Best Vacuum Sealer for BBQ and Outdoor Food
Over 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted worldwide every year with an average of $640 worth of food being thrown out by the average American household. One way to reduce this number and save some money is to vacuum seal any leftovers or food that is soon to go out of date. Any BBQ you may have grilled or smoked is the ideal candidate for vacuum sealing. It’ll keep in the flavor and make it as good as new for another time. We’ll go over everything you need to know about vacuum sealing food, look at some vacuum sealer reviews and breakdown the best vacuum sealer for preserving BBQ.
What is a Vacuum Sealer?
A vacuum sealer, or vacuum packing machine is one of the most effective ways of creating an air tight seal to help store food for long periods of time. If you’ve just come in from a big BBQ with lots of left overs, or if you’re simply trying to save some money and save food for the long term then proper storage is vital. As a vacuum sealer creates a vacuum around the food, there is no air to spoil it so all the flavor is trapped inside. Not only this but the bag of food will be a lot smaller than if storing it in Tupperware, for example. Meaning you’ll have a lot more room in your fridge or freezer if you vacuum seal your food.
How Does a Vacuum Sealer Work?
A vacuum is a place that has no air. Space is a vacuum, for example. If there isn’t any air, then there isn’t any oxygen. Oxygen is what causes food to spoil. If there’s no oxygen, then there’s no food spoilage. A vacuum sealer removes all the air from the bag of food and then seals it shut so no more air can get in. It usually does this by melting the top of the plastic bag together so the food will be protected. Special plastic bags have to be used for this so the plastic doesn’t just melt all over the machine. These bags are usually strong enough to be able to be boiled or put in a microwave. This is a great way to re-heat left over pulled pork.
Chamber vs External
External vacuum sealers are more common and are generally cheaper. They are usually used at home. Whereas chamber vacuum sealers are generally more expensive and can be used at home or as commercial vacuum sealers in restaurants etc.
External sealers cannot seal liquids. Anything that has any liquid inside of it is also not going to be able to be sealed because the moisture will get into the mechanisms of the machine. Any meat or fish should be frozen before being vacuum sealed with an external sealer.
Chamber units use a vacuum pump to remove the air from the entire chamber. A pump is a lot more powerful than the vacuum channel that external sealers use. This allows chamber vacuum sealers to seal liquid, so there isn’t any need to freeze the meat before you seal it. They are also much quicker and can seal much larger bags of food.
Pros and Cons of Vacuum Sealing Food
- Vacuum sealing is extremely economical. Food will last around 5 times longer when vacuum sealed compared to traditional methods, which will greatly decrease food (and money) wastage. It also means food can be bought in bulk, reducing the cost in the first place. With a vacuum sealer, you have a great excuse to go out and buy several racks of ribs for smoking.
- Helps to conserve space for extra food storage.
- Moist foods won’t dry out if vacuum sealed correctly. This will help to maintain the tenderness and flavor, even after month of storage.
- Vacuum sealing is a great way to marinade meat or fish. As the air is being removed the meat will open up its pores to allow the marinade to be taken inside.
- Lower chance of bacteria or insect infestation.
- Relatively easy to quick to do.
- Great way to store jerky.
- Can even store non-food items such as jewellery. As there is no air there is a much lower chance of the jewellery becoming tarnished.
Read More: ‘How to make jerky in a smoker’
- Obviously, there is going to an upfront cost and an ongoing cost of the plastic bags.
- Despite the low chance of bacteria accumulating, there are some dangerous bacteria that are associated with vacuum sealing perishable good. Check out the tips and tricks section later in the article to learn how to avoid this.
- The bags can sometimes degrade after a while, allowing oxygen in.
Best Low-Budget Food Vacuum Sealers
The KitchenBoss vacuum sealer is very compact and yet very powerful low-budget vacuum sealer. It’s got a very simple design with four buttons for easy use. There are three settings. Inching is where you can suck out the exact amount of air you like. Vac and Seal is where you can press one button and the KitchenBoss will do all the work for you. Seal is the last option and does exactly what you think, it seals your bag.
Other features include:
- Very good quality build. It has a nice finish and feels sturdy.
- Portable size and design, including an internal cord storage to make transporting it as easy as using it.
- External port available to connect a hose to a Food Saver container or canning jar. This way you can get all the air out of a jar or can with the hose attachment.
- The inching function is ideal for moist foods. It is normally quite difficult or not possible for external vacuum sealers like this to deal with moist food. But the inching function allows you to suck out most of the air without pulling the liquid out.
Dimensions: 14.8 x 5.3 x 2.6 inches (37.6 x 13.5 x 6.6 cm)
Weight: 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg)
Overall, the KitchenBoss Vacuum Sealer is the simplest, most feature rich and best value for money vacuum sealer you can buy if you’re on a budget. Its sleek design means it will take up very little space in any kitchen. You get 10 bags of different sizes included and 10 sheets of stickers to name or date your food. It has everything you need to start and is incredibly simple to use. If you’re looking for a basic, yet very useful vacuum sealer and don’t want to spend much money, then the KitchenBoss is the best food vacuum sealer you can buy.
FoodSaver is the biggest brand when it comes to vacuum sealing. They’re been to go-to brand for many people because of their top quality products at reasonable prices. The Foodsaver FM2000 is another one of these products. It’s very similar to the KitchenBoss, it has many of the same functions, is roughly the same size and works at the same sort of pace. The FoodSaver is very simple to use. You simply plug it in, take the safety cardboard out and you’re ready to go. You have a choice of either sealing or vacuuming and sealing. It doesn’t have the inching option like the KitchenBoss, which is a shame but not a huge problem. What it does have though, is a hose included with it. This means that any FoodSaver accessories are useable out of the box.
Other features include:
- Removeable drip tray which makes clean-up easy and extends the life of the FoodSaver FM2000.
- Easy latch and lock system to allow the placed bag to be locked in place in the sealing channel very easily.
- Accessory port on the outside for ease of access.
- Good quality build.
Dimensions: 17.6 x 5.9 x 10.6 inches (44.7 x 15 x 26.9 cm)
Weight: 5.3 lbs (2.4 kg)
Whilst this is lacking a few features that the KitchenBoss has and is bigger and a lot less portable, we found the FoodSaver FM2000 to be much quieter than the KitchenBoss. If you’re looking for a vacuum sealer that has a strong brand’s reputation behind it, is simple and easy to use and works quickly and quietly then the FoodSaver FM2000 is one of the best food vacuum sealers you can buy.
Best Mid-Range Food Vacuum Sealers
The FoodSaver v4840 is a great option if you’re looking for an all round vacuum sealer. It has a lot of addition features that make it very good value for money. It comes with a starter kit, include many different sized bags and rolls of bag to create your own sizes. It has the standard automatic vacuum sealer and also a manual pump built in. This means you can seal can, containers and zip lock bags without having to get any accessories.
The FoodSave v4840 also comes with a built in roll storage. We love this feature as it makes sizing and storing bags a breeze. Included in this is a bag cutter on the device that works fantastically well to allow you to cut custom sized bags without any messing around with scissors. It’s all built in an makes your life a whole lot easier.
Other features include:
- Pull out drip tray that is completely dishwasher safe to make cleaning up any spillages as easy as possible.
- A rapid marinade mode to make marinating as simple and quick as possible.
- Moist and dry settings for your food. This is a great option to have and it deals with moist food incredibly well. It can also be used to seal liquids with a little effort.
- Great quality build that you’d expect from FoodSaver.
Dimensions: 11 x 20 x 12 inches (28 x 51 x 30.5)
Weight: 10 lbs (4.5 kg)
If you’re thinking about taking vacuum sealing seriously then we’d definitely recommend the FoodSaver v4840. It makes light work of pulled pork and the results are just as tasty as before they were stored. The bag roll storage and cutter make things so much simpler and easier. The marinade works pretty well and having the option to vacuum seal containers and cans is a nice feature. Overall, this the best vacuum sealer you can buy if you expect to be doing more that the occasional seal. If you’re going to be a lot of vacuum sealing or sealing bigger cuts of meat then the higher end options are recommended.
Best High-End Food Vacuum Sealer
The Western Pro-2300 is the go to vacuum sealer for BBQ enthusiasts. If you have a lot of food that you need to vacuum seal then this is one of the best food vacuum sealers you can buy. This is generally used as a commercial vacuum sealer but is just as easy to use at home. It has a complete stainless steel construction and is built incredibly well. It has a double piston vacuum pump that can rapidly seal bags of up to 15 inches (38 cm) in length. It also has a see-through lid so you can perfectly line up the bags when sealing.
Other features include:
- Extra wide seal bar creates solid, dependable seals every time. As it’s a commercial grade product it can also comfortably seal through moisture. This is a big problem for some of the cheaper vacuum sealers because their sealer just isn’t strong enough to steal through moisture.
- Fan cooled motor designed specifically for continuous, repetitive use without overheating. Another problem with cheaper models is that they require a cooldown time between seals. That isn’t a problem with the Western Pro which can literally seal continuously.
Dimensions: 15.3 x 23 x 9 inches (38.9 x 58.4 x 22.9 cm)
Weight: 22 lbs (10 kg)
There are a lot of very nice features on the western pro. It’s as simple to use as the cheaper models we’ve already talked about but it has a much better ease of use when you’re sealing multiple bags in one sitting. The ability to quickly seal one bag after another is a huge time saver and make the Western Pro one of the most efficient and convenient vacuum sealers on the market. The downsides are what you’d expect. It’s large, heavy and pretty ugly. It’s built for efficiently and effectively sealing multiple bags at a time, not to look good in your kitchen. It also doesn’t use FoodSaver bags so you’ll have to go with Western’s own bags which tend to be more expensive. Despite a few small down sides, this is the best food vacuum sealer you can buy if you’re going to be vacuum sealing a lot of meat.
Best Chamber Vacuum Sealer
The VacMaster is the only chamber vacuum sealer on the list. As it uses a chamber to remove the air this is a lot more versatile than anything else on the list. It’s primarily a commercial vacuum sealer but can be used at home if you want and is recommended for small restaurants, caterers or hunters. It’s simple to use but has a lot of customization in the vacuum and seal methods which lead to a huge range of packaging options but also means it lacks the simple set up of others on the list. One of the best features that the VP210 has is the ability to vacuum seal liquids. You can easily seal marinades, stews or even soups.
Other features include:
- Strong double seal on each bag means that you get a complete and lasting seal.
- Dry maintenance free machine pump.
- Can use bags up to 10” x 15” (25.4 x 38.1 cm)
- Can vacuum pack almost anything, even glass jars.
Dimensions: 24 x 19 x 19 inches (61 x 48.2 x48.2 cm)
Weight: 83 lbs (37.6 kg)
Overall, if you’re looking for a great quality chamber vacuum sealer then the VacMaster VP210 is a fantastic option. It has a huge range of sealing and vacuum options so, after a little experimentation, you’ll be able to vacuum seal basically anything. The ability to seal liquids is potentially hugely impressive and if you’re looking for that then this is one of the best chamber vacuum sealers you can buy.
Here’s a quick video showing the potential power of the VacMaster VP210:
Tips and Tricks
- Use quality bags. If you’re planning on doing any vacuum sealing and keeping the food for months or years then we’d highly recommend using some bag that are good quality. We recommend FoodSaver or Weston.
- To reduce the chance of bacteria growing in the bag it’s best to wash your hands or use latex gloves to put the food into the bags. General cleanliness will go a long way so keep anything that the food might touch nice and clean. Disinfect any utensils that you might use to move the food after it has been cooked.
- Make sure the seal is complete and there isn’t any debris in or around the seal.
- Properly label your food. Put a name and, at the very least, a date on the bag so you can tell when it was cooked.
- Store the food in a fridge or freezer. Just because it’s vacuumed sealed doesn’t mean it should be left at room temperature. Unless it’s nuts or crackers, for example.
- Here’s a great video of Malcom Reed going through his process of storing and vacuum sealing leftover pulled pork:
Vacuum sealing food is a brilliant way of saving money and food. Even the cheapest options on our list will make a huge difference to your life and can help you play your part in a major worldwide problem.
Let us know in the comments what you think or if we’ve missed anything.