Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reynolds Handi-Vac Review

I have wanted a food vacuum sealer for quite some time. Two things have kept me from getting one:
1) Space. All the vacuum sealers that I have seen were HUGE! My kitchen isn't tiny, but I am not giving up precious space if it isn't something that I will be using all the time.
2) Price. Most of the vacuum sealers that I have seen were over $100. Not a bad price if you will use it all the time and you know that you are getting something that will work the way that they say it will, but I don't want to dish out $100 and find out that it isn't going to cut it.
Plus, did I mention the space?

Then I saw the Reynolds Handi-Vac. It was small - about the size of a handmixer handle. It was inexpensive - $8.90! And the accessories weren't that badly priced either - the bags are $0.20ea for quart and $0.33ea for gallon.

I checked it out on the internet to see what others had to say about it. Most of the reviews were very good. Some, however, complained that it was difficult to use, or they just couldn't get it to work. I figured at the price, and with that many favorable reviews, I could afford to see just how difficult this was to use.

You judge for yourself - watch this video of my very first attempt at sealing a bag. A disclaimer is necessary, I didn't have a cameraman so I had to film with one hand and do everything else with the other.

It was SO EASY!! Kind of noisy, but very easy; I literally was doing this one handed. This video shows my very first attempt. I did not even read the instructions (who needs stinking instructions, right?). I just picked it up and went for it.

There were a lot of reviewers that said that it was tricky to get the bag to lay flat with bulky items; but I didn't even try to get it to lay flat and it worked fine, as you can see. I think the only thing that matters is that the vacuum surface has complete contact with the bag's vacuum valve.

There are no parts sticking out the bag; the vacuum valve is flat and smooth. The ziplock is easy to close (did I mention I did this one handed?). You can write on the bags just like other freezer bags. And these bags can be opened and vacuum-sealed over and over; so you can take a little food out and reseal the rest for later. I am thinking that this will be great for fresh vegetables that tend to slime before their time - like cilantro and green onions.

And, it came with batteries! It requires 6 AA batteries, which is a lot of batteries; but, I buy rechargeables, so that's not such a big deal. It would have been nice if they had included an AC option.

Also, the bottom of the device is rounded, not flat. So it does not stand upright, which would have been nice. My husband said that they might have designed it this way to prevent falls that might damage the vacuum nozzle. OK. Fair enough, but I'm sure there could have been other ways around that -- like a storage base to stick it in.

The vacuum itself is ergonomic and lightweight. Although it sounds like it is vibrating terribly while in use, there is only a slight vibration.

The nozzle end detaches for cleaning in the event that some liquids get into it. Since I was sealing steamed beans that were still steamy, this end filled with steam. You should not try to vacuum seal really wet ingredients, like sauces and soups, since they will just suck right into the vacuum. These are easy enough to seal in regular freezer bags by just squeezing the air out by hand before sealing -- I've been doing that for years!

Over all I would give the Reynolds Handi-Vac high scores on usability, price, comfort, size, speed and effectiveness. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a vacuum sealer that wants something small and inexpensive.

I will be updating this post in a couple months to let you know how the food actually stored in my crappy freezer that burns everything that isn't vacuum packed.


StephenC said...

Two things: I have been very pleased with my Handi-Vac, although at first I had some problems related to the multi-second delay from the time you apply the "wand" to when the vacuum begins to form; the other thing is: I was surprised to learn of your very similarly named blog (similar to mine - I don't guess that's been any sort of a problem. I get only sporadic traffic and comments. Good luck with your efforts - I'll keep watching your site.


Sylvana said...

StephenC, glad to see you here. This blog is a companion blog to my Obsessive Gardener blog. I used to post my recipes on that blog, but felt that they just needed a space of their own. And it gives me a place to talk about kitchen gear :)

How long have you had your Handi-Vac? I have never used any other vacuum sealer, so I didn't have any thing to compare it to. I am still pretty happy with it. I know that I could probably get a more air out with a more expensive model, but I'm hoping that this will do what I really need it to do - save my food and not take up my precious kitchen space. I have packed beans, kale, broccoli and spinach from my garden and chicken and fish that was on sale. I will post here what happens.

StephenC said...

I have had my Vac for a couple of years. I bought it for the same reasons you did: cost, space-saving. Sure, I'd like to have a "grownup" vacuum sealer, but this works just fine. I'm sure you'll be satisfied with the results of freezing stuff. This year my partner and I are into serious gardening too. We plan to can/freeze everything we can't consume in a timely way. Good luck.

Nell Jean said...

Loved your video! The device makes about the same noise as the bulky Food Saver I use.

We buy cheese in bulk, cut it in pound chunks and package in vacuum sealed bags, stored in the refrigerator. It keeps for months.

Sylvana said...

StephenC, that is good to know. I am looking forward to seeing how it holds up to my freezer. I also am thinking about getting one for my camping box.

Nell Jean, thanks. My husband got a kick out of the "Oh yeah!" And good to know about the noise. I was thinking that this would be good for cheese.

Anonymous said...

I have had mine for about a year and I love it. Unfortunately, they are no longer making these. I found this out because I couldn't find any bags for it. I did find however that food saver is coming out with a similar hand held version that will be in stores the end of this month.

Sylvana said...

Anon, I was wondering what was going on! Before I even bought mine I checked to be sure that I could easily find the bags. They were everywhere. Then I found out it worked and I can't find the bags anywhere! I heard that the Ziplock ones work with this -- but they are crap. I am now looking forward to the Food Saver version!

Annie Ridge said...

I'm planning to buy Reynolds Handi-Vac but I have lack of the way to use it. Thanks for your helpful reviews!

Lila Brennan said...

this is a big issue with vacuum sealer, they ocuppied large space and also they cost very much.

Tracy said...

I really appreciate your video. It's make thing easier to follow.