Foodsaver vaccum. Worth it? 3800 (automatic) or 2400 (,manual)?

mudwormDecember 21, 2012

The new countertop in the kitchen looks great, so I find myself being very indecisive when it comes to purchasing another item to be perched on the counter. Well, I don't believe in taking small appliances in and out of cupboard if they are meant to be used regularly.

These days, Costco has a discount on Foodsaver vacuum sealers. The question is do I really need one. For those who own one, do you feel it's worth it? Or, if you want to reduce the clutter, is it something you can cut? Do you find yourself keep items in the fridge or freezer longer simply because you can now?

They have the automatic kind (3800 for $120) and a manual one (2400 for around $75 I think). Is the automatic really that much more better?

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I love having one; it definitely keeps the food (especially meats) fresher in the freezer longer. I am not a person who likes appliances on my counters, however, so I just keep mine in the pantry and bring it out when I need it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 8:06PM
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Thanks gharborwa. Is your the manual kind or the automatic kind? If the former, I assume it works just fine?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 8:14PM
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I own one (automatic) because I have a huge garden and freeze a lot of vegetables every summer. Also comes in real handy for those big packages of meat from Costco. I hate going to the grocery store so we tend to stock up and then eat out of the freezer. It definitely allows you to keep food in the freezer longer. I keep mine in a kitchen cabinet - takes only seconds to set it up and start packaging.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 10:16PM
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I have a Foodsaver 3480, which is also automatic. It works fine. I did not even know before reading your post that there were "auto" and "manual" versions. I gather that the "automatic" refers to it sensing that you stick a bag in, and it starts sucking then? And I further guess that manual means you stick the bag in and then have to hit a button to initiate sealing?

If I am correct, you can safely forgo the auto feature. It works fine, not a lot of problems, but not a lot of benefit either. It can be a little finicky. I think I would mildly prefer NOT to have the auto feature.

I bought the foodsaver to do sous vide meals. However, I really like having it for other things, too. For example, if you put meat (or any food, really) in a foodsaver bag and freeze it, then you can defrost it quickly by immersing the bag in water. (In a bag that has any air in it, the air forms an insulating layer and it won't defrost.)

Here is a picture of my homemade sous vide rig. You can see the foodsaver bag in action!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2012 at 10:16PM
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I love my foodsaver, but like cj2015, I don't use it everyday. I use it for packaging veggies from the garden or my husbands latest deer, duck, turkey, dove, fish, pheasant, well... you name it. It is very light and easy to take in an out of a cabinet, so I just keep it in a lower cabinet. I have automatic, but I tend to override it and use manual.... manual just mean you hit the button to tell it when to seal. Automatic detects when enough air has been removed then it seals. It has a moist/dry function, but my corn off the cob and meats are usually wet enough that I seal before every bit of air is removed. If there is moisture along the area of the seal, it is less likely to stay sealed for long periods of time. Food keeps much longer in foodsaver bags when frozen. I have never had freezer burn and we regularly eat meat from them that was frozen 2-3 years ago stored in a deep freeze. Another bonus is they almost never leak when defrosting because they stay sealed even after freezing and defrosting. You cannot say the same about ziploc. I use mine sometimes for quick marinades, too. It forces the marinade into the meat. It is also fun to experiment with marshmellows and the like to teach kids about a vacuum. I think you will enjoy one!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 12:56AM
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I have the manual foodsaver. It's very handy, easy to keep in the cupboard and take out when needed because it's not heavy at all. Meats last longer in the freezer with no freezer burn. FS works significantly better than any ziploc type bag and is well worth the cost of the machine and the bags. Unless you're shopping everyday, there should be no worries about keeping it put away instead of on the counter because you won't use it everyday.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 5:12AM
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Does anyone own the caso version? I saw at Williams Sonoma but of course $$$. But costs equalize if u have to get a membership.

I am not a Costco me member but could probably find a friend.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 8:26AM
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Now on my third- I use the heck out of them and find them very necessary for buying in bulk and saving $$.
Mine is kept put away, though.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 8:27AM
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Thank you all. I'll go pick up the manual one. Automatic sounds good, but I think having to push the button doesn't sound too bad to me. And you gals/guys are right. I'll only need it when I bring home bulk purchases, which do not happen very often, so I don't need to leave it on the counter.

I love buying tools and small appliances, esp. when the purchase can be justified. :)

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 12:32PM
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I love my foodsaver vac, and just pull it out when needed.

However, I miss my first one - the manual. I dislike the auto so much - it is louder and goes on forever and is bigger too - that I have seriously thought of buying a simpler, manual model again.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 1:48PM
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I bought an automatic one at Costco last spring and returned it this fall. About half the veggies I put up from the garden didn't seal properly. They certainly looked sealed at the time, but no. I'm going back to the freezer boxes.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 3:15PM
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We have an automatic and a manual, and they get a lot of use. Presently one is sitting on the counter, but will be in the pantry when the kitchen is completed.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 3:32PM
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I've had one for years. My first one died and I replaced it. I've been very happy with them - as others said, it really helps keeping frozen food fresh.

AngieDIY - I'd love to hear more about your homemade sous vide contraption. I've always been intrigued when I see the machines at W-S and refuse to pay that kind of money...would love to find out how I can DIY this with a crockpot.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2012 at 10:47PM
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Elraes Miller

What is the cost of the bags? My son keeps telling me I should buy one, but looking at the extra bags this question eludes me. I use freezer bags, but they really do not last as many mentioned and checking found they are .10 a piece, even the cheaper ones. Since I use a bunch for so many things, am finding out this really adds up.

Freezer boxes makes sense to me. How long do they last? Can you use them over again?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 7:33AM
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You can buy bag material at various places- I use sealer bags dot com or Bed Bath and Beyond with one of their ubiquitous coupons and it's not too bad.
They do also now make a zipper Foodsaver bag but I have never tried it.

You can reuse the standard bags as long as they are large enough to be useful, but every time you open one you cut off probably two inches of bag so over time you lose size. If it is something I am going to be opening frequently I use the accessory port and large wide mouth mason jars w/lids from Amazon.

All these accessories feel expensive but in the case of the lids you only have to buy them once. Tossing out one slab of freezer burnt salmon convinced me it's worth it.

Just two weeks ago I bought ten lbs of ground chuck on sale, premixed it with onions and soup mix and steak sauce etc., and froze close to 35 burgers. They will last forever, are pre-spiced, and very easy to pull out and cook. I have chicken breasts in marinade, roasts in marinade, portions of chili, spaghetti sauce, and so on.

The only downfall is that you will need more freezer space :)

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 9:21AM
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Ivy reading this thread, I have to admit mine is way underutilized. I haven't been able to get past sealing wet things. I haven't been successful, so I kind of let it go. I would love to bag seal sauces and stew - how do you do that?

I do use it to quick marinade flank steak - it does an amazing job in the large canister.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 2:09PM
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Man, Foodsavers have changed a lot! I didn't understand the manual/automatic comment so checked it out. I have a 550 model Foodsaver. We buy in bulk and freeze in a chest freezer. I can't see the expensive of the big model, plus it looks huge. Mine is more like the less expensive, manual model and works just fine.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 4:03PM
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AndreaK: I built a temperature controller that is very similar to this:

What I did was to buy a PID (proportional-integral-differential) temperature controller, mount it in a "project box" I had sitting around, and add a solid-state relay (SSR) that I bought for a buck at a surplus store. I used a thermocouple (brown wire in the water in my first picture) to measure the temperature of the water bath. The SSR controls a 115 V outlet, so the PID controller turns your crock pot on and off to maintain the desired temperature.

I am not convinced building my own was a big win over buying the one I linked above for $150. I spent probably just over $100 on the parts for the one I built. However, you can now get very cheap PID units, like about $25 (compared to ~$80 that I spent), so, depending on how handy you are, you may be able to put together one for $50 or 60. I had ready access to a lot of the small parts for mine, so it was easier than for most folks.

Sorry for the threadjack.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 11:21PM
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On freezer boxes, yes, they are reusable for years. You can use the Ziplock type boxes too. They're pretty good, but don't last as long as actual freezer boxes which are a heavier gauge plastic.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 8:46PM
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Angie - thank you for that info. I'm going to check out the unit with the link that you sent...I'm not nearly as handy as what you are and it might be smarter for me to just get one of those. Thanks again (and sorry for the thread hijack!)

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 11:49PM
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Elraes Miller

Suzann, I totally forgot about those. Used to can a ton and used them all the time. I think the only issue was tomato based recipes which I could never wash the stain out completely. They sell these as cheaply as freezer bags. May head out and buy some.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2012 at 8:07AM
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We have a Foodsaver V3485 and I was skeptical about getting it. DH insisted... and it was only $80, so I figured why not? I HATE having appliances on my counter, so my plan was to only pull it out of the cabinet as needed. Fast forward 2 years, and it's been used almost daily. In my new kitchen (under construction!), it will occupy the prime appliance garage spot. So here are the ins and outs from my experience:

This model has a very handy bag opener which sounds gimicky, but is really useful for cutting a bag you intend to reseal. Practically everything gets resealed--cheese, chips, crackers, cereal, etc. Most items can be resealed in their original bags, as long as the plastic is somewhat sturdy. It usually doesn't vacuum anything other than a foodsaver bag, but dry food like this still stays fresh even with some air in there.

This model also has a spot inside for storing a roll of bags, which doesn't make a huge difference for me. I use both 8" and 12" size bags, and it will only hold one size. The models all take up about the same counter space, so it wasn't really a tradeoff.

I get to buy meat in bulk now and never have to worry about it going bad. BIL actually cooked a roast pork loin for Christmas dinner yesterday that had been in a foodsaver bag in the deep freeze for 2 YEARS and it was delicious. An added benefit to the sealed bags is that defrosting is very easy and clean.

The set I purchased also came with canisters, and I could take or leave those since the seals are finicky. However, I recently discovered the mason jar sealer, and love that to pieces. No need for canisters when you have that feature--much more economical too.

I use the marinator all the time now. I have my trusty Tupperware marinator but almost always reach for the Foodsaver first. I think it does a great job on last-minute marinades (everything I cook seems to be last minute!).

Bags aren't that expensive if you buy in bulk. I think I've bought bags 2 or 3 times in 2 years. It's definitely paid for itself many times over.

If you're looking for a deal, I have found that the website has by far the best sales on their machines. Bags are cheaper elsewhere.

I loved mine so much I gave one to my parents last year. It hasn't seen the light of day... *sigh* Guess it's not for everyone, but I can't imagine my kitchen without one anymore.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 9:44AM
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I picked up the 2400 model and a box of rolls/bags, also on sale. Last night, I used it the first time. Really liked it. I can see myself vacuum a lot of things now, which also means spending more money on more accessories. But good tools are worth it, aren't they?

Thanks for sharing your experience in this thread. I learned some great ideas.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 3:14PM
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I have found this thread very useful, and have now added a Food Saver on to my list of things I want to buy.
I have a question about the Mason Jar sealer which I would definitely want. I am think I would like this for when I make stock to freeze. I would prefer to store in a glass jar, as opposed to plastic, but when I do that without the Food Saver, I get ice crystals on the top. Would the Food Saver prevent this from happening in I put the stock in a glass Mason jar?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 4:11PM
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I bought one when they first came out. Back then they were pretty tiresome to use. You have to really lean on it to get it to extract the air and seal and it makes a very loud sound while doing so. I kept it in the laundry room on the counter. It's fine but recently it broke after all these years and I was glad to get it off of the counter top. I find that I just don't need it. We have grocery stores very near and I don't normally buy in bulk anymore since it's just the two of us. The bags are expensive at least it seems and I'm not going to wash them out like it says you can (what I need, another job) so I would run out of them not realizing I was close to the end. I would put off ordering because you had to order a lot of them at a time and I didn't really want to spend $30-40 dollars for bags and so I would put it off and then forget about it. You can get them at Costco but the combinations of bags were not what I was looking for or they were just the rolls and so many of them! Something else to store! Then for the longest time you couldn't get the larger ones and the small ones are not useful for me. You can make your own but it was sort of a pita. It was freeing to be rid of it. One less thing on my counter and I'm enjoying the extra space I have now. If I had a large family and bought in bulk quite often and had a lot of freezer space I think it would be very helpful, if not, then I don't really think it's that necessary.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 7:28PM
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I have no experience with any of these, but the gardening forum I mostly read here is pretty sold on the Pump-n-seal, FWIW. They like that you can use and reuse any sealable jar.

For localeater, I think you would always have the ice crystal problem (and possibly breakage problems as well) with glass in the freezer.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 11:08PM
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We are on our second Foodsaver in 10+ years. We wash & reuse bags (make first bag a tad larger than needed). I've found Foodsaver website has best prices. We never buy already made bags, making your own from roll is a cinch. Re freezing in glass jars--do this all the time but have learned from experience--buy FREEZER PROOF canning jars. These are the ones without shoulders--straight up and down jars. Had 12 quart jars of tomato sauce crack in freezer. After some research, I peeled off cracked glass, ran frozen tomato cylinder under water and rubbed sides with my hands to make sure no glass shards remained. Put frozen tomato cylinders in zip lock bags and used every bit with no ill effects. Easier to use freezer jars in the first place!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 9:55AM
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I bought the Costco Foodsaver 3880 the other day while the rebate was still in effect. I used it last night to store salmon fillets that that I'd bought in bulk at Costco as well. It seems to have worked well.

I will note that the 3880 is considerably larger than the 2400. It does have a few more bells and whistles but only time will tell if it's worth the extra money. We used our friend's 2400 on vacation to pack fish that the guys had caught and it was a cinch as well. I almost like it better because I like having the control of pushing the button vs. the automatic. It took me a couple of times and a couple of wasted bags to get it right on the 3880. I would consider taking it back and getting the 2400, but my mom ended up giving it to us as part of our Christmas present :) I don't believe the 2400 has a "dry" vs. "moist" setting on it, though.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 10:45AM
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I recently purchased the 3880 at and have only used it a couple of times so far. Loved the way it handled left over salad.

I'd really like to know the best way to vaccum and seal a half loaf of bread. This would save me a lot of $$$.

Thanks for all the tips here.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 6:40PM
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