Are Electric Can Openers Worth It?


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In food preparation and cooking, canned goods have to be opened with a can opener.  There is a choice to use a manual can opener or an electric one. But an electric can opener is unusable during power outages, more expensive, or might be challenging to use.  These are things you may have to think about and a question to ask yourself if electric can openers are really worth it.

Are electric can openers worth it?  Yes, definitely, if the features and price tag are right up your alley, and you have no reservations about its importance. Moreover, you believe that it would be the right one for most of, if not all, your kitchen and food preparation requirements. Then again, the answer can be no.  It is a negative answer for people who have gotten used to depending on manual can openers that they don’t see the need to upgrade to, switch to, or get an electric version of it. In short, it all depends on you. 

It is time to get to the nitty-gritty of this subject.  There is much more than meets the eye.  People have different takes on different things.  And it might be next to impossible to arrive at a definitive, all-inclusive, and satisfying answer that will be acceptable to all.  The truth is we have different expectations, requirements, and priorities, not to rule out tastes, preferences, and all those indefinable things that make our ideas much different to the next person beside us.

Different Opinions About the Worthiness of Having an Electric Can Opener

We know that a can opener is essential to have, especially at home in the kitchen, because some foods that we love or are necessary to a recipe are packaged in cans. So, a can opener must be used to open it. There are varying opinions about whether an electric can opener is worth buying or not. That question can only be answered by each individual.  It is more of a choice than actually saying one is better than the other.   

Why It Is Advantageous To Have a Can Opener at Home

An average family’s food choices and requirements come from many different sources and varieties. Fresh foods such as fish, poultry, beef, pork, and different kinds of seafood comprise about one-third of our meals: for lunch and dinner. You’d see about one-third of the plate is the viand, another one-third veggies, and the remaining one third for carbs like potatoes, grains, kinds of pasta, or bread. Plant-based nourishment such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and mushrooms are also an essential part of our food plan.

There are also ready-to-eat foods cooked or prepared in various ways that are packaged for consumption with expiry dates that span days, months, or even a couple of years.  Canned foods and ingredients are items most kitchens have a good supply of.

Canned foods provide the convenience of stocking up on foodstuff for immediate and future use.  They cover a wide range of foods: from ready to eat viands, recipe ingredients, fruits, fruit juices, veggies, fruits, and nuts. You name it, and there’s a packaged or canned version available in the supermarket. 

What Are the Parts of a Can Opener?

Looking at the components of a can opener that make it operate the way it should come down to two:  the primary component or parts that hold the can steadily, and the part that cuts the can’s top lid to take out the contents.  Be it manual, electric, or mechanical, they all include these two.

It was in 1858 when the first can opener was conceived and designed. Then in the year 1870, the one with a round knife and cut a smooth edge all around the can’s lid circumference was invented. It was somehow the prototype of the can opener that we all are familiar with today.   Then the first electric can opener was invented approximately sixty years after that.

01 The Base / Handle

Mostly a part of the hand-held and manual can openers, the handles are critical for using the gadget steadily and firmly with one hand. Both handles are held and squeezed together with one hand, simultaneously keeping the can steady.  The other hand operates the crank to cut open the lid.

For manual can openers that are either wall-mounted or countertop, the base serves to keep the whole can opener steady and secure, while both hands are free to carry out the cutting.

For electric can openers, whether wall-mounted or countertop, the base that is built into the appliance keeps the can in position while the cutting is done. 

02 Crank

The crank for both electric and manual can openers controls the gear. To cut different sizes of cans, the crank is adjustable.  This is a feature that may be available in most counter mounted or wall-mounted can openers

03 Circular Blade

The round blade pierces the steel top of the can and opens it, both in the manual and electric can openers.

04 Cutting Blade Holder

The small metal part that holds the circular blade in place and aligns it with the operational gear.

05 Gear or Feed Gear

The small feed gear moves the circular blade and is attached to the electric crank or the manual crank, which is operated by the user.

06 Motor

The motor powers the gear, the crank, and the rotary blade. The motor is the component that makes the electric can opener “electric.”

07 Lid Magnet

A part of an electric can opener, it is a magnet that keeps the can in position as the cutting takes place, and holds lid when the can is removed from the machine.

Moms, homemakers, and kitchen habitués, they are the people entitled to get the best kitchen tools to take their cooking to the highest level.  One of the necessary gadgets to have is a good-quality can opener. And most of the time, having just one type of can opener is not enough.

Therefore, get to know about the various types of can openers and find out  which of them would be suitable for your requirements and budget.

Manual Can Openers

Lever-Type Can Opener:

Lever-type can opener design of 1855 by Robert Yates. By own work – [1], CC BY 3.0

This is still available and in use and may be the earliest design of the can opener.  It has a sizeable blade that resembles a sickle, and the longer side is the part that punctures the lid’s can and pries it open. The other half of the blade is designed to keep the cutter from making a deeper cut into the can to prevent touching the contents in the can. It is also referred to as the claw-type can opener due to the blade’s shape.

 

 

Butterfly Can Opener:

Wikimedia Image from Pixabay

It is a more robust type of manual opener, with a rotating cutting wheel for puncturing the can’s top.  It grips the lid and goes around it until the can is completely open. Sometimes a small portion of the lid is left uncut intentionally to flip the lid down inside the can. This is to prevent hurting the finger when it is thrown into the garbage bin. Some butterfly can openers come with extra features, such as “pliers” or “tongs” and a puncher.

Church Key Opener:

No machine-readable author provided. Buster2058~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims).

The church-key can opener is made of one piece of pressed metal.  It has a sharp pointed tip to puncture a hole in the lid, with the opposite end for opening caps. Its straightforward and simple design makes it the preferred manual can opener of campers and beer drinkers because it is quick and straightforward to use. It is small and compact that it is so handy and hardly takes up storage space. You could just put it in your side pocket.

Before the easy-to-open beer cans were not yet in existence, beers manufactured in flat-top cans were so popular that there was a need for a beer can opener that was easy to use. This led to the invention of the church-key can opener. An earlier gadget to pull off crown caps off glass bottles could also have served as the inspiration for the design of the church-key can opener that we see today.

Electric Can Openers

If you prefer the ability to open cans that is completely hassle-free and quick, you should consider getting an electric can opener. They come in two types:  a free-standing countertop version, and an under-the-cabinet model, which is easy to install.

Most models have a magnet to keep the can in place.  Put the can under the opener and the machine will rotate on the can’s top, cutting it open in a few seconds.

Other variations of the electric can openers are the smaller and cordless ones. Most cordless can openers are powered by batteries. They can open not only different can sizes but also different shapes.  The procedure is easy: position the can under the cutting head of the device, hit the “on” switch, and the electric can opener will do its work. Turn off the can opener after the lid is lifted from the can.

Advantages of Manual and Electric Can Openers

For commercial food establishments such as restaurants, fast-food outlets, and hotel kitchens, an electric can opener for commercial use is undoubtedly one of the kitchen tools included in their set of cooking and kitchen gadgets. The amount of food preparation and cooking that is done in these places is enormous compared to a home kitchen, and the use of electric can openers will be faster and more efficient.

Food Packaging Options That Don’t Need Tin or Can Openers

The first cans used as containers were produced many years ago.  These cans were so heavy that it takes a lot of muscle power, dexterity and resourcefulness just to open them.  The knife was the standard tool to do this. It was only after many years when can manufacturers began using metal sheets that were thinner that an easier way to open cans were thought up. And with thinner and more lightweight metal or steel sheets, the first generation of can openers were designed and made.

Cans that contain liquids, such as beverages, juice, broth, and soup, were easily opened with just a sharp knife. The knife was used to puncture a hole in the can to release or pour out the liquid content.  Cans that have solid and semi-solid food could only be opened by removing the can’s one end entirely. It is carried out by using a heavy knife and other sharp cutting tools.

 When beverage cans began having “pull tabs” to open it, it was readily incorporated into other food products that came in cans.  Being so easy to use, it eventually spread to non-food products.

Without the aid of any tool or gadget, they are much easier to open. A later enhancement to the pull-tab is a variation with just a degree of upward bend to the tab and likewise a slightly bigger surface area. All these enhancements make it easier to open the can.

Other ways that make opening a can easier are these:

  • Screw Caps: for pouring out the content and resealing the can

  • Hinged Covers: for easy access

  • Slip-On Covers: also, for smooth opening and closing

  • Removable Plug: for easy access and secure closing, such as paint cans

Pull-Open Top Can

It has a ring-pull with one end attached to the top lid.  The finger is inserted through the hole, then pulled and lifted towars the side to peel it open.

Keyed Side Opening Can

Mostly used on corned beef products, it comes with a church key opener attached at the bottom.  To start opening it, the key is detached by easily breaking it off at its scored portion.  The free end of the tab is pulled away from the can and inserted through the church keyhole. Then, the key is slowly turned around the square can until the top is completely detached.  Then it is pulled up and off to the side. The top now completely removed or opened, scoop out or tap the corned beef block down on the serving plate.

Easy Open Sardine Can

This type of can has a top lid that is scored, or lightly cut or etched lid surface, to easily wrap it open around a slotted church key. A much earlier version of the sardine can had lids attached to the can by soldering.  To open it, the winding key had to be applied with enough force to break the joint apart.

Stay-On Tab Can

The stay-on-tab can is easily opened by inserting a finger through the hole on the pull-tab and pulling it up and to the side.  Alternatively, a rod that will fit through the hole could be inserted to pull the tab open.

Innovations Made in Food Packaging Through the Years

Consumers have the power to bring about changes and improvements in the products that we use. Our hands-on experience with these products provides manufacturers and product designers with valuable insights on how to make their products better. That is more important with foods and beverages, food being a basic need for our health and well-being. Here are a few words about some of them. 

Pull-Tab EZO Lids:

These cans are opened by pulling up a pop-top lid or metal ring-tab, called “Easy-to-Open” or EZO lids. Consumers will not need a can opener and will have a more convenient way to open such canned goods.

Peel Seam:

The can has a metal ring sealed with a foil aluminum lid that is easy to peel off.  A significant advantage of the Peel Seam is that the lid can be a “canvas” for product branding, which may be hard to ignore.

Dot Top:

The Dot Tops are easy to single out in a sea of canned goods that may look the same.  To open one, a plastic dimple in the middle of the top lid, called the Dot, is simply peeled back.  Then, the vacuum that holds the lid in place is released, which allows the lid to be conveniently lifted off the can. The cover can be snapped back on for storage or use later. Another nice feature is its smooth edges, no sharp ones that can hurt your fingers.

Shaped Cans:

To create more brand awareness of their product, some food manufacturers have adopted attractively shaped cans to make their products stand out and win more buyers. The ubiquitous canned good canister shape has now stiffer competition from shaped cans because of the latter’s numerous plus points. There is a wide array of shaping options to choose from; it enhances the brand’s iconic look; it can generate renewed interest in the product; and still retains shelf life, package integrity, and all benefits of the traditional food can.     

Self-Cooling Cans:

The self-cooling can has a circular chamber that runs the circumference of the can. It holds the high-pressure CO2 gas and terminates in a valve that goes through the can’s base and is sealed by a button cap. The valve opens when the button is depressed, forcing the CO2 to stream out the can’s bottom and into the air. The CO2 lowers the temperature of the liquid as it expands, making the content cooler. 

Self-Heating Cans:

An enhancement of the food can, the self-heating can has two chambers.  The bigger chamber contains the food or beverage. The second one, the outer chamber, holds the chemicals. When the can is opened for consumption, the chemicals combine, and heat is released. Also called an exothermic reaction, it raises the temperature of its food content.

Microwaveable Cans:

Cans are made of steel, and steel cans cannot be heated in a microwave because microwave energy does not penetrate steel cans.  The microwaveable cans, on the other hand, are designed using a proprietary technology that enables this can’s plastic end to attach to the walls of the steel can. It has five components: the steel can wall, an EZO end, a plastic end, a plastic overcap, and an insulating foam label.  

Advances in technology can happen fast, and taking a peek into what may be on the horizon will surely capture the consumers’ interest.  One of which is the  twist-top steel can that is easy to use, safe, and can be re-closed. An application of this innovation is the easy-open peel seam.  New can packaging will see blends of new polymers such as bio-polymers and metals.

For Arthritic Hands, Should It Be Manual Or Electric?

Our hands and our fingers are important parts of our body that allow us to handle both simple and complicated objects.  Without those appendages, humanity would not have progressed this much.

But when age catches up on us or for some health reasons, our hands get arthritic.  It would be short of disastrous as it will put certain limitations on things we do daily and affect our productivity.

We are such gadget-loving creatures. Just look around you, and you would be amazed at the number of gadgets and doodads we possess to make life comfortable, pleasant, and productive. Arthritic hands can put a limit on all those things.

As an example, opening cans manually might be mildly inconvenient or, at worst, excruciatingly painful. So, if you don’t have anyone around to help you with those things, it is crucial to have an electric can opener or a battery-operated one to help you with those day-to-day chores in your kitchen. Restrictions on your mobility, especially around your house, can be frustrating and demoralizing. Electric can openers are designed as much  for speed as it is for convenience, especially for arthritic hands.  It is one of the many innovations aimed at alleviating mobility challenges and issues.  Think of arthritis medications and creams, raised toilet seats, and nail clippers for arthritic hands.  These are products and product innovations to address the discomfort due to arthritis.  

Don’t think that electric can openers are the only ones suitable for people with arthritic hands.  There are now many ergonomically designed and enhanced manual and portable can openers that minimize the pain and difficulty experienced by some people in handling these gadgets. 

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