I am thinking of trying out a vacuum sealer. I've seen several inexpensive models online and they all seem to get mixed reviews. Being the cheap frugal person that I am, I decided to check ebay and it seems there are a number of older, US made (I'm a big fan of Made-in-USA) sealers at reasonable prices, apparently in good working order. So my questions are:
Is the Dazey Seal A Meal Model 5600 a vacuum sealer, or just a sealer? Is there anything else I should consider? Features I might not be aware of?
I like the idea of starting with something inexpensive and see if I like the concept in practice as much as theory before shelling out the big bucks.
Loc: Southern California
I have a FoodSaver that I purchased from a vendor at the county fair. One of the things I like is it came with jar vacuum caps so you can vacuum pack food in mason jars using the jar cap and rings.
You put the jar cap/lid on the jar and then fit the vacuum cap over that. Once the air is vacuumed out, you pull the vacuum cap off the jar. The jar cap or lid maintains the vacuum in the jar and all you have left to do is put the ring on to secure the lid. I use those mason jars to store/repackage freeze dried foods purchase in large cans. After I pull out what I need from the jar I can easily vacuum pack it again.
Check and see if vacuum sealers you are look at have the caps
What's the advantage of sealing mason jars as opposed to bags? I don't mean this to sound like a challenge; I'm genuinely curious.
I wasted a litte more time online to answer part of my own question. It seems there are 3 versions of the Made in USA Dazey sealers; SAM1, SAM2 and SAM3. The first two are sealers only, the third is a vacuum sealer.
Of course there is the really cheap use-a-straw-to-suck-the-air-out-of-a-freezer-bag method.
There are a few disadvantages to using a vacuum sealer for packing backpacking meals and, IMO few advantages beyond somewhat increased storage life.
First, vacuum sealers require a special type of (pricey) bag, or at least the ones I have used did. Second, the bag material is heavy and not particularly abrasion resistant. Third, vacuum sealed meals compress into an irregular shaped solid and inflexible mass typically with numerous sharp corners. Forth, combining the second and third issues, any friction of bag against anything else will wear holes at the sharp corners breaking the vacuum. Fifth, because of the rigid and irregular shape, vacuum sealed food packs with far more air space than with more efficient ways of packaging.
My preference is to just use a heat sealer and the much lighter and just as robust (and much cheaper) sandwich bags. These weigh about 4 gm each compared with 10 gm for the vacuum sealer bags. There are 28.35 gm per ounce. And, you can heat seal a sandwich bag and then trim off anything outside the seal line. You can package, separately, different ingredients in the same bag by doing a vertical seal to create two compartments and then putting the different ingredients in the compartments. You can package a weeks worth of pills into daily packs with the same technique.
For storage, I add a small oxygen absorber pack. These can be purchased online quite inexpensively and add measurably to shelf life.
Finally, for packing into limited space, I poke a pin through the bag just before packing. This lets any air escape and reduces significantly the volume required per package. I rehydrate my meals in a roughly two cup Ziploc storage container that weighs less than an ounce. Using these techniques I was able to get 10 days of food into a Bearikade Weekender on my most recent JMT through-hike.
few advantages beyond somewhat increased storage life.
Hmmm. My thought is to use dried and dehydrated food anyway, so the increased storage life might not be as much an issue for me.
Originally Posted By Pika
My preference is to just use a heat sealer and the much lighter and just as robust (and much cheaper) sandwich bags.
This sounds like a vote for the really cheap use-a-straw-to-suck-the-air-out-of-a-freezer-bag method.
Another pro for the vacuum and freezer bags over sandwich bags is for freezer bag cooking. I suspect (haven't actually tested) regular sandwich bags would not be as robust when confronted with hot water for re-hydrating.
Thanks to you both for the input. I now have to decide between another gadget in the kitchen or a titanium straw. Either way its good.
Perry, I don't rehydrate in sandwich bags. They get stretchy and hard to handle with hot water. I just open the bag, dump the contents into a 2-cup Ziplock storage container, add hot water, snap the lid on, place in cozy and let rehydrate. After dinner, I put a drop of soap in the container, add water, shake, dispose of the water responsibly and then rinse. I like the container better than a bag since it is rigid and more like eating from a bowl. And, no freezer bags with food residue to deal with.
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
RE: Storage of dehydrated food in glass VS plastic. Glass is less permeable, so if one is trying to store dehydrated foods for a few months or more, it can be worth putting up foods in vacuum sealed jars. Transfer to bags closer to trip time. Saved, repurposed, washed and dried bags from other foods can work well. I use mylar snack bags, as well as cereal and cracker box liners. The sealing strip stopped working on my vacuum sealer some time ago, so I have been using the straw and clothes iron sealing method. For an upcoming trip with hubby when we will want 2-person meals, I'm using bags stashed years ago for another sealer, like the Dazey, again sucking out air and ironing shut. I'm leaving a good bit of head-space so I can add hot water to the bag, as one might with FBC. This works with mylar bags, as well as "boil-in-bags." The whole bag can sit in a pot of boiling water if the food needs a bit of simmering time. These repurposed bags stand up better to dehydrated foods with tiny sharp edges. If I want to use a typical plastic bag, I usually wrap the food in some sort of paper, more or less lining the bag to prevent puncturing it.
Loc: Southern California
I use the jars for shelf storage only. Jars won't crush the food when vacuum packing. When packing items in a bag that are powdery you can suck powder in to the pump. I also find the jars easy to organize and work with on the shelves.
When packing for an outing I usually just use the heat sealer. I used to vacuum pack those items, but after trying it out I have stopped doing that.
Loc: Pittsburgh, Pa, USA
If you decide to go this route, I gave up on it a number of years ago, a few things to keep in mind:
As said above, the bags are definitely heavier, even when trimmed of all extras. At one time I had the roll material, where you could make the bags any size you wanted, still heavy.
While you cannot seal ziplocks (not sure I'd want to boil them anyway), you can, with some practice, seal foil chip bags. these are a lot lighter than the vacuum bags. You just have to be sure to clean all the oil from the food that was in it from the sealing area, the oil prevents the bags from sealing properly. You also have to experiment, the bag mfgs are always changing the bags to make them lighter, which changes the sealing times. Again, I would not boil them, not sure about BPA's, etc.
If you want, I think I still have the model around that I used. don't use it anymore. Would be willing to let it go on the cheap.
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intent of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, and loudly proclaiming Wow! What a Ride!
Hello, what kind of food sealers can you recommend? At my work we have a vacuum chamber (Minerva I think) but I really can't afford a vacuum-chamber at home, so I have to settle with a sealer. Hope you can help me, so that I can start sous vide'ing at home!
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
Depends on what you are sealing. I have a very nice Food Saver which I am using less often. The hand held model is easier to grab and can seal some bags as well as jars. Most glass jars with rubber seals can be well-washed and repurposed for dry food storage. There is a lot of info at the vacumm/food preserving group on Yahoo. Short takeaway: From them I learned that glass jars such as peanut butter and spaghetti sauce may be found can be vacuum sealed with a variety of suction devices. The hand held Food Saver works, as does the Ziplok pump for their bags. Make a pin hole in the metal top, cover with a patch of electrical tape (the black rubbery stuff), lifting a corner so the pump can remove air via the pin hole. The forming vacuum will suck the tape down to seal the hole. With some practice, you should be able to seal foods for longer storage using some cheap, repurposed materials. Who doesn't like to save a few bucks?