Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Help! Need a New Vacuum Sealer & Dehydrator

My parents are so generous to us; a few years ago, this manifested itself in a vacuum sealer. I didn't realize what a treasure it was until last year when I used it to vacuum seal some of our garden bounty. I loved it - but I found a problem right away. I didn't dry the green beans after blanching them, and some of the water seems to have gotten sucked into the motor and this year, it doesn't work at all. I'm REALLY disappointed, to say the least! But I have a couple of gift cards that I have tucked away for this purpose, so now I'd love to get your input!

If you have a vacuum sealer, what brand is it? What do you love about it? What do you not like about it? Is there something it doesn't do that you wish it did?

You can see Tammy's posts on vacuum sealing here:
Vacuum-Sealed Foods
Food Saving Without a Food Saver
Meatballs In Bulk, For the Freezer
Input Requested, Frozen Meal Ideas
Making and Freezing Pepperoni

And, while I have you here, do you have a food dehydrator? Same questions - what brand, what do you love and not like?

Tammy's posts on dehydrating can be found here:
Food Dehydrators
Preserving Food - What Do I Do?
Dehydrated Pears
Dehydrating Bananas
Banana Blessings
Onions, Onions, Onions
Cheaper Baked Beans

(Some of the mentions are in the comments.)

Other blogs I love that have sections on preserving: Bethany's section on Canning and Preserving and Kim's Sections on Canning and Dehydrating, Lori's canning, Sarah's Lacto-Fermentation Series, and it takes a bit more digging, go look at Laura's blog. (How about a canning catagory, Laura?!?) :>)

I'm anxious to read what you have to say!


2Shaye ♪♫ said...

Oh. My. Goodness. I'm so excited that you've given all the links...it's like another "reading the whole internet" post. YAY! I'll be saving this one for tonight when the kids are asleep and I can read because I REALLY need to learn more about this stuff.

So...in answer to your questions (and to prove to you that I really do need to read these posts):

1) We do have a vacuum sealer. Someone gave it to us for Christmas about 4 or 5 years ago and we've never even opened it (it's still factory sealed!). It's a Food Saver and came with 10 feet of bag material. I have no idea how to use it or if it's even good. When I've saved food I've just frozen it in store bought zipper-like freezer bags or canned it and put it in the pantry. See, your links will come in handy.

2) I have a dehydrator that I bought used on swapshop (like craigslist) for probably $10. I used it one weekend drying banana chips (which I was too impatient to wait for) and have since then put in our basement where it sits collecting dust. Again, just more proof that I need to read your links and get with the program.

Just this week we decided we were going to start making and freezing 2-3 meals once Saturday of each month. Also, my tomatoes, bell pepper, and jalapenos are all coming close to being done so I'll be making and canning tons of my favorite salsas. So this all comes at the best time.

Thanks, girl!

Heather said...

I have a FoodSaver. Not sure which model, but I know it was one of the cheaper ones. I registered for it when I got married and I've used it quite a bit to store bulk meat, freeze and store corn, store chunks of cheese, etc. I did a post on it to if you want to read about it.


I've never gotten a dehydrator as I do not have access to enough produce to make it worth it right now. I'm really glad I did get my food saver though!

I also have a few canisters (gifts and found 2nd hand) and the wide mouth jar sealer (rummage sale find) that I think are pretty great. They store the little guys cereal (takes forever to eat a whole box), beans, pasta, rice or whatever. I've not used for crackers or cookies yet, but I've heard they are great to keep those fresh as well.

Good luck and let me know if I can answer any questions. Can't wait for the book and leggings! So excited :)


Sarah said...

I have neither - but thanks for the link! I'm thinking about getting a dehydrator at some point, so I'll be interested in seeing how you make your decision!


erin said...

We use our Food Saver brand vacuum sealer to package our chickens after we process them. Since we do a vinegar ice bath before, the chickens are very juicy. A sure-fire way to keep the juice out of your machine is to put a paper towel folded several times across the width of the bag a few inches into the bag. When the suction/sealing process begins, all the juice is caught in the paper towel and your goods are perfectly sealed, without damaging the sealer.

Tammy L said...

Sounds like you've already scoured my archives but I thought I'd give my quickie-response to your questions here. :D

I have the Food Saver brand and it works well for what I use it for -- freezing meats. :)

I have only GOOD things to say about the Excalibur dehydrators, but they are pricey. If you plan to do a lot of drying, it is a real workhorse! :)

Kitchen Stewardship said...

My friend has an American Harvest Snackmaster Pro. I know this b/c it's sitting in my kitchen -- I keep borrowing it to make crispy nuts and preserve summer produce! She's such a dear. I think it's incredibly easy to use, and I like that (a) it has options to add levels (comes with 4 trays, can go up to 12!) and (b) it has a fruit roll tray. I LOVE the fruit rolls I made from strawberries.

As far as successes/failures, I think strawberries (sliced) and pineapple are SO yummy dried. I did not like cantaloupe (but my son did), apples (too chewy, but OK in baked oatmeal) and bananas (just too much flavor for me). I would recommend just trying a little bit of lots of things (fill it up with "experiments") to see what you like before jumping into a major batch of something. Next week I'm going to try peppers and zucchini, maybe tomatoes.

Good luck on your search!