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I picked some of these up a little while ago because they seemed to be advertised and talked about quite a bit. As a fan of the occasional cheese toastie, but not of cleaning the toastie maker, I thought these were a great idea. Unfortunately, in practice, they didn't really do much for me (which is a shame because so many reviews seem to rate them fairly well).
JML is a brand with innovative products and they're quite popular and well known. The Toasta Bags came out a little while ago and seemingly with quite a bit of advertisement, and then cheaper alternative makes started popping up. Simply put, these are a 'hassle free way to make toasted sandwiches in your toaster', so they're a basic but useful concept.
These come in a pack of two and they're basically just plasticy type bags roughly the size/shape of an average slice of bread. Each bag is re-useable for up to 100 times so you can use, wash and re-use to get your money's worth. Apparently, these aren't just for toasted sandwhiches of the boring cheese variety. Oh no, they transcend the food barriers to involve a whole range of things. Fish fingers, burgers, chips, pasties, pizza... you name it. Personally, I love a 'boring' cheese toasty so that's all I've used these for. I can't really imagine how you'd fit a burger and two slices of bread in to a toaster unless you've got a lot of width to play with. I'm also not overly sure on the 'cooking' aspect of meat, so I'd say to be careful with cooking meat first and ensuring it will fit adequately in the toaster first.
To use, prep your sandwhich. When I've used these, I sliced a bit of cheese and put it between two pieces of bread. Then pop the bread in to the bag and it should be a snug but decent enough fit. Then, pop in to the toaster as you normally would. What I found tricky at first was getting the browning settings right and deciding how long to keep it in for, so it took a bit of guess work and constant checking of the sandwich. What I've found is that the bread can often do up on the outside without the cheese actually melting in the middle, so I tend to keep it on a low to medium browning setting. It can be a bit difficult to keep your nom noms inside the bread because even when I put only cheese in the first time, it still seeped out and stuck to the Toasta bag. Because of the difficulty keeping it in, partly because it goes in upright rather than horizontally like in a toastie maker, the cheese often doesn't spread through the sandwich, meaning half of it will have cheese and the other will just be bread, which was disappointing.
It takes a bit of trial and error getting used to how best to 'make' the toastie, and it will vary depending on what you put in it. I've not tried other bits and pieces like meat or pizza so I can't comment on those things. It's not really something I'm interested in doing either as I haven't been too impressed by doing a plain ol' cheese toastie.
Cleaning these is made easier by the fact they're dishwasher safe, but because they're essentially a sandwich sleeve / pocket, it's still a little tricky to clean by hand and ensure they're fully clean in the bottom corners if you've had a lot of spillage inside them. As they're simply plastic bags they're easy to store and I like that they seem far less hassle than a toastie maker in terms of size, time to use, cleaning etc. Having said that, I've found a toastie maker to produce far tastier, easier and cleaner sandwiches so I'd still rather go for that extra bit of 'hassle' than use a Toasta bag.
Unfortunately, I just haven't got on with these. They seem to be more work than I'd expected mostly because it's not as easy to toast the bread well at the same time as ensuring the contents are well cooked/melted (ie cheese), and even if you manage that, it's likely the contents will have difficulty staying within the bread. You do get 2 bags per pack but I still think these are pricey, especially when you can get similar in a pound shop by a cheaper brand. If you find them on offer perhaps, or don't have a toastie maker, then give them a try for yourself and perhaps you'll find them more effective than I did, but I personally can't rate them too highly.
Selling on Amazon (pack of 2) for £4.74
Overall... Not one I'd use again so I'll stick with my toastie maker. [Also reviewed by me, Cazkins, on DooYoo]
I can imagine ending up in a right pickle (literally) with these! R. xxx
Nar2 14.04.2012 13:25
This is a good review - however you fail to add that the interior of the bags are wax coated/non-stick - so whenever things do fall out, they're a lot easier to just chuck out and clean. They're also on sale in Poundstretchers usually priced between £1-49 and £2-99. Also, the bags allow buyers to have a reasonably okay toasted sandwich without using oil, so the bags infer healthier fillings like low fat cheese or other possibilities - you still have to add oil or butter with a bulkier traditional toastie machine.