Food Vacuum Sealers
Food vacuum sealers vary in size, power, workmanship and types of materials, but they all work to remove air from the packaging of food products to help preserve the food for freezer storage. Originating in the middle of the 1900's, they became very popular in the 1980's when the Tilia company began mass marketing their Food Saver vacuum sealer.
Components of Vacuum Sealers
There are three main components to food vacuum sealers.
- Vacuum Pump
- Sealer Rail or Bar
- Chamber or Tray
The food is placed in a plastic bag and placed across the sealer bar. The machine is turned on and the vacuum pump draws the air out of the contents of the bag. This work is being done in a chamber or tray where it is possible for a small amount of food or liquid to accumulate. Of course this must be cleaned after each usage. Of course, once the maximum amount of air has been removed by the pump a seal must be applied to seal the "vacuum" and keep the food protected.
Understand Vacuum Pumps
Vacuum pumps differ in their power - or their ability to apply vacuum pressure. Their power is measured by the distance in inches they are able to raise the level of Mercury in a standard diameter tube You should be able to read in the product literature how strong the pump of the vacuum sealer is in the product you are reviewing. Units typically used at home range from 22 inches to over 29 inches. Look for something that will deliver 26 inches of power or more for the best job. The links below take you to a great example to get started.
FoodSaver V4440 2-in-1 Automatic Vacuum Sealing System with Bonus Built-in Retractable Handheld Sealer & Starter Kit, Black Finish
Each vacuum bag sealer has a mechanism for sealing the bag after the air has been removed. Ceramic and metal sealer bars generally work more consistently especially when working with wet of damp food. Many of the cheaper models will use a different type of sealer bar than metal. These can get very warm, and sometimes need to cool off if too many bags have been sealed too close together. Higher end sealers, typically more expensive, provide a more rapid turn around time for the next seal job.
Types of Food Vacuum Sealers
Vacuum sealers can be broken down into 3 types based on their typical usage.
- Home Occasional Usage - Low End
- Home Often Used - Mid Level
- Commercial or Industrial - High End Heavy Duty
Lower end vacuum sealers generally have more plastic and less metal. Their pumps are generally not as strong which means they are able to produce a lesser amount of vacuum. While better than simply freezing food in a plastic bag with a zipper, you may find food will not last as long as if you had a more powerful pump. These models generally are not made to do repeated sealing in rapid succession. This means they can overheat and require a bit of time to cool off when multiple bags of food through them. If you are only occasionally going to vacuum seal food these are a great choice and will not cost a lot of money. Perhaps you just want to vacuum seal one or two meals, or food that will only be in the freezer for 1-2 months, these are likely do the job for you well.
Mid Level Food Vacuum Sealers
Weston Pro-2300 Stainless Steel Vacuum Sealer
A bit more expensive these food vacuum sealers are made to be used more often, and in general have pumps that deliver 26 or more inches of power. They do a great job for the sportsman who brings fish/game home in every season. They are also built so that the sealer bar cools a bit faster, which means that you can seal more food bags before you have to take a break, and are good for the person who enjoys helping others vacuum seal their game. You will begin to see more metal here, including stainless steel covers for more strength and stability. The Westin link above is a great example of Mid Level Food Vacuum Sealers.
Industrial Food Vacuums
VacMaster VP210 Chamber Vacuum Sealer
If you are even thinking about making a living by packaging your own game and selling it you will need to do a lot of investigative work. Check with your local health department and seek out all the regulations you will need to adhere to in order to do this. For sure you will need to investigate a more industrial or commercial grade vacuum sealer. You will have to find one that is FDA certified and use bags that are as well. In general these machines are what are called chamber vacuum sealers. They are bigger, nearly always made of stainless steel for cleaning purposes and work by placing the entire bag into the chamber in contrast to previous models discussed where the bag is on the outside of the machine.
To read more about vacuum sealer reviews and explore a variety of sealers in each category and their suitability for use at home click on the following links:
Best Food Vacuum Sealer
The best vacuum sealer is the sealer that best fits your needs. One could argue that an industrial sealer is the best, but it would be overkill is you only sealed 1-2 bags a week of left overs, or an occasional couple of bags of fish sealed once a month.