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.
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:
- a port on the machine (see picture above)
- the wide-mouth attachment (ordered separately)
- a hose
Please note the hose comes with the machine, not the attachment. You can order a replacement hose here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.