Which Commercial Vacuum Sealer Should I Buy?
Why Use a Vacuum Packaging Machine?
A vacuum sealer, or vacuum packaging machine, is used to remove all or nearly all of the air/oxygen in a plastic bag in which food items are placed for storage. The machine will then heat-seal the open end of the bag to ensure no air can reenter. The grade of plastic used in the bag also helps prevent air molecules from getting inside and speeding up food spoilage.
Vacuum sealers are often used with meats, fish, cheeses, vegetables, and fruits, and they can also be used on flour, cereal, nuts, coffee, potato chips, and most other food products.
Some of the most important benefits of using a vacuum packaging machine include:
- The shelf life of food is greatly extended when it is vacuum-sealed. Many foods will last three to five times longer, while retaining freshness and full flavor/aroma.
- Freezer burn is prevented because, with no air in the bag, no evaporation or drying-out can take place.
- Leakage and contents loss is prevented by the tight seal. Plastic wrap and zipper bags simply cannot compete in this regard. And tight sealing will keep insects out as surely as it will keep food in.
- Longer food storage times. Other food storage methods only keep foods fresh for a few days, but vacuum-sealing can keep food fresh for months.
- Shrink film can be used to vacuum-seal potato chips and other delicate foods without crushing them. And shrink film also works well with non-food items such as documents, clothing, and other valuables.
- Sous vide cooking is enabled by vacuum sealing, making a vacuum sealer an excellent “companion” for sous vide equipment.
- Meats/fish can be marinaded faster with vacuum-sealing than by overnight refrigeration, and the process forces marinades deeper into the food for delicious results.
Types of Vacuum Sealers
There are several different types of vacuum sealers to consider purchasing, each type being ideal for specific uses and situations.
The first type of vacuum sealer we will look at is the chamber vacuum sealer. Chamber sealers have you place the food to be sealed in a fully enclosed chamber, close the lid, and wait for the bag to be automatically sealed. In favor of chamber-type sealers, they are the fastest of all vacuum sealers, often double-seal the bag for added security, and are great for heavy duty and high-volume use. Additionally, they can “wet seal” soups and other liquids. They are, however, more expensive than other options, heavy, and take up a lot of space.
“External” or “manual” vacuum sealers have no chamber and must be maneuvered by hand. There are two types we will note: clamp sealers and nozzle sealers.
Clamp sealers require specially designed bags with built-in air channels. A clamp on the end of the sealer covers the open side of the bag, connects to the air channel, and removes all the oxygen. These models are more low-duty (best used once a week/month), but they are relatively affordable and work effectively.
Nozzle sealers use a retractable nozzle or “snorkel” that is inserted into the bag to remove the air. They are best for home or light commercial use. Because no chamber or need for a specially designed bag limits the size/shape of the object to be sealed, you get greater versatility. However, it takes longer for seals to cool, and seams are not as evenly sealed as with chamber sealers.
How to Decide on Which Vacuum Sealer to Buy
While some hints were already given above on how to determine which type of vacuum sealer is best for your purposes, we list here some of the main factors you will want to take into consideration:
- Speed and power. Many of the larger, chamber machines are the most efficient. But if you need a manual sealer or can’t afford a chamber model, investigate the sealing speed and whether the machine is designated for “heavy” or “light” duty usage.
- Size and weight of the machine. If you have limited counter space or need to move the machine daily, avoid a large, bulky machine.
- Bag types vary in thickness, size, shape, material, and other respects. Make sure the machine you choose is compatible with the bag-type you need.
- Vertical or horizontal orientation. Vertical (upright) chamber sealers are best for sealing liquids, and some models can even seal canning jars. “Flat vac” chamber sealers have adjustable widths, making them best for multi-sized solid food sealing.
- Other factors include multi-speed functions, partial air-removal ability, dishwasher safe, automatic overflow catching, and on-sealer bag-roll storage.
Vacuum sealing food has many benefits that may have already persuaded you to invest in a vacuum sealer, but the next step is to evaluate which type of vacuum sealer best fits your needs.
Berkel Sales & Services produces commercial vacuum sealers of the highest caliber, and has a decades-long reputation as a top provider of quality equipment to the food service industry. To learn more about their vacuum packaging machines, you can call Berkel at 800-814-2028 or click on the “Contact Us” tab on their website to submit a request form.