The best vacuum food sealer has

  • Effective sealing. When trying to preserve food in the freezer, an air-tight seal is essential to keep foods fresh for as long as possible, says Cook's Illustrated.
  • Strong suction. Air pockets of any sort in a freezer bag are a main cause of freezer burn, says Care2.com, so to get the most life out of vacuum-sealed foods, make sure it has strong suction.
  • Convenience features. Some models come with extra features like a bag cutter or bag storage to make the vacuum-sealing process just a bit quicker and more convenient, says VacuumSealerDigest.com.
  • Longevity and warranty. Depending on how often a vacuum sealer is used, the motor, among other elements, can wear down, so the best models are built to last and are backed by a good warranty, according to Ebay.

The best sous vide machine does

  • Maintains temperature for excellent results. Effective sous vide cooking requires that the machine keeps water at the final desired temperature constantly so that food cooks to perfection, according to MolecularRecipes.com.
  • Makes it easy to set and forget. One advantage to sous vide cooking is the ability to start the cooking process hours in advance and leave foods unattended, since they'll never exceed the preset temperature, says ModernistCuisine. To make this breezy dream a reality, a sous vide machine needs to be self-sufficient and not require the constant supervision of the chef.
  • Lasts a long time. A sous vide cooker is a pricey investment, so make sure that it will stand the test of time and give users the most for their money.

Know before you go

What types of food will you seal? Whether you're looking to seal dry goods or wet goods may determine which model will work best for your food. If you're also looking to open and reseal the bags more often, you may want to look at a model that offers zip-top bags instead of heat sealing them shut according to Office Zone. If you're looking at sous vide cooking, you'll want a model that consistently gets all the air out of the package to promote even and thorough cooking.

How often will you use it? Some bigger models are more durable and can stand up to a lot of vacuum sealing over both the short and long term. However, if vacuum sealing is just a way to pack leftovers to stay fresh later in the week, a smaller model may suit your needs, according to VacuumSealerDigest.com. The same goes for sous vide cookers, where a less expensive enhancement to an appliance already in your kitchen may get the job done instead of a larger machine.

How much space do you have? Having a big vacuum sealer or sous vide cooker with a ton of features may be appealing, but it can take up a lot of space in the cabinets and on the counter, so determine how much room you have for appliances and determine if you need a smaller model, according to SpaceSavingProjects.com.

What's the total cost of ownership? With sous vide cookers, no model on the market includes a vacuum sealer to prepare your food or a bag cutter to ease the process, so you may need to invest in a vacuum sealer before moving on to sous vide cooking. With vacuum sealers, some models offer bags and containers that can be rinsed and reused many times, while others require a new bag for each seal. Over time, the costs of purchasing bags may add up. Cook's Illustrated points out that these disparities in cost of ownership can be the difference between a wise investment and a waste of money.

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