One thing about working from home is that you can always benefit from having food last longer, and that’s what the Fresh and Save system from Zwilling aims to do.

At first glance, they look like typical food containers, but there’s some tech involved here to make it more well-rounded. For starters, it’s a vacuum storage system using a rechargeable pump to suck out air from inside the container. Zwilling says that makes the food contents inside last up to five times longer.

The Zwilling Culinary World app can scan QR codes on the lids to help determine how long food can last based on what’s actually inside. The idea is to naturally reduce food spoilage, while increasing storage all at once. It paints a nice picture for meal prep, though there are some nuances to keep in mind along the way.

How the vacuum pump works

The most striking part of the Fresh and Save system is the most technical, and that’s the vacuum pump. It looks like a motorized pepper grinder but actually only serves the purpose of pulling the air out of the containers and bags designed for the system. It has a cap at the bottom, which also houses the micro-USB port to charge the internal battery. Why micro-USB over USB-C is baffling, but in any case, you get a charger and cable in the box.

The basics behind how it works are pretty simple:
You place food in a container or bag.
Take the cap off the pump.
Place it over the valve in the container or bag.
Press the button on the pump.
Wait for it to stop pumping before removing it.

The pump knows when there’s no other air to pull out. It can’t completely deoxidize a container or bag to make something last almost indefinitely. Nor is it a vacuum solution that seals food tight in plastic, like you often find at a grocery store. The idea here is to be able to store food for a little longer, though you can stretch time further using a freezer.

Zwilling rubberized the pump’s suction area to ward off liquids that might splash in, though you still should be careful. I would advise never to store soup in these containers, especially if it’s closer to the top of the container. It will almost certainly find its way into the pump’s internal mechanics.

Zwilling food containers and bags

As key as the pump is, the system’s expandability lies squarely with where you actually store food. The Starter Set review Zwilling sent was made up of two glass containers and four bags — two small, two medium. A wine sealer was also thrown in for good measure.

These containers aren’t cheap in quality, given their sturdy build and weight. Zwilling says they not only work to keep food safe in the fridge or freezer. You can also use them in the oven, reheat in the microwave and as a serving dish at the table.

There are plastic variants of these same containers, which aren’t going to be usable in the oven, to say the least. You can, however, use them for the other purposes, like storing food in a fridge or freezer, and washing them in a dishwasher. They work the same way, sporting the same valves at the top.

In both cases, the lids have rubberized gaskets around the edges that contract or expand depending on how much pressure the air (or lack thereof) applies. They are also the same, regardless of whether the container is glass or plastic.

The bags are very different in that you can use them to store anything you might consider more temporary or harder to fit in a container. Personally, I preferred to keep drier things, like pre-cut veggies, bread, uncut fruit and unopened cheese in there. But you could always use it to marinate something, or even cook in sous vide, if you like. Zwilling says the bags are reusable, but I’m thinking there’s a finite number that isn’t particularly high, especially if the bags get dirty or oily.

Where the Zwilling Culinary World app comes in

Each lid has a QR code that serves an important purpose. The app is pretty good when you look at the recipes and use it as a shopping list, but under “Devices”, the Fresh and Save section lets you add an item. This is where I would scan the code with my phone, and then select the Shelf Life form to select what was inside. From there, the app determines how long the contents inside will last in the fridge and freezer.

For example, I put freshly cut watermelon inside a large glass container, and it told me it would last for 10 days in the fridge. That’s an eternity for watermelon, so it was a surprising result. When I opened it up three days later, I was shocked to find it tasted as if freshly cut.

With barbecued chicken breast, it gave me a six-day window from the fridge — 90 days from the freezer. There is a caveat that I learned as I went along. While it was great to place the chicken into the glass container, Zwilling recommends letting food cool to room temperature before vacuuming the air out.

The app doesn’t provide a great deal of context, so you do have to read the manual out of the box to look for some of the nuances. For example, “fresh vegetables” casts a wide net, except it’s hard to tell if mixed greens will last as long as broccoli, or if cutting an avocado in half will stay a perfect green for as long as half an onion might.

In my experience, it didn’t, so that’s when you can set up your own food groups to keep tabs on whatever it is you’re storing. The app can notify you when time is running low, ensuring you consume what you have before spoiling. 

Getting your food money’s worth

Unless you keep track, it’s hard to tell how much money you spend on food goes to waste. Zwilling’s Fresh and Save system tries to mitigate that in a way that uses tech without a steep learning curve. And there’s some flexibility in how to make use of it. You could use the containers to store marinated or cooked dishes, and they can act as substitutes for the storage coming from grocery stores.

Even getting takeout from a local eatery can last longer this way. Imagine ordering more than you need in one sitting so you can store it for an extra couple of days to eat the rest later. If they become indispensable after grocery store runs, as well as for meal prep and after cooking, the $150 Starter Set may not be enough on its own. Still, it is a good start, and could change how you manage foodstuffs at home going forward.

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