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September 24, 2012 10:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for advice on buying a vacuum sealer. Or, if they make them, just a vacuum for food packaging? My google-fu is failing!

I'm bagging up cookies to mail, and I want to remove as much excess air as possible, but I do plan to use twisty ties for the top of the bag - so I don't need a sealer just yet. If it's electric, it needs to have a manual stop function - so that I don't end up with super compressed cookies.

I'm also not interested in using brand specific or specialty bags (ie, the kind you need to use with Food Saver).

If I have to, I will reverse engineer a bicycle pump, but I'd rather find an existing product, especially one that is electric and not manual.

Thanks in advance!
posted by firei to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
 
Use zipper bags and use a straw to suck out the excess air. Using the twist tie will let air back in. I love my Kenmore vacuum sealer and I use whatever bags, usually from Amazon.
posted by govtdrone at 10:18 AM on September 24, 2012


Foodsaver has a handheld model that is not very strong but will get most of the air out of bags. While it says it requires special bags, I have found it works okay on ziploc bags.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:20 AM on September 24, 2012


I have a full-size foodsaver. I find that, while it takes some time to get used to, it works for virtually everything that I want to vacu-seal.

For what you're doing, you might be better off with the Debbie Meyer/Reynods "Handi-Vac" system. http://www.debbiemeyer.com/debbie-meyer-products/debbie-meyer-geniusvac-lfr.html

Reynolds doesn't actually make/market these items direct to supermarkets anymore, but you can still get the vacuum and sealer bags online or via mail-order. It doesn't have an auto-stop, but it isn't a really high pressure vacuum, either. You can just let go of the button when there are no more visible pockets of air.
posted by Citrus at 10:30 AM on September 24, 2012


Ziploc vacuum bags - I've been using them for years and have been happy with them. If you reuse them too many times, the seal doesn't hold as well, but I've never had an issue with them the first couple of uses - very tight vacuum.

Also available at Target and grocery stores, at least around here. Make sure you buy the package that has the manual vacuum pump + bags (some packs are just bags). I'll be waiting by the mailbox...
posted by mrs. taters at 10:35 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you decide to go with a vacuum sealer I recommend the SnorkelVac VS-280. It's got some significant advantages over the typical food sealers available, mostly that you can use any bag with it, not just the proprietary bags that Food Savers and their ilk demand.

I've used it for cookies in the past and it will crush them. What I ended up doing was to put the cookies in a small paper box and put the whole box in the mylar bag. This protected the cookies from being crushed while still letting most of the air being pulled out of the bag. After sealing the bag the cookies lasted a long time.

It's not pretty though. This system is concerned with storing food, not making it super attractive.
posted by bswinburn at 11:22 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can very efficiently press out water from a bag by immersing the (open at the top) bag into a sinkful of water-- the water pressure presses out excess air, though it isn't creating a vacuum by any means. It will significantly slow down the staling process. Immerse until just below the lip of the seal, and then seal it shut. It can be a little tricky, but it's doable.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:38 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can buy oxygen absorbers too which you can just throw in. Put the cookies in a sealable jar or bag, throw in an absorber or 2 depending on the size of the bag, seal the bag. These would be perfect if you only need them for a one off thing like this, though keep them in a sealed jar or bag until you need them as they will keep absorbing the 02 from the atmosphere if kept unsealed and eventually get used up.
posted by wwax at 12:11 PM on September 24, 2012


Oh and not necessarily recommending the ones I liked too, just picked the first ones that showed up on Amazon, make sure to get the right size for what you need.
posted by wwax at 12:13 PM on September 24, 2012


I have a vacuum sealer and it specifically says you shouldn't use it for cookies. I thought "Pshaw!" and vacuum sealed cookies anyhow. They outgassed like crazy, I guess, because the bag got puffy when I sealed them in a bag and the top popped off when I sealed them in a jar!

Anyway: my sealer, an Oliso Frisper that I bought with a Groupon or something, came with a little hose attachment. I think most sealers do.

But if the idea is just to get the extra air out to make them easier to pack, then a straw should do the trick.
posted by mskyle at 1:22 PM on September 24, 2012


Thanks, all! We actually ended up reverse engineering an air pump for inflatable mattresses, and it's oddly perfect.
posted by firei at 9:20 PM on September 27, 2012


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