bag. Anything that is a fine particle I place a coffee filter over the jar contents to help prevent the fine particles from migrating to the rim during sealing. I check all my lids once a month to make sure they are still sealed.

You need to process the canning lids in hot water for a few minutes before drying and applying them to jars. This process softens the sealing compound for better results. I've occasionally had to replace the jar sealer because I wear them out.

I have all kinds of tips and tricks, so if you get serious about a FoodSaver, I'll be happy to share those. ;-)


    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 8:16AM
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Peppi also has one, she's had a couple, and she loves hers and can give you all kinds of tips.

I can tell you that you should avoid the Mini Plus from the Mini Series, Foodsaver Brand. It's an absolute piece of Carp. With a capital "C". I'm on my second one, the first didn't work at all and I returned it for a replacement. The second one works about half the time and no matter what I do I've been unable to seal a jar. About 75% of the packages that seal initially come unsealed. You can't seal anything like meat or chicken, no matter how you pat dry or pre-freeze, unless you put them inside another bag first, and then it doesn't always work.

When we finish with all the house "stuff" and are in the farmhouse I may consider buying a different one. Oh, and you have to press each side of the device while simultaneously trying to old the bag in place, so you'd better be dexterous and have the world's strongest thumbs.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 9:30AM
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I'm on my third FoodSaver in many years too. My middle model was the upright counter style from Costco and I used that but with issues for several months, got frustrated and returned it to Costco. A pretty appliance, but it would quit without warning when doing multiple packages.

I came home that day and ordered V2840 from the FoodSaver website. It's been a workhorse, and I have enough cabinetry that a place to keep it, easily accessible wasn't a problem. If you go to the FoodSaver website and sign up for their email specials, they will alert you to some very good buys and specials - nothing intrusive that I've found coming to my Inbox.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 11:46AM
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I have the V3840, which they may not make any more, but the V3860 looks identical. I like that it is upright and therefore takes up very little counter space, and so it lives on the counter, and I use it a lot. I recently discovered that they now make 8" wide rolls for bags, which I find much more efficient than the 11" wide rolls, which I almost never use now. My primary use is for storing cheese, which I wrap loosely in plastic wrap and then put into long 8" wide bag. When I take it out and have to reseal it, I lose about 1-1/2" of length, but with a narrow bag, that is a lot less waste. I generally reseal a cheese bag three or four times.

The resealable bags that close like ziplock bags do not work well and always seem to leak. I also do not like the plastic containers that they make - those do not seal well either, but canning jars do, and so I recommend getting the jar attachment and use it as Grainlady recommends.

If something is somewhat liquid, I seal it in a Ziploc bag and then put that bag inside a Foodsaver bag. For watery things like soup stock, I use Ziploc freezer bags and tilt them when sealing them so that all the air comes out at the top corner. I do not put these inside Foodsaver bags, since the Ziploc bags are meant for the freezer anyway, and stock does not stay in the freezer very long.

My brother vacuum seals his coffee beans in a Bell jar with a canning lid, and I guess that works well for him. I haven't yet done this with regular beans, since I go through them fairly quickly.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 6:17PM
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Oh, Lars reminded me of another problem with my model. It only takes the 8 inch, and will not accommodate the 11 inch bags. I bought a box of mixed sizes and ended up giving a large portion of them to Peppi, as they would not fit into my machine.



    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 6:54PM
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Love and adore my FS.

Go to the FS website and sign up for their newsletter emails on specials. also, watch the infomercial for the newest models that come with add ons.

I remember a long post several years ago full of tips on sealing food up but cannot find it. I will keep looking.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 7:00PM
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Gotta love GW-where else would I be able to get such quick responses and T&T information!

CLBlakely: good to know-I will avoid B&D!

Sleevendog: Will do a search for the old threads and glad to hear about using for nuts, grains, etc. and also to make the bags longer for opening/resealing. The Ball jar sealer is a feature I think I would use a lot.

Grainlady: Lots of good info. I definitely need the reminder to thoroughly read the manual-my least favorite thing to do! I will probably take you up on the offer for more tips if I purchase one and I will check my Tues. Morning.

Annie: thanks for the heads-up on the mini-plus-sorry you are having such bad luck with yours! I think I will just stay away from the mini's. I would want to be able to do both 8" & 11".

Morz8: Glad to hear everyone seems in agreement that Food Saver brand is the way to go and I will definitely sign up at their website.

Publicman: I wouldn't have thought about cheese, but that would be something I would probably seal. I like the coffee bean idea also, as I don't drink coffee and partner only does at home on week-ends, so keeping fresh is an issue.

Pkkramer: Good to hear another pleased FS owner!

Thanks for taking your time to respond!


    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 6:18PM
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I have been a Food Saver lover since the 1980's and agree with all that has been said above. Actually, I didn't know that they made a small one (8"); and while I mostly use that size bag, I couldn't be without the 11' ones as well. I haven't been crazy about the canisters... they fail too often, but this year out fruit trees out-did themselves and I have put the canisters to use for storing fruit roll-ups that I made in the dehydrator. So far, so good and I am thinking that there will be little harm done if they lose the vacuum. Absolutely love, too, using Canning jars; very inexpensive storage.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 11:59PM
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I have a sealer that came with my Sous Vide Supreme. I do NOT recommend it. It has very poor reviews on Amazon as well. When it dies, I will buy a Food Saver if I decide to use a large sealer.

However, someone here, maybe Grainlady, recommended the Waring Pro hand held sealer. I bought one to use to use with the jar sealers. I love it. Small, convenient, and I have had NO problem with it not sealing properly. I use it most often with the bags which are expensive (around $1 each, they are the zip lock style with a sealing port), but they can be washed and reused. I especially like that I can open a bag, remove some items, zip it shut and easily revacuum it. I use it often, and bother with the bigger sealer only when I have a lot of sealing to do.

I was lucky enough to find the Waring Pro on Amazon's Warehouse deals for $37 delivered. There are none there now, but here is the link to the Amazon site. For me, it would still be a bargain at the current price.

Here is a link that might be useful: Waring Pro Hand Held Vacuum Sealer.

This post was edited by Bellsmom on Fri, Oct 11, 13 at 8:41

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 8:20AM
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I really like my FoodSaver. If you shop at Costco they have the bags on sale often enough. It's a pretty good deal and I usually pick up two packs when I come across it.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 8:59AM
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Bellsmom: thanks for that info. If I understand what you are saying, this particular sealer would be smaller so handier to use than the one that comes with the Food Saver? It looks like they are $69.95 right now--am not familiar with the deals. Do they offer them often (the deals)?

Cookie8: Good to know about Costco bag sales. Sounds like they can be pricey when not on sale.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:37PM
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The "deals" can be accessed up two ways:
1. When you look at a listing on Amazon, items listed as "used" are usually sold through the warehouse. They are usually (but not always) not used, but they are returned items or items with damaged boxes.

2. You can go directly to the Amazon Warehouse site and search. I will list the address below. Just type vacuum sealers into the search box.

3. This hand held sealer IS much smaller than the regular sealer. Probably takes about 3 x 6 inches on the counter when in the charger stand which is plugged into an outlet to charge the unit. You hold the thing easily in one hand, like a pistol. It is battery operated, so there is no cord attached to the sealer.

I would not, I think, want it as my only sealer when I had a lot of items to seal, but for most of my uses, it is great.

Here is a link that might be useful: Amazon's Warehouse Deals

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 4:17PM
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I think there are two concepts which one needs to be clear with, one is vacuum seal the other is air free seal.

When you "vacuum" seal meat for the freezer, it has nothing to do with vacuum. You are simply removing air to prevent sublimation of moisture (freezer burn). There is no vacuum in the bag.

When you vacuum seal a jar, you are creating a vacuum. The idea here is to remove as much oxygen as possible to make food last longer.

All so called vacuum devices are very poor machines to create a good vacuum. There are small piston type pumps or diaphragm type pump. There is still plenty of air and oxygen in the jar after you have done your best. Therefor e it may be a good idea to use oxygen absorbents in the jars to help out.

BTW, to bag liquid or very wet items for vacuuming, it is easier to freeze them first.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 4:36PM
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AHA! Of course. Obvious when you pointed out the difference between what happens inside a flexible bag when air is extracted and what happens inside a glass jar.

I don't want to hijack this thread, but--Do you know where I can read about the use of oxygen absorbents in jars used for longish term storage? I do little to none of this, but I am interested. Or should I start a separate thread?


    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 5:12PM
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The price of the bags keeps me from using my Food Saver for bag storage. If you cut the bags open, there isn't enough room left to reuse the bags. But -- I use the jar sealer all the time. We shop at Sam's Club and buy the 5# sour cream, and cottage cheese and jumbo jars of Hellman's Mayo. I vacuum pack those in wide mouth pint jars and store in the frig. Also, I make yogurt regularly and vacuum pack the pint jars of that for a much longer storage than if they weren't vacuum packed.

Also, when I can salsa, I usually use quarts so after using half I'll store the rest in a pint jar. Lasts longer in the frig that way since there are only two of us here.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 5:53PM
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No, go right ahead with the discussion here. I would like to know as much about this process as possible before I purchase anything.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 5:53PM
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It is far cheaper and more efficient to buy tubular rolls than individual bags for a traditional vacuum sealer . Fom the tubular roll, I cut the bag longer than I need it, seal the bottom, fill and vacuum-seal the package. Then, when I open the frozen package, I cut just below the seal, empty, wash, invert, and dry the bag thoroughly, and reuse it for a slightly smaller amount. I can get several uses out of a regular vacuum sealer bag this way.

This is different from the zip lock and port suction (don't know how to describe it) of the Waring hand held vacuum, which can easily be zipped open and then closed and resealed with no cutting involved.

Hope this makes some sense.

This post was edited by Bellsmom on Fri, Oct 11, 13 at 20:24

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 6:45PM
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As Bellsmom wrote, cut the bags larger than you need for re-use. I wrap the excess over the bag and rubber band it for freezing.

You can also price bags/rolls on eBay.

When you seal the item, freeze first and wrap it in some of the thin produce bags from the veggie area or save your bread bags. Then open your sealed package before you defrost, and your bag stays clean. Just defrost in a bowl or on a plate.

And remember, a larger sealer can always seal small items, but a smaller or narrow sealer cannot do a large item such as a roast.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 12:56AM
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On the subject of oxygen absorbers..... I used a FoodSaver a couple decades for home food storage before being introduced to oxygen absorbers, but I do have oxygen absorbers and occasionally use them for dry packing instead of using my FoodSaver, but I prefer the FoodSaver. You can also use them together. Add an oxygen absorber AND vacuum seal the jar, or add an oxygen absorber to a mylar bag and use your FoodSaver to seal a mylar bag for long-term storage.

There are food storage books like "Dinner Is In The Jar" by Kathy Clark or "The Gourmet Food Storage Handbook" by Stephanie Petersen (aka Chef Tess Bakeresse - she has lots of videos so check out her web site), using canning jars or mylar bags for making a whole meal and vacuum-sealing the jars using either an oxygen absorber or FoodSaver. Using these recipes you can quickly make 30, 60, or 90 days worth of meals. Chef Tess Bakeresse has recipes for individual size meals that work great for hubby to take to work in his lunch. Set up an assembly line with freeze-dried food, fill jars, pop in an oxygen absorber, put on the lid and ring and you've got your own "convenience" foods ready for storage.

I would never suggest oxygen absorbers over a FoodSaver because you get so many more uses out of the FoodSaver. I use a lot of bags, especially for frozen foods. I have many of my silver serving pieces vacuum-sealed in FoodSaver bags so they never tarnish. I use the double-bag trick mentioned above. I'll portion things in inexpensive fold-top sandwich bags, quick freeze them, then repack them into a FoodSaver bag. I got a free box of Ziploc Perfect Portions bags and love them for using as the inside bag.

I freeze Sloppy Joe mixture, pasta sauce, soup, stew, chili, the meat mixture for Stroganoff, homemade applesauce, etc. in plastic storage containers. I use containers that are for 1 or 2 servings. When completely frozen, pop them out of the containers. Stack the "cubes" into a FoodSaver bag and seal shut. Now all your plastic containers can be used for something else.

But back to oxygen absorbers. They come in different sizes to accommodate different size containers or volume of food. For a quart jar use a 100cc oxygen absorber in the top of each jar. They cost about 1-cent per packet for the 100cc size (prices vary, so do the math) and are NOT reusable. There are charts available for how many oxygen absorbers are required for different volumes of food if you do a search on the subject.

For more information check out the link below. When it comes to home food storage, the LDS Church has it covered. Information about using oxygen absorbers is readily available on-line.


Here is a link that might be useful: Longer-Term Food Supply

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 6:09AM
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I've been looking at these for a while, and I see that the top of the line model at the Foodsaver site is the v4865 for $199; Costco has a model v4880 for $179, and I don't see much difference in appearance.

I know sometimes manufacturers will make a model just for places like Sams and Costco, and they might not have all the functionality of the full retail model. (They do that with big screen tv's, for instance; same basic model but they might scrimp on the number of inputs, etc., so they can sell it a little cheaper)

Anybody know if these are essentially the same, or no?

there's an interesting video review on youtube from a youtube channel called 'Show Me the Curry'

Here is a link that might be useful: video review

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 4:14PM
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For those looking to buy a FS, Costco has the 4800 series model on sale for $119, down from $140 through November 20th.

The FS sight has the same one listed for $199!

I bought one yesterday as the back up to my current one and tried it this morning. I like it! There is less waste in the sealing area and the pieces and parts store inside.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 1:48PM
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"-----The price of the bags keeps me from using my Food Saver for bag storage. -----"

I had posted this method I came up with.

Costs practically nothing.


Here is a link that might be useful: Free bags

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 3:19PM
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dcarch that is absolutely ingenious!!!!! I tried it with the cheapie plastic bags and it works great! My unit is a hands-free model so with that type you just have to press the cannister button instead of the vacuum and seal one. (There are also wet and dry buttons if you are doing meats or fish.)

This is the perfect answer for me since I always buy the large bags of shrimp at Sam's Club and divide into meal sized portions. Those have to be vacuum packed to keep them from getting freezer burn.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 4:44PM
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