While vacuum sealers might not look that big a deal for home use, they do however make better sense when it is for packing food for outdoors, camping or emergencies. All of these scenarios require food packaging of the highest standard so that they stay fresh and spoil-free for longer. Here are some useful facts about these machines that should help you make a more informed and less impulsive purchase.
Counter-top Or Handheld Sealers
The current crop of domestic purpose vacuum sealers can be categorized into two types i.e. counter top and handheld sealers. Both types of sealers operate by sucking out the air from a plastic bag containing food items followed by a sealing technique that stops the air from getting into the bag. While handheld variants come at the price range of $15-$30, counter top models on the other hand start from $130 and go all the way up to $400 and more for high-end designs.
Typically, counter-top sealers are bulky and operate on external power. However, they offer stronger air suction and a more rigid sealing capability. In fact, some of the high end models feature air suction mechanism that is strong enough to remove all the air from a canister or bottle. Yet, other models with lesser suction efficiency make up for the deficit by offering convenience features like built-in bag storage.
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In contrast, handheld vacuum sealers are much smaller, lighter and run on batteries, theoretically making them an obvious choice for outdoor use. But, because they are battery operated, the sealing strength and suction power of these portable appliances isn’t all that strong. So, any food product packaged using a handheld vacuum sealer will lose its freshness within a month’s time. Also, when food is vacuum packages using portable sealers, it tends to be more susceptible to freezer burn after a certain period of time.
Fit For Emergencies?
One of the main advantages of owning a vacuum food sealer is that you be better prepared for emergencies and therefore plan what food items will go into your disaster management kit. In this respect, handheld sealers will be better suited as a part of your outdoor kit and with a ready stock of vacuum friendly plastic bags, you can package food items as you buy them from nearby stores.
However, the idea of an emergency kit is about amassing all essential items into one backpack so that you can survive on your own for more than a week or two. Sadly, a handheld vacuum sealer does not feature as an ‘absolute essential’ when gadgets are concerned. Instead, if you owned a quality counter top sealer, then you could choose and create packages of food and other perishables that would stay relatively fresh for months if needed.
The Plastic Bags
Many people pay so much attention to the vacuum sealer features and capabilities that they forget about its other equally significant component – the plastic bags. Even though a lot of vacuum sealer manufacturers advise on buying plastic bags of the same company, this isn’t always required. In fact, you could save anywhere from $5-$15 if you chose to buy a roll of generic plastic bags from a Costco or Cabela’s.
Also, bags for vacuum sealed packaging come with different added benefits. For instance, boil safe bags are perfect for sous vide or ‘under vacuum’ type of cooking. Then, there are microwave friendly bags which are must for the traveling types while dishwasher safe bags allow for cleaning and re-utilization of future packaging purposes.
The Bottom Line
While all vacuum sealers for domestic use employ the same technique, they differ from each other in terms of portability, efficiency and extra features. Therefore, consider your requirements properly and weigh it against the price of the vacuum sealers before deciding on a particular model.