Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD
I have a love/hate relationship with vacuum sealer machines. I love them because if you have limited freezer space there is no other “nearly” foolproof method of freezing fish with “nearly” zero freezer burn so compactly.
I hate them because of the “nearly” and when it comes to the vacuum sealing, it’s the machine doing the sealing that determines the extent of the “nearly.” I’ve never used a “home” model that nearly always sealed perfectly. The worst ones I’ve used produced a good seal only about half the time when packaging fish. None have ever produced a perfect seal every time for me. I’ve also often found packages which appeared to have been perfectly sealed when put in the freezer, had lost their seal after a few weeks or months.
So when NESCO offered to supply me with their VS 12 Deluxe Sealer to use and evaluate, I accepted, but I told their representative, I would be approaching the project as a skeptic. So far, much of my skepticism has proven to be unfounded.
An early November trip to Lake Erie provided me a good supply of “test fish” for my evaluation. An opening day buck provided some venison loin chops and late season mallard breasts are now vacuum sealed and packed away in my freezer.
In all, my wife and I have packaged 32 meal-sized portions of the fish, duck and venison. The two-stage vacuum pump in the VS12 sucked the air out of the packets in a few seconds at which point the machine automatically switches to the sealing phase which takes about 15 seconds more. We used the “double” seal mode so instead of a single “weld” at the top of the pouch, two separate seals are melted across the width of the pouch. The instructions indicate this is best for “moist” products like we were packing.
It also has normal and low vacuum settings. Low pressure is for sealing things like dry cereal or other crushable items. Normal is for everything else.
Our results were perfect. All 32 packages sealed perfectly the first time, and after being in the freezer for a several weeks, all the packages still in the freezer remained tightly sealed. So far, five-star results! Good Housekeeping magazine rated the VS 12 number one in head to head tests against nine other top brands.
We did our sealing with pouches and packaging material rolls sold by NESCO. NESCO says other brands of bags or rolls will also work with NESCO machines and NESCO packaging material looks and feels identical with Foodsaver and Cabela’s bags I’ve used previously.
I thought about waiting six months or a year to open these first pouches we produced to test their longevity, but I was impressed enough with the NESCO VS 12 that I’ll give it my conditional “seal’ of approval for now (pun intended). I didn’t want to hear from GLA readers who had been shopping for their first vacuum sealer or thinking of replacing the one they are currently using with a message like. “I wish you’d done this review earlier before I bought a brand X,Y or Z machine.”
NESCO products are widely available at online and retail outlets or directly from NESCO at: http://www.NESCO.com.