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January 2002 Issue
Tilia's FoodSaver Vac 550 Kit
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Anyone who has cookies, ham, or other leftovers from the last month of festivities can benefit from Tilia's Foodsaver line of products. If you're feeling overwhelmed by leftovers, bulk food purchases or large batches of baked goods, you can rest assured that they will taste just as fresh months from now after they've been vacuum-sealed and packed away to be enjoyed another day.

The FoodSaver Vac 550 Kit
For the purpose of this review, the Tilia FoodSaver Vac 550 Kit was tested.

The kit includes Tilia's vacuum packaging appliance that features a jar accessory port that allows you to vacuum package FoodSaver canisters, containers and even mason jars if you use the jar sealer attachment that is included in the kit. The appliance creates a vacuum in storage bags, canisters, jars, cans and bottles by removing the air from such containers and then sealing them so that the air cannot re-enter. It does this by using a powerful pump to create the vacuumm and a sealing until to seal the storage bags. The other containers that can be used with Tilia's FoodSaver feature special devices that prevent air from returning to the container once the air has been pumped out of it.

Also included in the Tilia FoodSaver Vac 550 Kit are a 3/4-quart FoodSaver canister, a jar sealer attachment, a selection of FoodSaver bags and rolls, a user manual, a quick-start guide and a "How-To" video.

The kit comes with a standard 1-year warranty.

The Pros
Perhaps the most impressive demonstration of the FoodSaver's abilities is its effect on the shelf life of spinach. Being a fan of spinach, I regularly purchase it and have it on hand in the refrigerator. However, it's rare that I can manage to finish an entire bag within the few days that it stays fresh in the refrigerator. This is where Tilia's FoodSaver shines. Spinach that would last 5 days if I were lucky in the past can now stay crisp and tender for more than 2 weeks when gently nestled in a large FoodSaver canister and vacuum sealed.

Spinach is not the only kitchen wonder that the FoodSaver can, in fact, save. Everything from flour to fish to coffee beans can maintain freshness for two to six times as long as conventional storage methods. Cheese is particularly protected by the vacuum sealing process. A block of cheese that would normally start aquiring spots of mold after about 2 weeks of storage in the refrigerator can be vacuum sealed and safely stored in that same refrigerator for as many as eight months!

Since Tilia sells special FoodSaver rolls that allow you to make custom-sized bags, you can avoid waste and also make extra large bags for bulk purchases or other uses. Tilia even suggests vacuum sealing foods and dry clothing for camping trips and the like!

The Cons
Learning to properly vacuum seal certain foods can be a bit of a challenge, but the learning curve is fairly shallow and the possibilities are endless. After a bit of trial and error, you learn which items require bags and which need canisters or other solid containers. Sealing containers the first time may cause a little concern as well if the jar sealing attachment cord is not attached properly to the vacuum sealing appliance. Again, in the circumstance, a little trial and error will quickly get you on the right track again.

The only other drawback is the requirement that raw meat that's to be sealed should be partially frozen before being sealed. Since the vacuum sealing appliance would pull the juices from the meat into itself while creating the vacuum, this is understandable and does not differ from any other vacuum sealing device on the market. It just requires you to do a little thinking and planning ahead.

Resources
For more information about Tilia's FoodSavers, visit http://www.tilia.com.

Tilia's products are widely available at hundreds of retailers from coast to coast including Walmart and Sears. For information about nearby retailers, call 1-800-777-5452.

Putting It All To Work
Tilia's FoodSaver Vac 550 Kit works for households in so many ways. It saves money by helping you avoid throwing spoiled food away. It allows you to buy food in bulk and vacuum package it into smaller portions for future use. It also lets you take advantage of seasonal specials and enjoy them all year long. It provides excellent protection against freezer burn. It helps keep your gourmet foods at their freshest. It saves you time when you need it most by allowing you to make foods for entertaining early and vacuum package them for future use. It can even save you some elbow grease! If you vacuum package your silver, it will never tarnish and you won't need to polish it between uses. In short, it's a great addition to almost every kitchen.



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