After much searching and price comparisons I bought the Weston from these people on line:
Good service, best price, no shipping and a nice large roll of bags to start with. On a reorder basis, the bags I have found are of a better quality and less money than the Food Saver's or big box store's prices also.
Buttons up close
This is an extremely easy machine to use. It is a large unit and takes up a sizable piece of countertop real estate so check measurements as to whether something like this will work for you. The Food Savers I've owned I've stored away in a drawer but this is way too big and heavy to be lugging in and out of drawers or a cabinet. I use my Weston, maybe not every day, but several times per week so having it out on a counter was important to me.
Left over egg/sausage/potato frittata from breakfast
I decided rather than having to eat this the next day or the day after - and we all know the longer something sits in the refrigerator the more tired it gets - I would vacuum seal it and freeze for sometime when time was limited and we needed or wanted a quick breakfast. This frittata was big and fluffy while it sat in the pan but as the cheese cooled it shrunk. Not to worry, because it can be reheated in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees and it will yummy up again!
First step in preparing any item for vacuum sealing is to wrap in plastic wrap unless it's a dry product. I buy large rolls of commercially available plastic wrap at Sam's. My husband made me this cute box that sits on my island to hold this big roll. I don't always put books under the wrap, depends on an item's size. I pull out a nice length, run the cutter across and proceed to wrap at least once.
You probably are wondering why I would wrap everything first. Well, the Weston has a vacuum hole - see hole under the top of the plastic bag in next photo? This hole is where the suction takes place. If you have anything that is really wet and sloppy you can always run the risk of sucking wet juices into that hole - not a good thing! Wet meat juices into the hole could ruin your sealer! I also pre-wrap all oily or messy things to be sealed because the edges of the bags need to stay CLEAN! Having to struggle getting something into a bag and then trying to clean up the edge is a pain....just pre-wrap first and problem solved. I double and sometimes triple wrap meat patties and wet meats before stuffing into the vacuum sealing bags. One other advantage of pre-wrapping is that you can slit the seal of the outer bag, remove the meats to defrost outside of the bag....no sloppy juices inside the bag and it then can be used again. Saves money on bags if you can use them many times before they are too small to use on much of anything else and then throw them away. Sloppy bags are hard to get really clean, a pain to get dry and then sometimes they still won't seal properly so the extra step in pre-wrapping is worth the trouble.
I lay a couple of books on the counter to bring small bags up more level with the edge so it is easier to get a nice flat edge to the bag for the lid to sit on. There are some great videos on the Net that talks about this sealing process. It's really easy and a short learning curve.
One slice of frittata being sealed and ready to label.
Four slices labeled with name and date and ready to go in the freezer which took all of about 15 minutes.
I own a large and small mouth vacuum lid sealer for the Food Saver that is for sealing Mason jars. I put up a lot of products in Mason jars to store either on shelves, refrigerator or freezer. I had owned the large mouth sealer for several years and about 6+ months ago I bought the regular mouth sealer lid but it doesn't work very well at all. The large mouth works about 98-100% of the time - long trial run and trying different techniques but not much helped this regular size lid sealer to work satisfactorily, so I don't use it and stick to the large mouth jars.
I put up large bulk buys for the refrigerator things like cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, blue cheese, dates, sour cream, home made salad dressings and sauces - anything that you want to keep more than a week should be vacuum sealed. Most of the cheeses will last several months w/o any deterioration. I have tried vacuum sealing large quantities of some fresh products like broccoli and cabbage in bags, not jars, and this hasn't been too satisfactory. The bags seem to leak air and allow spoilage to start taking place fairly quickly....could have been some of my old Food Saver bags. I plan to try again once I place an order for a new assortment of Weston bags which seem to be of a better quality and the failure rate is far less.
I buy full chuck roast shoulders 15-25 pounds, which I cut up into roasts and grind up for hamburger patties and one pound packages for whatever I decide to use it for. A shoulder will usually last my husband and I up to a year along with other meats I keep on hand. I've not had anything usually more than a year in the freezer except some fresh made salmon patties which are still good. I can't speak to how much beyond a year the meat will keep but I've read and been told up to a couple of years. I've yet to have a failure in the sealing of any of these packages of meat except one bag of a cut up pepperoni. The meat tastes and looks as good as the day it was ground and that's good enough for me!
If I have not covered something you have a question about then feel free to contact me and I'll try to answer your questions. The Weston Vacuum Sealer is a fantastic household tool that can save you many dollars and deliver wonderful meats and other frozen products a year after you put them up. You won't go wrong with this sealer.