Investing in a chamber vacuum sealer is something every serious hunter and fisherman should consider if you’re looking for the most effective and economical way to freeze wet or dry wild game, fish and cooked meals.
And I can tell you this amazing machine will eventually pay for itself because of the inexpensive cost of the bags.
The air removal within a vacuum sealed package is to help stop oxidation, which turns meat rancid, and to prevent sublimation which dehydrates meat and causes freezer burn. Uncooked vacuum sealed meats can last up to three years.
Importantly, there are numerous benefits of choosing a chamber vacuum sealer, which eliminates many of the frustrations associated with cheaper external suction vacuum sealers.
I’ve always enjoyed doing my own meat processing. Every element of a hunt — from the scouting trips, devising of schemes, long treks, manual dragging and backpacking of game, processing meat, and cooking —are just as enjoyable as the actual shooting. Then, it all comes full circle when I get to feast on a delicious meal knowing I did all the work myself.
I never bothered with using meat markets to process my game meat because I simply would go broke. This season alone I totaled 70 pigs, seven deer and a bear. Imagine that bill.
A benefit of self-processing game is also knowing it’s your meat. There is no risk of CWD or other disease contamination, and nothing is wasted. Heck, I don’t even eat at restaurants or buy store-bought meats because I like to consume only all natural wild animals that are lean and healthy.
Plus, I get to keep all the scrap chunks of fascia and fattier pieces to cook down for dog food. My two ultra-marathon running dogs eat deer, pork and wild game every day of the year as part of their all-natural, balanced, real food diet.
In my earlier years, I used freezer zip locks and wax paper, but the quality of frozen meat was never the same. The air touches the meat and quickly dehydrates it, causing freezer burn.
Then, I used several different types of the cheaper external suction sealers such as the Food Savers. Getting the meat dry for a quality air-free seal was always a challenge. Every piece had to be dried with towels or half-frozen, otherwise the seal would not take place — wasting time and an expensive bag. After a while the machines ended up breaking and weren’t durable. Also, the liquids that did get sucked from the bag during sealing created a big mess.
Then, I found out about chamber vacuum sealers. These are what commercial applications commonly use. They can be very pricey, but Vacmaster makes an affordable recreational unit. And the machine ultimately pasy for itself, with inexpensive bag prices and the ability to seal liquids. It took literally five seconds to start each bag.
It seemed too good to be true, but it ended up being actually better than I could’ve ever imagined.
They have more expensive, nicer chamber vacs with various chamber sizes, pressure gauges and other features, but the basic vp112s that I ended up with has done the job flawlessly over the past couple of years. Just keep in mind the unit is rather heavy at 46 pounds, and takes up a lot of counter space with its 16-inch x 24-inch x9-inch outer dimensions.
The vp112s actually has a larger chamber than many other chamber vacs. The chamber to place bags is 12 x 11 inches and 5 inches high — enough to hold the contents of nearly a 2-gallon Ziploc bag.
The chamber vac is quick and simple. After pressing power, I place a bag in the chamber and close it Then, I hit the start button once. Less than one minute later the machine beeps, and the process is officially done. It only takes me several minutes to seal an entire deer or pig.
But here’s the real beauty of a chamber vacuum sealer. They seal liquids, so with game meat I simply grab a chunk of meat and toss it in the plastic bag whether it’s wet or dry. There’s no wasted time trying to dry or half freeze the meat or fish filets anymore.
I end up trimming my pieces better once defrosted before cooking to avoid spending long periods to do an entire animal at once before freezing.
The best part is the price. Sure my chamber vac was more than a Food Saver. I got mine for $470 with free shipping and no tax brand new from a whole-sale restaurant website. At retail stores, the same unit can cost over $800 after taxes.
However, it ends up being far cheaper than a Food Saver because of the bag prices. The chamber bags can be found for around 5 or 6 cents apiece bought in bulk packs of 1,000. They come in virtually any size — I like the bigger 12-inch x14-inch bags for chunks of meat and 8-inch x12-inch bags for sealing 2- to 4-portion pre-cooked meals. I use the thin 3-mil thick bags.
The cheapest Food Saver external suction sealer bags cost $10 a roll, which makes only about 16 gallon-sized bags. This comes out to 62 cents for each bag, and the individually pre-made Food Saver bags cost even more.
After using 825 chamber vac bags — instead of Food Saver bags — there would be savings of $470. This is when the machine pays for itself. Use 825 Food Saver bags, and well over $500 is spent on bags alone. This may seem like a lot of bags, but I go through a few hundred bags each year since I use my Vacmaster weekly.
Many times I cook large pots of food. There are often too many leftovers to eat before they would go bad in the refrigerator. I simply put all these meals such as soups, stews and gumbos into bags and vacuum seal them. Nowadays, I make huge pots of food on purpose so I can seal up several dozen meals to freeze. And these cooked meals taste like they were just cooked when defrosted.
On weekends at the hunting camp, there’s no need to bring food to cook. I just grab a couple pre-made frozen sealed meals from the past year and eat great all weekend. This allows me more time to hunt — and no wasted time trying to prepare and cook my wife gourmet style meals every lunch and dinner.
With so many hunting areas with Chronic Wasting Disease and reports of mixing up other people’s game meat, I will never chance sending my quality public land game meat to chance at a meat market.
A chamber vacuum sealer is a substantial investment at first — that will pay for itself over time with delicious meat and fish, and meals to enjoy for years to come.