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Thread: Vacuum Sealer & Freezer

  1. #1
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    Default Vacuum Sealer & Freezer

    I moved up here a year ago and would like to start hunting but I want to do it right, especially when it comes to processing and storing meat. I've owned a cheap vacuum packer years ago that never really worked right. So what manufacturer/ model do you guys recommend? I'm also going to need to invest in a freezer and I'm not sure how big I need to go. Any size recommendations would be appreciated. Ideally I would have a moose in the fall going on top of 50 lbs of salmon. Thanks in advance for any advice.

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    I have used nothing but the gamesaver type vacuum packers you see at Costco, three bears, etc. They work great, but the long term life is not that good. I have toasted the vac pump in one of them so I just got another. The large commercial vacuum packers are great, but $$$$$. Costco had one for sale last summer I think that was around 1000$. I could be wrong on the price.

    I got 3 moose, two caribou and a lot of salmon out of my first gamesaver vaccum packer. Money well spent, IMO. Put about 1.5-2 lbs of burger or sausage in a package and press it flat into an inch or so thick. They stack nicely in a freezer that way and you can cut pieces off of it without having to thaw it out first.

    I'd love to have a big commercial one jus for the longer life and quicker process time, but it would take more space and ultimately, Im probably just too cheap.

    A whole moose takes a lot of freezer space. I think a 10-12 cf freezer is probably adequate for what you want to do. We have a couple of smaller ones, just to minimize the propane usage when we start getting low on meat in the summer time.

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    A finished moose is around 400 lbs for an adult bull, I currently have 2/3 of a moose packed tight into a 8 foot freezer and it was a serious tetris game to get that all in there.

    I also have a 14 footer that holds all my fish and sausage and crab and stuff......it would hold what you are talking about, but getting to your different cuts and such would be a serious pain in the butt. Personally i prefer having two freezers so I have enough room to quickly find what I need and organize things well so nothing sits too long and I can rotate stock.

    On the vacuum packer....I run a cabelas cg-15 and it does a fine job.....don't think they sell it anymore but the model exists from teh company that makes it. It's about 400ish bucks and is about the best sucker type out there. That said, there is no replacement for a chamber style sealer, they are fantastic, we use two in moose camp and it makes life sooooo much easier and really really does a great job on wet bloody meat. My cg-15 does well with fish, not so much with red meat unless it's way cold and dry. Cheap foodsavers are just that, cheap.

    If you have the scratch, heck, even if you don't. you will not regret getting a chamber style packer. I'm just waiting for my cg-15 to die so I can justify dropping 1000 plus on a new one. I know plenty of folks out in Bristol Bay who put up dozens of salmon and a moose and some caribou every year that still have the same chamber sealer more than a decade later. Bags are much cheaper and over the life of the machine you will actually come out ahead if you use it with any volume.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Before you buy a sealer, I would highly recommend that you go visit Alaska Butcher Supply in Anchorage (if Anchorage is where you're at). Talk to them about their chamber sealers and, if you've got something to seal, rent one and try it out. The up-front cost is steep - over $2,000 - but the long-term savings can't be beat. I hear a number of people say that like their Costco machines, and that might be worth looking at as well, but I have no doubt that the Alaska Butcher Supply model will save you money over time. A previous post mentioned putting 3 moose, 2 caribou, and a bunch of salmon through their Costco model before it died. To date we have put well over 30 big game animals in addition to thousands of pounds of fish (rockfish, salmon, halibut, etc.) through our MV31 from Alaska Butcher and it is still going strong. I went in on the purchase with my brother and father, and a LOT of our friends use it as well (hence the really high amount of use). We've had it serviced a time or two, but haven't had any problems at all.

    As for a freezer, I would strongly suggest upright freezers rather than a chest freezer. If you end up with a variety of species and cuts, you'll want a way to organize it so that everything can be accessed easily. We have two full-size uprights - one filled with game meat, and the other with fish and berries. We had to add a small chest freezer as a temporary third this fall, but that will be unplugged soon enough. Also, don't get a frost-free freezer, as your meat will not keep as long in there. It's a minor pain having to manually defrost your freezer every couple of years, but it's worth it due to the added longevity.

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    Supporting Member Hoyt-Hunter's Avatar
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    I would just rent a vacuum sealer when you need one. Ak Butcher Supply rents a commercial one for a fair price and out in the valley a few of the equipment rental companies also rent for fair price.

    Two freezers are the way to go. Saves a lot of digging. Chest freezers store more meat than upright and would be the better choice IMO.


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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    The Chamber sealer is the only way to go. I burned up 3 foodsavers before I wised up. At $220 each I was a long way towards a chamber sealer anyway. Plus the bags are better and cheaper for the chamber sealer.
    I bought my parents a vacmaster for ~$1,000 and it works great.
    My wife has an upright freezer and I have a chest freezer. I think one of each is a good way to go. The upright sure is nice as far as finding your food goes.
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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    It is a lot cheaper and faster to buy a tape gun and the burger bags than vac packing your burger. I put a tube on my grinder (don't skimp on grinders either) and on the second grind I shoot it right into the bags and hand it off to the wife for taping while I grab another and keep running. took longer to type this than to pack up two bags (and I type really fast).

    Check out the LEM ground meat packaging system.

    http://www.thecountryshed.com/meat_processing.htm

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    Supporting Member Hoyt-Hunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    It is a lot cheaper and faster to buy a tape gun and the burger bags than vac packing your burger. I put a tube on my grinder (don't skimp on grinders either) and on the second grind I shoot it right into the bags and hand it off to the wife for taping while I grab another and keep running. took longer to type this than to pack up two bags (and I type really fast).

    Check out the LEM ground meat packaging system.

    http://www.thecountryshed.com/meat_processing.htm
    Why are you using a tape gun? Bags and hog rings are the usual set up for burger.


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    There's a cute little machine that tapes it in one swipe.....it's pretty slick.

    As far as renting.....I use mine for big and little things and I want it for both. Renting sounds like a pain if you do a lot of harvesting. If one just happens to bag a moose unexpectedly, I see renting as a great option....wish Juneau had it.

    Not buying it on the expensive grinders.....I am mixing up 50 lbs of summer sausage tonight and I whipped through moose shanks and pork shoulder like a dream with a 200 dollar counter top model that weighs next to nothing. Nearly as fast as the big ones, fits in the cupboard, and essentially disposable but I have done an entire moose with one of these and only had to clean the head at the end of each session for sanitation......even the big cabelas ones I've used with buddies need a lot more cleaning unless you nitpick the silverskin....and that costs more time than I have....especially with moose.

    http://www.stxinternational.com/Grin...e%201800W.html

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    Cabelas CG-15 is a great vacuum sealer, (recently upgraded and called the Commercial Grade 15) I've been using mine for 9 years after overheating up a food saver the first year of dip netting. My sealer has gone through thousands of red salmon, 6+ moose and multiple black bear without a problem. I put a maintenance kit in it last year- new foam seals and sealing strip for good measure. It works so good and is reasonable cost wise ($350 on sale) that two friends now have the same machine. Do a search on this site and you will only find good reviews for the CG-15, that's what I did before I bought it. As for freezers, I agree with Brian and buy the largest upright freezer that you can.
    Edit: It seems that the new Commercial grade 15 isn't made to the same standard the old CG-15 was and the reviews show it.

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    The Weston Pro-2300 Vacuum Sealer is essentially the same as the high quality old Cabelas CG15, mine looks identical. I'd recommend this sealer over the new Cabelas Commercial Grade 15.

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    I have a reasonably new CG-015 and it does a fine job for fish and meat. Also packing dry foods like beans and rice and it works well there too. Just did about 100 lbs of ground elk in some chinese bags and it worked well. I am having problems with mylar bags and I must double seal to get them to hold vacuum...other than that...good machine!
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    I find magic vac or vac strip bags from Alaska Butcher Supply work great.


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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I have 2 VacMasters VP 112s they has the same motor as the VP210 but are small enough to have on the counter. They run around 500 dollars and can be bought at WalMart, they are about the cheapest chamber sealer you can buy. The bags are a fraction of the cost of the food saver style. I use mone year round, sealed up several bags of soup tonight, they will seal wet items as well. Great for saving left over to take on trips. Just drop a bag in boiling water while getting camp ready and in no time you have a hot meal and no pots to clean.
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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    I have 2 VacMasters VP 112s they has the same motor as the VP210 but are small enough to have on the counter. They run around 500 dollars and can be bought at WalMart, they are about the cheapest chamber sealer you can buy. The bags are a fraction of the cost of the food saver style. I use mone year round, sealed up several bags of soup tonight, they will seal wet items as well. Great for saving left over to take on trips. Just drop a bag in boiling water while getting camp ready and in no time you have a hot meal and no pots to clean.
    I bought one last fall after reading your posts about them. Very happy with it and glad I didn't buy the 210 right away. And so glad the bags are cheaper and the seals are great!

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Stid and northway, I bought my VP112 a few years before they showed up locally. It worked great until the air pistons that make the seal bar pop up started to not work every cycle. I called VacMaster and they sent me to their parts wholesaler to buy a little solinoid valve. It is the most common point of failure for these units they told me. The part costs about $10 plus shipping and takes about 5 minutes to replace. The hardest part is getting the old part out since it is glued and screwed down to the base metal. Now my old unit seals with its original authority.

    So, if you ever notice that the seal bar gets a little funky and creates a partial seal, or does not seal at all every 10 or 12 cycles, just give VacMaster a call and get a new part on the way. Might even be handy to have one sitting by incase in starts acting up when you have a cooler full of reds or a moose to process.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    Stid and northway, I bought my VP112 a few years before they showed up locally. It worked great until the air pistons that make the seal bar pop up started to not work every cycle. I called VacMaster and they sent me to their parts wholesaler to buy a little solinoid valve. It is the most common point of failure for these units they told me. The part costs about $10 plus shipping and takes about 5 minutes to replace. The hardest part is getting the old part out since it is glued and screwed down to the base metal. Now my old unit seals with its original authority.

    So, if you ever notice that the seal bar gets a little funky and creates a partial seal, or does not seal at all every 10 or 12 cycles, just give VacMaster a call and get a new part on the way. Might even be handy to have one sitting by incase in starts acting up when you have a cooler full of reds or a moose to process.
    Good to know thanks!!
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    Stid and northway, I bought my VP112 a few years before they showed up locally. It worked great until the air pistons that make the seal bar pop up started to not work every cycle. I called VacMaster and they sent me to their parts wholesaler to buy a little solinoid valve. It is the most common point of failure for these units they told me. The part costs about $10 plus shipping and takes about 5 minutes to replace. The hardest part is getting the old part out since it is glued and screwed down to the base metal. Now my old unit seals with its original authority.

    So, if you ever notice that the seal bar gets a little funky and creates a partial seal, or does not seal at all every 10 or 12 cycles, just give VacMaster a call and get a new part on the way. Might even be handy to have one sitting by incase in starts acting up when you have a cooler full of reds or a moose to process.
    Thanks! That is good to know!

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    http://www.amazon.com/VacMaster-Port.../dp/B003YE8FG0

    I've got this one, Its the smallest camber vac sealer out there. Love it and can keep it on the counter year round

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Brian nailed it as far as Alaska Butcher Supply. We rented one of the smaller machines from them and did an entire moose in an afternoon. Rental cost me 60 bucks plus bags, and he'll take back all the bags you don't use. They're really great to work with.

    I ran into something interesting the other day and maybe it will help someone else out there. Did you know about "canning" meat and fish with a chamber vac instead of using jars and cans? Nice thing is you don't have the weight and bulk of cans, and you don't have to freeze it! I'm going to look at this for some of our hunts. Takes up less space and weighs substantially less than cans and jars, and if it does freeze, you don't end up with ruptured cans and broken glass.




    We use a 30-cu. ft. upright freezer for everything, and also have a smaller upright for overflow. We don't need that as much now with the kids moved out, but it is handy. I like uprights primarily because it's easier to find things in there. Keep in mind that when you first load your freezer with meat or fish, you need to rotate the packages for a few days, until everything freezes solid. I learned this the hard way many years ago, by loading the freezer plumb-full of fish, without checking it. The stuff in the middle never froze, because it was insulated by the packages around it, and it spoiled. Something to think about.

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