More than 70 billion pounds of edible food are wasted in the U.S. each year. Is some of it yours?
With a vacuum sealer, you can package your leftovers, bulk purchases, and hunting meat into reusable heat-sealed or zipper-locked bags.
Your sealer will vacuum out the air, maximizing freshness and longevity while your packages remain stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
To evaluate the effectiveness of vacuum food sealers, we sealed the same number of glass marbles (in three different sizes) in the device's storage bags. We chose this number because it created a single layer in a typical, quart-sized food storage bag.
By following these procedures, our test "meal"—the BestReviews Bag-o-Marbles—maintained the same quantity and consistency for the testing of each sealer.
We repeatedly timed the different models as they evacuated air from their bags and heat sealed them. (One device, the Waring Pro PVS1000, only accepts zipper bags, so we used that type of bag in that particular case.)
Some models called for separate vacuum and seal steps. We recorded those times separately but used the total time stats for comparison with the other models.
All of our vacuum sealers removed so much air that the resulting layer of marbles was stiff and inflexible in the bag. We left the bags in the open air for a week. At the end of that time, we could not detect any difference in the bags' stiffness. This indicated that no appreciable air had leaked into the bags. When we cut the bags open, the incoming air rapidly released the marbles from their bonds and they became their normal, unruly mass.
We also measured the density of the different packages to see if there was a different amount of air left behind, but we did not find any significant differences there. All products did a fine job removing air from their storage bags and then sealing them tightly.
Few kitchens have enough counter space for a food vacuum sealer to sit out all the time. These appliances, while useful, typically rank well below toasters, microwaves, and coffee makers in frequency of use.
As such, a vacuum sealer's size and weight are important considerations for most consumers.
When it came time to operate these machines, we found plenty of differences. Some required both hands to operate (or at least one hand sequentially applied in two places). Others required just one hand. For example, with the FoodSaver V4840, you only have to feed the open end of the bag into the front slot; the machine takes over from there.
Some models sport controls that allow you to choose between vacuum sealing and simple sealing. This makes it easy to bag loose food like potato chips without crushing them. We took these and other ease-of-use features into consideration when evaluating the products.
We also considered other features and functions. For example, some models include an auxiliary suction tube that you can use to seal zipper bags. (Note: these zipper bags must have a suction valve on them.) And some models include indicators that tell you what's happening during operation, which is a nice but unnecessary feature.
In this review, we also note features that are missing. For example, the Waring ProPVS 1000 does not have an automatic cut-off for the vacuum process. Instead, you must listen to the sound of the motor and decide for yourself when it's finished.
Last but not least, we considered each product's value in terms of its price. The most expensive model we tested costs more than five times as much as the least expensive model. Is the difference worth it?
The answer to that question depends on what you expect from a vacuum sealer and how you plan to use it. For some people, a high-end vacuum sealer is worth the money.
Nina is a longtime gourmet chef, interior designer/decorator, and events planner. She has accomplished all of this in addition to maintaining a stellar career as a healthcare executive, where she helps alter the course of people’s lives via preventive care and healthy living. Nina’s hobbies include learning new recipes, planning and executing amazing dinners to impress local chefs, and hiking around the world.
The Good: Feature rich, fast, and powerful. Generous array of starter supplies. Looks great sitting on your counter.
The Bad: The biggest, heaviest, and most expensive model of the bunch.
The Bottom Line: Costs more and does more than the competition. Worth it if you have the money.
The FoodSaver V4840 is the most expensive model we looked at, as well as the biggest and heaviest. Its stainless steel and black housing looks gorgeous on the counter, but the model really shines when it’s working.
To heat seal a bag, just slide the open end into the slot on the front of the device. The FoodSaver will automatically vacuum and seal it. It doesn't get much easier than that.
At just 11.0 seconds to evacuate our quart bag of marbles, the V4840 was the fastest vacuum sealer we tested. (It took another 9 seconds to finish sealing the bag before it would release it.)
The list of perks this vacuum sealer provides goes on and on. The top lid conceals storage for a roll of bag material. A convenient sliding bag cutter is also stashed in the lid, allowing you to obtain the precise bag size you need. The built-in auxiliary vacuum device, which works with both zipper bags and other vacuum storage devices, is extremely handy. Top control buttons let you choose "Seal Only," "Moist," or "Dry," as well as a "Cancel" command. A row of LEDs shows progress. There’s even an indicator that alerts you when the removable drip tray is full.
In addition, this product includes a generous supply of starter bags: three 1-quart and two 1-gallon heat seal bags, three 1-quart and two 1-gallon zipper bags, and a 10-foot roll of heat seal bag material (with a width of 11 inches, just like the other FoodSaver products rated here).
The sealer is also a hit with buyers: Nearly three out of four reviewers gave it a full five-star rating. Others point out that it is easier to use than competing products.
Tipping the scales at nearly 8.5 pounds, this is not likely a product that you’re going to haul out and put away between each use. Fortunately, it will look great just sitting on the counter in most kitchens. Powerful, attractive, and full-featured, the $197 FoodSaver V4840 is a luxury product, but we think it's well worth it.
The Good: Small and inexpensive. Removable drip tray included.
The Bad: Flimsy and a little awkward to use. The starter supplies are skimpy.
The Bottom Line: If all you want is a simple device, this is clearly the best bargain, costing about half as much as mid-priced models.
The Seal-A-Meal is a simple device that isn't as easy to use as some other models. But when you look at the finished product, you can’t tell the difference between a bag sealed by Seal-a-Meal and the others.
To seal a bag, you must first place it carefully in the vacuum zone. (In our test lab, we found this to be a tricky process.) Then you press down on both sides of the lid, which requires two hands. The vacuum will start, and an indicator light will come on when it’s okay for you to take your hands away. When the sealing indicator light goes out, you open the cover and remove the bag. The cover release is a simple valve that breaks the vacuum seal.
If you just want to seal the end of a bag without the vacuum function, you must first make sure that the end of the bag is not in the vacuum area. This, too, can be tricky. And because the Seal-a-Meal doesn't include an auxiliary suction device, you can’t use it with zipper bags or other vacuum storage devices.
The Seal-A-Meal has a few drawbacks. The device is small, so there's no room for roll storage or a roll cutter; you must load it by hand when you use it. And while it's lightweight, it was the only model on our list with no provision for power cord storage. (The cord is also the shortest of all models tested at just 27 inches. The others are at least half a foot longer.)
On top of that, the model feels a bit flimsy, and the manufacturer includes the stingiest starter supply kit: just four 1-quart bags.
This vacuum sealer is popular with consumers, but not as popular as the other models on our list. Owners generally like the small size and budget price of just $36, and the removable drip tray is a nice touch that you won't find on the Nesco VS-02. If you're looking for a cheap, no-frills solution to storing and vacuum sealing your food, this could be the right choice for you.
The Good: One of the fastest models tested. Easy to use. Comes with an auxiliary suction device.
The Bad: Priced at the top of the mid-range, it does not have roll storage or a cutter. In fact, it has fewer features than most models.
The Bottom Line: Fast, solid, and easy to use. It's probably the best choice of the mid-priced models.
Compact, fast, and powerful, the FoodSaver V2244 sports plenty of attractive features. At the same time, it lacks some of the extra bells and whistles found on similarly priced models. As a result, it’s an attractive choice that, in our ratings, falls into the middle of the pack.
It has just two buttons: "Seal" and "Vac/Seal," so you can choose whether to vacuum out the air or not. It has a port for the included auxiliary vacuum device, allowing you to use zipper bags or other vacuum food storage containers. It also has a drip tray that's easily removed for cleaning.
Operation is simple: you lay the open end of the bag across the drip tray, close the lid, and lock down the cover with the mechanical lever. This was one of the fastest-acting products we tested. It took 11.7 seconds to get the air out and a total of 22.6 seconds before the "Seal" indicator light went out (indicating that the bag was completely sealed).
The compact FoodSaver V2244 includes no space for roll storage or a cutter; it must be loaded by hand. However, it does come with an adequate starter kit of heat seal bag supplies: three 1-quart bags, two 1-gallon bags, and a 10-foot roll of 11-inch wide bag material.
A few owners have made critical comments about the product's durability and FoodSaver's customer service, but the majority extol the virtues of this compact, convenient vacuum sealer.
At a cost of $65, the FoodSaver V2244 is priced at the top of the mid-range. We're not sure that the product fits the price. Although it's good, the features-to-price ratio might not be completely accurate. As a result, we deem the Nesco to be a reasonable vacuum sealer choice, especially if you want a smaller unit that's easy to store.
The Good: Includes roll storage, a cutter, and several useful operating options. Very generous with the starter supplies.
The Bad: Drip tray is not removable for cleaning. Has the largest footprint of any model tested. Does not include auxiliary suction device (available as an extra).
The Bottom Line: You get some top-end features with this mid-priced unit, but the fixed drip tray is hard to clean. Price and speed place it in the middle of the pack.
For a mid-priced model, the Nesco VS-02 offers some fancy features, but it also has its shortcomings.
We'll start off with what some people might perceive as negatives. The Nesco has the largest footprint of all the models tested, so you'll have to clear off some extra counter space when you want to use it.
Even more significant is the fact that the drip tray is not removable. This makes cleaning a challenge if you have a spill.
In spite of these few negatives, owners like the Nesco because it's easy to operate. Simply place the edge of the bag over the drip tray and close the cover. You must press down each side until it clicks, but this can be done with a single hand by pressing one side and then the other.
A helpful selection of buttons give you "Seal Only," "Vacuum/Seal," and "Cancel" options, along with a "Canister Only" button for the optional auxiliary vacuum device (not included). There is also a switch for "Normal" or "Extended" suction time.
When the seal light goes out, you can remove the bag. To do this, you must press the release catches on either side of the cover. The Nesco model took an average length of time to evacuate the Bag-o-Marbles in our tests.
The device comes with a generous supply of starter heat seal bags and material. You get five 1-quart bags, five 1-gallon bags, and two rolls (10 feet apiece) of 8-inch bag material. (The FoodSaver models include only one 10-foot roll of material, but the roll is 11 inches wide.)
Overall, the $58 Nesco VS-02 offers some attractive features and functions. However, the lack of a removable drip tray and the fact that you might have to purchase the auxiliary vacuum device separately detract from it somewhat. Nevertheless, the majority of owners are happy with their purchase, citing its simplicity and solid construction as two of the best features.
Those who complain about the Nesco typically cite a lack of durability and failure to make good seals. In our testing, we encountered no problems with air leakage.
The Good: Tiny footprint, cordless operation, and a clever design make it ideal for small kitchens.
The Bad: Uses only zipper bags, which cost about twice as much as heat seal bags. No automatic shut-off when vacuum is complete.
The Bottom Line: This model appeals to users with limited space. It’s easy to use, but you must listen to know when the vacuum is complete, and it only works with zipper bags that have a suction valve.
The Waring Pro PVS1000 is a horse of a different color. It is the only handheld, cordless, rechargeable vacuum sealer in this group.
Its small size will make it the darling of those with cramped kitchens, but it may not be the best solution for everyone.
The pistol-shaped device sits in its charge base when not in use. An indicator light in the base shines green when the unit is fully charged. To use it, you place the suction-cup tip over the vacuum valve of a zipper bag and pull the trigger. It also works with other vacuum food storage containers.
The suction tip is at the end of a clear plastic cup that catches sucked-up liquid during the vacuum process. It can be removed with a simple twist, and it's easy to empty and clean.
One problem with this model is that there is no indication when the vacuum process is complete. You must listen to the sound of the vacuum pump, and when the motor sound changes, you can stop. In our lab, the final results seemed to be as effective as the other models we tested.
Unfortunately, you cannot use heat seal bags with the Waring; you must use zipper bags, which cost about twice as much. One advantage of zipper bags is that you can open them to take out part of their contents and then reseal them. (On the other hand, you can do the same thing with a heat seal bag by cutting off the seal and later re-sealing it.)
Heat seal bag material is also more economical than zipper bags when it's bought in rolls, because you can tailor the size of your bag to your food. Sadly, Waring owners can't use this material.
The unit comes with a dozen 1-quart bags and a dozen 1-gallon bags to get you started.
The majority of owners are satisfied with their Waring Pro, although a few report charging issues. The vacuum sealer's most popular features are its small size, light weight, and cordless convenience.
If storage space is at a premium in your kitchen, then the $16 Waring Pro PVS1000 might be worth a look
This is the most expensive option in the field, but we think it's worth the extra cost. The handsome FoodSaver V4840, with its stainless steel and black housing, handy roll storage, cutter, and the best lineup of features, is going to earn a permanent place on your counter.
It’s possibly the easiest to use. Simply slide the open end of a bag into the slot; the device does the rest automatically. It's the only model with a permanently attached auxiliary vacuum device, ready to work with zipper bags and other vacuum containers. It has settings to marinate your roast and a progress bar to let you know what’s happening. And, it’s a customer favorite. Nearly three out of four buyers give it a five-star review.
If you want most of the V4840's premium features without having to pay top dollar, also check out its corporate little brother, the FoodSaver V3240.
If all you want to do is seal up bulk foods or store leftovers, the simple Seal-A-Meal gets the job done just as well as more expensive machines. You can’t tell by looking at a bag which machine packaged the food—the Seal-A-Meal or a pricier product!
It’s a little harder to use; you have to hold the cover corners with both hands until there’s enough suction for the indicator light to tell you to let go. Also, the Seal-A-Meal doesn’t include an auxiliary suction device. But it works well, and it's a definite bargain.
We also tested the FoodSaver V3240, a model priced between the V2244 and the V4840. It is a good unit, but most buyers will do better to spend either a little less for a great value in a sealer or a little more for all the best features. This model has roll storage and a cutter, and it comes with an auxiliary vacuum device, but it’s very large and not as easy to use as the more expensive model.
The Good: Feature-rich, solidly built, powerful. Easy to operate with one hand. Includes settings not found on lower-cost models.
The Bad: Large footprint on your counter. Noticeably heavier than cheap vacuum sealers.
The Bottom Line: For a bit more money than a mid-priced model, you get a solid unit with a clamping bar that's easy to operate with either hand. From its built-in roll storage to its large control buttons, this easy-to-use vacuum sealer is worth its slightly higher price.
The FoodSaver V3240 is the biggest, heaviest, and most expensive model we tested—with the sole exception of its corporate stablemate, the FoodSaver V4840. It is very easy to use. Simply position a food-filled storage bag in front of the large opening and lower the clamping bar. The bar extends across the entire front of the unit, making it easy to operate with either hand.
After this process, you can choose to seal the bag or have the appliance vacuum the air out and then seal it. In our test lab, vacuuming took an average length of time plus another 11 seconds to seal and release the bag.
The top lid offers concealed storage for a roll of bag material and a sliding bag cutter. (The bag cutter is helpful because you can create the precise size you need.)
When you lower the clamping bar, the front panel controls are revealed. This panel features "seal-only" and "vacuum-and-seal" buttons, controls for a "normal" and "gentle" vacuum, and buttons that specifically address "dry" and "moist" contents.
(Note: if the contents you're sealing aren't dry, the internal plastic drip tray is especially handy. It's easy to use and clean.)
The V3240 includes an auxiliary vacuum tube that attaches to a convenient port on the front panel. We like this feature because it allows you to use zipper bags with vacuum flaps or other vacuum storage containers.
A healthy starter supply of bags is also included: you get three 1-quart heat seal bags, two 1-gallon heat seal bags, and a 10-foot roll of 11-inch wide heat seal bag material.
The V3240 is fairly hefty at 6.5 pounds, so you may not want to lug it around between uses. Its clean lines and neutral colors would blend well with most kitchen decor, and the unit's suction cup feet prevent it from sliding on the counter.
Although the FoodSaver V3240 is a bit pricey at $89, it's a hit with consumers, the majority of whom give it a five-star rating. Many reviewers agree that it "works great" and "does a terrific job." Only a few go so far as to say that, "If I could, I would marry my FoodSaver!"