Help me design a DIY vacuum-sealer

I’ve been getting into sous vide lately and I’ve been using the poor man’s bagging method: put the bag in a bucket of water when sealing it to squeeze out the air. This works ok but I’d like to possibly come up with something better, preferably something that I could build myself.

They have hand-held vacuum sealers (like the FoodSaver) but they supposedly don’t work well if there is liquid in the bag (like a sauce). Other commercial vacuum sealers require a new bag ever time since they melt the bag to seal it and I’d like to have a solution that can reuse the bag to limit waste.

I have an idea and I’m looking for feedback on ways to improve it or to tell me I’m a moron and that it’ll never work. I will take a small plastic box (perhaps a 1’ cube) with a lid. On one side I will cut a hole and attach an adapter for inserting a Shop-vac hose (or similar vacuum cleaner). On the other side I will cut two holes and attach thick rubber gloves like these that reach into the box, sort of like a chemical lab hood. The whole thing needs to be air tight, of course.

To use it I’ll open the lid, put a Zip-Loc bag with the food in the box, and close/seal the lid, then attach the vacuum and turn it on. Then I can reach into the box through the gloves and seal the Zip-Loc bag.

Thoughts?

If you want to seal things in sauce or marinade, you grease a tupperware and stick it in the freezer. Then when it’s frozen you use a food-saver bag on that. Aside from that I have no other advice for a DIY vacuum sealer since I inherited an awesome food saver already.

If all you’re worried about with the food saver is waste. Make the bags longer then necessary, then each time you open it, do so my cut off just the melted part and you’ll be able to reuse it a few times. Granted, unless you make each bag something like a foot longer, you’ll probably only be able to get one or two extra uses out of it, but still, that’s something. Either way, the a Foodsaver will probably do a much better job then something you’ll be able to make on your own. Besides, that melted part at the top of the FoodSaver bag does a much better job then any Ziplock bag.

What are you cooking that requires that much liquid? I sous-vide a fair bit, using a foodsaver, and the liquid thing has rarely been a problem. If I really need liquid, I just throw it in the freezer beforehand. So yeah, you gotta plan ahead, but face it, you don’t sous-vide when you’re throwing together a quick dinner.

That said, if you manage to jimmy together a chamber vacuum sealer with duct tape and chicken wire, I’m sure you’ll make a lot of people happy, me included. So let us know how it works.

And, for the record, chamber vacuum sealers are coming down in price. Still not cheap, but you can get one for $600-$1000, instead of $3000. I’m guessing in a year or two they’ll be even cheaper.

I don’t know if you are moron or not, but that will never work. The key to getting the maximum amount of air out of the bag is to have the inside of the bag at a lower pressure than the outside. If you stick the whole shebang in a vacuum, then the both the inside of the bag and outside will be at the same pressure and no air will be forced out.

Now if you did this under a high enough vacuum, the air density would be such that if you sealed the bag under vacuum any void spaces would shrink significantly once you brought the bag up to atmospheric pressure. You aren’t going to achieve this with a shop vac though. At best you might get a couple psi of vacuum.