Saturday, February 12, 2011

Food Storage Savior or or Expensive Failure? : A Review of the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System

You might have seen the cheesy infomercials on late night TV. The FoodSaver is a device will keep you from "throwing your cash in the trash". Simply place your food in one of their handy-dandy plastic baggies, push a button, and the FoodSaver will suck all the air out, thereby extending the shelf-life of your fresh or frozen foodstuffs. Can you tell I've been up with fussy babies in the wee hours and watched that infomercial a few times?

That's all fine and dandy, but it was only when I read about using a vacuum sealer to seal canning jars full of dry food storage items that it really got my attention. Beans, rice, dehydrated vegetables, chocolate, candy, etc. - you can store them in canning jars for greatly extended shelf lives. Sounds great, right? (I should point out that this isn't a replacement for canning; you're not going to be able to vacuum seal soup, for example, unless it is dehydrated soup mix.)

The only problem was that I was a little worried about the mixed reviews the newest incarnation of the FoodSaver had on, but I decided to take the plunge anyway. A smarter, more thrifty woman would have found a used FoodSaver at a thrift store or garage sale. I am not that woman. I channel Veruca Salt in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" because I want everything RIGHT NOW!!

Anyway, my FoodSaver arrived and I got straight to work.

FoodSaver and Wide Mouth Jar Sealer

If you're going to use your FoodSaver for vacuum sealing jars, you need to buy a jar sealer, which is a plastic gizmo that looks like this:

There are two sizes of jar sealers - wide-mouth and regular. I only bought the one for wide-mouth canning jars, since that is what I mainly have on hand. Some might say that was appropriate for me! ;)

You place your food inside a clean canning jar and then put on a clean canning lid. You do not have to use new canning lids, which is awesome. Finally, something to do with used lids! Place the jar sealer attachment on the top and then plug in the accessory hose.

If you are looking at a used FoodSaver, make sure it has an accessory hose. Otherwise, you won't be able to seal jars.

Press the button and then the FoodSaver lurches into action. Vacuuming out all the air takes somewhere between 30 sec- 1 minute and it is a fairly noisy process. The machine shuts off when it is done.

Label with the contents and date. Can you tell I love my label machine? ;)

Most of my jars sealed with no problem. A few I had to fiddle with to get them to seal properly. I experimented with the amount of food in the jar, using a different lid, using two lids, etc. until I got everything sealed up. I used this awesome tutorial on Granny Miller's blog to troubleshoot. (I keep trying to type "Granny Smith" instead of Granny Miller. I must be hungry today.)

I should mention that my FoodSaver manual said to maintain 1" headspace to get jars to seal. I did not find that made any difference to the sealing. If you look at Granny Miller's blog, you'll see she doesn't worry about headspace too much, either. If it's good enough for Granny Smith Miller, it's good enough for me!

I sealed up my entire supply of chocolate chips.

I cracked pecans harvested from my uncle's tree and then sealed them, too.

I even sealed the rest of the can of shortening that I opened last weekend. This will really extend the shelf-life of shortening, which is great because it usually goes rancid before I use it all.

All in all, here's what I sealed up yesterday. I am going to check my supplies regularly to make sure the lids stay sealed, and I might screw on the rings for a little extra insurance.

The verdict:

So far, so good! It was easy to use and only required a little bit of fiddling. Time will tell how durable my FoodSaver is and how long the contents stay fresh once they've been sealed. I'll keep you posted on that. If I should ever come across a used FoodSaver for a good price, I'd snatch it up in a heart beat. Apparently the older FoodSavers did a better job sealing the plastic bags for fresh and frozen food. I'll test out using FoodSaver bags for freezing bulk supplies of meat, but I see myself mainly using this for sealing jars.

If this sounds like something you'd like to try, you can buy FoodSavers lots of places, including't forget to buy the jar sealer attachment, which is sold separately.


  1. I love my FoodSaver! I vac seal my dried herbs and spices which I buy in bulk and they keep wonderfully. I have oregano dated from March 2007 that smells and tastes like it was dried yesterday.

    I also vac seal items in the bags; cheese keeps for months in the fridge if it's sealed up.

    One thing I found online that I want to try is using a brake bleeder with the lid attachment to manually pull a vacuum on the mason jars. You can get a stronger vacuum and it doesn't require electricity.

  2. SD Mom - Thanks for the tips! I'll have to check out using a brake bleeder. That one is new to me.

  3. I saw online a person can recycle glass jars that come with a rubber ring inside the lid. You need to buy the largest vacuum canister in which the lidded jar fits. By just placing the jar inside and connecting the hose onto the canisterlid attachment, a normal jar,like a spaghetti sauce or pickle one, works well. With this large canister I have been able to use all types of jars that may have been thrown out. Sometimes if the lid was pried open to hard, the seal does not take. When I open these jars for the original contents, I use a spoon under the side of the lid to pop the vacuum and then the lid screws off easily. Little did I know that doing this can help save the lid for vacuuming.

  4. I just got my FoodSaver and am sealing everything in mason jars. As you stated, the jar sealer attachment comes in regular and wide mouth sizes. I mistakenly thought my jars were wide mouth and ordered the wrong one. I have since ordered wide mouth jars and lids and the regular mouth sealer in order to cover all the bases. Ace Hardware has the jars in all sizes, including 1/2 gallon, with free ship-to-store. I broke out my Brother P-Touch labeler to label all my jars - powdered sugar looks just like corn starch in the jar. Hint - if you use a Brother P-Touch labeler, don't waste all the space at the beginning and end of each label. Instead of printing and cutting the labels individually, type all your labels out continuously with just one space in between and print them out as one. Then cut them into individual labels. You'll save about 1-1/2" on every label this way, which will dramatically cut down on the amount of tape you use -$$$!

  5. I've used vacuum sealer for years, and it's the best investment in my kitchen, I must say. It's really worth the money.

  6. Hi. I'm Sue Sheriff .I have bought a Foodsaver V3880 but I don't exactly know how to use it. Thanks for your helpful reviews!

  7. I would love to have a vacuum sealer because we buy our food in bulk and love to go to pick-your-own farms, and a sealer would ensure that none of the food went to waste or spoiled

  8. Having a vacuum sealer in your home does not have to worry about spoilage.
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