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The last thing I wanted was another gimmicky fish packer, which is just what I told an old curmudgeon when he asked if I’d gotten into vacuum packaging yet. Sure, I told him, the kielbasa I get from the grocery store all comes packed like that. “No, no,” he said, “what about the fish you keep?” I told him the double-zip plastic bags work well enough. He scoffed, “Not only will the vacuum pack make the stuff last like two years, but it makes everything taste better.”

So I checked one out. I soon found that even a kid could operate the compact Pro Sport model. As for me, I finally managed to get the hang of it. Here’s how it works: You put whatever you want to package into a bag, slip the open end of the bag into the machine and press down on the cover. An internal pump sucks out all the air and seals the bag. The unit comes with 5-quart and 5-gallon bags. ($229.99; 888-233-5001;–Jerry Gibbs