Can openers have been kitchen staples going all the way back to 1858, when they were first invented. Since then this simple and effective tool has remained largely unchanged, and for good reason. Unless you work in a restaurant, have a daily canned soup habit or make a ton of tomato sauce, it’s probably safe to assume a can opener won’t be the most used item in your kitchen. However, when the need arises, it can be literally impossible to open a pesky tin can without a can opener.
When it comes to opening tin cans, nothing else in the kitchen will do. These days consumers are faced with a vital choice when it comes to choosing a can opener for their kitchen; manual versus electric. While both types of can openers are wonderful tools, there are some key differences that should be considered. Before you purchase a can opener, it makes sense to find out which type is right for your kitchen. Let us break down some of the key differentiators.
The beauty of manual can openers lie in their simplicity. It can initially take some practice and patience to get the hook of using a can opener, but once comfortable is a quick and easy process. Manual can usually be purchased as stand alone tools, but they can also be found with extra features that allow increased utility. Some of them come with attachments like corkscrews to open bottles, and others that allow you to crack open the bottle caps. This all in one utility makes manual can openers are an excellent addition to any kitchen. Manual can openers are often durable and extremely cheap, making them a true winner for consumers who are looking to save money while also ensuring that their products are built to last. Manual can openers are also our go-to choice when it comes to opening heavy duty cans.
As the name implies, electric can openers do the bulk of the work when it comes to opening cans. These types of can openers are often more expensive and a bulkier kitchen product. Unlike manual can openers, those of the electric variety can’t simply be tossed in a utility drawer and stored away. However, if space is not an issue, it is hard to argue agains the ease of use that electronic openers provide. Simply place the can around the electric opener (placement may vary between models) and lock it in. From there the opener holds the can steady on its own and does all of the work. It’s that simple. While the ease of use in electric can openers are appealing, they can sometimes struggle to open heavier cans. Their electric nature also means that they can run the risk of breakdowns or malfunctions, something you do not have to worry about with the simpler manual models. Also keep in mind that these openers need to have a power source, whether it is a working outlet or batteries. The ease of use with electronic openers can negate some of these concerns, but they still exist all the same.
When purchasing a can opener, it is vital to consider the brand that produces them, especially for electronic ones. The last thing you want to do is shell out some cash only to deal with a stream of malfunctions. The most important aspect of can openers are their reliability, and for that reason these are the brands you should keep in mind.
Zyliss is a Swiss brand that has been making kitchen utensils and cooking products since 1951. They make both manual and electric can openers of great quality, and are known for magnetic locking mechanisms that make it exceedingly easy to balance and support clunky cans.
Oxo is a consumer product company that makes everything from cooking utensils, to baby products, to office supplies, but it’s the can openers that caught our eye. Based in New York City, their manual can openers are simple yet effective, and excel at seamlessly peeling back heavy lids. Another great perk about their can openers is that they often come combined with bottle openers as well, ensuring that their products are multi-functional.
Hamilton Beach is a home appliance company based predominantly in North America that produces top of the line electric can openers. Their wide array of models excel at opening everything from heavy duty cans to cans of varying sizes. Their prices are also extremely reasonable for products of such high quality.
KitchenAid is probably the most well-known company on this list. This American home appliance brand was founded in 1919, and quickly rose in popularity thanks to their exceptional products. You can currently find KitchenAid products in almost any home goods store, and for good reason. Their manual can openers have been expertly refined over time to the point where they are considered to be some of the highest quality products on the market. Between that and their reasonable price tag, KitchenAid’s products are a brand worth investing in.
Care And Maintenance
Since can openers are used in prep and not cooking, it is easy to believe that they don’t need proper cleaning like other kitchen supplies. Don’t fall into that group of thinking. Since can openers are made of metallic principals, and since they often are put to use around liquid foods, they run the risk of rusting and or harboring bacteria if not cleaned properly. Try to ensure that your can opener is made from stainless steel. Stainless steel products tend to be more rust-resistant, and are also relatively easy to clean. The rule of thumb for can openers and any other metal tool or appliance is to ensure that it is totally dry once cleaning is complete. Metal tends to rust when it is not dried properly, which can create a headache all on its own.
Obviously the process of cleaning a can opener hinges on whether it is a manual or electric model. Below, we will breakdown the most effective ways to clean and maintain both types of can opener.
Manual Can Openers
Manual Can Openers are the most simple to clean and maintain since they have no spare parts or electronic components. Most models are dishwasher safe, and thus a breeze to clean. Don’t have a dishwasher in the kitchen? Fear not. Some warm water, dish soap, and a good scrub with a sponge are generally enough to get a thorough clean. Try to remember to wash your can opener after each use; whether you think it has interacted with the contents of the can or not.
If you have an old can opener lying around that is rusty, don’t fret. Make sure to avoid using any products that show the subtlest hint of rust as this is a surefire way to potentially get yourself sick. Instead, fill a bowl or pot with white or apple cider vinegar, enough so that your can opener can sit fully submerged. Allow to soak over night, and let the vinegar go to work. Once completed, remove the can opener and grab something with a brittle and fine brush. A toothbrush or sponge should do the trick. Give the appliance a deep scrub and make sure to remove all the visible rust from the surface. Once spotless, make sure to rinse off any remaining vinegar on the can opener by giving it a thorough wash under a warm tap with some dish soap. Be sure to dry completely, and your can opener will be good as new!
Electronic Can Openers
Electronic Can Openers are slightly more difficult to clean, if only because you can simply rinse them off in the sink or toss them in the dishwasher. The first rule of thumb is that whenever you use your can opener, make sure to unplug it and immediately begin the cleaning process. We advise to wet a sponge or paper towel with warm water and a touch of dish soap. Give the metal on your opener a solid scrub down, and ensure that it is fully dry once completed.
If your electronic can opener requires a more thorough clean, you can remove the elements that interact with food while in use. Namely, the cutting wheel and lid holder. Once again, make sure that your can opener is unplugged from any outlet. Once removed, grab a bowl or pot and submerge in warm water mixed with a dash of dish soap. As with the manual can openers, allow these pieces to soak from anywhere from a few hours to overnight. When that process is completely, remove the cutting wheel and lid holder and give a good scrub to remove any visible rust or detritus. We recommend a fresh sponge or brillo pad, although a fresh toothbrush will also work. Allow to dry completely before placing the pieces back in their respective spots.