VacMaster VP 215 vacuum sealer
My interest in getting a vacuum sealer began with getting into sous vide cooking. Initially I planned to get an external vacuum sealer, quickly migrating from a FoodSaver product to either a Weston or VacMaster Pro 350. I read the reviews and watched the videos on both the external and chamber vacuum sealers. It was hard to justify spending 3 times the price for a chamber sealer, but in the end it came down to the following: • Absolutely no problem with vacuum sealing products with liquids present • An oil lubricated vacuum pump over a dry one • Much less costly chamber vacuum sealer bags • It is very quiet • It is very durable; it is definitely commercial quality I also considered the less costly VP 113s; however, it looks rather flimsy, has a dry vacuum pump, and is something I thought I would regret saving money on. I was somewhat deterred by the reviews that state unless you are going to use it a great deal, get an external sealer. I doubt I will fall into the category of meeting the standard of using it a great deal, as I have only sealed 25 to 30 bags so far, but having bought it, I am glad I did and didn’t settle for an external sealer. I am very impressed with it and can see we will use it much more than I had envisioned; however, that means it must be readily accessible in your kitchen, rather than out in the garage as some have it. You need to have a dedicated space in your kitchen, just like your microwave. As others note, it isn’t easily portable at 84 lbs. Fortunately we have plenty of counter space, hence having it readily available was easy, though we set it on a lower height counter to accommodate the lid. There are plenty of videos adequately showing how the unit works, so no need to add one. Probably the biggest thing to remember is that if you want to leave the sealer with the lid down you need to turn it off since it automatically begins the sealing process when the lid goes down. One use I hadn’t expected was resealing jars like Cheez Whiz. Simply lay the jar in the sealer with the lid on a bit loose, set the sealing time to zero, and the jar is sealed as good as from the processing plant. The same is true of products like sour cream or whipping cream whose shelf life can be extended by putting them in ½ height mason jars and vacuum sealing. The only problem I experienced, which I gather is not that unusual, is that the oil/gas separator was broken off in shipment. It results from tipping the vacuum sealer on its side, perhaps accompanied by a jar. When the spring mounted vacuum pump tips, the oil/gas separator, which is mounted on top of the pump, hits the very sturdy hinge casting on the sealer and the connection to the vacuum pump breaks. When I contacted VacMaster about the damage, the technical rep said it regularly happens and while they were initially going to forward me a replacement, since I bought the sealer from WebstaurantStore, they forwarded the claim to them. WebstaurantStore contacted me immediately and shipped me a replacement oil/gas separator without any hassle and in record time. I had no difficulty dealing with them. The damage; however, is totally preventable if VacMaster made an extremely simple change in preparing the sealer for shipment. The vacuum sealer itself is packed very well, as shown in various videos, with double boxes and the sealer unit set in foam supports. However, if VacMaster was to simply insert a block of solid foam between the vacuum pump and the side of the vacuum sealer case so that the vacuum pump could not tip during shipment, the problem would be entirely eliminated. Alternatively, the vacuum pump could be secured for shipment with removable cable ties. The cost for either option would be minimal and easily covered by eliminating the cost of replacing oil/gas separators. VacMaster warns against tipping the unit on its side, but the fact is, it is pretty much impossible, once these units are individually shipped, to control that from happening. The incremental cost to ship the sealer secured to a pallet so it can’t be tipped adds much more to the expense of shipping than the minimal cost of inserting a foam block or using cable ties. It would require some planning since it would be easiest to do this at the factory, something done with a multitude of appliances and equipment. The foam block or cable ties would be easily removed by the purchaser when they take the back cover off to fill the pump with oil. If VacMaster doesn’t do this at the factory, it would still be possible for firms like WebstaurantStore to do so. I had some reservations about buying the sealer from WebstaurantStore after reading some negative reviews regarding potential shipping damage and some purchaser’s difficulty in resolving damage issues. In the end, because WebstaurantStore had the best price, and they had the sealer in stock, I purchased it from them. They shipped it immediately and I had no difficulties in dealing with them about the damage. They treated me extremely well and without any hesitation or push-back. They promptly forwarded a replacement oil/gas separator without charge, which also meant sending it to Canada. I would not hesitate in dealing with WebstaurantStore in the future and highly recommend them and commend them for their service.