The FoodSaver VS3196 (VS3000) is a multi-use food preservation device that combines a heat and vacuum sealer in one unit. Used to help preserve perishable foods like meats and vegetables, it gives you more flexibility in the kitchen to purchase food on sale and pull it out when needed. We gave the FoodSaver accessories, FoodSaver bags and custom FoodSaver rolls the review they deserve.
We purchased our unit in-store for $199CAD. Given the unit’s price, we weren’t expecting many extras but it did come with a handy pantry sealer and some included sample vacuum bags. Included is a built-in bag cutter (to make custom bags) and a storage area inside the device to keep bags at hand. Lastly, even though the device has a built-in hand-sealer the device fits comfortably on most countertops occupying very little space.
Getting to know a vacuum sealer is important before use, as there are some tricks to getting the bags to seal right. A minimum of 3 inches of space above the contents of each bag must be maintained for proper sealing, which is likely more than expected if it’s your first time using a sealer. Once you’ve mastered the trick of estimating the bag size, you’ve essentially mastered everything about this device. To seal bags, vacuum storage containers, and produce bags with either the hand or automatic sealer is very easy and generally takes only a few seconds.
Important to note is that the seal the device has to achieve has to be tight. We found that in the unit we tested, after several uses (over 10) the device began to not seal as effectively. We eventually had to put a fair amount of extra pressure on the top of the unit for it to begin to seal bags properly. While this didn’t directly affect any other use of the unit, we believe this was important to highlight as it was a frustrating thing to overcome.
We believe that this unit is feature-rich for the entry-level vacuum/heat sealer. Added flexibility with the hand sealer made using vacuum-sealed pre-cut produce bags, easy to use and the FoodSaver Marinate and Preserve containers were a handy storage option.
Unlike some of the devices on the market, there aren’t any manual controls or pulsing features for the device. This means if you want a slightly tighter seal or want to prevent damage to delicate foods, it would be more difficult to control.
Refilling the FoodSaver VS3000 is likely going to cost you more than you would expect with standard plastic food storage bags. The best value for replacement/refill bags is at membership-based wholesalers that sell pre-packed brand-name refills. Some of the after-market or “alternate” bags don’t provide the same quality and don’t seal as well as the originals, so we recommend sticking with the same brand.
In terms of the service, we did attempt to get our unit repaired/replaced to determine if the issues with the lid could be fixed. We had a really difficult time trying to get ahold of FoodSaver by phone, and it took five attempts before we just gave up trying to get through to someone who could assist. We would recommend trying to reach them using their webform should any issues arise using your unit.
After getting the food into the storage bags (either produce or standard vacuum seal bags), we managed to preserve food for on average 3 times longer than in the fridge or freezer alone. Delicate romaine lettuce stayed crunchy in the fridge and the top-sirloin streak stayed frost-free. In terms of volatile grocery items like cheese, we’d recommend using custom-size bags and not the produce variety to keep these fresher longer.
So getting the best value for your money with the VS3000 is essentially going to be determined by the number of different bags and storage types you use with it. For us, we found that using the reusable “Marination and Preservation” containers helped glean extra value for our FoodSaver that we hadn’t before. While the containers weren’t included in the package upfront, we were able to do larger batches of our favourite dishes and cut down on some plastic waste when we purchased them separately.
As for the unit itself, we believe that its’ priced very attractively given its feature set and goes beyond the standard feature set of a vacuum sealer. Ideally, we would like to see the added option of a manual “pulse” feature to manually adjust the strength of the seal but the unit’s automatic feature does just fine without it.