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Thread: Vacuum Packers...time to bite the bullet or not?

  1. #1

    Default Vacuum Packers...time to bite the bullet or not?

    After years of paying for the cost of vac-packing and blast freeezing using the services of various providers located on the board walks I am, once again, thinking that it might be nice to have my own equipment. I'm considering the idea of buying a "commercial version" of a single chamber vacuum packing machine. I know that the local port packaging companies have to charge a substantial fee to make a profit. They've always done a good job for me and it's so easy just to drop off the fish after a long day knowing that the process is now in some experienced/qualified hands. I appreciate their services and the end product. However, isn't there a less expensive way to get your fish packed and frozen in a manner that will hold the quality over the winter.

    I've tried the Costco vac-machines, I have one still in it's original box from last year and I've worn out others....they work for a while, their relatively inexpensive. But, there is no real performance comparison between the commercial versions and the plastic home consumer versions.

    What's your experience? Has anyone bought one of the commercial machines, is it worth the substantial cost? Am I nuts to even consider this idea?

  2. #2

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    Nope you aren't nuts. If you catch a lot of fish they are the only way to go. Me and a buddy went in halfs on one last year from Alaska Butcher Supply and love it. It's the mini pac. After going through a couple of the food savers it's worth the extra cost if you are processing a lot of fish. The speed, quality of seal, and no down time waiting for the sealing strip to cool is way above food savers. The food savers are a great product but just not designed for the amount of fish and game Alaskan's process. Also the cost of bags is much cheaper over the food savers. If you can get over the sticker shock you won't regret your purchase. I figured 5 to 6 years and it will have paid for itself compared to the food savers, faster for you since you are paying someone to process your fish.

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    How much did you pay for yours Hewey?

  4. #4

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    It was around $1800 if I remember correctly. The savings per bag is around .20 to .30. I get all my moose burger, sausage, hunter sticks and dogs in bulk now and seal it myself. The time saving was the biggest factor for me. About a quarter of the time processing my catch after a long weekend fishing.

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    I went with the middle of the road commercial packer from Cabela's CG15. It is more like a foodsaver but stainless, heavy duty, and commercial quality. It really works good and is quick with the double pump. I expect many years of use. Plus almost every part is replaceable if needed. The cost was around $400.

  6. #6
    Member akjeff's Avatar
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    Default Minipack-Torre

    My Food Saver let me down (along with two others) during dipnetting one year. So I upgraded to the Minipack Torre from Alaska Butcher Supply. We spent a good amount on it, $2100. I would buy another one tomorrow if this one disapeared. It is fast and the packing is of the highest quality, did I mention fast.

    http://www.minipack-torre.it/MPCatal...CategoryID=107

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    Don't wait. You won't regret it.

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    we've been using a food saver for salmon and halibut for years, the trick is to pat down the skin and flesh with a paper towel before vaccuming. We've had the same vaccum packer for 7 years. The lodge I worked with had an "industrial" packer from cabelas and it was pretty much worthless the food saver they had was much better and costs a third of the price.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    The advantage of the vacuum chamber sealrs, the true commercial $1500-2000 units over the foodsaver versions are:
    1)Commercial vacuum bags are cheaper, and thicker so less likely to be punctured.
    2) They are faster, so if you're processing a big batch of fish, it'll save you time.
    3) The chamber units don't suck juices into the pump which is what kills the food saver style units.
    4) Since they don't suck juices into the pump, you can vacuum pack unfrozen meat, and even meals like lasagna et al.

    But they are spendy, and I picked up a free food saver, so will use it until it dies, then upgrade

  10. #10

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    This will probably get moved to the "Alaskan Pantry" forum, like the last time it was brought up. I purchased a MiniPack from ABS also. It is probably the most used appliance in our kitchen. It may seem like a lot to spend until you start to figure out all the things you can do with it. That list is endless. I'm sure anyone who has one wouldn't disagree. For me, it was an obvious choice. PM me if you want to hear more.

  11. #11
    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homertime View Post
    This will probably get moved to the "Alaskan Pantry" forum, like the last time it was brought up. I purchased a MiniPack from ABS also. It is probably the most used appliance in our kitchen. It may seem like a lot to spend until you start to figure out all the things you can do with it. That list is endless. I'm sure anyone who has one wouldn't disagree. For me, it was an obvious choice. PM me if you want to hear more.
    I bought my Minipack 2 years ago from Alaska Butcher Supply also. They sold it to me for the price they were going to charge at the sportmans show in a few weeks. I paid $1400 and it gets used all the time. Definitely was money well spent.

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    My Buddy has the chamber style (bought the reconditioned one for 1200 I do believe) it is one fantastic piece of equipment. I couldn't swing that myself, and didn't want to be using his beauty all the time so I went middle fo the road with the industrial cabelas one. We made more than 100 pounds of sausage one day last winter and then went head to head on the vac packers....the Cabelas made just as nice of seals and was actually faster than the chamber style.

    The chamber ones are fantastic, but at the same time, that cabelas rig is sWEEEET. And costs only 25 percent as much as the chambers but is 1000 times better than a food saver.

    And no AKPM....there is no way to polish the turd that is foodsavers...there is not a trick in the book that will compare with what a real piece of equipment will do for you. Last June, we nailed 27 kings in 1.5 hours in a set net, hand picked, hand bled and gorgeous. WE scooted home (slowly as you can Imagine.) Got three house holds together and we had two of the Cabelas industrials workin hard and they did a bang up job. I have three pieces left, and nearly a year later, they are SUSHI GRADE, I am talkin ready to go....no trimming except ribs and skin. Have never seen anything other than a chamber style or the top end Cabelas rig do that. Worth every penny.

  13. #13

    Default Time to work it into the budget

    Come home with fish already packed, toss it into the freezer, and problem solved. Except when I explain the cost of packaging to my spouse. My excuse is that spending the money assures us that the fish will be in good order when we pull it from the freezer over the winter... reducing freezer burn loss and saving us money in the long run. Her reply: "stop saving us money, we're going broke".

    Thx, for your replies and recommendations, they have helped push me into taking some action, maybe even buying a vac-packer. Time to go shopping and compare the merits and expense of the Mini-packer vs Cabellas equipment.

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    How much do the industrial bags cost?
    We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.
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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TMA View Post
    How much do the industrial bags cost?
    I paid $67 a thousand here in Ketchikan for gallon size bags.

  16. #16

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    Kingfisherktn, that's a great price. I don't think I can get that in ANC. I usually buy the 5x8 4 mil for $89/1000 I think. Those are more like the quart size, maybe a little bigger. These seem to work best for us, as we like to "single proportion" our foods. I have an assortment of the larger bags for other larger "stuff".

  17. #17
    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    I bought them 2 years ago, the price probably has risen since then. I also picked up the quart bags too.

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    I just did the Soldatna Outdoors Show over the weekend and Alaska Butchers Supply was in the booth across the isle from mine, i had never met the folks who own the place, Butch and Barb, super folks to talk with. All i want to say is that Butch told me they rent the vac baggers so that may be a option for somebody with a lot of fish to do all at once or maybe save up a months worth of fish in the freezer and then bag up the whole bunch at one time. He also told me they sell the rental machines after a while so you might check on that and save a few bucks on one of those nice heavy duty baggers.

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    Member Skookumchuck's Avatar
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    Holy smokes you guys must be rich....wow!


    I'm happy w/ my foodsaver, and my fish isn't freezer-burned.


    I do double seal them though...
    Nice Marmot.

  20. #20

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    I've had and used my foodsaver for 20 years now. It was one of the original ones made and is still working great. I have bought several of the newer models to try to retire the original one but none of them work as good and I've returned them. I did make some modifications to it by drilling a couple of holes in the side and running some surgical tubing out, through a baby jar and back in to the pump to keep from sucking juices into the pump. I have replaced the foam seals several times. There is an outfit in Washington that bought the old design from foodsaver and is still making that model and carries all the spare parts for them. Don't recall their name but they do the Sportsman shows.

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