VacMaster VP112

In the Sous Vide Equipment Forum
This is not specifically sous vide but somewhat related...

I received my new VacMaster today and I've been playing with it all night. Mostly fruit compression and infusion tricks, and many of them include alcohol. :-)

I'll do a more thorough review this weekend.

In the meantime, if any of you want me to test something specific, please let me know. I'm game.

My favorite "recipe" tonight was agave-infused apples with spice.

I sliced an apple very thin on the mandonline (0.75 mm) and tossed it with ground cayenne, seasoning salt, some chili powder, garlic salt, and fresh ground black pepper, then doused the slices with agave nectar. Pulled a vacuum for about 45 seconds. When the vacuum released, magic happened.

VERY complex taste. I've never had anything like it before. The agave was infused all the way through the apple, and the spices blended nicely. The apple slices were almost completely transparent, but still as firm as freshly sliced apple. A very weird and bizarre experience, but delicious.

More notes this weekend...


13 Replies So Far

I take it you're in the US then Blake? I have been searching for a reasonable value Chamber Vacuum in the UK for a long while now, but unfortunately we have no options like the VP112.

I think the two things I've most wanted to try are infused and compressed watermelon (doesn't everyone?), and an infusion of beef tomato with olive oil and balsamic vinegar....but I'll only be jealous if you try them!
I've been using the VP112 for a bit over a year. It is a very nice unit. The most unusual aspect of this machine is its shape. It can easily sit on a kitchen counter under cabinets. Also, it seems unusual for the low end machine to have a 12 inch sealing bar. And to top it off, the chamber is deeper than many other units. In summary, it's the least expensive unit, and it fits in a typical kitchen space, and can seal larger amounts than much more expensive units.

This unit has proved to be easy to use. The only issue that I've had is when I've tried to seal a bag with a very low vacuum. It turns out that the sealing bar is lifted into place by the chamber vacuum, so you can't get a decent seal without pulling a vacuum.

And as a nice little touch, the manufacturer includes a set of high density plastic "cutting boards"? The purpose of these is to help take up space when sealing smaller amounts so the vacuum pump doesn't need to do as much work. In addition to this, you can use these boards to lift your bag to a convenient height for sealing.

Great price, wonderful features, and good performance.
Thanks for sharing Dean, sounds like a really good option!
I'm even more jealous than I was...unfortunately the VP112 is 110V only and not available in the UK.
@Blake Ormand:
My questions:

1. How easy or hard is the VacMaster VP112 to use at first? Were you able to get up and running quickly or did you have to play around with the unit to get it to seal things properly?

2. How clear are the instructions that came with the unit on how to use the device?

3. Is there anything that you are going to seal for Sous Vide cooking, (maybe something with liquids?) that you are looking forward to trying? I know you can seal liquids using other techniques, but this machine should make it easy/fun, I would guess, to tackle them...
This unit was pretty easy to use, even at first, but there were some techniques that became obvious after using it a while that result in even more uniform results.

There really are only two adjustments on this unit. One is to set how long the vacuum pump should run. The second is to control how long the heating strip should heat when sealing a bag.

I almost always use this unit with all, or almost all the "cutting boards" to reduce the volume which needs to be evacuated. Because of this, I found that the unit hits its maximum vacuum in about 35 seconds, so I use that as the normal setting. I think the heating bar currently heats for 4 seconds. This works fine with both normal and thick bags that I use.

The instructions that come with the unit are good, although terse. If you look around on vendor sites, you can download the manual. I get the impression that the main purchasers of this unit are sportsmen that need to preserve game. I've seen no comments concerning sous vide associated with this unit, which is interesting. I think they could sell a lot of these units if they would focus their advertising on the sous vide marketing.

Sealing bags containing liquids is trivial. I use this a lot with left-overs. My kids have recently left the nest but I'm in the habit for cooking enough for 2 meals with four people each. Now I bag half and then freeze. Bagging things like chili couldn't be easier.

You can marinade your meat quickly with this unit. Mix the meat with the sauce and then seal it. The sauce will stay in the bag where you want it.

There's a number of recipes that I've broken apart so I can make use of sous vide techniques. For instance, I might fry the veggies, potatoes, and spices for a curry. Once ready, I cool it, then bag it with the meat and coconut milk, and everything else and I get incredibly tender meat without high temperature braising.... (Before sous vide, 180F was low temperature cooking.... Now it high temperature.)

Not cooking related, but one thing that has been very useful is making up alcohol-water bags. Off the cuff, I'm not certain about the ratio, but it's about 1 part alcohol to 2 parts water. Put it into a bag, cool it, and then seal it. Slide the resulting bag into another bag and seal that one. Now, throw it into the freezer and pull it out when you have aches and pains you want to ice. Works well... The double bagging means it's not likely to leak, and totally reuseable.... I've made these for my kids and a few friends. I wish I had this when my kids were in soccer. They always needed ice!
I have that machines bigger brother, the VP215C. Chamber vac sealers are great!
I looked at the VP215 and really considered getting it. I really like the idea of the oiled pump. A little more work but should last a long, long time. But this turned out to be one of the very few times that I did not get the larger/more powerful option with a tool.... And let me tell you, that is a very rare occurance. What sold me on the smaller unit was the ability to sit under a cupboard on a kitchen counter. I even considered making a rollable platform to set the VP215 on so I could pull it out when I wanted to use it.... But I took the easy way out.
@LeeW:

Yep, I'm in Austin, Texas, USA.

I did a ton of experiments with infusing/compressing fruits and veggies last week. The VP112 is certainly capable of strong infusions. My new favorite is white wine-infused apple slices. They are delicious and strange. Compression didn't go so well. While there was some compression, it wasn't what I was hoping for. I read on eGullet that I might need to compress, cut the bag open, compress again, and repeat a few times to get a true change in texture. Apparently, this is because each compression cycle only crushes a small region of cells on the outside of the fruit. I'll be trying that soon.

@Umbrella:

1. I plugged it in, turned it on, and sealed my first bag within seconds. It is very easy to use. It is set from the factory to pump for 35 seconds, and seal on setting 5 (which is about 2.5 seconds, I think). I find this to be fine for almost everything I've sealed in it, but I'll occasionally set the pump to go for longer if I want an extra strong vacuum. The sealing setting is fine at 5, and a change is really only necessary if you're using thick bags or FoodSaver bags.

2. The instructions are minimal but sufficient (http://vacmaster.aryvacmaster.com/vacmaster/pdf/VP112_Manual.pdf). It's so easy, there's not much to write about.

3. I just sealed up 13 portions I cut from a 11 pound brisket. No liquid involved, but I was impressed at how easy and fast the VP112 tackled this task. It would have taken much longer on a FoodSaver due to the sealer bar cooling time. I also sealed some sirloin steak tips in marinade and cooked that sous vide. I wasn't sure how long to cook them because they're basically the bits of meat from the sirloin that are too small to sell as steaks. Plus, a marinade is usually intended to help tenderize the meat, so I should have taken that into account. I cooked them for 6 hours and they were completely falling apart. Still delicious, but it was more like beef stew than steak. It's funny - now that I can seal liquids, I realize that there aren't a lot of sous vide recipes that involve cooking foods sealed in liquid! I think I'll try something similar to poaching. Pork chops poached in bacon grease seem like a delicious and sinful first experiment. :-)

@Dean:

Chili is a great idea! I've done several batches sous-vide, but I just cooked the beef sous vide and finished the chili the conventional way. I'll cook up some sous vide chili soon and report my results.

I actually bought a rolling kitchen cart just for the VP112. I wanted to be able to move it around and save my limited counter space. It stays in the garage until I'm ready for it (there is a door between the garage and kitchen). Then I just roll it right in, do the job, and roll it back out. I store my bags, boards, containers, etc on the bottom racks. It's perfect! If anyone is interested, my cart is the Seville Classics SHE18304. It's 18x34 inches, so there is plenty of room around the VP112, which is handy as a "staging area" for bags. The cart is rated to hold up to 500 pounds. It also looks great with the VP112 - chrome, baby!

I also wanted to report that so far, the VP112's vacuum port works perfectly with my FoodSaver containers. I haven't tried all of them, but they all use the same size tube, so I don't see why they wouldn't work. I would advise you to keep an eye on the container, though - the vacuum level is so much higher on the VP112 that I'm actually a little worried about crushing the FoodSaver containers.
Oh, and one more thing. While experimenting with the infusions, I discovered that the vacuum is so strong that it boils alcohol at room temperature. Useless, but very cool.

Here in Austin, we're close to sea level, so I would need a -72.4 cmHg vacuum to boil water at room temperature. I haven't quite reached that much of a vacuum yet. Most times, I get about -70 cmHg.

For those who are interested, there is a thread on eGullet that has a pressure chart and other useful information about vacuum levels:
http://forums.egullet.org/topic/137429-chamber-vacuum-sealers-2011/page__st__60__p__1797095#entry1797095
Hello all
I have been using a VP112 for about four months now. I bought it used so there is no warrantee. I haven't seen too many posts on the different sites about the problem with the lid. The lid cracks after an extended time. I wrote to Vacmaster and they know all about it but all they would say is buy another one for $60.
How many of you have had this trouble?

Rick
Hi Rick,

I've had my VP112 for almost 18 months now, and I've been using it almost daily. So far, I haven't had any trouble with the lid. It still runs as if it was brand new.

What part of your lid developed a crack?

-Blake
Hi Blake
Thankx for the reply

The cracks run at a diagonal across the braces that form squares.
Also, where the hinges attach to the lid. They are quite extensive, to the point where I can not draw more than half a full vacuum.
I'm very disappointed with Vacmasters' response to the problem. It's well known to them yet they will not own up to it.
I love the machine but....customer service?

Rick


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