Opening time…

Is there a decent can opener out there?

I want the type that cuts under the can’s rim. I have one – Sainsbury’s own brand – that cuts inside the rim (the more common way), and on round cans it’s brilliant, but it won’t cut rectangular cans. Not that, as a veggie/piscatarian, I open many of those  these days, but there’s the odd can of sardines where the ring-pull pulls off and the only solution is an opener that will tackle a rectangular can, or dig out my pliers from the tool box, but using them often results in dribbling fishy oil everywhere.

For many years – 15 or more – I had a Culinaire Magican, bought from Lakeland, but it eventually broke (even though it lasted a long time, I don’t think plastic is an appropriate material for can openers). But I found a version of it on sale at Sainsbury’s, for about £3.50 – it’s unbelievably crap. I wanted to tell Culinaire excatly what I thought of it, but if they have a Web presence, I can’t find it.

The hard plastic handle is the shape of a squashed mushroom, so is very hard to grip, and impossible if your hands are wet/greasy, and it’s amazingly hard to turn. It wouldn’t be much easier with a sensibly-shaped handle. Overall, it’s really too small, and releasing the lid well-nigh impossible. It’s now in the bin.

OK, for the price I shouldn’t have expected much, but I did expect it to work! So I’ve just had a look at the Lakeland website, where they have the latest versions, manual and electric (rechargeable).

The manual version is roundly condemned by all who’ve bought one (as is the Zylis version), though in both cases there are a few who swear by it rather than at it. Given the degree of dissatisfaction, I’m at a loss to know why Lakeland continue to sell them, especially the Magican which has fared very badly though, to be honest, it could be user failure – there’s just no way of telling.

The rechargeable version has been received extremely positively (except for the fact that there’s no low-battery warning and it can grind to a halt mid-can. Dumb, that. The big question, though, is, is any can opener worth £24.46, plus postage? I rather think not.

So I’m stuffed – these openers are the market leaders, and yet they’re (mostly), crap (apparently). For now, then, I’m sticking to my current opener. Made of steel, with a well-shaped, strong, plastic handle, it should last me many years (it’s actually very well made, and cost less than a fiver – the current model is less ergonomically sound), and, by that time, maybe the other manufacturers will have got their act together. For Culinaire, I’d suggest a return to their original model Magican. It worked extremely well, on any shape of can, and the only reason it failed was that greasy gunk got into an inaccessible area and degraded the plastic of the handle stem, which eventually failed.

You know, though, it really should NOT be so hard to buy a can opener that does what it says on the box, with zero hassle, and which doesn’t leave razor-sharp edges. It’s not rocket science.