Best Vacuum Sealer For Fish (The Ultimate Guide)
Few foods go off faster than fish.
And down the centuries, we’ve come up with a whole host of innovative ways to keep it fresh.
Before refrigeration and freezing, we had fermentation, canning, drying, salting, and smoking.
Some of these older preservation methods even gave us a few classic dishes that are still with us today.
Think smoked salmon, salt cod, gravlax, and kippers.
Vacuum sealing is very much the new kid on the block. But unfortunately, on its own isn’t a great way to preserve fish for any length of time.
Though it can help keep it fresh.
Which might seem like a bit of a contradiction.
So, let me explain.....
When you seal your favourite fish in a vacuum, all you’ve done is remove the air.
This slows down the growth of most of the bacteria that cause food spoilage. The ones that make your food smell, go slimy and turn it a funny color.
There are other bacteria though, dangerous ones, who love this low oxygen environment.
Bacteria like salmonella, clostridium, listeria and E.coli survive just fine in anaerobic conditions.
And when they’re without competition from their food spoiling brothers, they grow to dangerous levels rapidly.
They don’t cause any noticeable change in food either. Fish will still look and smell fine once removed from a vacuum. Yet still, have the potential to be dangerous if eaten.
So you should treat vac-packed fish like any other food. Making sure to refrigerate/freeze it properly before cooking it through.
Now that we’ve got that critical piece of information out of the way. You’re probably wondering if the best vacuum sealer for fish doesn’t help preserve it.........
Then what’s the advantage of getting one?
Well, there’s quite a few.
But just before we get to them, below are 3 of our favourites for those in a hurry.
Best Vacuum Sealer For Fish - A Quick Look At The Top 3
7 Great Reasons Why Every Fish Cook Should Get A Vacuum Sealer
Although vacuum sealing can’t take the place of your fridge or freezer as a means of conserving your catch.
It can maintain certain quality traits and prolong a food's shelf life based on how it’s gonna look and taste.
The extraction of air from the atmosphere stops fish from drying out, keeps colours vivid, and prevents the growth of microbes that make fish smell and turn it slimy.
Here are 7 other reasons why you’ve got to get one.
#1. They’re great at keeping oily fish fresh longer.
If you’re not planning to eat any oily fish you get your hands on straight away, it can be a real challenge to keep it in tip-top condition before you want to cook it up.
Bacteria, enzymes, and more importantly, oils naturally present in fish like mackerel, herring, and sardines react with oxygen. Causing them to turn in a matter of hours if not handled correctly.
Refrigeration is key to keeping these omega 3 fish fresh. And 0 degrees Celsius is the temperature to aim for as it will inhibit the growth of most bacteria.
But it won’t stop the oxidisation of oil in a fish like a mackerel, which will soften textures and turn flavours stale or rancid.
This won’t make it inedible, but it will affect how it’s gonna taste.
By vacuum sealing oily fish and keeping it on ice, you limit its exposure to oxygen.
Which keeps flavours fresh, colours bright, and should easily buy you another couple of days shelf life before you go to cook it up.
#2. Marinating fish For Maximum Flavour
Marinating fish under pressure in a vacuum is convenient and efficient.
And although the best vacuum sealer for fish doesn’t speed up the marination process itself. There are other advantages.
First of all, you won’t have to make anywhere near as much marinade because you'll be compressing it around your fish.
This keeps it in close contact with your food and not just uselessly sloshing around a half-empty container.
It also makes it easier to redistribute those aromatic ingredients around the fish. No turning or stirring required.
But the real magic happens once the seal is broken.
Because as air races out, the marinade rushes in, penetrating deeply into the food, enhancing the marinating effect.
Leaving you with a delicious fillet of fish to bake, roast, or pan fry.
And it works just as well with meat too.
#3. Cooking Fish And Aromatics Together for A Bigger And Better Flavour
The best vacuum sealer for fish gives you the option of sealing and cooking it up together with other aromatics and liquids, which will vastly improve flavour (more on this in a sec)
And you can put anything you like in that vac-pack bag.
Herbs, spices, vegetables, stocks, sauces or your favourite wine/ beer can be married up, bound together, and then poached, steamed, or cooked sous vide.
Fish that you used to poach in an ocean of court bouillon can now be done in a couple of tablespoons. Along with maybe a little diced shallots, some crushed garlic, and herbs for a massive taste hit.
No flavour gets lost to the cooking medium, and as long as you're careful, it’s tough to dry it out or overcook it.
#4. They Can Give You More Storage Space in Your Refrigerator & Freezer
The best vacuum sealer for fish allows for really efficient storage, which comes in very handy if you’ve a large family and limited fridge space.
Sealing up food in a bag gives you the perfect container size. No more storing a couple of fillets of fish in a container that would normally hold 10 because it’s the only one you’ve got.
It helps keep your fridge and freezer neat, tidy, and organised.
And maybe a bit cleaner too, as you'll have fewer containers in there to knock over. So there’ll be fewer spillages or leeks to clean up.
#5. Vacuum Sealing Smoked Fish Is The Best Way To Keep It At Its Best.
If you’ve ever left a bit of smoked salmon open in the fridge, you were probably gutted to come back a couple of hours later to find it had gone as dry as the desert.
Salted, smoked, and cured fish doesn’t do well in the fridge for any length of time.
Its salty flesh hardens when it comes into contact with the chilly air making it shrivel, turn stiff, and dehydrate.
And once this happens, there’s no way to save it, and it’s headed for the trash (or you could try it on the cat)
Vacuum sealing is the best way to keep smoked fish fresh. Because once you wrap it up tightly, it won’t dry out, and its earthy aroma won’t permeate your whole fridge either.
#6. The Best Vacuum Sealer For Fish Stops Freezer Burn In Its Tracks
If one of the kids ever forgot to put the lid back on the ice cream properly before returning it to the freezer, you’ll be very familiar with a kind of frost that forms on its surface.
These ice crystals are a type of freezer burn, and although it won’t make your food dangerous to eat, it definitely won’t help it taste any better.
Freezer burn dulls flavours, drys textures, causes discolouration, and given enough time, can make fish smell off.
Generally, vacuum-sealed food holds up a lot better in the freezer than anything that’s just been wrapped in plastic or cling film.
A tight seal around your fish excludes oxygen and stops your fish from dehydrating, losing moisture to the air, and shrivelling up.
So when you go to defrost it, there’ll be no freezer burn, and it should look as good as the day you froze it.
#7. A Good Vacuum Sealer Can Save Your Wallet And Help The Planet
How many times have you put something back in your refrigerator after making dinner, hoping to use it up later?
You come back after a few days, and whatever meat, fish, fruit, or vegetable it was, is now long past its best.
Maybe it started to wilt, turn brown, smells suspicious, or worst-case scenario, has something weird growing on it.
Leaving you with no other option but to toss it in the trash.
Food waste is a massive problem worldwide. In the US alone, 40 million tons of food is tossed in the trash every year. Nearly all of it ending up in landfill.
And it all breaks down to methane, a greenhouse gas that causes global warming.
But this isn’t the only issue.
Food production consumes serious resources. Growing, storing, processing, and transportation all have a financial and an environmental cost.
And wasted food means wasted resources.
By vacuum sealing any perishable foods, you'll increase their shelf life and hopefully get the chance to use them up later.
Saving you a few $$$ and cutting your carbon footprint a little.
Best Vacuum Sealer For Fish - 2 Important Features To Look For
These days vacuum sealers come with a lot of bells and whistles attached.
And if you cook a lot of fish, there are a couple of important ones to keep an eye out for. Both of which will help you get the most out of any machine you buy.
1. The Ability To Control The Amount Of Pressure And Compression
When you flip the switch on your vacuum sealer, it begins to extract air. This squeezes the vac-pack bag tightly against the food compressing anything inside.
You need to control this compression for delicate fish. Or it will get flattened like a pancake under too much pressure.
And if you forget to take a bone out, it will puncture the bag, forcing you to start over.
Different types of seafood can handle varying amounts of pressure. Shellfish like shrimp and lobster can take a tighter seal.
While flakey fish like cod, salmon, or tuna need something a lot lighter, or moisture will get squeezed from the fish, and it will bruise up under too much force.
Ruining a beautiful presentation when you go to cook it later.
Power usually determines pressure.
And for fish, you need to be able to control the power depending on exactly what you’re sealing.
Luckily, most vacuum sealers come with varying power settings like low, medium, or high.
It’s crucial that any vacuum sealer you like the look of gives you some management of power, compression, and pressure.
Otherwise, you’ll be severely limited in what types of fish you'll be able to seal up.
2. It’s Capable Of Sealing Food And Liquids Together
If a vacuum sealer can’t seal fish and liquids together, your options get restricted on exactly what you can do with it.
Sure, you can pack up fish for storage in the fridge or freezer.
But you won’t be able to marinade with it.
Or seal up foods for poaching, steaming, or cooking sous vide with other liquid ingredients like stock, court bouillon, and olive oil for an intense flavour hit.
Chamber vacuum sealers like those you see in most pro kitchens (and the most expensive ones) have no problem with this.
Unfortunately, many vacuum sealers intended for home use don’t do a great job with liquids.
Often any fluid inside gets sucked out along with the air making a good seal difficult.
The manufacturers of many of these units will tell you to freeze any liquid you want to vacuum seal first.
But this is useless advice if you want to marinate or use any type of liquid as a cooking medium as the flavour obviously won’t penetrate the food.
Luckily there’s a couple of little hacks that can help get around this problem.
There are special vacuum sealing bags you can get with a strip of absorbent material at the top, which stops liquids leaking out into your machine and helps create a tight seal.
You can check them out here.
You could also jimmy up your own version of these bags by folding a paper towel and placing it in the top of your vac-pack bag before sealing it up.
This method works okay for marinating and cooking fish and meat as you only ever need a small amount of liquid in the bag.
But don’t try it with a large amount of soup, stew or dressing. For that, you could try these vacuum sealer liquid blockers from Cabela’s, which look like they might be up to the job.
Don’t Get Confused By Moist Mode.
You'll find a few vacuum sealers with a button on them labelled moist mode.
But don’t think that by pushing it, you’ll magically be able to seal up liquids.
On most machines, all this button does is increase the seal time or the temperature of the sealing element.
This gives any moisture at the top of your bag time to escape or evaporate, allowing for a good airtight seal.
Vacuum Sealer Design 101 - How The Best Ones Work
Vacuum sealers only come in 2 designs. You’ve got chamber sealers that pro chefs use. Most of which are big, cumbersome, and expensive.
Or the clamshell/ edge/ external vacuum sealer (same design, different name), which are a lot more lightweight and portable.
The cost of most chamber vacuum sealers used to be just too prohibitive for your average home cook.
But there are now a few that are a bit more affordable (check out our reviews below for more)
Clamshell sealers are a lot more reasonably priced, but that’s not the only difference.
Here's a quick rundown on how those pro sealers differ from an edge sealer like the FoodSaver.
This set-up works great for liquids as the pressure is the same inside and outside the bag.
Oxygen is then sucked from the entire chamber, not just the bag.
And as the pressure goes down, air and only air is removed from the bag. So as it gets sealed, any liquid stays right where it is.
Chamber sealers are also more controllable than their external clamp counterparts.
You can exert a little or a lot of pressure on the food inside the bag. Which is an essential consideration if you're vac-packing fish or if you're gonna cook sous vide.
Clamshell Vacuum Sealers
The outside atmosphere then forces air from the bag along with anything else, and if it’s a liquid thing’s can get messy unless you’re very careful.
Most of these types of vacuum sealers also need specially embossed bags with a pattern on one side that keeps it open enough for the air to be drawn out.
Often the choice of which design you go for will come down to your budget and what type of food you seal up on a regular basis.
What Is The Best Vacuum Sealer For Fish?
There’s an awful amount of vacuum sealers out there on the shelves.
Sorting the wheat from the chaff can be difficult, especially when you’re looking for the ideal model to vac-pack your catch.
We’ve done the research and come up with a list of 5 of the best sealers for fish.
Each in a slightly different price bracket so that you'll be able to pick one that best meets your needs and budget.
Here at Cockles n Mussels we hope you enjoy the products we recommend but we need to let you know that if you decide to purchase something through the links on this page we get a small commission. It helps keep the lights on round here.....Thanks.
Wevac Chamber Vacuum Sealer
This is it, The most compact and budget-friendly chamber vacuum sealer there is.
Marketed for home use, the Wevac has a solid stainless steel construction and a small counter footprint at just 13.5 x 11 inches.
Ultra controllable, the Wevac is ideal for sealing both fish and liquids as you can set the seal time yourself.
Or flip it to its auto setting called smart vac and let the machine decide on the amount of pressure and compression.
The chamber has an excellent concave design with no corners, making it easy to clean up any spillages.
It measures just 10 x 11 inches, so it’s small compared to other vacuum sealers of this type.
But unless you catch an absolute whopper, it’s probably big enough to handle most fish, whether whole or fillets.
But If you think it’s too small, a bigger version of the same machine is available here.
You can also use the Wevac as an external sealer by hanging your bag outside the machine. With Its top inserted in the sealing element.
This gives you the option to seal bulkier items that usually wouldn’t fit inside the chamber, like a large Turkey, some brisket, or a medium-size roasting joint.
Vertical Chamber Vacuum Sealer by Vesta Precision
Most chamber vacuum sealers are big, bulky, and let’s face it a little bit ugly.
And I can completely understand why you wouldn’t want one if you're image-conscious about your kitchen.
But this model from Vesta has broken the mould with its attractive, sleek design.
But it’s not only its good looks that set it apart because the Vesta has a unique feature that lets you seal vertically and horizontally.
This makes it the best in the business for sealing up large amounts of liquids as gravity lends a helping hand.
So you can quickly do a gallon of any soup, stew, sauce, or marinade without having to worry about leaks or spills.
To use it in the vertical position, you hang specially designed bags on pegs inside the chamber. Then it’s just a simple matter of closing the door, turning the machine on and letting it do its thing.
Vesta recommends you use their bags with holes already punched in to fit the pegs. But you can easily make your own.
Flipping it on its side allows you to seal up more significant items in any type of bag up to a maximum of 12 by 10 inches.
Like many chamber sealers, you can set sealing/vacuuming times manually to control compression, and there are 6 settings from low to maximum.
Or you can allow the in-built pressure sensor to decide when to seal the bag automatically.
Avid Armor Chamber Vacuum Sealer
Another compact chamber design is the USV20 from avid armor.
At just 8½ inches high, it will fit neatly on any countertop. While its brushed stainless steel finish makes it both sturdy and good-looking.
A tempered glass lets you watch what’s going on inside the chamber, and the double sealing element ensures a tight seal with no leaks.
There’s a one-touch auto seal function, or you can take management of the whole process yourself.
An adjustable vacuum time (15-69 seconds) and an adjustable seal time (3-9 seconds) gives optimum control making this the ideal sealer for fish or anything else.
Like all chamber sealers, it’s excellent on liquids as air isn’t sucked from the bag but the whole chamber.
However, at a little over 12 by 8 inches, the chamber is not the biggest. And the 3-inch height does restrict what you can seal.
But Like the Wevac, if you think it’s too small, they have a bigger version available here.
The avid armor also boasts an accessory port that lets you plug in attachments for vacuum sealing jars/bottles.
NESCO VS-12, Deluxe Vacuum Sealer
The first external sealer on our list is the VS-12 FROM Nesco.
With a solid yet straightforward stainless steel construction, it boasts some serious suction power which is provided by its 130-watt double vacuum pump.
Although it doesn’t offer any manual settings, three modes cover every type of food you could think to preserve.
Dry, moist, and double seal settings give you the option to close up everything from hard root veg to delicate biscuits, berries or fish.
Compression is controlled by placing the machine on normal/full power, or you can opt for a loser seal by setting it on gentle, which is ideal for fish.
Sealing up liquids is not as straight forward as with a chamber type sealer.
But the Nesco does have a pulse function which allows you control over exactly how much air is removed from the bag. So you can stop suction if you think liquids will leak.
The embossed vacuum-packed bags are stored inside the machine on a roll, and as you seal their cut to size.
These bags measure nearly 12 inches in width, and because this is an external sealer, there’s no limit on their length.
Which gives excellent flexibility and the ability to seal any size or species of fish.
Foodsaver 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealer Machine
Foodsaver is by now a household name in the home vacuum sealing business. And no review would be complete without a look at one of their most popular machines.
The V4400 is an external/clamshell-type sealer and gives you all the benefits of that design. Most notability the ability to seal any size of fish. Large, small, whole, or fillets.
But it’s also a 2 in 1 system and has a retractable handheld vacuuming hose that allows you to preserve anything in their specially designed accessories.
Vacuum zipper bags, containers, canisters, wine stoppers, jars, and their quick marinator can all have the air removed to help improve the shelf life of anything inside.
The whole vacuuming system is automated. All you do is place the bag on the element and let the machine take care of the rest.
There are only two settings available moist or dry, which allows you to seal up delicate fish or harder root veg.
There’s no control over vacuum or seal time, so you need to be a bit careful until you get used to the amount of compression each setting uses.
The foodsaver can also detect moisture in the element and switch to the correct mode to guarantee a good seal.
While a handy dishwasher safe drip tray catches any spills making clean-up a breeze.
Best Vacuum Sealer For Fish - Other Handy Features To keep An Eye Out For
Modern vacuum sealers have an ever-expanding list of features and functionality. Some of which are pretty useful.
Below are three which you'll find worthwhile when you fire up your sealer for the first time.
A Pulse Button
You usually find this feature on external vacuum sealers. And when it comes to sealing up fish and liquids, it’s a handy one to have, because It gives you ultimate control over air removal.
You can push it to stop/start your sealer. Pausing to check the compression on your fish, making sure it’s not getting squeezed too tight.
It also allows you to stop your sealer dead in its tracks when liquids reach the top of the bag so that nothing leaks out.
All you do then is press the seal button to close the bag - no mess.
Removable Drip Trays
Drip trays help prolong the life of your sealer.
Accidents happen, and liquids escape. Having a dishwasher safe tray to catch any spills helps massively with clean-up.
On some models, they also prevent fluids from being sucked in the vacuum sealing channel and even the pump. Preventing damage or an expensive repair.
Seal Only Setting
You'll be surprised just how much you’ll use this.
And I regularly use it to seal store-bought frozen food like fries to stop them from spilling all over my freezer.
And like the pulse button on some models, you can press it when sealing liquids to stop any moisture before it reaches the chamber.
A Quick Note On Bags
Vacuum sealing bags come in lots of different shapes, sizes and designs.
And without mentioning any names, some manufacturers like to tie you to their type of bags as it provides them with a regular income stream.
It’s essential not to get caught up in this expensive rip-off. So make sure any machine you like can seal any type of bag.
This might mean splashing the cash on a chamber sealer because you can use the cheaper clear bags without the pattern on the side.
If you go for an external sealer, you’ve got to use the embossed ones, which are a lot pricer.
This won’t be a big deal if you only vac-pack occasionally.
But if you use it heavily, the cost adds up, and you'll find a chamber sealer will soon pay for itself.
Finally, make sure you go for a thicker bag that’s at least .003 inch thick. Their sturdy, don’t puncture easily and are ideal for fish.
And remember to check they can handle temperatures of 100 degrees Celsius if you're cooking sous vide.
Best Vacuum Sealer For Fish - Sealing The Deal
A vacuum sealer is the kitchen appliance you never thought you needed. And you’d be surprised just how much use you’ll get out of one.
In restaurant kitchens, they’re used for a lot more than preservation, organisation and preventing freezer burn.
By helping certain foods hold their shape and compressing others, they’ve helped chefs invent new dishes. While improving and refining old ones.
They also open up the wonderful world of sous vide cooking.
But like a lot of things, with vacuum sealers, you get what you pay for.
Many cheaper external ones aren’t meant for heavy use and just can’t hack the pace.
Chamber sealers on the other hand are much more robust, controllable, and have no issues sealing liquids.
They’re also much more affordable now and cost less than a fridge, freezer, or oven.
But what is the best vacuum sealer for fish?
Well, it’s a really tough choice between the Wevac and the Avid Armor, and either sealer won’t see you far wrong.
But if you put a gun to our head, we’d pick the Wevac as the best vacuum sealer for fish. Although it’s a little smaller, it’s slightly better valued and can do everything the Avid armor can do.
What will you seal first?
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