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Chamber Vacuum Sealers, 2011–2014


roygon
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Hi there, yes the mvs31, and all of the minipak machines apparently work as an external sealer. One just has to reverse the sealing bar and presto, works like a Food Saver, when using the chamber vac this way though you need to use the Foodsaver type bags, you need the texture of the bag to allow the sealer to draw out the air. I tried it, just to reassure myself that it did work, but haven't really found the need to seal anything larger than the 31 can handle. And in response to the earlier question, never had any buyers remorse about the couple thousand to substantially upgrade from the Foodsaver. Aside from the big savings on the bags, sealing liquids etc.. The kicker for me was compression, yuzu flavored compressed watermelon kind of made the whole deal even sweeter.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm still trying to catch up with the 134 pages of pre-2011 sous vide posts, but long ago came to the conclusion that I want a chamber machine for non-commercial use (so, for example, I don't need full NSF compliance or traceability).

I looked at the ARY units and discussed them with the manufacturer and several of their retailers and am not impressed by their comments on the longevity of the rocker pump units or even their oil pump unit. Coupled with the shift of production to China (after the time they were recommended by nathanm as well as the fishing boards), I've made the decision to move into a more robust unit.

I've been looking at the Minipack MVS 31X/35X/45X which seem to be attractively priced and have a reasonable distribution network in the US. With the exception of the 31X, they use Busch pumps like most commercial units. The 31X uses a DVP pump which some claim is "the same" as a Busch, with a different name plate, but I can't confirm that.

Multivac has some mid-priced units (relative to commercial equipment), the C100 and C200. They seem to be somewhat more sophisticated in their control than the Minipack units. They do have an established US presence which seems to be responsive.

It wasn't clear to me that either the Minipack or the Multivac have a soft-release of the chamber vacuum.

Koch doesn't have a 12" model, and seems to be overpriced compared to Henkelman.

Henkelman seems to be to be the most sophisticated, with their Boxer 35 or 42 having features that seem to be lacking in the others, such as soft-release of the vacuum and an optional "stop-on-boil" sensor. I'm tempted to pay the additional compared to the Minipack or Multivac units, but I'm very concerned about US distribution. The "new" US distributor doesn't show much more than a phone number for contact information.

For those that have or have explored these professional machines, I'd appreciate any insight into sales and parts channels that can help me make a better informed decision. The whole process reminds me of buying pro-sumer espresso machines, where you plunk down a significant amount of cash on something you've never even seen, not to mention used. (And yes, this is taking away from my conical grinder and Speedster or GS/3 savings account).

I've read that at least on person found the Koch (16") machine too large for their home kitchen. For those with the 16"-class machines, what would your recommendations be after living with one for a while?

Are there any other table-top commercial units you would recommend I consider?

Thanks!

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I picked up a VP-215 and couldn't be happier. I can't imagine it ever wearing out with home use and an oil pump - and given that the cheapest price I can see for the MVS31 is almost double what I paid I'm quite happy with the decision :).

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The MVS 31x doesn't have soft release, but I haven't found that to be an issue.

The main reason I went with the Minipak over an ARI with oil pump was being able to select a preset vacuum rather than setting a run time. As far as stop on boil, I guess that would be nice, but I find that a finger on the seal button works just fine.

HTH,

Larry

Larry Lofthouse

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Carlton....

I was in the same decision making type of process - the 112 or 210 - the money wasn't really the object. For me, the 210 gave some better options, BUT....the 210 is not really a machine you will be moving around much...by yourself. For me, that was the decision factor. My wife is NOT going to let me keep the sealer out in the kitchen, so I figured I would be schlepping it from wherever I ended up storing it to the kitchen for use. Not something I would really look forward to with the 210. Honestly, if I had a counter spot where it would permanently sit, I would have gotten that model. For me, the ability to move it around (and really not giving up too much functionaliy) the 112 was perfect.

Cheers....

Todd in Chicago

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I just came across this thread, or I would have contributed earlier.

After reading MC, and some extensive discussions with blackp and Douglas Baldwin, I opted for the Minipack MVS-31X. Although the Henkleman has some nice feature, including a soft-air feature, the Minipack seemed to have a better distribution and support system here in the US.

I bought mine from Doug Care Equipment. Doug seems to be very knowledgable, and has lots of other stuff as well, including bags. But PolyScience and others also sell them.

I ordered mine with dual 4mm seal bars, and no cut-off. But the seal bars are replaceable (although not cheap), so if you need a cut-off, you could easily switch back and forth.

The Minipack allows you to program the amount of time used for the sealing. I recently bought some 7mm retort pouches in order to try "canning" in the bag using a pressure cooker, but the added thickness requires you to crank the seal time up to the maximum of 4 seconds. Those bags were 8" by 18", which is too long for my chamber (they are intended for fish fillets.) And no, they cannot be used outside the chamber vacuum -- I would have to use a FoodSaver bag with the crinkle finish for something that big.

Yesterday I ordered the gas fill adapter from Doug Care. According to him, it shouldn't be too hard to upgrade the machine -- the holes are pre-drilled and the wiring just plugs in.

Although blackp uses a mix of nitrogen and CO2 (which is apparently used by restaurants and bars for pressurizing beer kegs), I think I will probably opt for nitrogen only, and get a 40 cubic foot tank that can sit on the counter behind the chamber vacuum and the anti-griddle. I'm told that I need a regulator that will go down to 2 bar (30 psi) reliably. Because most tanks are pretty scuffed up, I may make some kind of a nice looking cover for them, and it might be a good idea to somehow anchor it to the counter top. The thought of dropping the unit and breaking off the regulator, and having a bottle with 2000 psi jetting around the room doesn't seem very smart!

The intended use for this (other than experimentation) would be to preserve things like bread, cookies, bagels, chips, etc., without crushing them. By evacuating all of the air from the chamber, and then filling it with nitrogen before sealing, you can create a "pillow-pack" like that used for potato chips, and the lack of oxygen will retard the onset of staleness (I hope).

Doug indicated that the more expensive 45X model has a soft-air feature, and he suggested that it might not be that hard to modify the air inlet port and put a constricting valve on it, so it wouldn't compress food quite so violently. When I take the covers off to add the gas fill adapter, I'll try to scope out what that would take. If anyone else has any thoughts or has done this, please post them, as the soft-air feature would certainly be nice to have.

Edited by Robert Jueneman (log)
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I was debating the Minipack vs the Henkelman for a while too. I went with the Henkelman Boxer 35 but I really like both units. The Henkelman has a powerful motor and the soft air feature is nice. The feature that I unexpectedly love is the quick stop H2O sensor. It works incredibly well with liquids or anything moist. Highly recommended.

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I ended up going with the Henkleman 42 as it has a significantly larger chamber than the Minipack MVS31X. Not only does it have a 16.5" bar (lets us seal two 7.5"-wide bags at a time), but also it is 14.5" from the seal bar to the back of the chamber, in contrast to the Minipack at about 9.5" -- The Minipack felt like the size of an office laser printer as far as its chamber size

If we were only using the unit for sous vide, the Minipack would have been a great option. It certainly is significantly less expensive than the Henkleman and, in my opinion, significantly better quality than the ARY units. As we are likely to be sealing for the freezer as well, and sometimes in larger sizes (one of our good friends is a renaissance butcher) and in large quantities (we're considering individual portions of home-cooked food for our senior Poodles -- around 30 bags a week), the Henkleman got the nod.

I purchased the gas-fill option up front as I figure it was less to buy now (~$200) than it would be to ship my machine across the country later on.

The online presence for the Henkleman US rep, Vacuum-Packer.com, is not terribly strong, but it turns out to be a new face of AbsoluteSource.net, which others here have used, from what I understand. Trey Rios there was very helpful and responsive.

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  • 1 month later...

I recently purchased a Vacmaster VP112 sealer. The first time I tried it out, the unit sealed properly, but the top remained locked down, making it impossible to open the lid to remove the sealed item. After approximately 30 minutes of speaking with three different people at ARY, I was told to use the canister tubing to release the vacuum. I was told to let the unit rest so that an internal circuit could reset. It worked properly the next time. The next day, I used it again & again the top locked down, requiring the canister tubing to release the vacuum. Given the weight of the thing, I'm inclined to just keep the machine & use the tubing to release the vacuum, but if the tubing stops working,I suppose I could just bale up the entire thing, send it back, & let them deal with the food locked inside. Has anyone else had this problem with the VP112?

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I just read a recipe from HB that demand placing a chocolate & meringue foam in a vacuum set @250MilliBar for 15min. Can the VacMaster VP112 hold a vacuum for that long? Can we manually turn off the vacuum once it reach the correct level? IF not , I might look for the the upper range VacMaster model (unless none of the vacmaser handle such tasks)

Sam.

Edited by THE_COW_IS_OK (log)
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I have the VP215, but I think the answer is the same - no. On the 215 you set the amount of time that you want the vacuum to be applied but it only goes up to 80(?) seconds. You can manually stop the vacuum process at any point, but it then automatically proceeds to seal and then release the vacuum.

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I just read a recipe from HB that demand placing a chocolate & meringue foam in a vacuum set @250MilliBar for 15min. Can the VacMaster VP112 hold a vacuum for that long? Can we manually turn off the vacuum once it reach the correct level? IF not , I might look for the the upper range VacMaster model (unless none of the vacmaser handle such tasks)

Sam.

250mBar is 75% vacuum, an edge sealer would do, place your foam in an external rigid vacuum container and pull 75% vacuum with an edge sealer or chamber vac.

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm looking for an affordable chamber vacuum sealer (in Europe). Currently I'm using a very cheap edge sealer (Caso VC 10) for my sous-vide cooking, but my experiments with sealing liquids were complete disaster. I'd like to seal stock etc. without first freezing it. I'd also like to do more vacuum compression (which can be done with an edge sealer and an external container, but takes ages and of course the results are not as good).

I've been looking at various options, unfortunately, the devices with the really cool features (vacuum sensor, soft air) are all in the > 2500 Euros range. Even the slightly cheaper Henkelman models don't have those features. On the more affordable side, there are slightly dubious products like the Schengler SVM 600 (which is supposed to have a 6 m³ pump, but the technical specification is quite vague) which you can get for 500 or 600 Euros.

There are also more robust looking professional machines from non-established companies like Rotek. They have a 20 m³ pump and look very solid, but the offical stats say only a 96 percent vacuum. I contacted them and a technician told me that it's unrealistic to get even a 96 percent vacuum in a bag due to the resistance of the bag on the sealing bar. However, their pump has a final pressure of 2 mbar, which seems to be comparable to Busch and other quality vacuum pumps. As for special features, the Rotek machines all have two (!) broad sealing bars (13 mm on each side) and are available with a gas filling valve. They currently don't have a GreenVac gastronorm connection, but the technician claimed that it should be easy to retrofit.

So what's the deal with the maximum vacuum specification - just an overly conservative technical company or sub-par technology?

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Yes, but the MiniVac is too small for my needs. I didn't mention it before, but I've got a rather large freezer and vacuum almost everything. I realize that I need to keep an edge sealer for the really large cuts of meat, but of course I would rather use the chamber machine as much as possible.

In addition, the MiniVac has none of the extra features that would make the premium machines worthwhile (GreenVac, soft-air). For this price, I'd look at Allpax.de machines (which at least have the external GreenVac connector).

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I just bought a Henkelman Boxer 35 from vacuum-packer.com and also found Trey Rios to be very knowledgable and accomodating.

It seems as though Henkelman is the best in regards to tabletop chamber vacuum quality, and they are certainly the technological leaders in the field.

I had mine configured with Soft Air, Gas Flush, and the H20 sensor so vacuum stops as soon as boiling is detected. I was going to get the seal bar with two 3.5mm seal wires, but based on another post from someone with a Boxer 42, I got the bar with one 3.5mm seal wire and one 1mm cut off wire. Cutting off the food splattered excess from the bag is nice for keeping the freezer and Sous Vide vessel clean. The end where the excess is cut off acts as a second, albeit narrower, seal.

Just to be safe regarding the second seal, I also ordered the "1-2 Cut" option, which allows you to program different times for the 3.5mm seal wire and 1mm cut off wire, instead of both having to heat for the same amount of time. This gives me the control to ensure the cut off wire makes an effective seal.

This forum was invaluable in helping me make my choice.

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My VP112 have arrived. I didn't have an edge sealer but my trick was to use a glass jar with lid loosely placed. place both inside a bag and vac seal everything. It came out perfect.

My next step was making abnormally fluffy meringue. I placed a meringue scoop inside the jar. sealed it @200MB and placed it inside my sous-vide bath @85C for 2 hours. Results were amazingly fluffy meringue. No need for vacuum oven :)

Anyways. I like the VP112. The main downside is it gets only up till 28.1"hg.

IF I had to redo it again, I would have bought the next step up with oil pump capable of 29.5"hg VP215. (from 28.1->29.5 is like 4 times more vacuum strength!)

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After some agonizing, I've opted for a used, but supposedly well-cared for, Henkelman Boxer 35. It's only the basic model without the vacuum or boiling point sensor control, but it has got softair, a good pump and easily available replacement parts. Once the unit has arrived, I will perhaps ask Henkelman if it is possible to retrofit the sensor control. OTOH, all the other options in the EUR 1200 pricerange have far fewer features, so even with just the time control, it should provide good value.

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After some agonizing, I've opted for a used, but supposedly well-cared for, Henkelman Boxer 35. It's only the basic model without the vacuum or boiling point sensor control, but it has got softair, a good pump and easily available replacement parts. Once the unit has arrived, I will perhaps ask Henkelman if it is possible to retrofit the sensor control. OTOH, all the other options in the EUR 1200 pricerange have far fewer features, so even with just the time control, it should provide good value.

That's an excellent price. I would change the oil and filter if you haven't already, just in case they've been contaminated, it's very easy to do.

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I haven't got it yet. The oil has been changed by the seller (a restaurant kitchen technician). I'll ask about when the filter was last changed (according to the manual I found on the web, it should be changed once per year, although I think for private use some larger interval should be sufficient).

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I haven't got it yet. The oil has been changed by the seller (a restaurant kitchen technician). I'll ask about when the filter was last changed (according to the manual I found on the web, it should be changed once per year, although I think for private use some larger interval should be sufficient).

I've had my Boxer 42 for > 5 years. The filter has never been changed and the oil has been changed maybe once per year - not because it needed it, but because I thought I should. Each time I changed the oil the drained oil looked good and reasonably clean.

If you primarily use your machine for packing rather than making things like Heston's French Fries - you shouldn't have a problem. The main reason for changing the oil is that it eventually makes an emulsion with the water vapour which is sucked out of the chamber. Just packing cold food for SV or freezing doesn't make much water vapour so the oil lasts a long time. Of course potential contamination from unknown products would be a good reason to change the oil.

All that said - the oil is cheap and the process is simple so change the oil often!

The Australian distributor of Henkelman made a DVD video showing the oil change procedure - it's pretty amateur in production etc, but if you are unsure about what to do it is a fantastic resource compared to the oblique instructions in the manual. If you want I can explore posting it somewhere after checking with the distributor - after all I don't need to make an enemy of him ;-)

Regards,

Peter.

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The Australian distributor of Henkelman made a DVD video showing the oil change procedure - it's pretty amateur in production etc, but if you are unsure about what to do it is a fantastic resource compared to the oblique instructions in the manual. If you want I can explore posting it somewhere after checking with the distributor - after all I don't need to make an enemy of him ;-)

Thanks, that would be great!

Greetings,

Peter

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I finally got around to checking with the distributor and got his permission to post the video.

It is a video showing how to change the oil in a Heneklman Boxer 42, but is applicable to other models as well.

Hope this is helpful,

Regards,

Peter.

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