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Foodsaver 101 - help me please

loves2cook4six
13 years ago

I've had my foodsaver now for a few years and I am tired of wasting bags.

The principle of the vacuum packer is great but in practice I find mine underwhelming.

Today I plan on doing my once a month cook. Of course this requires freezing and I always use my FS.

I want to love my FS, really I do. Right now it only works for me with pre-frozen food that is double bagged.

My normal routine is to make everything in 1 Gallon Ziplock Freezer bags, squeeze out all the air, freeze them, then vacuum pack the frozen food. DH is having heart palpitations at all the gallon bags being wasted.

So how do you vacuum seal chicken in marinade? Or soup? Or any other WET foods. It seems to me that if I get ANYTHING in the seal area the bags don't seal properly, even a grain of sugar or a drop of water

I looked on youtube and most of the videos show vacuum sealing fresh food or leftovers. There doesn't seem to be any pre-freezing. If I try that, they end up looking like astronaut food.

If I try sealing wet foods, the liquid is sucked out the bag and then the bag won't seal. Even happens with fresh chicken breasts.

Comments (78)

  • grainlady_ks
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    sally2-

    I quick-freeze nearly everything before I bag it to avoid any moisture or meat juice problems being sucked into the FoodSaver. It's the only way you can do something like a casserole. Another advantage is you won't have a large portion of meat pieces fused together in one bag. I freeze raw meat (portions/parts) on a cookie sheet first and when I bag them they will remain single portions. Now I can take out as many as is needed. I might place some parchment paper between portions to keep them separated, or sometimes I'll place a portion in a separate smaller bag (fold-top sandwich bag), and then have several bags of the same food item vacuum-sealed in one FoodSaver Bag.

    If you have bone-in meats, when you bag it place an extra wad of plastic wrap over any sharp bones that could poke a whole in your FoodSaver bag and compromise the seal.

    Another method: make your FoodSaver bag and leave one end open. Fold over the first 2-4-inches of the bag opening to help keep it clean while filling it. Lay the bag flat on a cookie sheet, with the opening to one side, and load the raw meat portions side-by-side in the bag in a single layer (you may need to blot them with a paper towel first). Now you can stick the bag on the cookie sheet in the freezer and quick-freeze it. After 20-30-minutes, when completely frozen, take it out of the freezer, fold back the top, and vacuum-seal it shut and return to the freezer for storage.

    I even quick freeze cooked beans, cooked wheat, cooked rice, etc. and freeze it in one layer on a cookie sheet and break it apart and place it in a FoodSaver bag in a single layer. Once again, load your bag while flat with the opening to one side, then vacuum-seal it shut ALSO while laying flat. When you need to take 1/2 cup of cooked beans out of the bag, just give it a tap after you open it and the beans will break into individual beans for easy measuring. The same process is used for berries, sliced fruit, etc. so they remain individual pieces rather than a fused brick of fruit. When resealing the bag, lay it flat with the opening to one side and press the food in a single layer again and vacuum-seal shut.

    I use small plastic storage baskets in my freezer, and each basket works like a "file". With food frozen in a single thin layer, I can "file" them upright in the baskets. When I want some frozen green beans, I just flip through the basket containing fruits/vegetables. I use the "file" method for as much foods as possible in order to keep track of them, keep them in user-friendly amounts, and economize on space used.

    -Grainlady

  • annie1992
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The only thing I freeze in jars is freshly pressed apple cider. i don't can it because it then just becomes apple juice, the taste is way different. I don't freeze it in bags because it's hard to thaw and pour, so quart jars go into the freezer in one of those "hanging baskets" that fit on the edge. Mine is exactly deep enough to hold quarts and my big freezer is wide enough to put 12 quarts in the basket. In February, when I thaw apple cider it's like autumn again. Amanda also stores her cider in quart canning/freezing jars, they say "for canning and freezing" right on the box. She puts her jars in the racks of the freezer door as she has a big upright.

    pretty much everything else goes into plastic bags or freezer boxes for storage.

    Just to stay on topic, I got the lid sealing attachment for the foodsaver for Christmas. I haven't been able to make it work one single time yet. Sigh. The reviews say that wide mouthed seals work better than regular ones, and some say use two lids, then just remove the top one. I haven't tried that yet.

    Oh, and their customer service SUCKS. I've never talked to such unhelpful people, sheesh, they just want to sell another machine, not help you with the one you have.

    Annie

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  • pkramer60
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sally,

    Like GL, I freeze everything first, then seal it up. No juices to be pulled into the little tray.

    Since yours came from an estate sale, I will guess that it has been used and is several years old. One trick to get it going again is to "flip" teh rubber gasket. They do dry out a bit when exposed and if it was stored in the locked postion, it is smashed. Just pry it out, turn it over and try again.

    FYI: they are having a 30% off sale on everything, ending tonight.

  • grainlady_ks
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Annie-

    1. Make sure the jar attachment hose fits snugly in the jar attachment port.

    2. Wipe off any crumbs/dust/debris off the rim of the jar.

    3. Soak the lids in hot water for 5-10 minutes, dry completely, before applying to the jar. Just as in canning, this will soften the sealing compound.

    4. Don't over-fill the jars. Leave at least 1-inch of headspace.

    5. If you are vacuum-sealing a powdery substance, place a round cut from paper towel or a coffee filter in the jar over the top of the food item before you seal a lid on the jar. This will help prevent drawing some of the powder to the rim of the jar during vacuuming.

    6. When I had to resort to using 2 lids, it was time to replace my jar attachment unit. You place the first lid with the sealing compound down on the jar and place the next lid sealing compound up. Only the first lid will seal to the jar. I never add the ring. With all the jars I have in storage, I go through them once a month to see if all the lids are sealed. Occasionally one will fail, so I'll reheat the lid and reseal the jar.

    By any chance, is there a setting on your FoodSaver for using the jar attachment? Not all FoodSavers work the same, so contact the help line at FoodSaver if you still have a problem.

    -Grainlady

  • anoriginal
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Have a FS that I picked up at a yard sale a few years ago. WOuld have to go down to kitchen to check model, but not a high-end model. Woman selling said she bought it to vac seal "family" packs of meat/chicken, but quickly realized... no such thing iin a house with husband and 2 TEENAGE boys! Nothing stayed in freezer to need to vac seal for LONG storage. Her mother was at YS and said she LOVED hers... cooking for 2 and most packages of meat were WAY to much... unless ya liked left-overs.

    I'll buy boneless chicken breasts on sale (usually 4 BIG pieces & much too much for ONE person), repackage to individual portions and vac. Rock hard hunka chicken is thawed and ready to cook after about half an hour in luke warm water.

    Have found a LOT of FS vac cannisters... at yard sales and thrift stores. Like them for things that otherwise would get stale before used up... crackers, cereal, etc.

    I don't get freezing in jars?? Never have extra freezer space. I pressure can things with meat... chili, stock, etc. and store on shelf in garage/pantry.

    Never heard of Tattler canning lids, so did a little googling. Think I might have the "vintage" version with a case of jars I bought... mainly cuz of lids?!? Rings have a "bow tie" shaped opening on top. Lids are glass... obviously need some kinda rubber seal to process.

  • sally2_gw
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm getting the idea of the best uses for the FS. Thanks for all the information, everyone. I see it's not worth using for things you're going to be defrosting within a month - better for long storage. Makes sense. I'm glad I have it for when I get a bumper crop of something, or if we make it out to East Texas next summer to pick blueberries. Yum.

    Sally

  • nancyjane_gardener
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I make soups and tons of tomato sauce. I fill my bags with a large mouth funnel and lay flat in a baking dish with 3 inches or so folded up so as not to get sauce on them. Then I freeze them in 1/2 -1 inch "slabs" . They stack great in the freezer and I can read the contents on the edge and pull out a slab-o-soup.
    I've found the customer service to be great! They speak English for one thing, extended my waranty another time when they told me to take out the gasket and flip it and it was a model that didn't have a removable gasket!
    I did have a problem when my order didn't come to $100 before tax and they charged shipping.
    If you get their e-mails you can often get newer models for 1/2 off Nancy

  • annie1992
    12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Grainlady, I tried their "help line". They acted like I was a moron, eventually said they didn't know what else to tell me, and suggested that I just buy a new one, although this one is only a year old and has basically never been used because it's a such a piece of junk. In addition, it's my second machine because the first one didn't work at all, that's the one that they had me try to seal a spoon in a bag with, then eventually told me to take it back to the store where it was purchased and get a new one. I did that, and at least it works 25% of the time, instead of none of the time.

    The jar attachment unit is also brand new, I just got it for Christmas less than 3 weeks ago. The only thing I've tried sealing in jars is dried apples but I have not been successful in sealing even one jar yet.

    I just bought a box of "mixed" size bags and guess what, the bigger roll doesn't fit in my machine. Go figure, they don't bother to tell you that anywhere either.

    Anytime I try to use the machine or call their customer service, I manage to get ticked off all over again. So, they have expensive supplies, malfunctioning product, rude help line employees. However, they do, as Nancy mentioned, speak English.

    Annie

  • Brian910
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    So - I just finished cooking 2lbs of lima beans. I want to make serving sizes in bags so I can quickly get it out, heat it and eat it.

    What is the best way to vacuum seal cooked lima beans?

    Would it best to put my beans in a zip-lock bag and freeze them first, then vacuum seal the zip-lock bag?

    One time I tried freezing the FS bag first and the FS bag did not vacuum seal very well because of the moister I guess.

  • grainlady_ks
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Here are some options I've used....

    1. Place cooked lima beans on a rimmed baking sheet (line it with a Silpat or freezer paper - optional) in a single layer, then quick-freeze them (takes 15-30 minutes). Tap the pan to loosen them as soon as you remove it from the freezer, OR lift the Silpat or freezer paper (slick side up) and the lima beans will pop off the sheet. You can use the sheet of freezer paper or Silpat as a funnel to fill user-friendly portions into the bags.

    When you fill the FoodSaver bags, try to keep the lima beans in a single layer (or a thin layer) with the bag opening TO THE SIDE (like it will be when you vacuum-seal it), then vacuum-seal it that way.

    When you open the bag, if you need to measure out a portion, give the contents a tap and they will break into single beans and you will be able to measure them. I do the same thing with all kinds of cooked grains/beans and berries. Then repeat the process (patting the contents into a single or thin layer) for resealing the bag - with the opening to the side.

    2. My preferred method.... I like to place up to 1-cup portions in zip-lock SNACK-SIZE bags (use larger bags if you want larger portions). Press out the air and seal the bags. Lay the bags on a rimmed cookie sheet and quick-freeze them. When frozen, pack the snack bags into the FoodSaver bag and vacuum-seal it shut.

    NOTE: I just found a box of Great Value Portion Pack Bags at Wal-Mart. They have portion lines for 1/4-, 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-cup and are the same size as snack bags, except they open at the narrow side of the bag. They will come in handy for portioning all kinds of things, then vacuum-sealing the portioned bags into a FoodSaver bag. This also makes reusing the expensive FoodSaver bags lot easier.

    3. You can load your FoodSaver bags with the cooked/cooled beans, just make sure you fold over the opening so it remains clean and debris-free, and make sure you wipe it clean AND dry it after loading the bag. Lay the bags on a rimmed cookie sheet and distribute the lima beans in a single layer. Fold back the opening and quick-freeze the lima beans. When frozen, vacuum-seal the bag/s shut. (Note: this is my least favorite method.)

    Helpful Hints:

    -When it comes to loading bags, you can place the bag in a container (wide-mouth canning jar, pitcher, canister, etc.) and fold the top over by several inches. If you have a funnel that works for regular and wide-mouth canning jars, using it while filling the bags will be helpful for keeping the opening of the bag clean. There are also various gadgets for holding bags (see link below), but an open container about 2/3 to 3/4 the size of your bag will work just as well. When filled, lay the bag on it's side and keep the contents away from the opening and leave enough head space for sealing.

    -Avoid placing a large amount of a food in one bag that you will continually need in small portions. As you use the contents and need to reseal the bag over and over again, it will get messy from the food stored in the bag and won't seal properly. That's another reason to fill small storage bags first, then place those bags in a FoodSaver Bag.

    There are probably other options, but that's what I've done since I got my first FoodSaver in 1986.

    -Grainlady


    Here is a link that might be useful: Bag Holder

  • LaChap123
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I too have a vacuum sealer, the bags that it came with were a joke. They are smooth inside. I found some that are very small waffle texture on the inside. These seemed to do the trick. I didn't loose any they always seem to seal. I think they are made by Food Saver. I have also gotten some at Walmart and Menards sells their brand. Also on the soups and liquid that you are sealing you do need to freeze it first, or some stuff when refrigerated seems to gel that will work too. But I have sealed mine without the vacuum part being done and it works too.

  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It is not absolutely necessary to have 100% seal for soups and juices.

    A good seal is needed for foods which can suffer freezer burns.

    dcarch

  • bellsmom
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Here's a technique that I use often:

    I pour liquids or very soft items into large square or rectangular pans, adding about 1" or so of food, cover them lightly with plastic wrap and freeze them.
    Then I take them out, break them into roughly one cup or one serving squares (I just run hot water on the back of the pan to loosen the block and then rap it on the edge of the sink where I want it to break), place the squares in super cheap fold-over sandwich bags (less than 1cent each), and then stack four to six or sometimes more into a vacuum bag and vacuum seal for freezing.

    I ALWAYS cut my bags several inches longer than I need so they can be reused.

    It works for broth or stock, mashed potatoes, fruit & sugar mixes, rice, stews, all sorts of things.

    Makes nice, neat stackable packages in the freezer.

    When I take something out, I usually do not bother to revacuum. The remainder is still sealed in the throw-away sandwich bags. No problem if I will finish off the original package in a couple weeks. Just press out most of the air, fold the bag over and rubber band it shut. Longer than that, revacuuming is a good idea if the items are things that may freezer burn.

    This post was edited by Bellsmom on Mon, Aug 25, 14 at 20:20

  • arley_gw
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I use my foodsaver mainly to prepare stuff for sous vide. I sometimes want to add a little juice or broth or sauce or whatever.

    They make ice cube trays which make long skinny ice cubes which fit more easily into water bottles than standard cubes. (see link)

    When I'm preparing a bunch of, say, chicken breasts for sous vide I'll freeze some chicken broth or whatever into skinny sticks, and either add that to the bag or pierce the meat and put it in there. The foodsaver bag seals just fine, and when you toss it into the sous vide cooker the frozen broth eventually melts and bastes the meat.

    I've also frozen some tarragon butter into sticks, and jabbed some into the fattest part of the chicken breast and put the rest of the stick in the bag before sealing. Worked great.

    Here is a link that might be useful: skinny ice cubes

  • Kristin Grabinski-Lieb
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I just put my items in the foodsaver bag, close it with a clip and pop it in the freezer. Soups, liquid-y items, I put the foodsaver bag IN a plastic container. When its frozen in a few hours, I vacuum and seal it. Taking it out of the plastic container, of course.

  • caymandave
    8 years ago

    Hi I am trying to seal noodles in a canister and it won't seal any clews as to what I am doing wrong?

  • donna92526
    8 years ago

    Hi I caned fresh okra in the freezer. Next day I had seen there was ice crystals every where there was air pockets. I have never experience this before I use zip lock freezer bags. I purchase vacuum seal. My question is can I seal the frozen okra with the vacuum seal? Please someone help I'm desperate.

  • annie1992
    8 years ago

    caymandave, I've never been able to seal a canister with either of the FoodSavers I've had. I do know Grainlady says she does it, so maybe she'll come on and help.


    Donna, yes, you can seal the frozen okra in FoodSaver bags, I'd take them from their current bags so you can get rid of some of the ice if there is a lot, otherwise I'd just put that bag in a FoodSaver bag and seal 'em up.

    Lovely cake, BTW.

    Annie

  • karl_tn
    8 years ago

    I just got a new foodsaver the other day. I have the jar attachment from a older unit that died in the 90s, it fits quart sized mason jar lids fine I sealed a bunch of jars first thing when I got it , put the lid on the jar but not the ring , slip the jar attachment over and hit the canister button and it seals, this jar attachment doesn't fit pint or smaller sized mason jars so since I have some old fs canisters I put the lid on the pint size or smaller jar and put inside of the fs canister and vacume seal the canister, I release the vacume on the canister and remove the jar that is now vacume sealed.

  • Rusty
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    While I love my new Food saver, I've never had much luck with the canisters. Most of the time they will seal, but it doesn't seem to stay sealed. I blame it on the design. The seal release button is located in such a way that it is much too easy to accidently bump it when moving things around on the shelf, and when you bump it, there goes the seal. When I first got my first FS, many years ago, I thought those canisters were fantastic, and bought 2 sets (on sale) before I really tried them out. Big waste of money in my estimation! My old FS died a couple of years ago, and I replaced it. What a difference! The machines are so much better now! The seal on the bags is so much wider than with the old machine! Don't have to double seal anymore. Sad to say, doesn't help with the canisters, though. .. . . .

    I never had much luck with the jar sealer attachment, either. Now I'm using the pin hole and piece of tape method on canning jars, and love it! Perfect seal every time, and it doesn't get accidently unsealed when moved around, either. Better choice of sizes, too!

    Rusty

    Edited to add: I ordered this one directly from FS, and now I get emails with sales all the time. I only purchase bags when they have a BOGO and free shipping. Makes them downright reasonable. Not to mention, the local stores don't have a very good selection of sizes, etc.

  • lizbeth-gardener
    8 years ago

    Rusty, would you mind sharing what model you have? After all my researching, I still haven't pulled the trigger and purchased one.

  • karl_tn
    8 years ago

    The new ones are much better, I got the game saver deluxe directly from fs, saw on another site for 109 , fs price matched and through in zip locks to, this model has 10 year warranty, the gasket can be replaced if nessasary, not like some models. I also got the zip lock attachment to use with the zip lock bags, this works great . Don't know why people have problems with the jar attachment , like I said my is from bout 20 years ago and works fine on this new machine. Your right bout the canisters, I know one of mine does lose it's seal after a while but I got 2 more and they came with that old unit . My old one died years ago after to much use, I've wanted to replace it for years but the wife always crabbed at me when I would look at them. My son bought this for me as a birthday present, ( I told him what I wanted :)

  • grainlady_ks
    8 years ago

    I've used FoodSaver Canisters (two different styles) for as long as I've had FoodSavers (since 1986 - I've owned 3 of them). I also use the Universal Lids - which can be used to vacuum-seal a rigid container with a smooth top opening to make it into a canister (like a can or glass jar). I wouldn't choose either of these for long-term storage like I use canning jars and lids - but they are great for in-use pantry items and some things I store in the refrigerator. If not used, cleaned, and stored properly, the canister lids can lose their seal the longer they are on a container. If you leave any food particles on the rim of the canister, it can also compromise the seal.

    Check the troubleshooting section of the FoodSaver Instruction Manual, or visit the web site, to help fix any problems you may have. I don't seem to have the problems some people have (happily so ;-).

    One tip for using canning lids is to make sure you prepare them properly before using them on a jar - per user manual instructions. Pre-soak new metal lids (you can also use previously used canning lids if they are in good condition and the sealing compound isn't compromised).

    How to: Bring water to boil, then turn off. Soak the lids for 5-10 minutes. This will soften the sealing compound, which will help assure a good seal.

    Make sure your lids aren't stacked together when you soak them. I like to use a canning lid rack if I have a number of jars to vacuum-seal - http://www.directshoppingcenter.com/Canning-Lid-Rack-p/np-605.htm?utm_source=bingshopping&utm_medium=cse&utm_campaign=main to make sure the lids remain separated during processing.

    On occasion, after a jar sealer is getting old, you sometimes need to place another lid on top of the lid (piggy-back) you are going to seal (tops to tops) in order to get the first one to seal on the jar.

    You can also opt to use Oxygen Absorbers for sealing jars with canning lids, but it's only convenient and cost-effective for things that will be stored long-term. It would be expensive for pantry items you open and close frequently. That's why I like Universal Lids. Once I bring an item from the storage room (quart jar of freeze-dried vegetables/fruit, black bean or pinto bean flakes, etc.) to the pantry, I can exchange the canning lid for a Universal Lid, which are easier to open and close.

    -Grainlady

  • Rusty
    8 years ago

    Lizbeth, mine is the V3860. I really do like it. While some have complained about the 'hands-free' aspect, I have not had a bit of trouble with it at all.

    Rusty

  • lizbeth-gardener
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Thank you. Every time I get ready to purchase, they have more new models and I'm never sure whether to go with the latest or one that someone can personally recommend. I'm also glad to hear the hands-free is working for you.

  • gardnpondr
    8 years ago

    I have a question.....My friend has some attachments for her food saver and I was showing her how to do her vacuum sealer part to it. She has all the attachments but the small mouth canning jar one and a canister she doesn't have with hers. She only has one canister when they usually come with 2 of them. Anyway she has the Tilia lids and has the canister but they have no holes in either of them. So how do you use the vacuum sealer if they have no holes in them for the hose?

  • grainlady_ks
    8 years ago

    This sounds like the old-style canisters where you had to place the jar attachment on the center of the canister lid (the style that doesn't have the hole/port for the hose) and use the jar attachment with a hose to vacuum-seal this style of lid.

    -Grainlady

  • gardnpondr
    8 years ago

    ah ha I had a feeling that was it. It had 2 tilia lids and then a canister and all had no lid. Thank you Grainlady!!!


  • donna_b435
    8 years ago

    I found a way to seal liquids with my food sealer which allows me to freeze them. I use a two step process. First I use the rolled bags and cut the length a bit long, then I seal the bottom of the bag and pour in my liquid. I make sure my food saver is pulled to the edge of my counter to allow me to hold the liquid filled bag lower than my food sealer to allow gravity to keep the liquid from spilling. I insert the top of my bag into the sealer being sure not to spill my liquid. This is where the extra long bag comes in handy too. Once I have the top of the bag inserted into my sealer I let the sealer take a little air out and quickly hit seal! There will still be some air bubbles in it but don't worry, now take your sealed liquid and place it in the freezer being sure to the liquid is all the way to one end, and let it freeze. Once the liquid is solid you can cut the extra long part of your bag off and re-seal it with your food saver taking any remaining air out. Now you are ready to return it to your freezer for longer term storage!

  • grainlady_ks
    8 years ago

    A better method for liquids is to freeze them in plastic containers in user-friendly amounts. Once frozen, pop them out of the containers and stack the frozen "bricks" into a FoodSaver bag and vacuum shut. I do this with soup, chili, broth, sauces.....lots of things.

    -Grainlady

  • ci_lantro
    8 years ago

    I've owned three Foodsavers and had nothing but trouble with them. The current problem is that they won't work when I want to make a bag.
    They will seal the bag but that doesn't help when you have a roll of bag material. The other problem is that fully 50% of the seals fail after a couple of weeks in the freezer. So far, my experience with them leaves me feeling that they're just so much expensive junk. I've been sooooo frustrated with them.

    I've always frozen soups, beans, chili, broth...liquid-ey stuff in milk, cream, half n' half cartons..the paper/ cardboard ones. I staple the tops closed with an Ace Clipper hand held pliers stapler. The cartons come in a nice assortment of sizes from 1/2 pint to 1/2 gallon. They're sturdy and can be hand washed & re-used several times. To defrost, I remove the staples and pop the container in the microwave...or just peel the sides away from your frozen gob and toss the container in the trash.


  • rgreen48
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I have no idea if those lined cardboard containers are an appropriate vessel for freezing. I'm trying to think of any store-bought item that comes frozen in one, or why not.

    Spinach comes in waxed, or silicon impregnated cardboard, but that seems a bit different.

    That aside, ci_lantro, what make and model do you have? I recently got a Weston Pro Advantage, and while I've only done a few things (granddad's bone-in chicken breasts, slices of pie, both powdered and crushed cayenne pepper, and half an english muffin loaf - good fun there) it works very well. I suppose it's possible, but I can't imagine the 1/8" wide seal failing. I've used both the Weston bags and a some lengths cut off a roll of Food Saver brand bags successfully.

    For the roll, obviously, you have to seal one end first... while the bag is empty.

  • Islay Corbel
    8 years ago

    I learned how to use mine from Grainlady and wouldn't be without it. Ci-lantro, perhaps you got a lemon.

  • Jo
    8 years ago

    ci_lantro, do you use the foodsaver bags or some other brand? I've had trouble with some other brands before, FS has been reliable so far.

    Also, is there any chance the bags were punctured (my freezer is very disorganized, I just throw stuff in in randomly and sometimes sharp edges from one product will puncture another)?

  • pkramer60
    8 years ago

    I am not sure if this helps, but I have noticed that FS machines purchased at Kohl's and Target show a higher than normal fail rate. The ones that I have purchased from Costco and FS direct work great.

    Which model do you have and were did you get it??

  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    8 years ago

    ci_lantro "-----The other problem is that fully 50% of the seals fail after a couple of weeks in the freezer.---"

    It is possible that your house power is under-voltage. When the power at the outlets is under, the heating element will not be hot enough to seal the bags.

    Have the power measured. It should be 120VAC.

    dcarch


  • Jo
    8 years ago

    Ok, so I know this might sound stupid, but I am SO HAPPY after discovering that I can seal jars (not just mason jars, but any jar with a twist off lid that can be sealed) using the cannister. As long as the jar fits inside, it can be sealed.

    I was researching this yesterday because they don't sell any of the jar attachments here. And got to this video on YT that explains how you can seal jars using just the cannister and the vacuum. No brainer really.

    So of course I ran into the pantry like a crazy person and dug out all the open bags of stuff that could not be packed in a vacuum bag, and started sealing them in jars (while exclaiming "WOOHOO, this really works!!" after every jar). I thought husband's gonna think I belong in a nut house. But nope, he was just as excited as I was :)

    Now I can't wait for my pantry to be delivered (right now I have a room where I throw stuff randomly and call a pantry) so that I can fill it with pretty jars!

  • grainlady_ks
    8 years ago

    Jo-

    Woohoo, indeed!!!! I remember seeing that method used placing a canning jar with flat lid inside a FoodSaver Canister, however I never tried it myself since the jar sealer works as designed. So thanks for confirming the method really works. Jar sealers are available from Amazon.com, and I've purchased them from Target as well, and are around $10 the last time I purchased one.

    I have some tips/hints you may find helpful, or were unaware of:

    1. Make sure you prepare your lids by softening the sealing compound before applying them to the jars. This will help assure the seal will last a long time. How to: Bring water to boil, then turn off. Soak lids 5-10 minutes. Make sure the lids are not stacked on each other. Dry thoroughly before applying to the jar.

    2. The first of each month I make sure I check my inventory of sealed jars by gently lifting up on each lid to make sure it is still sealed. This way I know the item hasn't been unsealed for more than a month if the seal has failed. I'll heat a new lid in hot water, dry thoroughly, and apply it to the jar and vacuum-seal.

    3. Don't apply the jar ring to the sealed lid. If you do, you won't be able to test the lids for a failed seal and the ring doesn't assure the lid will remain sealed.

    4. Make sure what you are vacuum-sealing AND storing at room temperature is 10%, or less, moisture content to prevent microbial growth, and it must be low in oil content to avoid rancidity. Do not vacuum-seal brown sugar. There is enough moisture in the brown sugar from the added molasses to support microbial growth (such as Botulism poisoning) in an oxygen-free environment.

    -Grainlady

  • Jo
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Thanks for all the helpful tips! :) We don't have the kind of mason jars available in the US (the ones with lid + ring) - just the usual twist caps, like this one. But they do make a popping sound when they're not sealed, so it's quite easy to check.

    Had no idea about vacuum sealing sugar. Right now I use these jars, but they're not vacuum sealed so I guess they're ok.

    I've had a lot of trouble with food moths in the past (people that lived there before left a lot of food behind) and when I moved I tried to keep everything packed in a way that wouldn't let them spread.

  • ci_lantro
    8 years ago

    Foodsaver VAC550.

    I use Foodsaver brand bags and only recently bought the roll of generics. Machine quit letting me make bags shortly after getting the roll of generic make-your-own bags. So, I've had a lot of sealing failures with genuine FS bags and not enough experience with the generic ones to evaluate them.

    Don't think there is any problem with the house power. We upgraded to 200 amp service a few years ago...new breaker box and new copper wire to new outlets. The sealer gets plenty hot. One of the failings on one of the FS is that the sealing 'timer' doesn't work...doesn't shut off and will burn through the bag if I forget to count time. Neither machine will work in the bag making mode...i.e., seal without vacuuming.

    Foodsavers were purchased from Fleet Farm.

    I suppose that punctures could account for some failures but think it's unlikely for the majority of the problems because I almost never seal bone-in meat (exception being chicken where the bones are well-padded by the meat) and the failures often happen within the first couple of weeks in the freezer...before getting jostled around much.

    I would love to have a machine that delivered on the promise but, at this point, I'm pretty much done with them. Don't have much patience with products/ companies that don't deliver a product that lives up to what they promise. That, and a product that isn't readily 'serviceable' with access to replacement parts.



  • ci_lantro
    8 years ago

    I have no idea if those lined cardboard containers are an appropriate vessel for freezing.

    RGgreen: I don't know 'why not'. I figure that the containers are food safe and liquid tight. I remember my mom freezing peaches in a simple syrup in milk cartons way back when they were waxed cardboard. I label them using a Sharpie. The newer versions of the container all seem to have a screw on lid for a pouring spout and that makes labeling even easier because the carton doesn't have to be perfectly dry...just the lid where I can mark a shorthand version of the contents. CB= chicken broth, etc. As you mentioned, some vegetables like spinach are sold in a cardboard container. Used to be that a lot of vegetables in the freezer section were pkg'd. in them. Not nearly so much anymore.

    The only downside is that they tend to bulge a bit when the contents freeze so they don't make perfectly efficient use of freezer space.

  • grainlady_ks
    8 years ago

    The three FoodSavers I've used since 1986 have all worked as they were intended for bags, jars and canisters. The first one, which happened to be a used machine, failed when one of the children vacuum-sealed a powdery substance and it was sucked into the motor. The second machine died when a friend borrowed it and I didn't realize they were vacuum-sealing a large amount of food, and they didn't follow the instructions to allow time between each use so the machine could cool down, and they burned the motor out. The current one has been in use for over a decade.

    I suspect many problems are due to failing to read the user manual and following instructions:

    -Drawing in liquids, powdery, or fine-grained products into the unit. You can place a coffee filter over powdery items in jars/canisters to help keep the fine powder from migrating to the lid during vacuuming. You can prevent liquids from being drawn into the unit by placing a folded paper towel at the top of the bag (but below the seal area), place the wet food in another bag FIRST, before vacuum packaging.

    -Failure to clean the rim of the jar/canister, and failure to heat the canning lids to soften the sealing compound before attaching it to a jar.

    -Heavy use it's not intended for - like vacuum-sealing a large purchase of meat one package after another. You need a commercial-grade machine for heavy use.

    -In the early machines you needed to place the bag in the machine with the rough side down, and "the bag should not overhang into the vacuum channel itself, or touch the rubber gasket" (outlined in the user manual, complete with pictures).

    -Failure to close locking clips on each side of the unit properly - on machines that had the locking clips.

    -Failure to wipe any excess moisture or residue from inside the bag surface at the open end. When possible, roll the side of the bag over to fill it (it's also helpful to use a wide-mouth funnel to help keep the top of the bag debris-free, then roll it back up when the filling is complete, in order to help keep the top edge of the bag clean.

    -Note how use of any other bags "may damage your machine and invalidate your warranty".

    -Sealing contents that are warmer than room temperature because the vacuum may cause the contents to bubble out of the container or jar.

    -Failure to leave adequate headspace.

    -Failure to set the sealing time adjustment switch (if your unit has one).

    -Sealing foods you shouldn't vacuum seal - like strong-smelling vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) and whole avocados with their pits.

    You can place a wad of plastic wrap, paper towel, or a piece cut out of a Styrofoam meat tray over bones. You can also double-bag meat - raw, frozen, or raw that you quick-freeze. For instance, if I purchase a bag of frozen chicken pieces, I'll package them in user-friendly amounts in small plastic bags, place them back in the original bag, and place that in a FoodSaver bag and vacuum-seal shut.

    For raw meat I'll portion it using a Ziplock product called "Perfect Portions" (7-3/4"x11-1/4" bags - 150 bags per box) and quick-freeze those on a cookie sheet, then place the meat in the Perfect Portions bags in a FoodSaver bag and vacuum-seal shut.

    I'll be interested in getting my next one to see if the new versions are a bad investment, as so many have experienced. If that happens, I'll resort to using Oxygen Absorbers to vacuum-seal canning lids on canning jars.

    -Grainlady

  • coco20006638
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hi,


    I am new to this forum but have learned so much. Thank you. I do have a question of my own. I was wondering when i get my new 2 in 1 FS, can I use mason jars to vacuum seal soups/stews/currys in their wet state, when they have cooled down, using the sealed lid method for short term storage?

  • Jo
    8 years ago

    Yes, you can :)

  • grainlady_ks
    8 years ago

    Yes, BUT.....

    -Be sure to read the user's manual before using your FoodSaver for complete HOW TO information.

    -This is NOT a substitute for heat-processed canning methods and you will need to keep these foods refrigerated or frozen. Only dry food that has less than 10% moisture content can safely be stored at room temperature.

    -Pick a STRAIGHT jar, not your typical canning jar with a curve around the neck. Ball makes jars specifically for freezing, which are better at withstanding the low temperatures, as well as the expanding liquids in the jar.

    -The soup/stew/food needs to be completely cool -- room temperature or colder, so use an ice-water bath to cool the soup/stew/food quickly before packing it into a jar. If the liquid is too warm it will bubble up while being vacuum-sealed, and exit the jar. PLEASE NOTE: It is suggested you freeze the jar with the contents FIRST, then apply the lid with the vacuum-sealer for freezer storage after it is completely frozen.

    -Leave plenty of headspace in the top of the container (at least 1-inch) to allow for expanding during freezing.

    -Use a funnel to fill the jars to help keep the rim clean. Once filled, carefully wipe the rim of the jar so it's clean and dry. Any amount of fat/oil remaining on the rim will cause the seal to fail.

    -Be sure to heat process the lids in order to soften the sealing compound and dry thoroughly with a clean dry towel BEFORE applying them to the jar and vacuum-sealing them with the jar sealer. Instructions should be in your user's manual. Remove the hose from the jar sealer once the lid has been sealed BEFORE removing the jar sealer from the jar.

    -From decades of experience, it's much easier and safer to quick-freeze said item in a user-friendly amount in plastic container/s, pop it out of the container/s, stack and vacuum-seal the "bricks" in plastic storage bags.

    Storing glass jars in a freezer is potentially dangerous and takes up a lot of space. Place your jars back in the box they were purchased in (or another box if you don't have the original box), along with the cardboard dividers between each jar so they don't knock into each other in the freezer. This way if a jar breaks, it will break in a box, not the freezer proper. Frozen jars can shatter easily from being knocked together, or even from changes in the temperature, and especially if they are old jars that are brittle from years of being heat processed. After you have to clean up one broken jar you'll see the benefits of using the plastic bags instead of jars. If you are going to use these foods within a few months of being frozen, you really don't gain anything from vacuum-sealing them. I would save jar storage for dry goods.

    -Thaw the frozen jar in the refrigerator overnight (or it can take even longer). If you try to quickly thaw the frozen jar in a microwave or by sitting it in a water bath, the change of temperature can shatter the jar.

    -Grainlady



  • Jo
    8 years ago

    From what I understand, it's just for short term storage (keeping in the fridge for a few days) which should be fine. I've vacuumed plenty of liquids in jars (especially juice) and I don't see any downside to it.

  • coco20006638
    8 years ago

    Thank you all so very much and for getting back to me so quickly. So much great information. Yes i really wanted to know if it was ok to vacuum seal these liquid foods in mason jars for the regular fridge, and how long would they be good for? Also would you have to do that thing with the lids for this process or just use them out of the box/bag?

  • Jo
    8 years ago

    It depends on your lids. I only soak a few old ones. But we have twist lids here, I don't know about mason jar lids...

  • grainlady_ks
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I always suggest using heat processing for all lids no matter how new or old they are, and that's what the user's manuals suggest on all 3 FoodSavers I've owned; and what I practice to assure the sealing compound has softened for a good seal. If a seal fails (at any time during the storage), it's usually due to failure to process them, the sealing compound was old and cracked, or the jar rims weren't clean.

    I teach Home Food Storage Classes and cover how to use a FoodSaver in my classes. I've been using FoodSavers since 1986 and practice home food storage where we have at least enough food for a year. I have never used the European lids that Jo uses because our basic U.S. canning lids (aka flats) are readily everywhere I shop, and come with the jars when purchased new.

    If you are using this process mainly for refrigerator use, I'd suggest buying several sets of the FoodSaver Universal Lids or some of the canisters. The Universal Lids (and canisters) are much easier to use than canning lids (flats) for refrigerator use, or even for pantry use for things you will need to use frequently (cereal, crackers, coffee, grains, etc.), because they are easier to apply, and reapply, to a jar/canister and get in-and-out of quickly. They don't require heat processing like canning lids. I mainly use canning lids on long-term dry goods in storage (grains/seeds/beans/freeze-dried and powdered foods like milk powder...) The Universal lids will fit on any rigid container and come in two sizes, so you can use all kinds containers, not just canning jars. I purchased mine from Amazon.com.

    There are certain fresh foods that vacuum-sealing will help keep longer due to the low-oxygen environment, like fresh berries and oils, but I would NOT keep cooked mixed food like soup/stew any longer than 3 or 4 days. If there is any bacteria present from cross-contamination while making it or storing it, it can grow in the anaerobic conditions (low oxygen) at refrigerator temperatures. Vacuum-sealing it won't change that aspect of food storage. Bacteria, if present and under the right conditions, multiplies into a toxin, and the toxin is what is dangerous. If you need to keep cooked food longer than 3 or 4 days, freeze it. This is a situation where general food storage safety "rules" still apply - without regard to being low-oxygen storage. This information is found in the user's manual.

    There are also some produce items you should NOT vacuum package. This includes all strong smelling vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

    -Grainlady

  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m
    8 years ago

    Rubber deteriorates over time. Ozone in the air attacks (vulcanisation )rubber.

    There are many types of rubber. Your experience with one source may not apply to another.

    Make sure you are aware that there are people who are allergic to latex.

    dcarch

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