My mother taught me to cook when I was 10. I’ve always had a passion for cooking, and I love experimenting and adapting recipes.
Why I Love This Tin Opener
It goes without saying that to open a tin of food that doesn't have a pull-tab that you'll need to use either an electric or manual (handheld) can opener. I wrote this article to compare the humble hand-operated can opener with electric ones, highlighting the obvious advantages of using electric can openers, and demonstrating why I love the model we use.\
Can Opener vs. Tin Opener: What's the Difference?
For clarity, what's called a can opener in America is a tin opener in Britain; so the two terms are synonymous although more often than not I'll use the British term in this review article.
Manual vs. Electric
Until recent years we've always used the good old-fashioned handheld devices to open tins. We find them simple, easy to use and quick; a simple tool for a simple task. That is until we received an electric one as a gift; and since then we haven't looked back.
As shown in my video demonstration, the electric one is so easy to use, convenient, quick and reliable that there is no point in opening tins by hand. Although we have kept the manual one which is hanging it up in the kitchen just for emergencies e.g. in the event the electric one fails, we have a power cut or we're on holiday where there's no electricity or no tin opener has been provided.
Video: Hands-Free Demonstration of the Kenwood
This is a short video I made to demonstrate how quick and easy it is to open canned food with little or no effort. And requires no hands to operate which means this kitchen device can be opening your tinned food while you’re getting the saucepan from the kitchen cupboard ready to put on the stove or hob.
Opening tinned food by hand is simple enough; open it with an electric can opener is even simpler.
With the model we use all that’s required is to lift the handle, put the can in place and lower the handle which firmly holds the tinned food in place and automatically turns the can opener on to that it proceeds to cut the lid. The whole hands-free process takes about 10 seconds.
Once the lid is cut just simply raise the handle to release the can and empty the contents into your saucepan for heating. The lid, now detached from the can, is firmly held in place by a strong magnet until you’re ready to remove it for disposal.
The great thing about these kitchen devices is that they hold the tinned food securely by just the flick of the handle and even once the lid is cut off the can still remain safely in place until you grab it to pour the food content into your saucepan for cooking. And even when you’ve taken the tin away the lid remains in place waiting for you to dispose of it.
I can still remember in the days before these electric devices existed how my grandmother use to struggle trying to open tinned food by hand; if only she had an electric tin opener life would certainly have been so much easier for her.
Handle Lifts for Easy Operation
Cooking is a hobby of mine, and one where I don't want to spend hours slaving over a hot stove when I can find simpler ways to prepare a tasty nutritious meal. So as a keen cook, and a vegetarian, I like to experiment with my dishes to make interesting, tasty and nutritious meals from basic ingredients using kitchen appliances and devices when they're beneficial.
However, as many will know, some of the electrical devices can take ages to set up. Be fiddly to use and then awkward to clean; no so the well-designed electric can openers; and the one reviewed in this article is well designed. It sits on the kitchen work surface patiently waiting to be used. When needed the handle just lifts up with no resistance, you offer the canned food up, bring the handle back down and it automatically grabs it tightly. Then one quick push on the top of the handle and it just gets on with the job of opening the can for you; and then holds it safely until you're ready to take the can off its hands, at which point the can just lifts away in your hands with no resistance.
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At no time do you have to struggle with any part of the operation so for the elderly in particular it's probably one of the most useful devices in the modern kitchen; making it an ideal practical gift for parents and grandparents who struggle in preparing their meals.
Easy to Clean
Although tin openers don’t get dirty quickly, other than the very tip of the cutting blade they don’t come into contact with the food, this is a very well-designed piece of kitchen apparatus where with just one simple twist the whole handle pulls out for thorough and easy cleaning. You could put the handle in the dishwasher but dishwashers do tend to rust things quicker so I would recommend just rinsing it under the hot tap, giving it a quick wipe over with a dishcloth and drying it off with a tea towel; then just popping it back ready for use. The rest of the tin opener is ergonomically shaped so is easy to wipe clean with a damp dishcloth.
This model has a knife sharpener on the back, but it’s something I’ve not actually used yet; although some of our older (and trusty) kitchen knives are beginning to get a bit blunt so I guess it'll not be long before I'll be using the knife sharpener facility.
Kenwood Can Openers
In this review article I’ve focused on electric tin openers manufactured by Kenwood specifically because that’s what we use and love in our kitchen; and the one we have has given us years of perfect service with no problems and is so easy to use.
Although a well-known and trusted brand name manufacturer in Britain with their products readily available on the British market, in doing my research I’ve noticed these products tend to be in limited supply in America.
Hand-Operated Can Openers
Manually operated tin openers are easy enough to use; especially the older more traditional types where you just place the tin opener on the can and turn the side knob until the lid is cut off and can be removed before emptying the food contents into the saucepan.
I have tried some of the more modern fancy hand-operated tin openers and some of them can be a little fiddly to fit onto the can until you get the knack; and once fitted doesn't seem any easier or quicker to operate. So I think this is one instance when basic is good and wonder why you should want to pay more for something fancier looking when a simple basic tin opener does just as good a job.
Also if you're going camping e.g. tent and campfire the traditional basic tin opener will be lighter and less bulky than some of the more fancy tin openers and therefore easier to slip into your rucksack and lighter to carry.
But for the kitchen an electric tin opener is so much easier and quicker than a handheld manual tin opener that it should take pride and place on your worktop surface and be to hand to use at a moment's notice.
Remove the Tin Lid Completely to Protect Wildlife
Some people don't cut the lid off completely, they leave a little of the lid attached to the tin and lift it up like a flap to empty the tinned contents. Consequently (even if the tin is disposed of properly for recycling) there is always a risk of it ending up in the wild (being accidentally dropped in the open) or wildlife getting to it while rummaging through your rubbish bin.
The danger to wildlife and pets of a lid attached to the tin is real; foxes and badgers alike other wildlife and pets have been seriously harmed where an attached lid has acted like a barb, cutting and sometimes trapping the animal's head as it nudges it into the tin foraging for food; therefore always remove the lid completely and for extra safety to wildlife squash the tin down.
For wildlife the tin opener pictured here, commonly used when camping (or traveling) is probably one of the worst tin openers to use in that it cuts a ragged edge to the tin which if not disposed of properly can be lethal to any poor creature trying to lick food from the inside of the empty tin.
Pull Tabs and Ring Pulls
Just like canned drinks with their ring pulls many (and an increasing number) of tinned food is being sold with pull tabs elevating the need for tin openers. But many tinned foods that require a tin opener are still being sold, and occasionally a pull tab can break off when you try to open a tin; so a tin opener whether manual or electric is still very much a must need in the kitchen.
Unlike the ring pulls on drink cans the pull tabs on tinned food is securely attached to the lid so the whole lid is pulled off; obviously so the contents can be emptied into a saucepan for heating. Therefore unlike the rings pulls on canned drinks they can't be collected and used decorative purposes e.g. making bling jewellery.
© 2012 Arthur Russ