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  1. Looks like a good thread, thanks!
  2. Thanks all. Consensus seems pretty clear so far. I appreciate the posts. I am still hoping a fervent defender of the home freeze dryer will arrive to defend their honor and tell the other delicious side of the story, but maybe that ain't happening. 😁
  3. That's exactly the kind of feedback I needed. I hoped, if there was some amazing culinary use, I would have heard about it by now--just trying to make sure.
  4. I love to cook and love gadgets like my sous vide gear and chamber vac sealer. So, I’ve been looking at freeze dryers too, and while it looks fun... I have a hard time seeing myself using one often. I do manage a lot of leftovers, but vacuum sealing + freezing works great for that. I find it hard to believe that reconstituted freeze dried foods would come out as well—but I could be wrong! I’m also just not sure how many freeze dried berries I can eat, you know? I would really like to know why you love your freeze dryer and how it impacts your regular meals, especially if you’re also a vacuum sealer fan. If it unlocks a bunch of kooky “modernist” techniques, that would be good to know, too. Thanks in advance for putting something expensive on my shopping list!
  5. I agree a mechanical issue seems likely and worth a closer look. Need to be careful about lubricant, some kinds of pistons are made to operate dry.
  6. The oil-filled pump is the difference between being able to seal anything you want, even if it is hot and steamy, and having to be careful and cool everything first. I absolutely love the freedom to never worry about anything. > The other thing is I wonder if the issue could just be with the seal bar- can a defective seal bar cause the issues I’m experiencing? In my unit and I think most others, the seal bar lifts under vacuum power. It does seem like your problem could be as simple as a sticky piston, broken bushing, or other mechanical issue. The machine surely has switches inside that tell it if the bar is up or down, hence your error code. It might be easy to fix, if you could get to the problem... but it also might require a specific Polyscience part that they won't sell you.
  7. A $500 repair on a ~$1000 gadget is hard to swallow without knowing more about what needs to be repaired. Since a new Vacmaster unit with an oil-filled pump is "only" twice the repair cost, I too think that this looks like a good opportunity to upgrade.
  8. I think @lemniscate nailed it. If that cabinet is truly the only place to store the sealer, then I think rolling it out to a better work area is the way to go. The ways I use my sealer, I cannot imagine carrying bags from the kitchen counters into some other room, and then using it in a cramped space. Just my 0.02 American dollars. Finding one the same size that is on wheels might be worth the effort. This is a pickle, good luck.
  9. My Minipack says it will work with textured bags. They even support using it as an edge sealer. I bet you do have to mess with the seal time to get it to work. But like @rotuts says I've never used anything but 3 mil bags because they are cheap, convenient, and reliable.
  10. I can't believe you found a Minipack with 212 cycles on Craigslist!! Wow. I bought a 35XP at full price... It stung, but no regrets. Such a cool machine.
  11. On mine the air return can make things flap around and if I am doing multiple bags, they'll bonk in to each other. So again, I guess it is about punctures. But, I guess everyone else is getting by without so maybe I am too worried about that.
  12. IMHO soft air release is a valuable feature. Or, let me say, I would not want a machine that always slammed the air back in at top speed. Even if your release isn't adjustable, you don't want it to be as fast as possible at all times. Slamming the bags increases the chance of a puncture if the contents is borderline. (Some say that fast release is ideal if you're doing something like storing meat in marinade but I don't know if it really helps.)
  13. Looks like Vacuum Sealers Unlimited dropped their prices, last time I ordered I swear free shipping was not included. Cool. I use this size mostly, 6" x 10". https://vacuumsealersunlimited.com/shop/commercial-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-pouches/3-mil-chamber-bags/6-x-10-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-case-of-1000/ In a quantity of 1000 that is about 3.1 cents per bag, shipped. That is so cheap I use them without hesitation. If I bought a bag twice as long with the idea of cutting it in half and making 2 bags... Here is a 6" x 20" bag. https://vacuumsealersunlimited.com/shop/commercial-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-pouches/3-mil-chamber-bags/6-x-20-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-case-of-1000/ These guys are about 6.8 cents each, so by cutting them in half, you aren't actually saving anything. What I am getting at is this: As far as I can see, when you buy in bulk the cost of a bag is roughly proportional to the size of the bag. Every time I look at the prices, what makes the most sense to me is to buy the right sized bags and use them as-is. And if there was a discount for bigger sizes it would be a small savings, and not worth the extra work of cutting them down and extra sealing. Where I break this rule is when I want to work with something like a huge block of cheese. I don't want to spend an extra 7 cents every time I use some cheese, so I use an oversized 10 cent gallon bag, cut off the seal, and re-seal it. I do this for some things I have frozen too, like bulk spices. I will also make a small bag into a TINY bag, if needed, so I don't have to stock a million sizes. Anyway, after well over 1000 cycles in my 12" machine, this is the set of bags that works for me. 3 mil 6 x 10 @ 3.1 cents -- most commonly used size and I would NOT buy anything smaller without a special need. Need it smaller once in a while? Place it so the seal bar cuts it down when you use it. https://vacuumsealersunlimited.com/shop/commercial-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-pouches/3-mil-chamber-bags/6-x-10-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-case-of-1000/ 3 mil 10 x 12 @ 6.8 cents -- used about half as much as the 6 x 10, still a real workhorse. https://vacuumsealersunlimited.com/shop/commercial-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-pouches/3-mil-chamber-bags/10-x-12-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-case-of-1000/ 3 mil 12 x 15 @ 9.4 cents -- giant gallon bag, my least used size at 5-10%, but when you need it you need it. https://vacuumsealersunlimited.com/shop/commercial-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-pouches/3-mil-chamber-bags/12-x-15-chamber-vacuum-sealer-bags-case-of-500/ At 3 mil I do get a puncture once in a blue moon when I press my luck... but when that happens I double-bag it and re-seal. It's worth eating the cost of another bag once in a great while compared to the cost of keeping thicker bags on hand. I wish the more exotic bags like mylar, stand-ups, and clear front/gold back bags were cheaper. They also have retort bags which lets you seal and then do a pressure canner heat cycle to sterilize, which sounds cool... but I cannot find any home-use time and temperature instructions, and the bags are super expensive at $0.45 each in 16 oz. YMMV.
  14. Makes sense. I think there's a good chance you'll really enjoy it, whether you standardize on jars or bags. I use mine CONSTANTLY and a couple of friends have them now too, after seeing mine. I do really think that an oil pump is worth the extra dough. The 215 is a nice unit, I almost got it, then decided to go crazy and buy something even more expensive.
  15. I didn't know you could seal Mason jars in a chamber like that. Cool! That said... I am having a hard time imagining when I would want to do it. Bags are so so cheap. The pint bags I use most often are about 3.5 cents, delivered. You can even use a larger bag than needed for the item, cut off the strip, and re-seal it. You can drop a bag in a sous vide bath and get good thermal transfer to the contents. You can give a bag of leftovers to someone and not worry about getting the jar back. But most importantly, bags only take up as much room as the product inside them, but a jar is always the same size. If I used jars instead of bags I would not have room in my fridge for my various leftovers right now. And in my freezer, forgetaboutit. But if jars are top priority, then a cheaper machine with a vacuum hose attachment made for that purpose might be a better choice. An burly chamber sealer with an oil pump, like the 215, would be wasted on jars. IMHO. Not like I should talk about "wasting" money on potential you don't use. I'm pretty guilty of that!
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