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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Tale of Two Vacuum Sealers

Left to Right: Handheld FoodSaver, discount Seal-a-Meal.

I own two vacuum sealers. Some of you might wonder why I even own one vacuum sealer, let alone two. It is a long story; one that proves that even I, in my self-perceived food smartness, can be somewhat dense at times.

After several months of thinking about it, I decided to get myself a vacuum sealer to protect my aging cheeses. This piece of equipment isn't cheap- a good sealer from Walmart can run from $80-$100. I looked on Ebay and Craigslist for used prices and didn't find any substantial deals. One day I was at Walmart looking at the different models (this is not a good hobby) and saw a $30 hand-held sealer. The packaging was convincing enough for me to buy it. I went home pretty excited.

When I got home, I tried it out. Nothing happed. I pushed the button and there was a low, grinding noise. No air was getting sucked out. "Dumb sealer!" I exclaimed. I read the instructions and it said that the battery had to be charged 24 hours before use. Boo hoo.

24 hours later I got out some dried apples from a foraging expedition this fall, and put them in one of the provided ziplock-type vacuum bags. I put the sucker device on the designated sucking circle and pushed the button. Joy! The bag shriveled up around the apples. It sucked out so much air that the apples started to crack. I removed the sucker and admired the neat package of apple chips. I threw it up in the air and tossed it around. Uh oh. The bag had lost its seal. "Dumb sealer!" I exclaimed. Unfortunately I had thrown away the packaging away* and couldn't return it to Walmart.

A week or so later, my mom and I were shopping at Kroger together. We like to look through the clearance items just for fun, and this time there was a vacuum sealer! It was a real legit sealer, not the phony hand-held kind, and at $30 it was a steal. I bought it.

When I got home I plugged it in and carefully looked at the pictures in the instruction manual. I put some of my apple chips in the back, positioned the bag in the sealer and pressed down just like it said. The bag sealed all right... without sucking any air. "Dumb sealer!" I exclaimed. What the heck... I must be using it wrong. Or maybe there's a reason it's on sale, I thought. I got out the instructions and actually read them instead of just looking at the pictures. I cut open the sealed bag and repositioned it properly in the machine and pressed down. The sealer sucked all the air out and started to crack the chips. Voila! I picked up my neatly sealed package of apple chips and threw it up in the air. I set it on the counter and watched it. Then I left to do something else, happy.

When I came back, the seal had loosened. To say I was disappointed would be a great understatement. "Dumb sealer!" I exclaimed. But on the inside I wondered if there was something wrong with me... maybe I just wasn't meant to own a working vacuum sealer.

I picked up the package and looked at it once again. Brought it up close to my eyeball and examined it thoroughly. Lo and behold, I noticed something fishy. Some of the dried apples had poked through, making holes in the bag and breaking the seal. So it wasn't the sealers after all... it was the apple chips.

I got some other items out of the fridge, including an egg and some chicken thighs (which came first? I don't remember). Using both sealers, I successfully sealed both items. "Dumb me!" I exclaimed. In the end, I had had two working vacuum sealers. But at least they were both a good deal. :)

*My mom said, "Don't you want to save the packaging in case it doesn't work?" I told her no, I didn't need to. The packaging had convinced me that it was a trustworthy machine.

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