After enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal, there's always the question of what to do with leftovers. If you're like me, usually this means wrestling with a roll of saran wrap and a Jenga-level stacking job inside my fridge. At this year's International Home + Housewares Show, we saw a new category of food-saving solutions coming from two small entrepreneurs in the marketplace. Using a silicone sealing ring and a BPA-free plastic lid, these stacking food-savers both create a vacuum seal to help keep food safer, for longer.
Michael Tseng recently completed his studies to be a medical doctor after earning a degree in electrical engineering at Princeton, but even these impressive academic accolades didn't stop him from pursuing his entrepreneurial passions. It seems like the real problem he's been trying to solve in the world is what to do with leftovers. Launching his PlateTopper just two weeks ago, we were intoduced to his product in the Home + Housewares Going Green display. Microwave and dishwasher-safe, Plate Topper is a simple solution using an air-tight vacuum seal to get leftovers from table to fridge, fridge to the microwave without hassle or messy cleanup. Check out Michael's quick demo for us below.
PressDome is a similar concept but it uses a stainless steel vacuum pump that pushes air out of the covered chamber to create a powerful vacuum seal—during a demo, the PressDome was able to hold a large marble tile as a saleswoman lifted the whole thing off the table.
The silicone ring is heat-resistant and the vacuum seal keeps food warm for up to an hour. And in a nod to modernist cooking techniques, the vacuum works almost like sous-vide. We were told that you can marinate meats in minutes. The design of the PressDome has some issues—when pressing down on the vacuum pump to create a seal, you lose a lot of height in the sealed chamber. For me, this issue runs counter to the whole process of saving leftovers. I'm a stacker and tend to consolidate as many leftovers into a single dish or container to save space. Also, because the vacuum pump is set in the middle of the PressDome, you have to reach your fingers in between the plastic lid and the seal itself to "carry" it. For all its suction power, it might have made more sense to have some sort of handle for easy transport from table to refrigerator.
A final entrant into the silicone sealing lid category comes from Cuisipro. The global kitchenware company is distributed at big box retailers—their sealing lid is different from the entrepreneurial visions in that it is a simple flat silicone vacuum Sealing Lid with one innovation, a date dial at the center of the lid that allows you to dial in the date and month of your dish. I like Cuisipro's Sealing Lid because it would be simple to store and the design allows you to seal anything from a cup of coffee to a pot of pasta. The flipside is that the design isn't stackable and the vacuum seal itself seemed pretty weak—during the demo it easily lifted up a lightweight and empty plastic bowl but I wouldn't have trusted it to be able to do the same for glassware or a full bowl of leftovers.
Also, it was really difficult to set the date dial because the pliability of the silicone. When turning the knob, the silicone lid would cave into the bowl or the dials would get stuck, twisting and turning the lid with the dial. If the date dial really appeals to you, Cuisipro had enough foresight to make and sell them separately—you can order a set of three suction cup dials beginning this Spring.