Getting an optical audio output from an HDMI cable, the fantastic Cromify Vacuum Sealing Machine (Week 22, 2021)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 22, 2021

Q. I use an Onkyo TX-NR676 receiver to power speakers in the garage (Zone 1) and patio (Zone 2). I would like to replace the DVD player with an Apple TV but the receiver requires a separate audio source for each zone, and the Apple TV does not have secondary audio-out ports. Do I need a new receiver?

-M.S., Maple Grove, MN

A. You can use your current receiver with an accessory to extract the audio out of the HDMI connection and send it to an optical port. I recommend the J-Tech HDMI Audio Extractor Convertor, under $35 online.

Cromify Vacuum Sealer Machine is a winner: When I was young I saw so many advertisements for the Dazey Seal-A-Meal that I still remember what the announcer’s voice sounded like. I did not know what they did exactly, but I was so impressed by the catchy ads that I wanted my mom to buy one. (She never did.)

Fast forward several decades and I still did not have a vacuum sealer, despite being an avid cook. Such a device was not even on my radar until I told a friend how a package of chicken I purchased amidst the pandemic was not looking too good after sitting at the bottom of the freezer for almost a year. He asked me if I had a vacuum sealer and recommend the $39.95 Cromify Vacuum Sealer Machine. He reported great success with it and suggested I would get a lot of use out of one, and could even try sous vide cooking, too.

Storing your food in vacuum-sealed bags will keep it fresher longer. They are most commonly used for meats and fish but can also store things like tea, nuts, rice, flour, vegetables and beans. Though freezing is the most common use vacuum sealing it can also be used for food stored in the refrigerator and at room temperature. The Cromify has settings for moist or dry food, seal or vacuum seal, a built-in bag cutter to cut large bags to size (the cutter is fingers-safe and works beautifully) and a progress bar to tell you when the sealing process is complete.

I started with ground beef from a 3-pound package I had just purchased. I used half of it for dinner, leaving 1.5 pounds to be frozen. I put the beef in a plastic vacuum sealer bag, selected “Moist” and “Vac Seal,” put the bag in the sealer and closed the top, which snapped shut with a reassuring click.

The sealer quickly sucked the air out of the bag, creating a strong vacuum as the progress bar blinked. A few moments later the process was complete. “That’s it?” I thought as I opened the lid and was presented with a neatly-sealed bag, courtesy of the automatic heat-sealing mechanism. The process was so easy and the results so far superior to what I was used to that I felt like I had just come out of the dark ages. Vacuum sealing not only keeps food fresher, it also helps keeps germs out and there was no way I was going back to plastic zipper bags.

In using the Cromify vacuum sealer I realized how useful it would be for those who hunt and fish. My nephew Brodie is an avid sportsman (as well as cook) and I am ordering one for him, too. It’s also perfect for people who buy things in quantity at the warehouse club.

The Cromify Vacuum Sealing Machine sells for $40 on Amazon. I’ll have more on sous vide cooking in an upcoming column.