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Old 25-09-2021, 10:15   #1
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Chamber Sealer (on sale) & retort bags

I just ordered a chamber vacuum sealer from Costco for a bargain price of $599 including shipping. This is a LEM MaxVac, which is a quality item as with all LEM products, at about half their price. Costco Item #1408450.


Chamber sealers differ very significantly from ordinary food saver sealers in that they do not require special bags. The bag can have liquids, etc in it. It is placed in the chamber and the entire chamber is evacuated, the bag is sealed and the vacuum released. A vastly superior system. It has the additional advantage of making it possible to seal foods in those metallic bags like you buy tuna and such in, which can then be pressure canned. Not all chamber sealers are capable of sealing these bags, but this one has been used by some people for that purpose with success. I will be experimenting with this, and may resort to making a double seal for insurance if necessary.


Bagged & items take up a lot less space (and weight) than products in jars or cans, and are not subject to breakage, rust, etc.



If you are a voyager...... and a Costco member, this is a superb value, and the bags alone will eventually pay for it when it comes to ordinary vacuum sealing. Retort pouches are of course not cheap (for pressure canning), but they are rugged, and compact, and opaque so will not degrade from sunlight, etc. Also the level of evacuation is far higher than with an ordinary foodsaver type sealer, so the oxygen level in the bag will be virtually zero, increasing life of the product.



I pressure can, vacuum seal & freeze, dehydrate, etc.... all the time.


H.W.


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Old 25-09-2021, 11:29   #2
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Re: Chamber Sealer (on sale) & retort bags

Just remember to read up and understand ROP (reduced oxygen packaging) There are food born pathogens that thrive in low/none oxygenated environments.
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Old 25-09-2021, 19:10   #3
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Re: Chamber Sealer (on sale) & retort bags

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Just remember to read up and understand ROP (reduced oxygen packaging) There are food born pathogens that thrive in low/none oxygenated environments.

Thanks for the warning....... It's something we all should warn people about. Not everybody reads the warnings and rules.



I've been canning things for many years..... There are rules you adhere to for different types of canning. The attraction of the chamber sealer is that I will be able to pressure can things without jars.


The USDA publishes complete guidelines for canning, and in addition any canning equipment will come with guidelines. The internet is filled with the same information on many sites. One would have to be willfully ignorant.....not to know the rules or where to find them. That said....... the world is full of very stupid people. One friend of mine set about canning wild game using a water bath canner on the advice of a restaurateur (also a friend) with close to 50 years in the food service industry. He refused to believe me when I warned him about botulism, etc......that he needed to use a pressure canner..... Until I sent him a bunch of articles & guides. I gave him an extra pressure canner I had on hand....... after scaring the daylights out of him.



One should not be afraid of home preserved foods...... it's been done for thousands of years...... You can make yourself sick or kill yourself if you do it wrong. You may get away with it for many years......... or a lifetime......... of one day you may get botulism poisoning and die. Canning is something you either do right, or do not do it at all!


H.W.
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Old 01-10-2021, 07:59   #4
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Re: Chamber Sealer (on sale) & retort bags

I received my LEM brand MaxVac Pro sealer yesterday from Costco via UPS. 4 days. It's a monster at close to 70 lbs, but seems to be fairly well thought out. I've used it a couple of times including experimenting with using ordinary ZipLoc bags under the assumption that at times one might run out of regular bags. With 3 heat settings, I used the low setting for those and it sealed perfectly. The one glaring deficiency IMHO is the fact that there seems to be no provision to just seal without vacuum... as one would do when making bags. The seal width is substantial... It is a far better seal than I've ever seen with a food saver, and there are 3 standard seal time settings as well .... time apparently equals temp. In addition you can seal for an extended time period for retort or mylar bags by holding down the setting button, which will about 50% more time. Maximum bag size is 10x13 inches. I would have liked to have a wider seal bar (10"), but it will work fine. There are 3 vacuum presets, and it is in minutes but the screen shows KPA in the high 80's. It doesn't just quit when it hits a preset vacuum, but continues applying vacuum. You can increase or decrease the vacuum time with the adjustments.

My main reason for wanting this is to be able to pressure can things like meat without having to use glass jars. Retort bags will allow this. This system will also allow canning of things like soups, chili, etc, essentially making your own MREs. The platform you set the bags on is sloped so you can place liquids and juicy items on it without leakage, and of course you could shim the entire machine up a bit if necessary.



The unit came with a stack of bags to get started. All had the impressive wide seals all around. I decided to play with heavy duty Zip Loc storage bags, as I have quite a few on hand. Gallon size will not fit, being wider than the seal bar. The seams on the zip lock bags ( sides ) are rather pathetic. I got a wild idea of cutting the bottom off a Zip Loc bag and closing the zip lock seal, then inserting an item into it and sealing the bottom. The result was pretty cool....... a zip lock with a vacuum seal. You can open the zip lock and release the vacuum seal, then reseal it. You can buy mylar bags (not retort pouches) with a zip lock beneath the seal. The zip lock experiment is questionable.... if the zip lock isn't an adequate seal it isn't going to hold..... In this case it worked.



The weight and complexity is a bit absurd as far as I'm concerned. The vacuum pump is virtually the same as my Robinaire refrigeration pump, and the interior is full of relays and contactors and boards. I'm the kind of guy who would be fine with manual switches... Simply fip the pump on, and watch a gauge, then hit the seal bar and release the vacuum. The working components other than the pump are not particularly heavy. Basically a lexan dome, a flat plate of stainless steel, and the tray. It could be much lighter I think. All in all, it's an excellent consumer item, especially if you are a hunter, or fisherman, or butcher your own lifestock. $600 at Costco, compared to the LEM price of $1100 is a pretty good value.
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Old 01-10-2021, 08:58   #5
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Re: Chamber Sealer (on sale) & retort bags

Owly
The trick to using the Vac Pac without pulling a vacuum is careful use of the STOP button. Close the lid, allow only perhaps a second or less, hit the stop button, voila. You can also adjust the time setting to pull a vacuum to the shortest duration, by example I normally pull the vacuum cycle at around 32-35 seconds, reduce that to 1-2 seconds and see if that gets you the desired results.
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Old 01-10-2021, 10:39   #6
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Re: Chamber Sealer (on sale) & retort bags

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Originally Posted by NRosenthal View Post
Owly
The trick to using the Vac Pac without pulling a vacuum is careful use of the STOP button. Close the lid, allow only perhaps a second or less, hit the stop button, voila. You can also adjust the time setting to pull a vacuum to the shortest duration, by example I normally pull the vacuum cycle at around 32-35 seconds, reduce that to 1-2 seconds and see if that gets you the desired results.

I talked to tech support just a few minutes ago, and got some similar advice. This unit doesn't work exactly like yours... they're all different I suspect. What he said was to change one of the presets for vacuum level to about 5 seconds. That will generate enough vacuum to operate the seal bar... apparently the vacuum pulls the seal bar up. There is no way to manually stop it and hit seal.



Interestingly there are 2 seal bar settings. Time and temp.... One is set with a button specifically for temp... low, medium, and high, and the other is in the main set up screen and is different. It sets seal times from zero to 3.5 seconds. The manual claims that you can hold down the temp button and get more time out of it......I haven't tried that. Just ordered some retort pouches........... different from mylar bags, and designed for pressure canning. The source I settled on was called Pleasant Grove Farm

They specialize in mylar and retort bags. 50, 8 ounce bags 7"x10" at 52 cents per bag, about as good as anywhere.



H.W.
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Old 01-10-2021, 10:51   #7
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Re: Chamber Sealer (on sale) & retort bags

I was buying bags from Uline. Used for freezer as well as "boil in bag" cooking. they are available in a number of sizes and thicknesses. Can also get bags with zip lock features.
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Old 01-10-2021, 11:19   #8
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Re: Chamber Sealer (on sale) & retort bags

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I was buying bags from Uline. Used for freezer as well as "boil in bag" cooking. they are available in a number of sizes and thicknesses. Can also get bags with zip lock features.

Thanks.... a good source for ordinary vacuum bags. Pretty good pricing. They don't do the retort pouches though. But that's a specialized thing, but very well suited to voyaging compared to canning in glass..... Not cheap but practical. You can pack a lot more in a space and not worry about breakage....


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