Pros:Inexpensive, easy to store and use.
Cons:Some bags may not seal properly - a minor problem.
The Bottom Line: This system is so very inexpensive to try and it works very well - try it, you may like it!
Recommend this product?
We have an electric bag vacuum system that can evacuate and seal food for prolonged shelf/storage life. But, it is so cumbersome and time consuming to use, I jumped at the chance to try something different. That’s how we ended up with the Reynolds Handy Vac system. (see review at: http://www.epinions.com/content_446458334852) ; But, it was not always reliable in holding a seal over a period of time. This allowed the foods stored in these failed bags to become exposed to air (oxygen) that accelerates spoilage.
So, when I saw the Ziploc Brand Vacuum Freezer System, I had to try it. It is a manual pump that comes in a starter package with just 3 quart-sized vacuum bags for under $10, available in supermarkets.
Imagine an ordinary Ziploc plastic bag with a waffle-weave material on one side of the bag and a vacuum valve placed in one corner of the bag. The small circular valve is inconspicuous and is completely flat. The plastic is a bit heavier gauge film than the standard Ziploc bag.
The pump is a clever, manual, hand-operated device that is placed over this circular spot of the bag. A soft vinyl base on the valve mates to this circular spot to form a seal and manual push/pull strokes of the pump will evacuate the excess air in the bag. Once food is placed in the bag and the conventional Ziploc seal has been closed, a few strokes of the pump will result in a vacuum sealed product suitable for freezer or normal storage.
The pump is and all-plastic construction and is cleverly designed to be easily disassembled for washing. The larger parts such as the barrel and the piston are suitable for the upper rack of the dishwasher. The smaller parts should be hand washed.
The bags are available in two sizes: 1 Quart and 1 Gallon. These bags come packaged 8 to a box for gallon-sized and 12 to a box for the quart-sized. The price per box is $3 to $4 depending upon the store pricing or sales.
This system has many advantages over the big, cumbersome vacuum bag sealers. Everything can be easily stored in a drawer. The pump is about the size of a 2-D cell flashlight!
And, it is super easy to use. No real strength is required to make it work, effectively.
A portion of the foods placed in the bag can be removed for use and easily and quickly vacuum resealed. This is a big savings on bags over the bigger systems where you must cut the bag to gain access to the contents and then resealed.
The manual pump is almost totally silent in use. The cordless Reynolds pump and the larger bag sealers are very noisy. And the manual pump is totally portable since it is not dependent upon any kind of battery or electrical power.
And, because it is a manually operated pump, the amount of vacuum can be easily controlled. This means you can use it for soft or fragile foods like pastries, orange segments, cookies, crackers, etc., without swashing the contents flat.
And, it is lower in cost, especially for a trial to see if it will work for you. I’ve seen the starter kit on sales for as low as $6. The Reynolds starter kit is more than twice that cost and the big countertop units begin at about $100.
I can only think of one – the gallon-sized bags are hard to find in the stores. The quart size is readily available but for some reason, the gallon bags are very scarce.
For the most part, this system works very well. It works a lot better for dry, solid foods than soft or wet foods. My only complaint is that some bags do not retain a perfect seal. These are rare but it does happen.
The manufacturer does not recommend washing and reuse of the bags. To circumvent this, I often place the food, especially wet items like raw or cooked meats in an inexpensive plastic bag loosely sealed before putting it into the more expensive Ziploc Vacuum Bags. This way, I can still evacuate the air and keep the Ziploc Vacuum Bag interior clean and ready for reuse without cleaning.