What food sealers work best?

February 26, 2008 11:20:02 AM PST
Fancy food-saving products can help you lock in the freshness, but are they better than plain old and less expensive freezer bags? Michael Finney has the results of the latest product test from the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Vacuum sealers can help keep the air and moisture out. Good Housekeeping put them to the test.

Researchers put beads into the sealer bags and canisters and watched for changes in color.

"So if they turn pink, it's an indication that the bags aren't keeping a tight seal. We also put chicken breast and hamburgers in the freezer to see if ice crystals were forming," says Sharon Franke, Good Housekeeping Institute.

The FoodSaver Advanced Design V-28-60 kit was the best sealer in the Good Housekeeping test.

"This is the Rolls Royce of vacuum sealers. It kept the crystals bright blue, and it has lots of bells and whistles including one that prevents potato chips from being crushed, and a built-in bag cutter," says Franke.

It also works with different types of bags and also different-sized containers.

The more compact food saver, the FoodSaver Advanced Design V-22-40 , also performed well in tests, but it doesn't have a built-in bag cutter.

Significantly cheaper at just $10 dollars is the small battery-operated Reynolds Handi-Vac. It uses a suction cup to keep the air out.

Fairing poorly in the product test was Sharper Image's Bean Vac.

"We found that it doesn't keep a tight seal. When you close it, it immediately begins to vacuum seal, and you do hear it working. But when we checked the crystals, they turned pink pretty quickly," says Franke.

Here's another tip. When freezing soups and stews, you'll get better results by first putting them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. For casseroles, keep it at room temperature for 30 minutes first, and then 20 minutes in the refrigerator before freezing it.