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Vacuum Sealer

I’m in the market for a Vacuum Sealer so I can purchase my hops in bulk, vacuum seal, and freeze for later use.

I’ve heard the Food Savers are good. Any recommendations?

You heard right. Food Savers are great. With an attachment you can even seal your hops in mason jars (which I do), open them, take out what you want then reseal them. Highly recommend them.

Is there a particular model or set of features that is beneficial? I know very little about these devices.

Honestly, I would get the cheapest one Foodsaver makes. With most of these (including Food Saver and some other crazy expensive German brand), they typically stop working well within a few years, but they still pay for themselves.

Most foodsavers are great for homebrew/food storage applications. Buying hops in bulk rocks.

I have the smaller food saver that only seals quart bags. It works fantastic. I got mine off craigslist for. $20. The bags aren’t cheap though!

Don’t buy the little hand held Reynolds Handi Vac that needs special bags. They do not stay sealed. Even double bagging does not work.

Whatever food saver Fleet Farm puts on sale. The guy I deer hunt with and I bought two and have used them a LOT over the last several years (about 12-15 deer) with no problems. Prior to actually Food Saver ones, we trashed a cheapie off-brand trying to process two deer.

The customer service at Food Saver is top notch. My first machine started to have issues a few months after I purchased it. One phone call to them and a brand new unit arrived a few days later.

I’ve had a low end Food Saver for about 2 years and use the 11" rolls. While not being frugal in the use; I did manage to package 15 lbs of grain (1 lb each) 20 lbs of hamburger (1 lb each) and 3 lbs of cheese into 5 packages out of 1 and a quarter rolls. Buying meat on sale and repackaging is a great money saver and pays for the unit (and the use for grain storage) in short order.

I’m packaging homegrown hops in Mylar food storage bags. These are all over ebay - the doomsday preppers use them alot it appears… these have a thin metalized layer to reduce O2 permeability. Just search “Mylar food storage bags”. Many come with O2 removal packets; these are probably useless since they are essentially iron powder that removes O2 by forming iron oxide (rust) but this requires more moisture than your hops should ordinarily have. You can find offers without the packets a bit cheaper.

I came by a standard industrial impulse sealer (search " Impulse Poly Bag Sealer" at Uline(dot)com. This is really solid, but would be pricey if you bought it just for this. On youtube there are videos (again from the doomsday prepper set) for heat sealing with a clothes iron; the Mylar doesn’t melt but the inner PE liner layer does and this is the heat seal…

If you pack loose hop cones tightly and squeeze out as much air as possible you get a brick with little air left inside. I’ve made smaller bags from the gallon size by cutting and sealing the edges. You can reuse them by cutting only the sealed strip and then resealing.

Store hops in the freezer if possible - it will delay any chemical changes of any variety. Let them warm completely before opening to avoid water condensation on cold hops.

Cheers!

I would just point out to anyone looking that, while the post above is not “wrong,” you can seal a bag with an iron, doing so does NOT purge the bag of air prior to sealing.

That is the biggest benefit of a vacuum sealer: the vacuum.

I’ve had a FoodSaver V2450 that has sealed well over 300 bags a year for over 4 years now that is still sealing like a champ if that helps. :wink:

[quote=“goalie”]I would just point out to anyone looking that, while the post above is not “wrong,” you can seal a bag with an iron, doing so does NOT purge the bag of air prior to sealing.

That is the biggest benefit of a vacuum sealer: the vacuum.[/quote]

A vacuum sealer produces a very modest vacuum. It basically produces enough vacuum to let the bag collapse around an object due to air pressure. This works pretty well around a steak. It removes the air from around a mass of hop pellets, but very little of the air in between the pellets in the mass. If you jam hop cones tightly into a bag (pack them down with your fist, then seal 90% of the opening (leave a bit out past the heating element the first time) and press out the remaining air before sealing the final opening, and then do a 3 line seal, it really does limit the amount of air/O2 relative to the mass of hops in the bag, and also limits new O2 or mositure getting in… So I guess regardless how you seal, getting it tightly packed and sqeezing out as much excess gas space as possible, and using a metallized Mylar bag is good. Plain Mylar is not so impermeable - the thin metal film greatly reduces the permeability of the bag to O2 and moisture…

Don’t bother with the oxygen scavenger packets. They require >65% rel humidity to activate and remove the O2 by forming iron oxide…Your hops should be too dry for this to do much.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_scavenger

All I can say is that it works pretty well. Haven’t done a lab analysis of AA oxidation. I put about 120g - 150g in each “quart” bag sealed as I described and store them as cool as I can - in the freezer when there is room - and they seem to stay very fresh enough to make good beer until another growing season blesses me with a fresh crop. They stay as a brick, like a bag of vacuum sealed coffee, until opened.

I would be concerned that the modest vacuum produced by a sealer will not do a lot with a jar adapter where the container can’t collapse around the product like a bag. But it would reduce and limit O2 and moisture and anything you do is better than nothing.

Cheers!

For people interested in comparative performance of vacuum sealers… I found this comparison of the vacuum produced by several major vacuum sealers - not all are created equal. The Pump-N-Seal looks a little gimmicky… Foodsaver looks good for a non-commercial vacuum sealer.

http://www.pump-n-seal.com/comparison.htm

Storing in the freezer is the other way to slow oxidative changes.

Cheers!

I had problems with my FoodSaver and when I called the manufacturer they tried to help me troubleshoot. When this failed they immediately sent me a replacement and a shipping label to return the defective product. My new one works great.
I did notice that the second unit they sent was covered by clingy plastic material that you sometimes see on new products and had styrofoam fillers in the box for protection while the first unit certainly didn’t. In retrospect it seems that maybe the first unit I got was a refurb? Not sure but now that the issue is settled I’m thrilled with my foodsaver.
KG

I bought a FoodSaver back in the early '90s when they first appeared (it may have even been the late '80s). In any case, the think has worked perfectly for well over 22 years. They were pretty expensive back then (it was well over $200), but I have no regrets at all…it’s one of the best investments I ever made for either of my kitchens (the food one, and the brew one). If the newer ones are built half as well as my old unit, it is quite a bargain at the low prices they sell the current units for.

[quote=“HD4Mark”]Don’t buy the little hand held Reynolds Handi Vac that needs special bags. They do not stay sealed. Even double bagging does not work.[/quote]MY experience was the same. I’ve got some extra bags I don’t need anymore because I lost the vacuum part.

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