We have tested vacuum sealers and name Foodsaver V2860 as best in test. This user-friendly and quick machine has an excellent package quality and is easy to clean. The included canister, which you use to pack soft or fragile products, also works very well. Another vacuum sealer which performs well is OBH Nordica Supreme Food Sealer, which is very reasonably priced and has a high level of package quality.
We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. In our tests of vacuum sealers, the machines have been used in everyday life to attempt to pack all types of foods, with different characteristics. Soft, hard, moist, large and small. Everything from a range of cuts of meat to freshly baked rolls. To assess the different machines and be able to choose a test winner, we examined the following parameters.
Vacuum & seal quality
How good is the machine at sucking the air out of the bag? Are there still air bubbles? Does the machine produce a durable weld seam? Does it create one or more weld seams?
How much space does the machine occupy? Can you keep it out on the kitchen counter?
Capacity How quick is the machine at sucking the air out of the bag? How many bags in a row can be packed without the machine overheating?
Ease of use Is the machine easy to use? How noisy is it? Are there extra functions and accessories that make it possible to pack wet food, or to marinate food quickly? How easy is it to clean the machine?
During the tests, we have assumed that the machine is for home use. There are others which are better suited for use in a commercial kitchen, restaurant or industry. These are machines which are intended for use in a kitchen, and should not be confused with the type of appliance used with a vacuum cleaner to pack clothes, pillows and duvets. The score is based on the overall experience of the product in relation to its price.
Vacuum packaging is a fantastic way of storing all types of food. A longer lifetime, better hygiene and packaging that takes up less room are the biggest advantages compared to traditional freezer bags. Vacuum-packed bags also look much more attractive and neater, and you mustn’t underestimate that! Once upon a time it was perhaps mostly hunters back from a successful chase who wanted to package large amounts of game for freezing, but in recent years more people have realised the advantages of using a vacuum sealer for a range of food products. In addition to the ability to pack food into bags, most machines have a variety of accessories that mean you can suck the air from different cans and containers to store soft items such as rolls, or for quick marination of meat. When the meat is marinated in a vacuum, the process is much quicker.
It’s most common to package meat, fish, berries or vegetables that you intend to freeze, but you can also use the method for pantry and refrigerator items if you want to store them for longer. It’s incredibly satisfying to pack frozen goods so it's easy to see what’s in the bag – and to have them in perfect condition when you thaw them. Berries look like they were frozen the day before, even if they were picked a couple of years earlier, and meat is always in perfect condition without any sign of freezer burn.
The name “vacuum sealer” is a little misleading, as the bags used don’t really contain a vacuum. But the principle is that the machine sucks the air out with a pump and then seals the bag with a welded seam. Because air is the villain of the piece when packaged food in general – and frozen goods in particular – go bad. For example, if frozen meat comes in contact with air, it results in freezer burns in the form of dehydration and also ultimately leads to the fat in the meat becoming rancid. Vacuum sealers use thick plastic bags. Almost all of the air is sucked out and the weld seam that closes the bag ensures that no leakage occurs. This is what gives vacuum packed food a significantly longer lifetime compared to food packaged in traditional plastic and freezer bags.
The bags used are significantly thicker than normal freezer bags. You can buy these ready-made in different sizes or as bags on a roll where you choose the length of the bag before cutting and sealing it. Ready-made bags are easy, but rolls have the advantage that you can change the size of the bag according to the size of the contents.
In the majority of cases the bags allow the food to be cooked in the bag. Either in the oven at low temperature or in a water bath – what’s known as “sous-vide” cooking. Sous-vide cooking means that you use a special sous-vide circulator to heat up a water bath to a selected temperature, and then cook meat, fish or vegetables by placing the vacuum packed bag into the water. The results are perfect every time. The majority of bags are also microwave oven safe.
If you want to pack soft things, such as bread or cakes, it’s easiest to use the containers available as accessories for the majority of machines. These containers are also great to use for storing vegetables or salad. They keep fresh for much longer than if they were stored in a normal bag. Vacuum packing berries works very well, but make sure you freeze them first, otherwise they may be crushed. Damp or saturated products are a challenge as the fluid can easily be sucked into machine and make it impossible to seal the bag. However, many machines have a specific function for packaging moist foods, which makes things easier. But it’s still best if there’s a manual function so that you can stop the process and seal the bag in time. Another tip is to fold a bit of kitchen roll and place it as a moisture barrier at the opening of the bag to stop any liquid from being sucked into the machine.
And of course you can also package things other than foods. For example jewellery or cutlery that tarnish in the air can benefit from being stored in vacuum bags.
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