The purchase of a SousVide Machine from Lakeland (originally £150 reduced to £55) meant that I was also committing to the purchase of a vacuum food sealer. I was originally introduced to food sealers in the US. I had always resisted because of their use of plastic bags, which from an environmental point of view I try minimise. So, the search of a vacuum food sealer began.
Initially my requirements appeared to be quite simple. Basically low cost was the only requirement, but after a bit more investigation, I recognised that the requirements are a bit more complicated. They include the following:
- Ease of Use and Reliability to Vacuum – This means that it is easy to insert bag and prepare for the vacuum sealing process.
- Seal Only Option – For Sousvide cooking particularly, there is the requirement to seal bags with liquid. If you vacuum seal, this causes the liquid to get pulled up to the top of the bag. Basically, it makes a mess!
- Ease of Access – Like most kitchen machines, you only use the if you can get to the easily. So if it is put away, it must be easy to get out and use. Alternatively, if it is too big to put away, then it sits on the counter. This is fine if you have a lot of counter space, but most people do not.
- External Port- Canisters and bottle stoppers for things like wine are available for use if the food sealer has an external port. I particularly wanted this option, but I could see that this is a personal preference. The canisters can be quite expensive.
The first purchase was the FoodSaver (FFS001) for £59.99. I chose FoodSaver because they are well known in the U.S. where both my mother and sister have one. However, they do have different models. The auto vacuum option worked well, but I could not find a seal only option. I contacted their UK office located in Cheadle. They claimed that there was a seal only option, but even with them walking me through the process on the phone, it did not work. So, it went back to the shop.
The next sealer I tried was borrowed from my good friend Marie. She had purchased a food sealer from www.sousvidetools.com. It ticked most the boxes in that it worked well and provided a seal only button. But at about £95.00, it was a little more than I wanted to spend.
Now I have just talk about price which is a bit contradictory to the next item that I actually purchased. It was the deluxe FoodSaver model which I purchased from Costco’s. This FoodSaver model is available from many UK retailers; however, it is by far the best price at Costco’s where it is available for £119.99. I found this at other retailers for about £159. A big price difference. So, I decided to go for it and find out what are the benefits of this deluxe model.
It looks very nice! I had a lot of fun with this model. I sent my son home to London with everything from ¼ of a baked chicken to mash potatoes with a gravy pack! It scored big on the seal only option and the external port. However, it is a model meant to be left on the counter. I used it a lot while it was out on the counter. You find that you can even use these sealers to reseal a lot of food packets. You can see from the picture that I used the sealer to reseal frozen fish, nuts, rice, etc. So if you have space, it is a pretty good model.
But there is a feature that annoyed me. On all the other models, the sealer opens up and you lay the bag on the sealing bar and then lock the lid close. On this model you slide the bag into a slot located towards the base of the machine. I often had difficulty sliding the bag into the slot to seal. I wasted about 10 bags where they just would not easily slot in. After a while, I just got fed up and decided for that price, it should be easier and more consistent in use. So, I took advantage of Costco’s liberal return policy and took it back.
So, it was back to the drawing board. I decided to go back to the website www.sousvidetools.com . I had noticed that they had a model made by Polyscience that they were selling at a clearance price of £64.78.
It does not look as nice as all the other models, but it had one feature that I did like, what was the “pulse” feature. This button gives you the flexibility of taking as much air out of the bag as you want and then sealing it. There is also an “auto-seal” button which works easily. It has an open lid concept which means no wasted bags! There is also an external port feature.
Finally, it sits easily in my cupboard. The only fault, which is small, is the plug! It has a white cord with what is obviously a foreign plug. A black UK plug has been screwed on over it. Not very elegant!
So far the Polyscience 150 Vacuum Sealer ticks all my requirements. Unfortunately, Polyscience has been bought out by Breville. So, I don’t know if this model is still available in the UK. I purchased mine in September 2015, but I have noticed that they are no longer available on the sousvidetools website.