Status Home 280 review done by Don Caswell for the Australian Hunter Magazine, Edition 87, 2023 (December)
Title - Cold But Never Old
Compliments of SSAA magazine, Issue 87, page 32, 33. www.ssaa.org.au
For game meat freshness, Don Caswell bags himself a winner with the Status Home 280 Vacuum Sealer
Anybody who hunts for game meat should have a food vacuum sealer. The already outstanding qualities of free-range, totally organic, lean meat are significantly enhanced by vacuum sealing the prime cuts. And sealing the meat in robust vacuum bags provides a very tidy package for stacking in the freezer, while enabling longer storage times and eliminating freezer burn.
Recently, my old vacuum sealer began to struggle to reach the vacuum it once did. After a lot of use over the years, I presumed it needed new seals. I called the company I had originally purchased the unit from and found it under changed management. Bryce, the new owner of Food Vacuum Sealers Australia, said that parts for my old sealer were no longer available. We moved into conversation and the upshot is this review on the latest model from the European manufacturer.
The Status Home 280 Vacuum Sealer is ideal for me as I process a load of venison every month or two. Food Vacuum Sealers Australia stocks a range of 11 different vacuum sealers, catering for occasional domestic use up to commercial models. Their comprehensive website shows all those and many related accessories. The Status Home 280 Vacuum Sealer is the top model in the domestic series. The controls are simple and intuitive, well documented by the instruction manual that comes with the unit. The website also has a useful video tutorial for the 280 version.
Simply pressing the central ‘BAG’ button initiates the vacuum pump to evacuate the air from the bag. The machine detects when maximum vacuum has been reached and automatically switches to sealing. When the indicator light above the ‘BAG’ button turns off, the bag is sealed and ready for the fridge or freezer.
Vacuum sealing your harvested game meat is a lot more than just an alternative to wrapping it in plastic prior to freezing. Vacuum sealing in the necessary heavy duty plastic removes all but traces of air from the package and the heat bar on the vacuum sealer welds the bag shut to retain the vacuum.
The real benefit of vacuum bagging meat comes from being able to properly age it in oxygen-free packaging. You can freeze your packaged venison and age it later, or age it first and then freeze it ready for later consumption. For venison, I age the prime cuts for one to two weeks. That ageing significantly improves both the flavour and the tenderness of the meat. That is, a reduction in gameness and toughness.
While I vacuum bag all my harvested venison, it is only the prime cuts that I age for up to two weeks. Bags of trimmed pieces I freeze immediately, for later mincing or casserole, as there is no real benefit to be had in ageing these. Also, having greatly increased the surface area of the meat pieces, there is a slightly elevated risk of spoilage if left to age. I bag the prime steak cuts from the rib fillets and rump as whole pieces that I only cut into steaks immediately prior to cooking. With this ageing process, hygiene is critical and all contaminating hair, blades of grass or dirt specks must be trimmed off the meat to be aged.
The science behind vacuum bagging meat is as follows. The ageing procedure in the sealed, oxygen-free bag enables certain, preferred chemical changes to occur within the meat while it is stored in a
cold fridge at about -1 to 1°C. Bear in mind that most kitchen fridges run at about 3 to 4°C, with lots of higher temperature spikes as the door is constantly opened. An icy-cold beer fridge is thus ideal for ageing vacuum-bagged meat. In the ageing method, the residual amounts of oxygen in the traces of captured air are converted to carbon dioxide which further suppresses any bacterial activity.
During the ageing progression, the meat will take on a slightly purplish hue, which is normal. Also, the bag should remain flat and tightly compressed around the meat. Any sign of the bag swelling or a greenish tinge to the meat indicates spoilage. When you go to cook your correctly aged venison and slice open the vacuum bag, you will notice a brief, distinct ageing odour, different to normal red meat. That is to be expected and normal. That odour and the slightly purple colour quickly dissipates after opening the bag.
Food Vacuum Sealers Australia sell the necessary vacuum bags and rolls for sealing and preserving your food. The bags of different sizes are ready to use and the rolls you can cut to any size you want. Cutting a roll to size requires one extra simple step, sealing the bottom of the bag before use. New buyers should start with both pre-made bags and a roll to see what works best for them.
The Status Home 280 Vacuum Sealer can seal bags of up to 30cm in width, to accommodate large pieces of food. Prices of bags vary a little by size and more so by quantity purchased, plus there are regular specials as well. For a single pack of bags, all sizes, the price is about $1 per bag and gets progressively cheaper with quantity bought. Their online shop is fast and efficient with mail orders as well.
One final thing is to label your packages of meat with a permanent marking pen, or a stick-on label, as you seal them. That will save a lot of scratching about in the freezer and guessing games later on. The Status Home 280 also comes with a fitting to allow the vacuum closure of appropriate containers to prolong the shelf life of fruit, vegetables and other foodstuffs.
To obtain the very best flavour and tenderness from your hard-won game meat, vacuum sealing is essential. The Status Home 280, or one of its siblings, will ensure that.
Status Home 280 specificationsDimensions: L 418mm, W 200mm, H 100mm
Material of casing construction: ABS
Pump: Single-piston, self-oiling, no maintenance
Vacuum achievable: Down to -750 mbar
Pump airflow: 14L per minute
Maximum length of sealing area: 280mm
Rated power, voltage and frequency: 210W, 220-240V, 50/60 Hz
Electric motor: 230V, 50 Hz, auto shutdown if overheated
Website information and video: foodvacuumsealers.com.au
Price (at the time of writing): $389.99 (with bags or a roll)