Monday, October 29, 2012

Using Jar Attachments with a FoodSaver, and a Review

A year or two ago, I purchased an outdated FoodSaver on craigslist for $20. We used it more for adding a final seal to mylar bags than for sealing food to go in the freezer (the price of the bags can negate any food-saving benefits, if you're not careful). It was a good machine, but I wanted an updated one that had an attachment port.





Several months ago, I found what I was looking for: a sale :) I was able to pick up a newer, clearanced model plus two rolls of plastic for a great price, and of course while I was at it, I ordered one large-mouth and one regular-mouth jar attachment. Here's how you use them.

The jar attachments are made for use with canning jars.  Either one connects to the FoodSaver with the same small hose (there will be a small port on the front of the FoodSaver, but the exact placement  of the port varies with the model). The hose came with my FoodSaver unit, but I had to purchase the attachments separately.

Once your jar is filled, place the lid, but not the screw-on ring, on top of the jar. (The lid does not have to be heated or softened like it does for canning). Then simply fit the jar attachment over the top of the lid.  Now you should have the attachment fitted on top of the jar, and the jar attachment connected to the FoodSaver unit via the hose.

Next, if your FoodSaver has a lever that you must lock when sealing bags (usually on the side of the unit), go ahead and lock it.











Then, push the "Vacuum and Seal" button. The unit will make some noise while it sucks the air out of the jar. You will notice that as it gets closer to being sealed, the noise tone will change.







Once the FoodSaver is done removing the air, the noise will stop, the "Vacuum and Seal" button will remain lit, and the "Seal" button will automatically light up. The unit is sealing the jar now. After a few seconds, both lights will go out. Your jar should now be sealed.





Release the pressure by unlocking the lever on the side of the unit. You will hear a hissing noise when you do this. Then you should be able to pull the jar attachment off of the top of the jar.

Check your jar to make sure it is sealed. Try picking up the jar by the lid. If the lid comes off in your hand, then the jar didn't seal properly. If the lid does not come off, set the jar back down and place the tip of your finger in the middle of the jar lid, and push down. If the lid moves up and down, the jar did not seal properly and air is still able to get into the jar. Remove the lid using your fingernails or a butter knife. If you can remove the lid without damaging it, you should be able to reuse it. However, if you bend the edge of the lid while opening it, the lid will not be able to achieve a good seal again. Throw it away and use a new one when resealing the jar.

Jars sealed with FoodSaver & oxygen absorber.
The jar in the photos above is the jar of cranberries I recently dehydrated, and blogged about. Since I plan to use them up soon, I didn't add an oxygen absorber to the jar. I know that the FoodSaver is supposed to suck all the air out of the jar before using it, but I'll talk more about that in a minute. If I am putting food up for long-term storage, I add an oxygen absorber and use the FoodSaver as well. That way, if one fails, hopefully the other will finish the job.



Now, that's the short story. Here is what happened when I tried to seal some jars with the FoodSaver and the regular-mouth jar attachment.

I have used both sizes of the jar attachments previously, with no problems. However, this time when I tried to use the regular-mouth attachment, the FoodSaver would go through the motions and seal the jar. But when I tried to remove the attachment from the jar, it would pull the lid off with it. I tried it a few times and it kept happening. Then the rubber gasket inside the jar attachment came off. I reseated it (it's not glued in or anything; it just fits in a groove), but after that, it came out almost every time I tried to use it. I don't know what changed from the previous times when I used it without incident; maybe the gasket warped or something, but that's just a guess.

So, after trying about a hundred times to get the jar to seal, and then getting the hubster to try, I got online and googled the jar attachment. I found several reviews on Amazon where other people had had the same problem. I guess it is a fault with the attachment. However, no one seemed to have the problem with the wide-mouth jar attachment. Weird.

I saw where a few people said they had luck with placing two lids on the jar and then using the jar attachment, so I tried that. Lo and behold, it worked! I will try that from now on if I continue to have problems. However, some of the reviewers said that worked for them sometimes, but not always. It may be that I have to just use wide-mouth jars with the FoodSaver from now on, and save the regular-mouth jars for actual canning.

At least one reviewer on Amazon doesn't think the FoodSaver actually removes all the air from the jar. He tested it by turning an empty, vacuum-sealed jar upside down in a bucket of water, and then prying the lid loose, and seeing how much water could actually enter the jar. Water could only fill 20% of the jar, which, he says, means the other 80% of the jar was filled with air. Sounds plausible to me, but then, I wasn't in the room when he did the experiment, and rather than try to recreate it myself, I think I'll just add an oxygen absorber to the jar for long-term storage.

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