Wow! What can I say. I LOVE my FoodSaver Vacuum-Sealer. I purchased it this summer as well as the Excalibur dehydrator and have used them together to add another method of preserving food for storage.
I dehydrated peaches, pears, mushrooms, summer squash, tomatoes, apples, mangos, and broccoli, and then sealed them in the FoodSaver bags or canning bottles and put them into my storage in the basement.
It will even seal canning bottles if you purchase the attachment (pictured below). It doesn't take the place of actually canning the food, but works perfectly for dehydrated foods, brown sugar, coconut, spices, etc.
Many have asked questions about vacuum sealing food, the shelf life, and the use of oxygen absorbers with sealing.
So let's address a few:
Q: I seal pack a lot of food for long term storage. The packs are incredibly tight. Do I need to add an oxygen absorber?
If you are sealing dry food products, such as macaroni, rice, beans, etc., there will always be small spaces between each piece. I would recommend placing an oxygen absorber package in the container to help remove any residual oxygen that may be trapped inside or around these types of products (like macaroni) and not removed during the relatively quick vacuum process. This is especially important for long term storage.
Q: How long will dehydrated foods i.e. jerky, fruits, veggies, instant mashed potatoes last when vacuum sealed with an O2 absorber inside the bag?
The use of O2 absorbers is your choice. The smaller the food particles, the more unlikely it is that you will need O2 absorbers (see above question). I personally don't use 02 absorbers in any of my vacuum-packed foods.
As for the shelf life, it does depend on the food type and the environment of your storage area. The cooler the storage area, the longer the shelf life. Check this list of some food types and their shelf life (scroll down the page): Long Term Shelf Life
If you are dehydrating food yourself, vacuum sealing will give most foods a shelf life of 1-2 years, again, depending on the food type and the temperature of your storage area.
Here's the jar sealer I mentioned above. It works so slick! There is one that fits regular size canning jars and another for the wide mouth. I bought the wide mouth because I read a lot of reviews and several people mentioned that the regular size didn't work very well. Well, I purchased the regular size anyway and found that is doesn't work as well.
The solution (I also read in the comments) is to use two lids, putting them both on the bottle, then attach the jar sealer, and it seals just fine. The extra lid can easily be removed when the first lid is sealed.
To seal, just fill the bottle with the food, put the usual Kerr or Ball lid on top, push the attachment onto the bottle, over the lid (or 2 lids for regular-mouth bottles), attach the small plastic hose (comes with the sealer) to the top of the attachment and the other end to the correct spot on the vacuum sealer and turn it on to vacuum and then seal. Wait until both the vacuum and the seal lights go off before removing the attachment. Done.
Why am I only reviewing only the FoodSaver vacuum sealer? It is the most popular brand (right now) and I've researched and read many positive recommendations and reviews. But the main reason I recommend this sealer is that I have used it — a LOT — for everything including dehydrated foods, meat, vegetables and fruits for freezing to prevent freezer burn, nuts and seeds in jars, and everything I can think of that would benefit by preserving with this method.
Go ahead and read any reviews you can find — you'll see what I mean. Then come back here and buy one for the best price.