There are some things in life you take for granted that anyone should be able to do in the kitchen: Boiling water, heating up frozen dinners, and opening cans. Apparently, though, there's some question about that last one.
A video on YouTube from Cast Iron Chaos is sparking lots of discussion on the right way how to use a can opener. In the video, which has over 300,000 views, you see someone use a manual can opener in a vertical position and then flip the simple tool up to a horizontal position with the turning handle on top of the can.
The comments on the video range from surprised to disbelief to warnings. The discussion on this "new" way of how to use a can opener is less about if the method works than if it's a good idea.
Several commenters were shocked by the revelation. One user commented, "Better than breaking every manual can opener I've owned. Thank you!!" We've all been taught the old-fashioned way, so this so-called proper way might take a bit of practice. Muscle memory is no joke; it can be a weird feeling if you've never opened a can with the manual opener in the horizontal position. My mother has a Pampered Chef can opener that is designed to be used that way and, I swear, every time I visit her, I have to ask her how to use it because it doesn't feel right.
But know how is one thing. The safety of this method is another thing to consider. Cast Iron Chaos said, "It works. However, I spilled water all over everything. And what's more, this edge feels very sharp."
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If you read the YouTube comments, you'll see similar opinions. Lily Eturnal said, "I just did it. It really does work and I also spilled water all over. Edges are sharp and dangerous." Kenbo Jones countered, "I think it all depends on the can and/or what the can is made of. I've seen some cans where the lip is too high to open it from the sides. I've also seen some cans that when opened, left a nice clean smooth edge with no protruding shavings."
For the record, based on a personal experiment, the method shown in the video does work. The manual can opener's cutting wheel bites into the can just below the lip of the tin can's lid, making it easy to lift the lid off without that awkward pulling the sharp lid back or it falling into the can. However, instead of sharp edges on the cut lid, you have to deal with sharp edges on the can itself. If you try this method, don't reach into the can for that last bit of food.
Of course, you can go high-tech on how to use a can opener. Electric can openers usually cut the can lid completely off from the top; so do specially-designed manual can openers like the Pampered Chef version. Most of both styles of can openers are built to leave a smooth edge for better kitchen safety. The edge of the can may be sharp from the jagged edges when using a traditional can opener in a non-conventional way. The best can opener to use (in my personal experience) is the Good Cook Can Opener which is a handheld can opener that cuts the side of the can rather than the lid of the can.
Good Cook Smooth Edge Can Opener
What it boils down to (or cuts down to) is use the method that works for you. Or buy a fancy can opener that does most of the work for you. Either way, you wind up with dinner.
This post was originally published on August 14, 2018.