Have you ever wanted to vacuum-seal leftovers to keep them fresh? Looking for a way to keep your popcorn or coffee beans fresh for longer? Want to vacuum pack dry goods for long term storage? If you answer "YES" but don't want to lay out $100 or more dollars for one of the commercial vacuum sealer machines, then do what I did - assemble your own for $30 from readily available parts! Using a $20 brake bleeder and a mason jar sealer, you can vacuum seal anything you can fit into a mason jar. I call this "the Alvin" vacuum sealer, after my late pop, who always taught me to do more with less and set aside the extra for later.
PLEASE NOTE: This IS NOT a substitute for wet-pack canning using a pressure canner. This technique will not prevent botulism or spoilage in wet-pack foods (meat, fresh fruits/vegetables). This technique is ONLY appropriate to prolong the shelf life of dry goods to be stored at room temperature ( dry means <10% moisture such as popcorn, wheat, coffee, beans, dehydrated meat, fruits & vegetables) OR moist foods stored in the refrigerator / freezer.
Step 1: Acquire the Necessary Tools.
1) A brake bleeder/vacuum pump from Harbor Freight (cost=$19.99).
2) A Tila FoodSaver mason jar adapter (I bought mine from Bass Pro Shop for $9.99).
3) A clean empty mason jar with a new lid. You can get these from WalMart or some grocery or hardware stores. Or ask your grandmother for one.