Which Vacuum-Pack Machine Should I Buy to Make Salad in a Jar?

Next to questions about the feasibility of adding veggies to salad in a jar (answered here), readers ask me most often which vacuum-pack machine to buy. I’ve done some homework and tried out a few different systems to save you the trouble and give you some choices.

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A simple FoodSaver vacuum-pack machine with the requisite port needed for the wide-mouth attachment

When I started vacuum-packing salads, I used a FoodSaver machine similar to the one above. I ordered the wide-mouth attachment and purchased wide-mouth (easier to seal and fill than regular-mouth) quart-size glass canning jars.  Unless you have great plans to vacuum-pack most of the food in your refrigerator and freezer, you don’t need a fancy machine. However, to make salad in a jar my way, you must have the following:

    1. a port on the machine (see picture above)
    2. the wide-mouth attachment (ordered separately)
    3. a hose

Please note the hose comes with the machine, not the attachment. You can order a replacement hose here.

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The reuseable flat lid goes on top of the jar inside the attachment when lettuce is ready to be vacuum-packed. Once sealed, remove the attachment and place the metal collar on top of the flat lid as insurance to keep the jar sealed in the refrigerator.

I still love my FoodSaver and use it occasionally, but I’ve found some cheaper and space-saving alternatives.

The handheld system seen below is also manufactured by FoodSaver but costs only about $20 and sometimes you can find it for less. You still need the wide-mouth attachment as seen in the picture, but not the hose. You must press firmly against the opening in the top of the attachment to seal the hole so the machine can vacuum properly.  It’s rechargeable. This gadget can also be used with specially-designed zipper bags sold by FoodSaver.

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Press firmly to create a seal on top of the attachment.

Another option I recently discovered is a hand-held sealer by Reynolds called a Handi-Vac. Although I think they may be out of production now, they are still available at some Big Lots stores for only 3 dollars. Again, you don’t need the hose, but you still need the wide-mouth attachment.

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Battery-powered Reynolds Handi-Vac

This works the same way as the Food Saver hand-held device. Position the nozzle over the top of the wide-mouth attachment and press the button to suck the air out of the jar.

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Cover the hole and press firmly to create a seal that will allow air to be sucked out of the jar.

This is my personal favorite because it is cheap, small, relatively quiet, and it works!  Hope you can find one.

Oh– and one more thing…it works with Ziploc vacuum bags sold at the grocery store but only if you purchase this little rubber adapter sold by Reyn-Lock.

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 WORKS GREAT with Ziploc vacuum bags!

At 19.95 for one of these adapters, it is incredibly over-priced, and I could only justify it in the name of research. The seal doesn’t seem to hold quite as long or as tightly as a regular FoodSaver machine does with custom-cut bags, but the Ziploc bags are more convenient due to the ease of resealing– perfect for cheese and nuts.

I do have one more option in case you already own a regular FoodSaver machine and a large FoodSaver canister. Attach the hose to your machine and the canister lid. Put the jar inside the canister and seal. Immediately remove the jar and place the metal collar on top of the flat lid and repeat with your other jars.  This is a really good use for these canisters because they are not good for storing food.  My experience, shared by many, is that these canisters quickly develop cracks, making them useless–except for sealing salad in a jar.

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Best use I can think of for these canisters sold by FoodSaver

I have not tried any other brand of full-size vacuum-pack machines because I have not found any with the large-mouth jar attachment.  If you know of one, please let me know.

Also, I have not received one dime for references to FoodSaver, Reynolds, or Reyn-Lock in this post.  Just sharing what works for me.

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{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorraine January 19, 2012 at 8:06 am

Such an informative post! Thank you, Paula!

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Stacy January 19, 2012 at 9:55 am

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!! I was wondering if my cheapy hand held would work and you totally answered my question!!! YAHOO!!!!! :)

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Peggi January 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm

GASP!!! I have one of those Reynolds Handi-Vac thingys, and have been disappointed because you can’t purchase the bags anymore! THANK GOD I didn’t throw it out! And THANK YOU for doing this research – I’ve been bummed because I can’t afford one of the big sealers, now I don’t have to!!!

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Dean June 26, 2013 at 8:00 pm

look on ebay for replacement bags

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Paula January 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Lots of great information in this post! Thank you.

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pt January 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Awesome post! Thanks for all your research!

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TheKitchenWitch January 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

You did all the work for me! You’re awesome!

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Melissa January 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm

After seeing your site a while back, I purchased a “Pump N’ Seal”, which is a manual product that works a little like a bicycle pump. It’s best for jars (not great with bags & so on) and the way it works allows you to reuse things like spaghetti sauce jars. It provides a very good vacuum, is small for storing, and my lettuce is generally fresh for at least 7-10 days. I also use it to keep dry things from going stale, like trail mix and other snacks from the bulk section. Check it out, even if just to see the incredibly corny infomercial they use to sell it! I think mine was about $37 after tax for the device and a strip of 100 of the little vacuum seal stickers it uses. If you like to seal bags a lot it’s probably not a wonderful option but I like glass better anyhow so using jars wasn’t a big deal for me.

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mimi January 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Great post Paula. Lots of good information. I have a food saver and use it a lot , and now I know what I can do with that canister!
Mimi

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The Café Sucré Farine January 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Oh Paula, thanks for this post – I wanted to try this but couldn’t justify the cost of a Food Saver – thanks for all these great tips on how to do this inexpensively! You always have wonderful tips!

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Melissa January 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Thank you so much for this!!! I’ve been lurking on your site for almost 2 years. Your Greek yogurt recipe is a staple at our house now but what originally drew me in was your salad in a jar. Have wanted to try the technique for so long but couldn’t justify the purchase of a big FoddSaver. Just ordered the handheld and jar attachment. I’m so excited.

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Paula January 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Hi Melissa, Love to hear from lurkers-since I am one myself to many blogs. Hope you like the salad in a jar. pr

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Paula January 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Mandi, I probably should just say, “I don’t know.” But I looked online and I’m wondering if the jar attachment you are referring to is made for a large canister. If so, and if it is large enough, you can try putting the Mason jar inside in the samr way I did in the last picture on this post. pr

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Leanna January 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Today is my first SIAJ experience! Found you on Pinterest and just got all my supplies. Borrowed my in-laws’ Foodsaver and was pleasantly surprised when I saw this blog entry….I can get away with a hand-held…yay!!! I did romaine in one jar, green leaf + shredded cabbage in a few others, kale and then spinach. Anxious to see how they all hold up over the course of the week?!? Adding fresh vs. frozen veggies to my morning smoothies is going to be fantastic. Thanks so much for your “research”

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Paula January 29, 2012 at 7:31 am

Hi Leanna,
Please write back and tell me how your experiment turns out. I have not had much luck with anything but Romaine lettuce. Other lettuce types seem too fragile to hold up more than 2-3 days, especially spring mix and spinach. Some veggies work pretty good but nothing lasts as long as Romaine so I don’t mix them. pr

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Carolyn January 29, 2012 at 8:08 pm

After reading your post, I have a handheld FoodSaver on order, so thanks for the research Paula! I landed on your website by way of Susan V of Fat Free Vegan fame. This salad idea is such a great concept I can hardly wait to get into production. I don’t even CARE about the dieting aspect at this point (although I could stand to lose several lb’s), I just want to stop losing my lettuce and other salad veggies because I forgot about what was in the produce drawer. Having the ready-to-go salad jar out front and center will really cut the losses. And I already re-use glass jars for pantry staples, so there’s even more justification for the purchase!

One question- have you reused the canning lids after vacuuming, or are they toast after one use, like they are after being super-heated in a canning process? I would think the vacuum process would not be as detrimental to the lids, and that they could be reused.

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Paula January 29, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Carolyn,
You can reuse the lids over and over….until they bend or rust. In other words, for years! pr

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Brenda @ Meal Planning Magic January 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm

So glad for this post but I have a question. I was all excited to get going on this and purchased my jars, adapter and tubing to use with my old Foodsaver. After several attempts (even my husband tried it to make sure it wasn’t “just me”), I called Foodsaver. They were somewhat helpful but basically said my unit was not powerful enough to do the jar sealing. When I mentioned the handheld as an option, the rep told me no way would that work. So I’m confused..either she just wanted to sell me a newer Foodsaver or I’m thinking of something different. I was all ready to order a new, more powerful Foodsaver until I reread this post and no am wondering if I should try the handheld first. Any ideas on why I would have been told no on the handheld unit? What else is it normally used for? TIA for your help!

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Paula January 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Brenda,
Despite what some readers told me, I used to think the handheld wouldn’t work either. And it doesn’t work with the hose. But remove the hose from the adapter and press the handheld tightly on top of the adapter to create a seal as shown in the picture above, and it will seal.

One more trick you might try with your old FoodSaver is to put two lids in the adapter. Of course, only one will seal to the top of the jar and the other will fall out of the adapter when you are done. Worth a try.

I had another reader who couldn’t make her machine seal and she also enlisted her husband’s help. Just like you, it still didn’t work. She later reported they bought a new FoodSaver and it worked like a charm. I suspect your old one may indeed not be powerful enough to seal a jar anymore, just like the FoodSaver rep indicated.

If I were you, I would get the handheld and try it, knowing you can return it. Of course the full-size FoodSaver can be used for many more things if you prefer to go that direction for more money. Would love to hear how it goes. pr

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Viva_Karina February 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I’m also interested in what people have to say about the handheld foodsaver and the mason jar attachment.

Reading the reviews on Amazon it seems to be a mixed bag. Some say it works like a charm, others say they are not compatible at all and don’t waste your money.

I’m really hoping that this works because before I found this site I was always rushing to eat my salad (I like to prep ahead too) before it goes bad, but geez, I can only eat so much of it at one time.

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Paula February 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I looked at some of the reviews. Didn’t find anything that said the handheld and the mason jar attachment were incompatible. Probably just missed them. Anyway, they are obviously not designed to be used together but it does work if you press the handheld firmly against the attachment to create a seal tight enough to facilitate suction. Be sure to screw the collar on top of the flat lid after vacuum-packing to hold the seal. Hope this helps.

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Viva_Karina February 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Thanks for the response Paula. I just love your site!

I decided to order the hand-held foodsaver and both mason jar attachments despite some of the negative reviews that I read on there (I went through hundreds so I don’t blame you for not seeing them!).

I’m going to make your yogurt recipe again tonight! It’s so delicious and easy!

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Vicki V February 3, 2012 at 7:17 am

I am just catching up on posts, but I wanted to thank you for this information. I have hesitated to do the salad in a jar because of the cost of the equipment. Now even I can do it! And I bought the ingredients to try yogurt very soon…maybe this weekend!

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Leanna February 3, 2012 at 9:01 am

UPDATE: Well it’s been 6 days and every jar (leaf lettuce w/shredded cabbage, romaine, spinach, and kale) are all perfect!!!! The spinach and kale probably wouldn’t be *fantastic* raw in a salad but I mix them into smoothies and they are great! All of it was bought fresh (nothing bagged), washed, cut and spun dry before packing. I also ran out and bought the handheld (was borrowing my mother in law’s V3840..works great btw) and it sealed just fine! I used quart jars with the wide mouth attachment for this round but went and bought pint jars so I’m not constantly re-sealing. I’ll do one jar per day and the pint jars are enough for 1 serving of salad and 1 serving of spinach or kale for my morning smoothie.

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Brenda @ Meal Planning Magic February 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Paula, I just wanted to let you know that I finally ordered a new Foodsaver (2244 I think) after trying the handheld unit (which will be returned). The Foodsaver unit worked terrifically! I was so excited my family thought I was nuts for being so excited. But I think this will be life changing…more salad more often and less spoiled lettuce. Guess the compost pile will not be the same anymore–LOL! I’m excited to try cabbage as mentioned in a previous comment–I’ve got half a head I wasn’t sure just yet what to do with. I think I’ll be a serious experimenter now. Love this idea–thanks so much!

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Janknitz March 2, 2012 at 12:11 am

I got the handheld unit with both the wide and regular jar attachments and it works great. I thrilled my DH because the hand held unit also works on our Vacu-Vin wine stoppers. Our hand held manual Vacu-Van pump broke not too long ago. Multi-Tasker! Alton brown would be proud!

I love beautiful Mason jars and keeping things fresh!

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Paula March 2, 2012 at 7:09 am

Awesome, Jan. I love Mason jars too.

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Chelee March 5, 2012 at 12:41 am

I have to thank you so much for the salad in a jar idea! I lost over 50 pounds recently eating primal/paleo. Salad is the centerpiece of my food consumption–I make all kinds of salads loaded with proteins and yummy homemade dressings to keep them interesting. I was spending a fortune on bagged. pre-cut, pre-washed romaine. When I did switch to hearts and heads to save $$, they usually ended up going bad before I could eat them…or I’d eat something other than salad if I didn’t have time to prepare the lettuce. I tried doing it in advance in zip-top bags and the lettuce was gross in a couple days. Since I purchased my FreshSaver and the wide-mouth jar adaptor (and a $5 salad spinner) I’ve saved so much money and have been able to have salad whenever I want it (sometimes even in the morning!). I am so glad I found your website!

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Paula March 5, 2012 at 7:11 am

Hi Chelee,
Thanks for the wonderful testimony. And congratulations on your weight loss! May it last a lifetime. pr

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Robin Lavaux April 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm

just wondering, i might have missed in the other posts, but how long do these keep and do they still need refridgerated, i am thinking yes, but before i invest in a handheld, needed to ask thx for this blog

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Patricia April 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Hi, I need an vacuum packing machine, Please I need price and place . My phone number: 215.554.7881 or 813.325.2066 I am in Philadelphia PA. Thanks.

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Kristen May 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Thanks so much, I just found your blog because a friend found the idea of salad in a jar on pinterest, and I am currently kind of anti-pinterest. Nothing against the site or people that use it, I just don’t need another time-sucker, if you know what I mean. :-) Anyway, I am so glad I found you I am going to be a regular follower, we have a lot in common, and I love reading your blog already, though I am very very jealous of your trip to Italy. Thanks for writing this blog and for this particular post.

Also, I have been seeing online reviews of the jar attachment working with the ziploc handheld pump working, have you tried this and did you think it worked well? Thanks!

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Paula May 9, 2012 at 7:10 am

Kristen,

Yes, you are right about the Ziplock hand pump. It works great with the wide-mouth attachment. I plan to do a post and video about it soon.

I couldn’t agree more about Pinterest.

Thanks for your kind words and taking the time to write them. pr

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Christy May 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I stumbled across your blog when looking up bread machines for making dough (recently diagnosed with RA). In less than a week, I’ve accumulated 6 64-oz. jars (Ace Hardware), and a handi-vac and wide mouth attachment (ebay). We’re trying as a family to eat more fresh, fewer processed foods. I’m beyond excited to have a way to keep my romaine and kale fresher longer. I’ve even settled on a new bread machine, but since it costs more than the “lettuce set-up,” it will have to wait. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and research!

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Paula May 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Hi Christy,
Welcome! I’m curious. How much did you have to pay for the wide mouth attachment? Great idea to look on ebay. Bet you could get a good deal on a bread machine, too. So few people know how to use them to make really fabulous bread, so they seem to fall into disuse rather quickly. pr

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Christy May 17, 2012 at 7:18 am

With the shipping it was 12.34. I’ll have to pay consumer use tax on that online purchase when I file taxes next year, but it was a better price than I could find on amazon for the same attachment. I did not look into what Foodsaver would have charged to ship item. (I was in a hurry to get everything I needed together before it was time to buy more lettuce and this ebay seller promised two-day shipping.) I’ll probably buy my breadmachine from Walmart with their site-to-store service. The weight of the breadmachines makes ebay shipping charges outrageous. Over the last 12 years, my husband has gotten rid of two bread machines I had because we never could make bread we loved in them–but I also never spent enough time experimenting nor thought about just using the dough function and baking it normally. I’m considering the WestBend Hi-Rise because of the size of the loaf and the double paddles. (With a family of five, even when we found a recipe we liked, we’d have none left over–but maybe that’s the point. . . ) Now I’m more committed to fewer additives and preservatives, so I’m sure I’ll be more motivated to make it work. In the meantime, I’m so excited about fresher lettuce in my fridge! Thanks so much!

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Paula May 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

Christy,
I vote for the machine with double paddles. Love the one I have with double paddles because it seems to mix the corners better. But honestly, I’ve had several machines and even my least favorite ones made good dough. pr

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Vicki Walton May 22, 2012 at 6:46 am

In reference to Christy and the wide mouth attachment: I bought both the wide mouth and regular jar attachments at Bass Pro store for $9.99 each.

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Rose June 15, 2012 at 12:52 am

I just KNEW I was keeping all this for SOMETHING! I got rid of my food saver since it wouldn’t half seal and it was like that when it was new. BUT I kept all the stuff that came with it. Now I have my sisters Food Saver using hers so I WILL be doing this since my lettuce don’t last NO TIME in the fridge in the summer time! THANX for this idea!!!

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Paula June 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm

You’re welcome, Rose. Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your lettuce.

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Megan June 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Thanks so much for this review! I came across your salad in a jar on pinterest and just couldn’t justify the cost of a regular food saver– I had no idea that these other options existed!

I can not wait to start making my salad in a jar and stop throwing away half the lettuce that I purchase. Thanks again! :)

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marci July 10, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Can you use this instead of the canning method on things like peppers?

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Paula July 11, 2012 at 6:06 am

Marci,
This is never a substitute for heat canning which is a completely different type of food preservation. Vaccuum-packed perishables must be kept refrigerated and extends the freshness a few days, not weeks or months. pr

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Mothercrone July 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Hhhmmmmm…wondering if this would work on herbs, especially basil and parsley which seems to go bad practically overnight??? Love this website and I am passing it along to other like-minded people.

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Paula August 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Mothercrone,
Thanks so much for sharing. My experiments with herbs did not prove vacuum-packing to be advantageous. I guess they are too delicate. Same with spinach and spring mix. Radicchio works great mixed in with romaine, however.

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Joan August 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Have you ever tried sealing cooked chicken in a jar so it would last longer? Thanks!

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Paula August 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Joan, I have not. I always throw mine in the freezer.

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Gladys September 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Hi, are the hand held vacuums you used as good as the food saver? Which one would you recomend?

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Paula September 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Gladys,
It all depends on how you want to use them. A full-size vacuum pack machine is more versatile and will perform several kinds of sealing. However, if you only want to seal jars, the portable sealer will work just as well. (using the attachment or the pin prick method)
My favorite is the Reynolds hand-held that uses batteries. I found it at Big Lots for $3 but I think the company has sold out and no longer makes them although you still might find one at Big Lots. The FoodSaver is rechargeable and also works well.

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Nancy December 7, 2012 at 10:57 pm
Paula December 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Hi Nancy,
You’re not late. The party is still going on. Many people look at this every day. So good to know about the Handi-Vac. It is my Number One, favorite way to vacuum pack my salad.

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Justin Sather June 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Hello, Neat post. There’s an issue with your website in web explorer, might check this? IE still is the market chief and a good portion of other people will pass over your fantastic writing due to this problem.

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Anita July 21, 2013 at 10:13 am

Thanks! Please disregard my previous questions via post. I just didn’t check your site in enough detail. Thanks for all the information, can’t wait to try this!

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Alex Neu July 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Hi Paula,

can i connect the accessory hose to the handheld vacuum sealer and to the food canister to do the job? Or simply connect straight from the handheld unit to the canister? If it does the job, which model of handheld unit that fits to those Tilia canisters.
Also, I realized that many do not offer to ship to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Any suggestion on the shipment? Many thanks.

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Paula July 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Alex,
Not sure I understand your question. The handheld does not need or use the accessory hose. You simply press it down on top of the wide-mouth attachment. If you want to use the Tilia canisters, you must have the regular Food-saver vacuum-packer unit which uses an accessory hose. The accessory hose attaches to the Tilia container lid and then to the vacuum-pack machine. Hope that helps.

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Kimberly J McCormick August 2, 2013 at 12:05 am

Thanks for all the information! Always looking for new tips on savings o money and/or food!

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Murgatroyd November 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Bed Bath & Beyond can order the wide mouth jar sealer for you shipping it to your home or as a pick up later at the store. Price was $10.99 before tax, and the associate waved the shipping fee for me. She couldn’t tell me the jar sealer’s model number, and the store invoice and website didn’t list the model either. I want the model with a ‘P’ at the end because it isn’t supposed to have the raised letters on the nipple. If it isn’t the correct one I can just return it before I leave the store.

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California Fan December 29, 2013 at 10:12 am

Paula, thank you for all the research you do for all of us. Your website is outstanding. We bought the handheld Food Saver device and the wide-mouth top, but neither of us could make it work. My husband never gives up, however. He took the clear plastic oval off the bottom of the Food Saver, the part that is held against the wide-mouth top, and put it on the wand of our canister vacuum (Miele). It sealed everything like a charm. It works on the small storage containers, too. I keep cut carrots, celery, roasted cauliflower, etc., in these, for munchies and for additions to salad. Hope this helps someone else, as you and your fans have done for me.

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Paula December 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Your husband is a genius. Thanks for sharing your solution. Perhaps it will help someone else.

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Alysann Collotzi April 29, 2014 at 4:32 am

Hi Paula! I can’t get the wide mouth jar sealer off without the lid coming off also. Any suggestions? (I was trying to do the salad in a jar)

Also, it seemed to take a really long time before the food saver indicated that it was done. How long does your food saver take to seal a salad in a jar?

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Paula April 29, 2014 at 6:34 am

Alysann,
Sorry you are having difficulty. The reason your lid comes off with the sealer is because it isn’t sealed. Sounds like your food saver is either clogged somewhere or is dying. They don’t seem to last very long if you use them a lot. I like my portable sealers a lot better.

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Mark June 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm

been vacuum sealing for a long time. food savers do not pull high enough vacuum. found a better solution . bought an a/c vacuum pump and fabricated an adaptor pulls 29 in of vac. food lasts longer. you can not use plactic with setup the plastic will get sucked in. also found a way to vacuum seal in gallon jars, it is a great way to store my specialty flours, they last a very long time .
another trick for the lids to seal better is to run them under hot water before sealing , will have a tighter seal, make sure to dry off before sealing. you can also use the hose to pull vacuum thru the foodsaver when sealing bags , again better vacuum.

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Paula June 22, 2014 at 8:32 am

Thanks for writing, Mark. Interesting ideas.

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Donna June 27, 2014 at 8:45 am

Mark, I wish you could show on a clip like on youtube what you mean and about the gallon jars too.

Here is a youtube clip about using an automotive vacuum pump and wide-mouth jar sealer to seal a quart size jar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGfUwEf810g

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Mark June 28, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Donna,
whis I had the time to do a video. I will just tell you. you under stand I am using an electric a/c vacuum pump to do this . go to your local auto parts store and get some metal bolt in tire valve stems , will be chrome, you will all so need a locking valve stem tool to grab the valve stem and a barbed adaptor to screw into valve stem fill tool and put the hose on.Drill a proper size hole in the center of the lid , the same size of the threaded portion of the valve stem, no burrs . the valve stem has 2 seals . one has a shoulder , trim shoulder off, now bolt the valve stem in the lid. the seals will start to push out thats tight enough.
now go vacuum your gallon jars. careful with flours using an a/c vacuum pump will pull powder into the vacuum pump, needs a filter inline good luck
by the way you can buy replacement lids for jars online

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