Foodsaver Rescued!

The achilles heel for home sous-vide cooks has increasingly become the vacuum sealing. With the introduction of sub $500 thermal baths the fairly cheesy Foodsaver has become the weak link in the chain for those who don’t have the money or room for a $1500 commercial vacuum sealing unit.

Aside from their inability to vacuum seal anything wet and their inability to really provide pressure, the worst thing about Foodsaver is they have never stood behind their product. Once the gaskets died (which they always do eventually) they would never sell or send you another one.

But now jardenstore is actually selling Foodsaver replacement parts. Thank goodness. Our ailing unit was salvage completely with $20 worth of parts.

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January 16, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Technique.

4 Comments

  1. Dave Kukura replied:

    I don’t know if this is a recent development or you just got your info wrong, but I just recently purchased a new gasket set direct from Foodsaver (called the number right on the machine) for $12 or thereabouts.

    • sousvide replied:

      @Dave–That is indeed a recent (and welcome) development. In fact you can now order the parts online (which I have). But for several years they played this stupid game of telling people they would send them a replacement gasket when it was available (presumably to get them off the phone) and then you wouldn’t hear from them again. It’s great that one can now simply purchase the gaskets like replacement parts for many other products.–David

  2. Andy C. replied:

    IMHO , I find little advantage of a commercial sealer from that of a Food Saver. High vacuum has the advantage of being able to hold product shape (but how often is that necessary), they can seal liquids (but so can a food saver or a cheap bag sealer if you don’t vacuum, or just freeze any added liquids first), and I’m told they help keep liquid in the product (again thank the high vacuum, but I’m not sure how accurate or important that really is).
    The dominant purpose of food sealing is to place a water proof barrier between product and an even heat source, no difference than boil-in-a-bag – just better temperature control and circulation to eliminate localized cold/hot spots. I believe the term “under-vacuum” places an inaccurate emphasis on vacuum as opposed to simply squeezing gases out of a bag and sealing it (imagine cooking gravy in a sealed bag – no amount of vacuum would benefit the process). The vacuum provided by a Food Saver bag is so low that’s all you’re getting anyway.
    Secondly, the thinking that a bag must be placed under high vacuum to eliminate pockets of air that surround and insulate a product from the water bath is wrong. We always find additional gases drawn from a product during cooking, just more so when using Food Saver. The only issue I find from a bubble in the bag is that it creates a top-of-bag position and tries to float one corner of the bag to the surface rather than floating in even suspension. Bubbles require methods to assure the entire product stays below surface, something that should be done regardless. In fact, once a product and its gases come to equilibrium temperature with the surrounding bath, the heat exchange properties of a gas bubble don’t significantly affect heat exchange between the product and bath since the product doesn’t care if it’s heated via a warm gas bubble, a liquid or the bag boundary itself. It’s all the same temperature to the product and heat rate differences between mediums are very minimal at equilibrium. A product cooking in a warm gas bubble versus a warm liquid risks drying a corner, something easily remedied by periodic rotation.

  3. Stephen J. Silverberg replied:

    I have been using a Foodsaver for over 10 years and using it for sous vide about 2 years.

    On more than one occasion (before Jardine), they immediately replaced 2 problem units. I also just bought new gaskets and got them i 3 days.

    I eliminated vacuum issues by partially freezing the food with viscous liquids before sealing. If I am using broth or wine, I make ice cubes with the liquid and put them in the bag. You can also put the liquid in a brownie pan and let it set and you have a broth sheet.

    All in all, I have never had a problem using the Foodsaver, even when doing 72 hour short ribs.

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