Thursday, 18 December 2014

Feeding My Kitchen Addiction: FoodSaver 4400 Review







Something I don't post as much about is my fascination, obsession and over-purchasing of kitchen and food related products. You would likely faint if you saw my room, kitchen and overall living space due to the sheer volume of things I own.


The composition of those things varies from scoops to pans, sheets and spatulas to sprinkles, glitters, flours, sauces and then of course photo props, lighting, accessories and most importantly: appliances.


I was gifted a Kitchen-Aid Stand- Mixer and a Kitchen-Aid Hand Mixer (thank you, you guys!) for my birthday this year. And that was my first glimpse into the world of legitimate mixers. I had been doing everything by hand up until that point (late August of this year).

Recently my mother purchased a new blender which I must say was equally as exciting. I do a lot of smoothies and recipes like my protein soft-serve as post-workout shakes and the new blender (it's a Ninja) makes my life so much easier. I had been using my Magic Bullet which is great -- but it doesn't really grind ice and frozen fruit as much.


Anyways the POINT is that my love for new gadgets and kitchen gizmos has exponentially increased since I started the blog. I think if you spend enough time in the kitchen anything to help that process flow more easily is hugely important.


Cue: the FoodSaver. When they initially sent me this product to review I did research on YouTube to see how it worked (a great resource if you really want a better sense of how to operate it) and it looked...So....FREAKIN' COOL! 



So what is it? It's a vacuum sealing appliance for the home which extends the freshness of foods and other by five times. This is because it essentially removes all the oxygen from the bag. Without the oxygen the growth of bacteria is inhibited significantly keeping food fresher longer!

It also reduces the space of many bulky items and allows you to keep items safe (you could, for example seal up perfume in luggage to keep it from spilling). You can find a lot of uses for it all over the internet -- the machine itself is really cool and does an AMAZING job of vacuum sealing items. It  really does extend the life of products and I can see this being great for folks who like to prep their meals in advance and store raw meat products in the freezer. 



Immediately I started to think of all the things I could use it for in strictly a baking capacity:


  • Storing cookie dough in the freezer and preventing freezer burn
  • Storing leftover cookies at room temperature for longer
  • Storing gluten free flours that I use less frequently
  • Storing large bags of nuts, grains and powders to keep them fresher and take up less space
  • Sealing chocolate chips, sprinkles, ingredients I use less often to keep them fresh
  • Storing baked goods in the fridge for longer
  • AND EVERYTHING ELSE!

I wanted to vacuum seal all of the things! I was sent the FoodSaver 4400 and I have seen it sold at local retailers including Target and Wal-Mart. The price when I checked at Target for this model was 189.99 but I am sure with the holidays there will be sales!


Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the review -- let's do a quick unboxing!




The product is packaged really well with stryo-foam inside of this fun box!







So let's see what's inside!








When you open it up you see the bags on top...







And their recipe book and instructions!








I was surprised to find the box came with a roll of bags (one continuous roll that you can cut to any size you want) and then some other sized bags as well as bags that use the accessory nozzle attachment. 








The nozzle attachment is pretty cool! It extends from a chord on the machine and using the 'accessory' button on the machine itself you press the nozzle onto the bag (it has a large circle to show you where) it sucks the air out! I know they sell a host of accessories like containers and things -- this would be pretty cool to have handy! The only down side is the chord doesn't extend that long. maybe about two feet. You would have to have counter space to use this part otherwise it's a touch awkward. Also a word of caution -- I overfilled my bag of coconut and the nozzle didn't press down fully because coconut was in the way. If you use this option make sure the top of the bag is completely empty so you can press the nozzle down fully onto the bag!







Here is the whole sha-bang!










I must say it's a very modern looking appliance. It's sleek and shiny and I really like the neon green. Admittedly I am obsessed with neon, though!








The top of the machine opens up and there are clear instructions on what to do for each accessory/bag/etc. which is really helpful. The rolls go in the top park and you pull them through the green bar where the bag cutter is. You simply pull out as much as you want and you slice it off! You then have to open ends of a bag. 


You press the seal button on the machine, stick the bag in the bottom and you hear it get started. It releases the bag when it's done! It also shows you via the lighting on the machine when it's ready (the green lights act as a meter of sorts and show you the progress on sealing). 


With one end sealed you simply fill the bag and go back to the machine, hold the bag taught and insert into the bottom to seal. It ejects when it's finished! It's kind of fun to watch the air get sucked out, I must say. I felt like a toddler. Oooooo. Ahhhhh!









The machine has labels everywhere. There's really no screwing it up. It also allows you to press buttons for the accessory nozzle when you need it and it allows you to choose whether you are sealing wet versus dry goods.








The roll is a lot of fun to use and I love that you can create bags whichever size you want. They do say to cut off an extra 10 cm than you need. This makes sense because when you seal the bag it seals it about 10 cm from the bottom so you lose that room in the bag. 









I sealed many a thing, I did. I wanted to see if the FoodSaver would crush my delicate shortbread cookies. It didn't! And the vacuum seal kept them safe in a way because they wouldn't budge! It was super easy to use. Cut, seal bottom, fill bag, seal top, done.









This is the shredded coconut I tried sealing with the ziploc bags. I would say this is great if you think you may need the product soon! As you can see I got some in the way of the sealing portion of the bag -- that's because I overfilled it!








The walnuts were great because they will keep fresh longer in the fridge and they take up wayyyyy less space now which is really cool. I will definitely use this for items which have very bulky packaging that I want to store.









Another use for the FoodSaver that as a 'baker' is really helpful is freezing dough!!!!! Freezing pre-scooped cookie dough makes life a million times easier for those moments when you need to bring a dessert with you or have guests over. Simple portion the dough out on a tray, flash freeze them then put them in your FoodSaver bag. Chuck them in the freezer for when you need them! You can do this without the FoodSaver of course, but I think getting all the air out saves space and keeps the dough fresher longer.


Lately I have been relying on sealing up batches of my cookie dough in advance and it has been a LIFE SAVER. No joke. If you are a home baker who does orders and needs a bit of help in high volume periods -- freezing dough in advance can really take some of the stress off. Without the FoodSaver I would never freeze my dough in advance because I found the cookies tasted less...fresh. Sometimes they would pick up other smells in the freezer and the overall product just wasn't as good. It's been really helpful in preserving the integrity of the product.


I should note that a lot of the reviews and videos I watched used the FoodSaver on raw meat. I personally won't be using it for that but I would say if you do then be aware to first, use the 'wet' settings and second be aware that blood and other liquids from your food products can collect in that tray in the bottom. So just be sure to clean it out.


Other tips: Don't overfill the bags! Especially for the ziploc ones used with the accessory hose. Reason being the hose needs a flat surface to cling on to and with food in there it just didn't work as well.


I think this is a wonderful product for anyone who cooks a lot or keeps a lot of food in storage. Personally I have an unimaginable amount of baking supplies. And sometimes it's just not practical to keep it all at my disposable. Now I can package things up, keep them longer and save a bit of space. The vacuum sealing also does a bit of damage control by protecting my flours from moisture which can reduce their shelf-life.


Have you ever tried vacuum sealing? What do you use it for? I think this is pretty awesome. If purely for the fun of sucking the air out of things! I can also see people like my grandmother who cooks a lot in large quantities benefiting from something like this.





Please note: The product described here was sent to me for review by the company. All opinions written here within are my own and are not influenced by external or monetary factors



Happy Vacuum Sealing!

XO

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