How the FoodSaver System Works

Using the FoodSaver System

Cooking sous vide with a FoodSaver marinating tray.
Cooking sous vide with a FoodSaver marinating tray.

As we've seen, there are two ways to use the FoodSaver System, with bags and with containers with specially-designed lids. We'll take a look at both of these vacuum sealing methods.

It's a easy to vacuum-seal food using bags. A roll of plastic bags -- one long plastic bag, actually -- is stored inside the FoodSaver unit. To create a customized bag, a length of plastic can be pulled out and cut with the bag slicer blade. If it's the first bag off a new roll, the end will be sealed already. If the roll has already been used, the bottom end of the bag will have also already been sealed, since the last sealing will have fused the end on the top of the last bag as well as the bottom of the next one.

Once a foodstuff is put into the bag, the open end can be placed into the vacuum channel, a horizontal slot located at the unit's base. Here, the FoodSaver senses the bag and begins to do its thing. It will shut itself off, but the company recommends using the "Seal" button when vacuum sealing fragile or soft foods like potato chips or angel food cake [source: FoodSaver]. This will cause the machine to seal the bag immediately, rather than continuing to remove air and possibly crushing the chips or smashing the cake. To keep liquids from rising out of the bag and into the drip tray (which will cut the power to the vacuum device), you can freeze the liquid item before placing it in a bag and sealing it in solid form.

The machine also comes with a retractable hose for vacuuming air from things like wine bottles and Mason jars as well as for marinating meats and infusing oils. The hose plugs into the tops of the lids the company sells (some units come with accessory lids, but the hose is only compatible with FoodSaver accessories). As when sealing bags, the FoodSaver hose canister attachment shuts off automatically once the pressure with in the jar or bottle has dropped. Untwisting the hose from the lid seals the lid.

Food isn't the only item that the FoodSaver can keep intact. The company also suggests a number of uses for the vacuum sealer. Live in a flood zone? You can keep paper documents dry indefinitely by sealing them. The same goes for emergency kits for water-logged outings like kayaking trips. It's also a good way to save seeds for gardening between seasons.

Visit the next page for more information on the FoodSaver and related topics.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Berger, Dan. "Re: why food goes stale." Accessed January 30, 2009.
  • Nijhuis, Giesbert. "Aerodynamics." LaesieWorks. Accessed January 31, 2009.
  • "FoodSaver quick start guide and user manual." Jarden Corporation. Accessed January 30, 2009.
  • "New vacuum food sealers bring the hottest restaurant cooking trend - sous vide - into the home." Rival. September 8, 2005.>
  • "Review: FoodSaver vacuum sealer - automatic bag setting and marination." Kitchen Gadgets. Accessed January 31, 2009.
  • "What is 'freezer burn?'" Library of Congress. Accessed January 30, 2009.