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roygon

Chamber Vacuum Sealers, 2011–2014

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Update on that VacMaster VP112 Chamber Sealer from Kodiak Health. Turns out they -- like everyone, it seems -- are out of stock, and they don't expect the factory to ship new units until mid-April.

Very nice customer service people, and this is obviously out of their hands. But... grrr.

Chris, try Homestead Harvest and see if they have one in stock and if they would match the price from your current supplier. They are listing it at $675 with free shipping. They were very nice to me.

http://www.homesteadharvest.com

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I'll probably get one of these eventually, but the food saver works fine enough for me right now, I so far had no need to seal any liquid. Of course, once MC arrives that (as so much) will most likely change :laugh:

but I'm curious now, seems these machines still seal in a bag, just better. How is commercial sealing of meats and cheeses done, where there's no "bag overhang" for lack of a better word. Like the corned beef from Trader Joe's (similar at safeway etc) where there's a chunk of meat plus marinade/sauce/brine vac sealed in plastic, but sealed just around the edge of the meat (or cheese bricks etc)? Not to take this off topic, but I'm curious how that's done. All that overhang of the bags sometimes gets in the way of 'just perfect' placement in my SV machine.

By the way, Kodiak has a nice video on their site showing how this machine works. Though he only seales an already sealed piece of cheese :laugh:

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I'll probably get one of these eventually, but the food saver works fine enough for me right now, I so far had no need to seal any liquid. Of course, once MC arrives that (as so much) will most likely change :laugh:

but I'm curious now, seems these machines still seal in a bag, just better. How is commercial sealing of meats and cheeses done, where there's no "bag overhang" for lack of a better word. Like the corned beef from Trader Joe's (similar at safeway etc) where there's a chunk of meat plus marinade/sauce/brine vac sealed in plastic, but sealed just around the edge of the meat (or cheese bricks etc)? Not to take this off topic, but I'm curious how that's done. All that overhang of the bags sometimes gets in the way of 'just perfect' placement in my SV machine.

By the way, Kodiak has a nice video on their site showing how this machine works. Though he only seales an already sealed piece of cheese :laugh:

The commercial machines have multiple sealing wires. Usually one of these is a cut off wire so that any excess bag can just be torn off. My Henkelman machine has this feature.

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so it comes out like it was shrink wrapped? The meat and also cheeses are sealed tight all around I can't figure out how that can be done with even more than one sealing wire, since the items are of odd sizes. Is there a vacuum and shrink wrap machine out there?

I guess there's also some kind of ultrasound sealing, like what you see with salami etc that's sliced and sealed tight all the way to the meat (I actually hate those), super tight and close to the product being packaged.

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so it comes out like it was shrink wrapped? The meat and also cheeses are sealed tight all around I can't figure out how that can be done with even more than one sealing wire, since the items are of odd sizes. Is there a vacuum and shrink wrap machine out there?

I guess there's also some kind of ultrasound sealing, like what you see with salami etc that's sliced and sealed tight all the way to the meat (I actually hate those), super tight and close to the product being packaged.

Didn't I read somewhere on eG, very recently, that this is done by heat-shrinking the plastic bag?

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so it comes out like it was shrink wrapped? The meat and also cheeses are sealed tight all around I can't figure out how that can be done with even more than one sealing wire, since the items are of odd sizes. Is there a vacuum and shrink wrap machine out there?

It's not the same as shrink wrapping, but if you use a bag close to the size of the item being packed the effect is similar. All the air is excluded from the bag and it is held tightly against the item. The multiple sealing wires are all in the same unit (ie parallel and close together - in my machine about 5mm apart).

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Another, more successful update.

After trying to figure out options at both Kodiak Health and Pleasant Hill Grain, I talked to Conrad at Homestead Harvest. Here's their link to the VP112.

He very kindly informed me that (1) they have 4-5 in stock, and (2) sure, he'd be happy to knock $25 off the price, bringing it to $650 with free shipping.

So, I placed the order with Conrad and said no thanks to Kodiak Health and Pleasant Hill Grain. I also assured Conrad that Society members would probably scoop up those remaining units PDQ. :wink:

Should be here Monday or Tuesday of next week.

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I'm anxious to see how you like it. I really considered buying that machine but my SVS package included a cheapo edge sealer; I decided I may as well hang on to the money until I determined whether or not the included vac was adequate for my needs. Eventually I imagine I'll get the chamber machine, though, for many of the same reasons you listed:

1) Stronger vacuum.

2) Cheaper bags.

3) Being able to compress items.

4) Making pickles.

5) More versatile in type of bags.

6) The ability to easily vac liquids.

I also like to camp & hike so if I had cheap yet heavy bags I would vac survival items like matches as well as food and camping supplies.

The only knock I could see on the VP-112 is that it's a lot of money, and if I was gonna blow that much it would only be another couple hundred to get one that would seal retort pouches as well. While that's not a huge issue I have been interested in trying pressure canning food in retorts to make my own MRE-type foods for camping.

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Chris - glad Conrad was obliging - they were very good to deal with when I purchased mine (though I couldn't get free shipping to Canada unfortunately) but shipping was prompt and it was very well packed for safe shipping. I bought bags from them as well (they are REALLY heavy though!!).

Rob:

I have had my machine for several months and it works very well. It does all the things on your list (well, I have't made pickles yet!).

It also has a side port that you can plug a hose into (be sure to seat the hose end firmly in the socket) and use for either FoodSaver storage jars or with their attachement you can seal mason jars of two different sizes if that would be of any use.

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I bought the SVP-10 several years ago at nathanm's recommendation. The SVP-10 and SVP-15 were identical except that the 10 had an oilless motor while the 15 was oil-lubricated. The latter was preferred for higher-volume applications because it has a faster cycle time. The SVP-10 has worked out great for me since I don't do commercial or high-volume work.

The VP-112 looks like it's the replacement for the SVP-10 in the current product line. The price point is a bit lower than what I paid back in the day, so that's an improvement. :)

ARY has modified their bag design so that it evacuates more efficiently. With the old smooth-textured bags it took a long time to get a good vacuum. The newer bags have a textured insert that aids in channeling the air out of the bag. Unlike the clamp-machine bags, these don't leave an obvious texture imprinted on the food. (Amazon sells them with free shipping if you subscribe to the Prime service.)

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ARY has modified their bag design so that it evacuates more efficiently. With the old smooth-textured bags it took a long time to get a good vacuum. The newer bags have a textured insert that aids in channeling the air out of the bag. Unlike the clamp-machine bags, these don't leave an obvious texture imprinted on the food. (Amazon sells them with free shipping if you subscribe to the Prime service.)

Are the bags boilable (or does it really matter if they are or not - I am still confused about this.

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Are the bags boilable (or does it really matter if they are or not - I am still confused about this.

They specifically state that the bags can be boiled. One of the challenges of ordering bags online when I first got a vacuum machine was finding bags that were heat-safe. The old Food Saver bags were not rated for heat as far as I know, and even after I got the chamber machine I had to email or call the vendors to find out if the bags were heat-safe. I guess it's a sign of the times that vendors no longer assume that their products are just going to be used for storage.

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Chris.. FWIW

I use 1.6 sec seal not 1.8!!

ARY.. makes two different bags.. make sure you get the "cook in bags" for boiling

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In preparation for the arrival of this chamber sealer, I decided I wanted to learn a bit more about pressure, vacuums, and the different ways that those values are measured. In the Modernist Cuisine book, there's a chart on 2:215 called "How a Vacuum is Like a Mountain," and it includes a lot of useful information in vacuum percentages, water boiling points, and mbar and psi measurements of pressure. There's more information inside the text preceding that chart as well.

But when I looked at the user's manual for the VP112, I realized that I had to think through an additional issue: cmHg, or centimeters of mercury (at 0ºC, if you were wondering). That required two additional columns: one for the pressure in cmHg -- atmospheric pressure at sea level is, for example, 76 cmHg -- and another for the reading of the VP112 dial, which is zeroed at atmospheric pressure.

So, to be able to read the dial, which goes from 0 cmHg to -76 cmHg, I wanted to have a reversed column that corresponded to the dial readings. That's the cmHg-76 column.

This may be merely an obsessive exercise useful only for me (I think I figured out a thing or two in doing it!), but I offer it here in case it's also useful to others. Comments below the chart.

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A couple of interesting points.

The boiling point of water changes, of course, with changes in pressure. That can mean trouble: putting a warm liquid at around 40C/100F into a chamber sealer and pulling a 95% vacuum will make the liquid boil. MC recommends, therefore, that you cool your liquids down before chamber sealing them at the recommended 95% vacuum.

For food in bags (non-rigid containers, that is) all of these data points apply only to the period during which the bagged food is in the chamber. Once the chamber is released, the food in the bag is under 14.7 psi, or atmospheric pressure. At least, here in the Ocean State. :wink:

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the Henkelman and I think the new Mini-pack models have temp sensors that will vacuum as much as possible until it boils then it automatically seals. It works really efficiently.

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I do not put hot liquids under pressure.. unless you want to clean the chamber ( @ least .. this is what im sticking to ). The other thing I haven't had good luck with is.. trying to chamber things with carbonation in it .. pop and beer.

paul

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Yeah, you're just pumping gas out of things that have gas in 'em. It's like trying to save a bottle of champagne by pumping it with one of those vacuum sealers: you're hastening, not slowing, the ruination of the bubbly!

I wanted to share the video of the VacMaster VP112 from Kodiak Health, which was helpful to me:

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So, watching that video a few times, it seems that the vacuum gets to about -68 or -70 cmHg on the vacuum gauge when he seals up the cheese. That corresponds to a ~90% vacuum.

So, a True or False question: on these type of machines, if you want a higher vacuum percentage, you set the timer for the vacuum longer. It just continues to pump and lower the pressure.

Yes? No?

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Chris, thanks for the link. I guess I've been using a similar technique, Pedro had a link in that thread as well. Seems to work pretty well. Good luck with your new sealer.

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So, watching that video a few times, it seems that the vacuum gets to about -68 or -70 cmHg on the vacuum gauge when he seals up the cheese. That corresponds to a ~90% vacuum.

So, a True or False question: on these type of machines, if you want a higher vacuum percentage, you set the timer for the vacuum longer. It just continues to pump and lower the pressure.

Yes? No?

Yes.

These machines use timers rather than pressure sensors to get to a level of vacuum. It's a bit trial and error as you need to take into account the size of the item(s) in the chamber as the "spare space" has to be evacuated and the time to do this is longer for smaller items as the unused space is bigger.

Machines like my Henkelman use pressure sensors to determine the length of the vacuum cycle and only use timers for the other parts of the program like time to hold at 100% vacuum, sealing time and soft air time. But the big down side is that machines like these typically cost thousands not hundreds.

I'm sure that with some experimentation you will find some times which work well for your regular applications.

For most sous vide use I pull 100% vacuum and hold it for 5 seconds. With delicate items like fish I usually only pull 97% so as not to crush it.

A while ago I read an interesting article on the Cooking Issues blog describing an experiment where different pressures were used prior to SV cooking and a taste test was done on the samples. I just had a quick look and couldn't find the page. If you can find it - it is worth reading.

Cheers,

Peter.

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Yeah, I read that and now can't find it.

FWIW, the Modernist Cuisine book talks about the Cooking Issues claim that it's about pressure on the meat as a whole, but they believe that it's about bringing the surface of the food to the boiling point bc of the pressure. IIRC here with insufficient caffeine and no MC to which I can refer.

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Yeah, I read that and now can't find it.

I found a link to it, but it looks like it's been marked private. Presumably the content will be included in the vacuum section of their sous vide primer, once it's completed.

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So, a True or False question: on these type of machines, if you want a higher vacuum percentage, you set the timer for the vacuum longer. It just continues to pump and lower the pressure.

Yes? No?

I'd guess conditionally true. You'll encounter a point of diminishing return around the maximum vacuum the pump will draw. According to the manual, for this machine the maximum vacuum is 90 percent. I don't have this sealer to test that.

Vacuum packaging with the VP112 removes up to 90% of the air from the package.

Here's a link to the manual: http://vacmaster.aryvacmaster.com/vacmaster/pdf/VP112_Manual.pdf

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