The 10 Best Vacuum Sealers
9. Cuisinart VS-100
8. Nesco VS-02
7. VacMaster VP210
6. Mooka TVS-2150
5. FoodSaver FM2435-ECR
4. Geryon Starter Kit
3. NutriChef PKVS18
2. Weston Pro-2300
1. FoodSaver 4840
Save Money, Save Time, Save Food, With a Vacuum Sealer
You've probably been putting food away for a long time. Maybe you wrap it in plastic or foil. Maybe you use a plastic container or a Mason jar. Maybe you bury it underground in scattered locations in the forest. Why mix it up now? Why use something as high-tech as a vacuum sealer?
The first, fancy reason is to cook sous vide, literally "under vacuum" in French. To prepare food sous vide, you need to put your protein (meat or fish) in a bag, remove the air, then immerse it in a precisely heated water bath for a long time. We can thank the molecular gastronomy movement for making sous vide preparation mainstream.
A more pedestrian reason for having a vacuum sealer is to keep your food fresher longer. Freezer burnt food tastes nasty. Freezer burn is the result of dehydration, and it occurs when dry air from the freezer comes in contact with your food. The moisture in the food is sucked out, often settling on the top as ice crystals.
It's totally safe to eat that freezer burnt venison if you want; it won't hurt you at all. It's just not as good. Cut off the worst bits and salvage what you can. Maybe make something spicy to hide the taste. And get yourself a vacuum sealer. You don't want to keep ruining your hard won game meats.
Vegetables also lose water, to the dry constantly moving air of the refrigerator. The cell walls of the plants are no longer sturdy, and your celery goes all soft and limp. I'm guessing you don't like to eat it that way, but I don't really know your life. Maybe that's perfect for you. Maybe the crunch of produce haunts your dreams or something. In that case, make it see pain, man. Wilt that shit. I'll look the other way. I will not judge.
Dry foods, like crackers and bread, become stale by absorbing water. The starches are in a foam-like structure, but when they absorb water they become crystallized. This is both how bread gets soggy and how it goes stale. Science is wild, man.
Keeping air out of contact with the surface of your food will prevent freezer burn and will keep it fresh longer. Fortunately, there's one solution for both - a vacuum sealer.
Okay, So How Does a Vacuum Sealer Work?
There are two types of vacuum sealers: edge sealers and chamber sealers. They work in two different ways.
An edge-style vacuum sealer--like seven of the eight in the video, and four of our top five picks--sucks as much of the air directly out of the bag as it can, leaving the food behind. This is why this type of sealer struggles with liquids--note that it can handle them, but they should be frozen first.
Many people say all cut meats (like sliced ham) seal better when they're frozen. If you're going to seal flour or wet cuts of meat in the sealer, a piece of paper towel between the food and the edge of the bag like so keeps the seal from getting broken by particles of grain or wet bits of bloody filth.
A chamber-style vacuum sealer works by changing the air pressure outside the bag, not inside of it. The bag is placed inside of a chamber, as the name suggests, with the edge of the bag hanging off of the sealing bar. The lid is lowered, and the air pressure in the chamber around the bag is reduced until it is low enough for the bag to be pressed around the meat.
Chamber vacuums aren't slowed down by liquids; you can seal sauce or water or hard liquor in them. You might have a problem with liquids boiling in them, as the pressure is dropped really low inside of them. They're more powerful, and you don't have to freeze everything. The workspace is smaller.
Really, it isn't so much that one is better than the other. It depends on what works better for you.
So You're Telling Me I'll Never Go Shopping Again?
If you plan on freezing everything you want to eat in one go, and live out of the freezer for the rest of your life, then yes: you'll never have to go shopping again. Congratulations.
But if you think you can vacuum seal a steak and leave it on the counter, then I'm sorry; the answer is no. Don't do that. You're playing with anaerobic bacterial fire. Maybe you'll get botulism, maybe it'll be clostridium. But just because it's in a neat little package doesn't mean you made it shelf stable.
It's extremely important to note some of the most pathogenic bacteria really dig warm, low-oxygen environments, so it's vital you refrigerate or freeze any vacuum-packed items--meats, sauces, vegetables, cheeses--that you would normally keep cool.
Your cereal, nuts, ammunition (I am not an ammo specialist, so you should really look into this before you store your ammo in any way) won't make you sick if you eat them after they're stored in a vacuum-sealed bag, provided they're not all moist and delicious when you put them in. I like to eat my bullets dry, don't you?