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  1. It seems like most believe that a Vitamix/Blendtec discussion is similar to a Ford/Chevy discussion, that they are both about the same thing. But having owned a Vitamix for a very long time and switching to a Blendtec about a year ago, I have quite a different opinion. Vitamix: We owned a 5200 for many years. This is the model with the pulse on the left, rotary speed dial in the middle and stop/start on the right. Mechanically it was great with the one exception being the rotary speed control. It failed no less that 3 times during the 6-8 years we used it. It was replaced twice by Vitamix, once under warranty and once at my cost. The third and last time I replaced it myself with a much heavier duty potentiometer. This component is severely undersized and is prone to failure. Many many complaints. As far as blending, the Vitamix did a good job, but honestly we had to use the big tamper quite often for thick malts or thick purees. We became so accustomed to this that we just though it was normal. Once we bought the Blendtec with the wild side jar (a 5th side that is narrower than the other 4 sides) we realized that we could blend and puree the exact same ingredients without ever touching a tamper or continually stopping it to move things around. We have now used the Blendtec for a bit over a year and I can say without a doubt that it is a superior product that yields superior results. The Vitamix is on a shelf in the basement and I have brought it out for a side by side test a couple times (when a daughter was looking at blenders). The Vitamix does a decent job, but it isn't a Blendtec. FWIW and YMMV. Good luck, buy a Blendtec and never look back!
  2. I buy mine from a local welding supply. I buy it under a business name and they made me sign some hazmat document. I found a used 50 liter dewar on ebay for around $100 (a real steal!). It was some university surplus. I made a lid for it with a pressure relief valve as well as a valve and a draw tube for dispensing. Works great! Basically a poor mans version of this: http://static.coleparmer.com/large_images/0377367APP.jpg Here is a pic of a similar one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/LIQUID-NITROGEN-DEWAR-CRYOGENIC-TANK-679-/400765254972?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d4f787d3c I don't fill it all that often, mostly for making LN2 ice cream, which is awesome!
  3. I know you asked about liquid smoke, but to me nothing tastes like the real thing. This is why I love to cold smoke the raw hamburgers for a couple of hours before sous vide. I also like doing this with steaks, wings, pork etc. I use a small under counter refrigerator that I found used for $20. You want to use a smoke chamber that is cold since you will be smoking raw meat. I plug it in and get it cold first, then put the raw patties in on a wire rack. For the smoke I have a homemade cold smoke setup that uses pellets or small wood chunks (the flavor is up to you...apple, peach, mesquite, hickory etc.) It uses a venturi / injector design to pull the smoke from the can of smoldering pellets/wood and delivers it to the refrigerator through a 1" pipe. I drilled a hole in the bottom corner of the refrigerator. Make sure you are VERY careful to miss any lines that are embedded in the walls of the refrigerator. It is very efficient, smoking for hours on a couple cups of pellets. 2 hours seems to be plenty on burgers since they have a lot of surface area to absorb the smoke. I will do steaks a bit longer (depending on the thickness). The inside of the refrigerator gets a horrible stained brown color - the color of smoke! I just wipe it out when done and don't try to clean the smoke stain off it. After smoking I vac seal them for sous viding. The flavor is very noticeable and very authentic. Yes it takes a bit of time, but if you are already going to the work of grinding your owne burger, sous viding and then searing, you already know the benefits and readily accept the work! Refrigerator Style: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-x7kwe8YWaRU/T1BioqADyfI/AAAAAAAAA8c/thOWiW9Q6as/s1600/RCS-Brand-Refrigerator.jpg Cold smoker setup: http://www.instructables.com/id/Cold-Smoker-from-Cocktail-Shaker/ Good Luck!
  4. I was watching a youtube video from the USA distributor of Henkelman Chamber Vacs and heard something brand new regarding sous vide bags. Well brand new to me anyway! They are doing a general overview of the sous vide process. After they seal the steak in a chamber Vac, at 1:50 in the video, they say that you should use a shrink wrap bag and plunge it briefly into boiling water to shrink the remainder of the bag to help seal the meat juices in. I have never seen this mentioned before. So my natural question is, would this really reduce juices leaking from the meat? I have heard of a shrink bag to help maintain the shape of a food item, but never to be used to reduce liquid leakage from meat. I guess I can logically see how it might hold the juices closer to the meat, but would they just run out anyway when you cut the bag open, ending up with the same moisture loss as in a regular vacuum bag? Has anyone tested this? If I can find a shrink wrap vacuum seal bag I am up for the test. Thoughts?
  5. If it is between the VP-210 and the VP-215 and the difference is only $90, I would get the VP-215 hands down! The only difference is the vac pump, an oil rotary pump in the VP-215 vs a dry piston pump in the VP-210. You will need to change the oil in the VP-215, which isn't really a big deal. It only takes a small amount (approx 3 ounces) and it recommends 60 hours between changes (25 hours on first change). It isn't the renowned Busch rotary pump, but is still supposed to be a great unit. Unless you are doing this commercially, 60 hours is quite a lot of vacuuming, so the oil changes could be every 6 months or so! You will generally always get a better vacuum in an oil lubricated pump, which you may or may not need. For sous vide the slightly less vac of a piston pump should be adequate, but you may want higher vacuum for a few things. They will vacuum faster, pull higher vac, run cooler and last much longer than a dry piston driven pump. The should be kept upright though and the oil should always be removed for shipping. My goal is still something with a Busch pump, but the VP-215 is a nice unit at a decent price. Good Luck!
  6. Do the Henkelman's ever come up on the used market? I've been monitoring all the usual places and haven't seen one show yet. Plenty of other models but no Boxers. Is this because there aren't as many sold or are they so good that they rarely change owners?
  7. I'm down to deciding between a Minipack MVS35X or a Henkelman Boxer 35. Probably leaning towards the Boxer at this point. I really like the incline plate option on the Boxer for liquids. Very ingenious the way they have a magnetic shelf that you adjust to get the liquids right up to the seal point. Has soft air release also (not sure if the Minipack has this) and an option for a H20 boil sensor. I'm sure I would be happy with either, but the Boxer seems to have the edge. Would love to see both in person though.
  8. Hi All, Long time lurker/reader here, but just recently joined the forum. I have immensely enjoyed the professional atmosphere and the incredible wealth of information here! I have kept my eye out the last while for a chamber vacuum machine with a Busch oil pump. You guys are right on when recommending a Busch pump. Professionally my company has a 10hp Busch on a large CNC router similar to this one. At about 500 lbs and ~$9000 it is a tiny bit oversized for Sous Vide. :-) Mine will be strictly for hobbyist use. (I LOVE nice equipment, no matter what type...) I am looking for some feedback on the following: 1) New vs Used. I have looked at both new and used systems and wonder what the opinion is on used. a) My issues with used are not really knowing how the machine was used - electronics production line 24/7, fishing boat, etc. b) Do any of the machines have a cycle count in the software or maybe an hour meter? Other than the general condition, it is hard to "see how many miles she has on her." c) At what age do the seals and gaskets begin to deteriorate and need replacement? d) Price. It seems that most used machines with a Busch pump go for around $1500 compared to ~$2500 new (for the lowest cost unit with a Busch) A new pump alone would cost around $700 or so and with the possibility of a cracked dome or other repairs needed. So I'm struggling to justify the used unit. 2) If a new vac sealer, how should I compare different manufacturers? Once you filter the units that use a Busch oil pump, it seems that most have about the same capabilities, with the difference being chamber size and speed (size of pump) I don't really need a printer or dual seal bars. I've looked at Minipack, Koch Ultravac and VacMaster. How would you rank these three or should I consider others? I prefer USA made, but also love European equipment (usually more $$$) I appreciate any and all comments. I've read through most of the threads and have seen bits and pieces of info, but no all encompassing guide with an independent viewpoint. Thanks!
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