I just bought a new vacuum sealer because, after three and a half years, my old one finally bit the dust. When processing lots of meat at home, it’s worth it to have a good, hard-working vacuum sealer. When we first started packaging up our own meat, I used the Ziplock hand-vacuum system. It’s nice to use since it doesn’t require electricity and I still use it for small jobs.
As our processing jobs grew, so did our need for a more streamlined process in the form of an electric vacuum sealing system. In addition, an electric vacuum sealer allowed us to cut our bags to order and use heavy duty plastic bags which hold up better in the freezer.
I purchased a mid-priced Rival vacuum sealer. It certainly got the job done. Even though it was awkward and frustrating to use, it still made the job easier and protected the meat from freezer burn. The process required the very difficult maneuver of sliding an open corner of the bag over a tiny vacuum mechanism. The bag had to be held in place with one hand while the lid was closed and then hard pressure from both hands was required to snap the lid shut before the vacuuming commenced and the sealing occurred. Nine times out of ten, the weight of the contents would pull the bag away from the vacuum mechanism. I usually ended up devising some sort of platform for the bag and its contents to kinda hold things in place. Even with the cursing and grumbling and need for three hands, it still allowed us to prepare our meat in all its forms for the freezer.
However, after about 3 and a half years (four hunting seasons), it gave up the ghost. It would no longer vacuum out all the air from the bags (which is the archenemy of frozen meat) or create a good heat seal.
Realizing that I was going to need a replacement, I looked at reviews online, for the model that I was replacing and to get some idea of what I should get to replace it. If only I’d checked the reviews before I purchased the first one! They were marginal at best and echoed the same issues I experienced with the same model. I should’ve paid more from the start for a vacuum sealer that would get the job done over the long haul.
The FoodSaver V4400 is the one we decided on. It cost about $140 from Amazon. It does everything we need it to do… with much less effort. It is fully automatic which means that all I have to do is place the bag into the slot (which is low enough to the counter that the weight of the contents isn’t an issue) and the machine senses the bag and begins the process, freeing up my hands. It also has a retractable hand-held vacuum. It was designed to work with vacuum zipper bags, FoodSaver containers, canisters, and all other FoodSaver accessories including wine stoppers, jar sealers, and the Quick Marinator. It works great with the vacuum zipper bags. I use it for cheese! I haven’t tried the other applications yet. The pull-out tray drawer that catches extra liquid is extremely easy to remove and is dishwasher-safe.
I’ve got to say I’m impressed so far.
Let it be known that I’m not trying to sell this product. What I AM trying to do is let everyone know how important it is to do your homework. Don’t just run out and buy a product without thoroughly researching it. Reviews are out there from other people who have had issues or kudos to share.
I’ve been thinking about getting a pressure canner and possibly a sausage stuffer. I will definitely be checking out the reviews and let you know what I find.