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Raise your hand if you own a vacuum sealer. Raise your hand if you want a vacuum sealer. Aren’t they handy? Vacuum sealers are terrific for food preservation but also for other types of prepping. If you’re looking to get one for the first time, upgrading, or even replacing one because you’ve worked it so hard it stopped working, then you need our tips for selecting vacuum sealers.
Vacuum sealers have been around for home use since the 80s and with so many companies out there, your available choices can leave one feeling overwhelmed and unsure. Arming yourself with some basic criteria before you go selecting one will save you sanity, headaches, and another trip to return the sealer in favor of one that better suits the needs of you and your family.
Ask yourself these questions when selecting a vacuum sealer
There are different types of vacuum sealers so before you purchase anything, think about these things:
- What will I primarily use this for? (meat, veggies, etc)
- How often will I use this in a year?
- How long will the average package sit in the freezer?
- Will I need to use the sealer outside or only inside?
- Do I want/need a hose adapter on the sealer?
1) What will I use this for?
While most people buy vacuum sealers for food purposes, there are others out there who use them to preserve nonfood items as well. Consider whether you plan on using the sealer for mostly meats, which stay sealed better with a thicker seal band, or if you are going to use it just to freeze veggies and dried goods. A sealer with a thinner seal band is acceptable for veggies and dried goods.
2) How often will I use this in a year?
Be sure you are certain that when you are selecting a vacuum sealer, it can handle the workload you will be putting it through. Better to spend the extra money on something that will work as you need it to for years versus saving $20 on a cheaper model that dies after one year of use.
This is very important because, if you are like me and seal large batches a couple of times a year, you need something more heavy-duty than the average $75 or less sealer. For myself, it takes a full day to pack up all the meat I buy twice a year (on sale, of course!).
More sparing usage would be a dozen or so packages sealed at a time.
I also take time to make the bags the length I want and let the machine rest between every dozen or so bags. Most sealers have a safety system that will not allow it to run when overheated – but not all of them – and you can burn your machine out.
3) How long will the average package sit in the freezer?
This is important for several reasons. If you expect food to sit in the freezer for a year or more, you will need a sealer that has a nice, wide sealing band that helps keep the bag sealed.
With a thinner seal band (or seal line), you run the risk of it not sealing fully, especially if what you’re sealing is moist. Moisture prevents a solid seal from forming.
If you think you will go through the sealed foods more quickly, a thinner seal line may serve you just fine.
TIP: When packaging moist meats such as fish, first wrap it in some Glad Press and Seal. It makes a world of difference!
4) Will I need to use the sealer outside?
This may seem an odd consideration for many people who use vacuum sealers. The sealer we have is designed to be taken into the field and used to preserve your food. It has an extra-long cord and came with a 12-volt car adapter that plugs into the cigarette lighter jack. It also has a handle and locking mechanism that keeps the unit closed while carrying (if you do not have it in the carrying case, of course).
5) Do I want/need a hose adapter for sealing jars and containers?
Some, but not all, units have an adapter where you can attach an accessory hose and use it to seal other containers such as wide and regular mouth canning jars or containers specifically made to be sealed and frozen.
If this is important to you, then be sure to choose a vacuum sealer that includes that feature.
I can tell you from personal experience that this handy device is worth it!
The options this gives you are endless! I have dehydrated veggies from the garden and then layered them in a quart jar with some spices as a stew starter. It is all sealed up with the adapter and will last for at least a year!
A vacuum sealer in the right hands can do so much more than just preserve food to last and protect against freezer burn. All it takes is a little imagination and you can amaze yourself!
6) How can I use my vacuum sealer other than to save food?
When selecting a vacuum sealer, you might want to consider all the potential nonfood uses it has.
A purse-size emergency kit
Back when I lived in Phoenix, I made an appearance on Good Morning, Arizona, a local morning news show. My job was to show what items could be included in a Survival Mom’s purse-size emergency kit. It was a fun challenge to see how much I could fit into an old sunglasses case.
I knew I wanted to include money but I needed it to be somewhat inaccessible to me, the free-spending adult in the family(!) and also waterproof. So after folding up about $50 in cash, I used my Food Saver to vacuum pack the emergency cash. I trimmed the edges so it fits nicely in the case, and voila! Waterproof and Lisa-proof emergency cash!
A beach trip
Now that I’m packing suitcases for another trip, I decided to use my Food Saver to vacuum pack a few other items:
- travel-size packages of Clorox wipes. The airtight seal will keep them nice and moist.
- Ditto for packages of baby wipes and makeup remover wipes.
- This is a beach trip, so I vacuum-packed a dry t-shirt and pair of underwear per person.
A couple of camping trips
For a couple of camping trips, I used the Food Saver to seal up rolls of toilet paper (after removing the center cardboard tube first). I also:
- Sealed a box of Strike on Box matches approximately 3 years ago. I have always been concerned that the pressure may have compromised the matches, but after cutting the package open and pulling the matchbox open, I found them to be in perfect condition! I re-sealed the matches for a future camping trip or emergency.
- Vacuum sealed batteries. Due to the hot and humid climate we live in, packing these items in this manner made sense.
- Other items that might do well with a sealer are feminine products and some clothing items.
What food or nonfood items do you use your vacuum sealer for? Let me know in the comments!