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Everything posted by horseflesh

  1. 15-20 is no big deal. I actually do most of my (savory) baking in a ceramic grill, so I obviously don't mind a little setup time.
  2. Barry, thank you for doing that. 18 minutes isn't bad at all, and neither is that temperature swing.
  3. I've read elsewhere that the preheat on a Bluestar RNB oven is pretty slow. I saw one poster somewhere say they won't bother using the oven on a weeknight, which sounds nuts to me. How slow is it? Has anyone gotten time on the Bluestar "Platinum" series? It lists a faster oven preheat. It also costs a heck of a lot more, but setting that aside for now...
  4. It's been a while, anyone have something new to share in the hunt for the ideal range? My oven just started stinking up the house with gas. I am sure it can be repaired, but since it's a 30 year old builder special, I am considering this an opportunity to upgrade. I'm looking for a 30" unit which should include a high-output wok burner. I'm flexible on other features and price, but reliability is critical to me. (Baker-friendly features would be a bonus, my wife likes to bake but she is not a gearhead like me!) I've read that BlueStar is good, though you can expect to need to calibrate the oven and replace igniters on the range, though these are also said to be jobs you can do with just a screwdriver. As far as hardware store brands go I like the look of the dual-oven-zone Samsung that was posed upthread. I'm not opposed to getting something "boring" like Samsung or GE if it meets my needs.
  5. I have a different sealer, but I assume they all operate in similar fashion. If the bags only have marks on one side, then it sure does sound like they aren't getting pinched right. The seal bar is probably lifted by vacuum power, so I would guess that you aren't developing enough vacuum, or that the seal bar isn't moving smoothly for some reason. Since the machine isn't releasing the vacuum either, my guess is that something is fubared in the seal mechanism, preventing it from lifting all the way and then dropping and initiating release. Examine all the moving parts carefully, maybe there is some debris in the way. I cannot think of a reason the textured bags would cause the problems described.
  6. I already have a sealer but I passed this info on to a friend of mine and he went for it. Thanks for sharing!
  7. This is what I am most interested in, too. If I can use a nickel of plastic and gas to extend the life of $5 of bread, that would be great.
  8. Thanks for looking in to this. I bought a Minipack in part because I wanted the option for gas flush, but I never pursued it. After using my sealer for a couple of years I am not honestly sure how much use I'd get out of the gas flush add-on, so I would love to hear from anyone who has one.
  9. Wow, great score on the Minipack! I have a Minipack 35, and have always been interested in the gas flush option. Too bad about the cost. I don't know what's in the kit, not sure if it can be duplicated with off the shelf parts, or if it has new electronics in it as well.
  10. Yep, that is where I got my bags 2 years ago and at that time I don't think they had the variety packs.
  11. No kidding!! I am surprised that none of the vendors are offering smaller packages for us home users. When I got my sealer I got waaaay more bags than I needed because I wanted access to several sizes. After having the sealer for a while I have found that by far I use more of the pint bags than anything else. I probably use 5 pint bags for every quart bag, and 20 pint bags for every gallon bag. That's because a lot of what I do is package single/double servings for sous vide cooking, or package single/double servings of leftovers when I have made a big batch of something. I also make a lot of smoked salmon, cheese, and jerky, and the smaller bags are pretty good for that too. It is definitely true that using a bag which is too small is an exercise in frustration. Too many times I have found myself with a bit of a mess, all for the sake of trying to save a nickel. Someday I'll learn.
  12. If you think you'll not go through 1000 bags, you probably could have bought a cheaper sealer. I have had my chamber about a year and a half, and I have gone through 953 cycles. (Probably 2/3 of those were pint bags.)
  13. That assortment is awesome! They did not have that when I bought bags a couple of years ago... so I have, like, thousands of a size it turns out I don't use. The size I use most, by far, is the 6" x 10" pint bag... but if I could only have one size on hand it would be 8" x 12" quart bag. Sometimes, a pint just isn't big enough. The quart bag is big enough for almost anything, but it doesn't cost a lot more so I wouldn't feel too bad about not using the smallest practical size.
  14. I have a Minipack with a Busch pump so I have some opinions. My Minipack has been running well. I can't compare it to a Vacmaster and so it is hard to say if the Busch pump was worth it... all I know is, it's been working well, and the pump can boil ice water. I honestly find the moisture stop feature to be pretty worthless. You need to go in to that mode specifically and I never take the time; I just hit Stop when I see the inside of the lid fog up, or when the boiling in the bag picks up. Since I often seal a variety of things in one session--for example, a few different kinds of leftovers--it takes more time to use the built in moisture stop feature than to just eyeball it. For a commercial workflow where you needed the machine to run unattended while you prep the next bag, it would probably make more sense. I seal a lot of things with liquids in the bag. Not needing to care about how much liquid there is or how often I do it is great. I think that choosing an oil pump over a dry pump is the most important thing if you are getting a chamber sealer. Getting the better type of oil pump is nice but as a home user with only about 700 cycles on the machine, I have a hard time proving that it was "worth" the expense.
  15. I have had some failed seals but always with good explanation. If I seal something with sharp parts (bones, shrimp shells), I might get a pinhole leak. Now I know to double-bag these things, or pad the bones. Once in a while one of my big 12" bags will shift during pump-down and I will get a wrinkle under the sealer bar, but I can usually trim off the bad seal and try again. Not all wrinkles cause bad seals, but it does happen once in a while.
  16. Same here. I went for a nice sealer so I could have maximum versatility. I seal liquids, even warm ones, all the time. All you need to do is watch the chamber and hit the stop button before it makes a mess. When sealing warm liquids there will be an instant where the chamber fogs up in a split second... that is when I hit stop. Any longer and you're headed for a mess. I run the Conditioning Program once in a while, and change the oil (so far) once a year. I did about 600 cycles in my first year, so that is probably an early oil change, but more frequent oil changes won't hurt anything.
  17. Boy, do I know it... I was going to get a VP215C and then I talked myself into a Minipack. No regrets, however!
  18. I went through a similar thought process... how high up the ladder do I go? I ended up choosing a model with an oil pump and I have been happy with that decision. I really like being able to work with wet and warm foods without worrying about how water vapor may damage the dry piston pump. Leaving the oil to sit for a while should not hurt the pump. The oil sits around in its bottle for who knows how long before you buy it anyway. It's synthetic and very stable. My sealer has a "conditioning program" that runs the pump for a couple of minutes, heating up the oil to drive off any accumulated water vapor. They suggest doing that once in a while, and after the sealer has sat unused for a weeks. That is the only thing the manual has to say on the topic so again, I think idle time isn't a big deal. I ended up using my sealer a lot more than I had expected, and I had pretty high expectations. I don't think yours will sit idle much either. As far as loudness, my sealer is about as loud as a blender, making it the loudest thing in the kitchen. As long as no one is watching TV at the same time, it isn't a big deal. And if they are... I just ask them to pause it for a minute. From your list, I would choose the 215. I almost got one myself but decided to get a Minipack.
  19. I can vouch for nectarines injected with Frangelico. Pineapple is another good fruit to play with.
  20. We just have different priorities... I am all about minimizing per-bag cost. I definitely see where you are coming from though. I too would like to buy smaller quantities. I bought one size I was unsure of... Have used it maybe 4 times. I have a lot of those darn bags still...
  21. The cost of the bags seems to scale up in linear fashion with the amount of material used. If you buy only big bags, and end up cutting half of them up, you are actually wasting money. If it's more convenient, go for it... but I find that I really like having a few bag sizes on hand. I think I spent about 4 cents per pint bag (my most commonly used size) and 11 cents per gallon bag. If every pint bag cost me 11 cents I wouldn't use them with reckless abandon... but at 4 cents, I seal everything. I seal instead of using tupperware if it's going to be in storage more than a day. Also, I think you will be surprised how many bags you use. I will have put over 600 bags through my sealer by its first birthday. If a thousand bags is truly several lifetimes worth a chamber sealer probably isn't worth the cost. 3 mil bags have worked fine for me. I have had a few failures over the last year. Mostly that happens when I don't put the bag in the machine right, so there is a wrinkle in the sealer area. Sometimes the payload will shift during evacuation and move the bag around. I have also had sharp foods like shrimp shells puncture the bag. In those cases, I double-bag. I find that to be more cost-effective than also maintaining a supply of 4 mil bags.
  22. Thanks, Ruben... And, you reviewed the 4080! Awesome.
  23. Thank you for the feedback. This is still a tough decision! My thoughts so far-- The ICE-100 seems like the safe bet among the affordable compressor units. Based on scary reviews I'm dismissing the Lello 4070 and 4090 and apparent variants such as Whynter. I wish I could find a real showdown between the Breville and the ICE-100. If the Breville made product as well as the ICE-100 it might be worth $100 for the extra capacity and more useful keep-cold feature. I entertain a lot and I'd really like the ability to serve from the unit. The next step up seems to be the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino ($700, 1.5 qt) which is allegedly much different than the cheaper Lellos. However, again, there are no good reviews of the unit in comparison to the ICE-100 or Breville. (I did find a small blurb here, though.) I'm also apprehensive about reliability and repairs on the 4080. I suspect it will be easier to get a Cuisinart fixed than a Lello, and I do not have any confidence that the $700 4080 will be more reliable than any other non-commercial model.
  24. I recently purchased this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002HEXSWE I am reasonably happy with it. It seems to miss the stone in about 1 in 20 cherries and as far as I can tell, that's an OK rating. If I am dehydrating the cherries, I don't even bother to check them after pitting because the pit is obvious and easy to fix in the final product. If I was making baked goods I'd have to check each cherry individually no matter what kind of pitter I used.
  25. An oil pump pulls a stronger vacuum, and is tolerant of water vapor meaning you can work with liquids and hot foods. The oil pumps are also said to be more long-lived in general. I do not know how much water vapor is too much for a dry pump, if anyone else does I'd like to learn more.
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