Quick Buyer’s Guide: Vacuum Food Sealer
In a common household kitchen, vacuum food sealers are probably one of the least famous home appliances. Families would just prefer to store food in the freezer to increase its shelf life or throw it away once it’s past its consumable date. But for businesses dealing with perishable items like groceries or convenient stores, vacuum food sealers are a must. Meat can last around 1-3 years in the freezer in an airtight vacuum-sealed plastic or container. Before you decide on buying one, read this buyer’s guide first.
What is a Vacuum Food Sealer?
Vacuum food sealers are electronic or battery operated appliances that create a vacuum in the plastic where food is stored before heat sealing the plastic’s opening. The bigger and pricier the vacuum food sealer, the higher the standard of vacuum it produces. Vacuum food sealers are available as countertop, portable and the largest kind, chamber type.
Portable vacuum food sealers come as battery-operated or rechargeable and could fit effortlessly in a shoulder bag. They are the most affordable kind of vacuum food sealer. Some portable models provide a specifically designed zipper bags, plastics and containers that are only compatible with the same manufacturer.
Tabletop vacuum food sealers are about the size of a computer printer. Like the portable models, they come with specifically designed bags and plastic rolls. This and the portable vacuum sealer are the so-called external sealers because they seal the food from the outside by drawing out air and sealing them in an airtight plastic.
Chamber type vacuum food sealers are the so-called internal sealers that remove 99% of oxygen in the food before sealing. Instead of sucking out the air before sealing, the entire chamber becomes a vacuum, not just the bag. They are available in two types: compact and commercial. The compact type can sit atop of the counter just like the tabletop vacuum sealer but provide more vacuum power. The two kinds function pretty much the same except that the commercial type can seal about 160 bags per hour, depending on the size. They are more complicated to use and features controls like seal time, vacuum cycle, dwell time and gas time, depending on the type of food to be sealed. The only con is that chamber type vacuum food sealers are bulky and relatively expensive, fetching around US$500 and up.
The benefits of using a vacuum food sealer are: fresher food and longer food shelf life; fresher packed food for camping; no freezer burnt food; more storage space since you’ll eliminate the use of plastic containers in the refrigerator; and deep penetrating meat marinates.
Guidelines on Buying a Vacuum Food Sealer
It’s useless and impractical to buy a chamber type vacuum food sealer only to food you’d consume after a few days. Assess your needs first. The portable, countertop and compact chamber vacuum sealer are suitable for household and culinary uses. If you’re a business owner dealing with cheese, dried goods and delicatessen, go for commercial type chamber vacuum sealers.
Portable vacuum sealers are perfect if you plan to consume the food after a few days’ or weeks’ time and seal it again. It is best for fruits, vegetables, beans, cheese, meat and other foods that don’t have much juice or liquid in them since the sealer would just suck the air out. Now the tough fight comes between the countertop and the compact chamber vacuum sealer. It is often an issue of size and price; countertop vacuum sealers are smaller, lighter and cheaper than compact chamber vacuum sealers, which can weigh about 40 lbs. Do you have the means to transport that? Are you willing to pay for the shipping fee for it? Countertop vacuum food sealers costs around US$100 to US$400 and weigh around 10 lbs.
Now the difference between the sealing power of a countertop one and the portable chamber type vacuum sealer lies within their technique in sealing. As mentioned before, the entire compartment in chamber vacuum sealers becomes a vacuum space, unlike the countertop one that would just suck the air out. If you’d just like to marinate meat and seal food from time to time, then a countertop vacuum sealer would do just fine.
Space and Storage
Unless used commercially, it’s unlikely that you’d be vacuum sealing your foods over and over every day, except for portable vacuum sealers, that just uses a special zip lock bag without the need for heat sealing. Portable sealers can be placed on the dining table or stashed away in the cupboard because it’s just about the size of a telephone.
A countertop and compact chamber type vacuum sealer require an empty counter’s space. These are electronic so keep the plug away from wet areas.
Speed and Additional Features
How fast it would seal depends on the machine and the user’s experience. Portable vacuum sealers are the simplest to use, although it’s not ideal for marinated meat. Some suck out air using a manual pump, some within a press of a button. It is recommended to also have a portable vacuum sealer around for daily quick sealing purposes. Besides, they’re inexpensive.
Countertop vacuum sealers come with few heat seal bags and are the most popular for home use. They can seal in about 20-30 seconds and less in chamber vacuum sealers.
Customer and After Sales Services
As a consumer, make sure that the vacuum food sealer comes with a warranty and a return period. Also, before you plan to purchase from an appliance store, ask if they are willing to have the item sent to the manufacturer for repairs. Chamber type vacuum food sealers are too heavy to be transported unless you have a car so ask what can be done in case a chamber type vacuum gets technical problems.
Lastly, if you have a certain vacuum food sealer in mind, don’t hesitate to check the ratings online. Most users, if not all, voluntarily put up their ratings or review about their purchase. Some even blog or record a video demos about it.