Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The 5 Best Unbreakable French Coffee Presses

Unbreakable French Coffee Presses Review Part 3

Last we discussed what you need to know about French presses, and what makes a good one. We also reviewed models that did not make the grade. Now for the best of them all!


The best unbreakable French presses


#5 Nissan Gourmet Coffee Press. The Thermos Nissan Gourmet Coffee Press ($30) comes from a company with a reputation for excellent quality, and with a great track record in insulated beverage containers. The Gourmet Coffee Press has accumulated many reviews and many fans. Reviewers gush about how unbreakable it is and how long it lasts: "this Nissan will last forever","quality vacuum insulation, and a sturdy press mechanism", "it is very durable","this coffee maker is tough", "incredibly durable, great for travel","clean, functional and effective." It comes however with a very significant flaw - many users complain about filter leaks, which let coffee grounds into the brew: "the problem I have is the volume of escape of coffee grounds into the coffee as the plunger is pressed", "the screen didn't fit rightly, I got grit in my coffee", "the screen ... allowed lots of grounds to escape", "plunger with the mesh does not keep the coffee powder where it is supposed to be","filter screen is "skimpy." We appreciate the toughness of the design, but can only recommend this model with reservations, due to the great many complaints about the leaking filter.

#4 Planetary Design Table Top Press. We did not want to include the Planetary Design Table Top Stainless Steel French press ($30)  into this review, because the materials appeared too cheap. However, its very good reviews could not be ignored. This French press, despite its name, is primarily made of plastic, and comes in several sizes, from 4 cups (20 oz), to 8 (36 oz) and 12 cups (48 oz). Its looks are mediocre, and most of what you can see is plastic: we fail to see much of the 18/8 marine stainless steel advertised by the manufacturer. Reviewers really like the robustness of this model, which is where it truly shines. Many reviewers use this press for tea (it comes in several configurations), and are pleased with it. Users say: "easy to clean... cleans well, it is made VERY well (i.e., not too fragile for everyday use", "I have yet to get a mouth full of coffee grinds", "the carafe is very sturdy, but not heavy", "except for the steel kettle, the rest of this pot is plastic with a little bit of mesh", "the screen is one entire part that's easy to clean", "the body of the carafe itself is fairly well insulated... However, around the plastic spout there is a considerable amount of heat that is lost","I appreciate the built-in rubberized mat on the bottom that prevents the pot from slipping around", "no grounds in your cup, keeps the coffee hot quite a while (hours)", "my only criticism is the plunger. It is plastic for one thing." We feel that the Planetary Design Table Top French press is a good model for camping and outdoors use, but the excessive use of plastic inside and outside does not allow us to recommend it for general purpose kitchen use. Planetary design also makes a 4-cup Desk Press mug/press combination ($28), with more metal and less plastic, and equally good reviews.

#3 Bodum Columbia. The Bodum Columbia Stainless Steel Thermal Press Pot ($56) is made by the same company which manufactures the iconic Chambord French press, a model that has come to be the model of a French press.It is an 8-cup model (although you can also find a 2-3-cup model and a 12-cup model for this press) made of stainless steel, with an insulating double wall, and a modern, agreeable but not unforgettable, design. It corrects several shortcomings of the Chambord: the double wall insulation keeps coffee warmer longer, and the stainless steel carafe is unbreakable, while the glass beaker of the Chambord breaks regularly and repeatedly. The Columbia has a very large number of reviews, most of which are very positive: "the real advantage of the stainless steel is that I'm not going to break it", "My favorite feature in this new design is the one-piece filter", "super-fine screen that allows you to use the finer ground coffee grinds", "handle is big, comfortable and offers a rock solid grip", "made exceptionally well", "filter seals tightly, and is a finer mesh", "comfortable to hold, well proportioned and balanced","plunger seals tightly to reduce sludge". This model, however, has one big downside compered to the Chambord - it has a plastic plunger: "plunger is mostly plastic", "rubber-edged gasket plunger of all the Bodum designs wears out", "we returned it for a different one because my husband wanted the internal parts to be all stainless steel and this has a plastic press", " the part inside was part stainless and part plastic", "a portion of the lid is made of plastic, and the press/plunger itself is made of plastic spokes, with a big rubber ring." A few reviewers complain about dripping, pouring and balance problems: "it has tipped over on my counter several times", "if you don't pour slowly, it drips", "when I pour quickly, the spout somehow leaks." Overall, we find this French press to be very well made, and functionally excellent, but we regret the step backwards in using plastic on the lid and plunger.

#2 LaCafetiere Thermique. LaCafetiere Thermique ($45),  despite its French name, is designed in the UK and built in China. It is an 8-cup model, made of stainless steel, with a double insulated wall. While most French presses are of a modern or post-modern design, this one harks back to turn of the (19th) century Art Nouveau, with elegant soft curves. While it only has a few reviews, they are uniformly good, pointing out the good fit-and-finish, the quality of the coffee, and the tight fit of the press filter: "makes perfectly strong but non-bitter coffee, keeps it hot for a reasonable amount of time and it looks rather handsome on the breakfast table", "the construction is S-O-L-I-D", "the handle and the spout are very artfully, cleanly welded onto the body, and chased back to smooth, as you would expect of a piece of jewelry", "all the grounds had been captured by the stainless, mesh filter." The only down sides according to the reviews: it is not dishwasher-safe, and it is not made in the USA. We really like LaCafetiere Thermique, but we would feel better if it had many more reviews.

#1 Frieling Stainless Steel French press.   The striking Frieling Stainless Steel French press ($69), of modern design, is an 8-cup model (also available in 2-cup and 4-cup models), all stainless inside and outside, with no plastic or glass. It captures almost as many reviews as the popular Bodum Columbia, but its ratio of positive to negative reviews is even better (89% positive 126/16 vs 86% for the Columbia). Reviewers rave about the high quality fit-and-finish, the looks, and the filter: "extremely well made", "solid, very well built", "plunger is heavy duty", "nearly indestructible",  "beautiful finish", "Functional art for the kitchen", "oozes quality craftsmanship", "love the filter, never have any grounds in the cup","liked the solid stainless steel mesh strainer", "mesh on this french press is also finer than on any Bodum model." The very few complaints mostly have to do with lemons, about finish and about filters: "it is full of imperfections... 2nd one that I received is 99% perfect", "the weld/braze joint there was botched, replacement had its handle welded on quite noticeably crooked, the third one was less crooked, but still wonky", "screw stripped at the base of the filter after a few uses, but I received a new one from the company right away", "plunger does NOT filter out the bits".

We find the Frieling French press an outstanding design with a very good look and a great fit-and-finish, that should last many years and make honor to your kitchen table.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Screening French Coffee Presses: the Research

Unbreakable French Coffee Presses Review Part 2

In screening for an unbreakable French press, we went through many different models. We found many flaws across the range. Poor stainless steel quality, low grade sheet metal, consumable plastic parts, poor filter fit were the most common problems. One model survived our stringent screening better than any other.


These models did not make the grade

The Bodum Presso is a stainless steel 8-cup model, with rubber-wrapped top knob and stay cool handle. It has an insulated stainless double wall to keep coffee warmer longer. It has only gathered a few reviews. The top appears to be of lesser quality than the body, and the filter does not seem to be as well made as the Chambord model: "the double walled stainless pot ... is solid. But the rest of this pot did let me down a bit as far as its perceived durability, especially the screen/strainer", "the top of the Presso is also not as solid as the pot itself." The Bodum Arabica appears to be a similar build with a different look.


The Bodum Chambord Hotel has only gathered one review so far. It is another handsome French Press with a traditional Bodum rubber-wrapped stay-cool handle and knob. The filter, however, is not the full metal filter of the regular Chambord glass model, but one with a plastic rim with appears to be less than optimal: "it doesn't strain without clogging!! You lose 25% of your brew each pour. The pour is slow and the screen is easily clogged. I have set my grinder to the coarsest grind and it still clogs", "[the filter is] a plastic rim with 5 screen inserts- all one piece, does not have the coiled metal rim that the strainer for the glass ones have", "sometimes it is so difficult to push down that coffee explodes out the spout all over the place."

The Bonjour Fiore is an 8-cup model with stainless double walls, also very good looking. It has gathered a small number of reviews, mostly positive but not outstanding.  Reviews gush about the good looks and the high quality fit-and-finish. Users note that the push screens are a tight fit which does not allow coffee grounds back into the brew, a common complaint with many models. The recurring complaint is that the spout will leak unless the coffee is poured very slowly: "the spout is so petite that your beverage must be poured slowly or it will end up on your counter tops", "the two cons are the small pouring spout and the screen/flavor lock mechanism is not as easy to put back together after cleaning", "it leaks when being poured. I have to pour coffee over the sink", "if you don't fit it together exactly right, and if you pour faster than the tiny spout can handle the thing leaks. I kept trying to do it right for more than two weeks and then I trashed it." The complaint is so universal, even in good reviews, that we feel it is an irredeemable problem.

The Bonjour Montano is a truly good-looking French press, which looks very handsome on a counter It is an 8-cup model, with insulated double wall stainless steel. The top knob turns to block the screen from admitting any more water after the brewing is done - a smart detail. Unfortunately, the lid and/or spout seem to be leaking enough that it creates an unacceptable problem for a large percentage of users: " the lid doesn't fit tightly, and it leaks every time I pour. I've given it a week, and I've run out of patience", "top doesn't fit well, spout leaks all over the place no matter what", "better have a good supply of paper towels handy", "it leaks a small amount when you try to pour too fast."

The Coleman Stainless shows a lesser grade of design than most models reviewed, as well as a lesser grade of materials. It seems to use thinner metal, particularly for the top, and uses a handle made of thin metal tubing. Among its small number of reviews, one finds it appropriate for brewing tea, while another finds it impossible to use for coffee due to a leaking filter which lets coffee grounds through.





The Cuisinox Double Walled Coffee Press is all stainless steel, with no plastic or glass. However, it has very few reviews, and gets really panned by a reviewer who has also reviewed and compared the Frieling press: "super thin wall, full of dents and bulges, sounds cheap and tinny, the plunger screen is lame, and to top it all off, (literally) the knob on top was drilled all crooked and wonky- quite obviously, visibly so."





LaCafetiere Unique is another double wall, stainless steel, 8-cup French press. While we don't find the design exceptional in any way, especially when compared to the Thermique model of the same company, or, in general, to the many good looking French presses that we have been looking at, reviewers seem reasonably happy with it. Its few reviews are good, but not outstanding, although one reviewer mentions a problem with the small spout continuously dribbling when coffee is being poured.




Next we rate the best unbreakable French presses... so come back soon!

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Too Much Salt in Your Diet: CDC

90% of Americans eat too much salt, dangerously exceeding their recommended daily amounts, according to a report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published last week.





Researchers from the CDC analyzed 2005-2006 data from 4,000 subjects, and compared their sodium intake to the 2005 USDA guidelines (it should be noted that experts expect these 2005 guidelines to be significantly lowered in 2010). They found that 9 Americans in 10 overall exceeded the standard recommended intake of 2,300 mg. Worse, they found that, among the 70% of Americans who should observe a lower intake of 1,500 mg (adults 40 years old and above, people with high blood pressure, African-Americans), 19 out of 20 exceed that amount. In fact, the average daily dose of salt consumed across all survey participants was a whopping 3,500 mg.

This dangerously excessive consumption of salt strongly contributes to high blood pressure, and severely increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. The CDC estimates that it causes 120,000 additional heart attacks and 66,000 additional strokes per year.

The study found that most of the salt consumed came from grains (1,300 mg), meat, poultry and fish (1,000 mg), and vegetables (450 mg). Grains include products primarily composed of grains, such as bread, pizza, and grain-based frozen meals. Vegetables, which when fresh contribute very little sodium, have a highly inflated contribution due to potato chips, canned vegetables and pre-made soups. The CDC identified the 5 worst contributors of salt as yeast breads, chicken dinners, pizza, pasta dishes, and cold cuts.

This calculation is in line with other analyses of food consumption: the 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines estimate that 77% of all salt consumed comes from processed food, while 12% occurs naturally, 5% is added in the cooking process, and 6% is added at the table. In addition, restaurant food has been found by many studies to contribute very high amounts of sodium to the diners' diet, often providing in one meal the full daily recommended amount or more.

Our conclusion: by avoiding processed foods and cooking from primary ingredients, we can take out up to 2,300 mg of salt out of our daily consumption, and remain largely below even the lowest recommendations on salt consumption.

Want to read more about it? Try Associated Press, WebMD, Medical News Today, Business Week2, Business Week2, Reuters, USA Today, Food Consumer.

CDC Report (MMWR 59/24), PDF Version

Monday, June 28, 2010

Unbreakable French Coffee Presses: Review

Unbreakable French Coffee Presses Review Part 1

What is the best unbreakable French press to make tasty coffee easily at home?

Everyone is familiar with the iconic Bodum glass and metal Chambord French press (also available in a  3-cup model). It makes excellent coffee, and does not have any plastic consumable parts, but its glass beaker breaks easily, through thermal or mechanical stress. Is it possible to replace our everyday French press with one that will not break, and that will last much longer?






What you need to know about unbreakable French presses

  • Size. The number of cups advertised per model corresponds to small 4-5 oz coffee cups - you need to divide this number by two to find out how many mugs you can brew.
  • Insulation. Many of these presses come with insulated walls. Most reviewers agree that coffee will not remain piping hot in any model - these presses are not built as thermos bottles. They will keep coffee warm longer than non-insulated presses, this is all you can expect:-)
  • Brew quality. Leaving coffee for hours in the press will overbrew it and make it somewhat bitter. If you intend to keep coffee for several hours after brewing it, you would be better off pouring it out of the press after 3-4 minutes and into an insulated carafe like the good-looking Frieling Emsa Eleganza.


What makes a great unbreakable French press

Materials. The right French press is made of high quality materials. The stainless steel is thick and of good quality. There is, if possible, no plastic or rubber - but if there is any it is high quality plastic, if possible fiberglass or carbon-fiber reinforced. The product has heft. Preferably the whole assembly is metal, without plastic or rubber.

Fit and finish. The pieces are clean and well cast, forged or brazed. They fit well with each other and have positioned in the proper alignment, without being off by several degrees. The product shows as a quality product.

Filter. The filter assembly is metal without plastic or rubber. Is it tightly fitting inside the body, so that no coffee grounds leak through it into the brew. It is easy to take out and clean up, and easy to reassemble as well. It is not hard to press. When you press it, there is no coffee leakage.

Spout. The spout is clean and pours well. There is no dribbling when you pour, whether you pour fast or slow.

Durability. We want to move away from the fragile glass beaker of the Bodum Chambord, so the right French press will be very solidly built and highly durable, in the scale of 10-20 years or more.

Robustness. The right French press can take shocks and be moved around without damage, including in the hands of children. It will not become a casualty of a sink collision.

Brew quality. The coffee it makes must taste good.

Double insulated walls. While coffee should not remain very long in a French press, for convenience it would be helpful to have a well insulated container, so that the second cup of coffee we pour is still hot.

Looks. A French press spends a lot of time on a kitchen table, so it needs to look good for a long time. It should have an elegant design that fits well within your household, and that you expect to like for a long time. We do not think that an ugly French press can survive life in the kitchen for a long time...


Next we review our first batch of French presses... So come back soon!

                        Next: Screening Unbreakable French Coffee Presses                   Next Page >>

Cell Phone Towers Not Linked to Cancer

A rigorous new study out of the UK has failed to find a link between children's early childhood cancers and pregnant mothers' proximity to cell phone towers.

The study, led by researchers from Imperial College in London, was published this month in the British Medical Journal. It studied data from over 6,000 children, over 1,000 of which were cancer patients (every early childhood cancer patient in the UK under the age of 4, between 1999 and 2001, for which an address could be found), and the rest of which were controls. The researchers focused on finding or disproving a link between early childhood childhood cancers and the proximity of pregnant mothers to cell phone towers. They did not find any correlation between the two. A limitation of this study: it only investigated cancers whose early onset is in childhood. Paul Elliott, lead author of the study, writes: "we found no pattern to suggest that the children of [mothers] living near a base station during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cancer than those who lived elsewhere."

The study was highly appraised by British medical professionals. Carl Heneghan, the deputy director of the  Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, a lecturer at Oxford University, writes: "overall this is a well done study and allows us to feel more certain about the evidence base that there is no association between risk of cancer in young children and exposure to mobile phone base stations." Eileen Rubery, former director of the public health prevention department of the UK Department of Health, says: "this is a carefully done study by a highly reputable group of epidemiologists." Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, says: "this study seems exemplary in its approach. The findings are well concluded and the methodology is thorough."

Want to read more about it? Try WebMD, ReutersGuardian, Guardian Health, Guardian/BMJ, Wall Street Journal, Heneghan's blog, NHS Choices, Reuters, Washington Post, Business Week, MedPage Today, Associated Press, Independent, CNN, Time, LA Times.


Study Abstract in the  British Medical Journal

Friday, June 25, 2010

Massive Crib Recall

In a massive voluntary recall jointly led by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and crib manufacturers, 2.2M primarily drop-side cribs are being recalled by seven manufacturers for danger of entrapment and falls, possibly leading to suffocation. While six of these manufacturers are providing upgrade kits,  the seventh manufacturer is providing some discount coupons towards the purchase of a new crib.







The manufacturers that provide an upgrade kit are:
  • Delta (US): 750,000 drop-side cribs (five entrapments, one fall). Delta also asks parents to check any of their Delta cribs, drop-side or not, which may use wooden stabilizer bars for mattress support, because the bars may be installed upside down and cause mattress platform collapse. The number of cribs involved in the latter problem is unknown, as the CPSC indicated that Delta had not cooperated with the CPSC in that matter.
  • Evenflo (US): 750,000 Jenny Lind drop-side cribs (three entrapments, nine falls)
  • LaJobi Inc. (US): 300,000 Bonavita, Babi Italia and ISSI drop-side cribs (one fall)
  • Jardine (Taiwan): 130,000 drop-side cribs imported by Toys R Us (ten entrapments)
  • Million Dollar Baby (US): 160,000 drop-side cribs (eight entrapments, three falls)

In addition, the following manufacturer is providing discount coupons for future purchases for some of the faulty cribs:
  • Child Craft (US, now out of business): 50,000 stationary-side cribs (four entrapments), and all drop-side cribs (one entrapment, one fall). A rebate on new purchases is available for the owners of drop-side cribs. Use of both stationary-side and drop-side cribs manufactured by Child Craft should be discontinued immediately.
The CPSC specifically asks parents NOT to fix cribs with homemade remedies.

Want to read more about it? Try CBS News (with model numbers),  CBS News video, Justice News Flash (with phone numbers), Consumer Reports Safety Blog,  the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Business Week, the Globe and Mail, the Christian Science Monitor, WebMD, the Cleveland Leader, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Tribune Blog.

Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) www.cribsafety.org

Teen Drinking Influenced by Parenting

Teens with loving but directive parents appear to drink less than those with either permissive parents or strict but non-supportive parents, according to a recent medical study.



The study, led by researchers from Brigham Young University, and published in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, surveyed 5,000 Utah students from 12 to 19 years old, who reported on their relationship with their parents and their drinking habits.



Parents were classified in 4 groups:
  • Authoritative parents - high on warmth (support, nurturing) and accountability (control, monitor, discipline)
  • Authoritarian parents - low on warmth, high on accountability
  • Indulgent parents - high on warmth, low on accountability
  • Neglectful parents - low on warmth, low on accountability
Based on self reporting by the students, the study found that the teen children of authoritative children saw the least amount of excessive drinking, while children of authoritarian or indulgent parents saw 2.5 times as much risk of excessive drinking, and children of neglectful parents saw 4.5 times as much risk of excessive drinking. On the other hand, parenting style did not appear to influence whether teens tried alcoholic beverages. "While parents didn't have much of an effect on whether their teens tried alcohol, they can have a significant impact on heavy drinking," said Stephen Bahr, coauthor of the study and professor at BYU.

The study also found that religious teens were less likely to indulge in excessive drinking than non-religious teens.

Want to read more about it? Try WebMD,the Salt Lake City Tribune, the Mormon Times, CNN, Business Week, Economic Times, CBC News, the Globe and Mail, Science Blog, and the LA Times.

Self-Cooling Terracotta Water Pitcher: Cool Gear

There are few things in life that are more delectable than a cool glass of fresh, pure water on a hot summer day. Unglazed terracotta water containers have the remarkable property of being able to cool their contents. Water seeps through their pores, and progressively evaporates. The evaporation process absorbs heat and cools the container and its content, being able to maintain a temperature 12-15 degrees below ambient - efficiency is best in dry weather. This age-old process is widely used in the Middle East to keep water cool, but unglazed terracotta pitchers are hard to find in the US. Always use a coaster or base for these containers, as they will mark a wood surface with water marks.

#2 VKB Stay-Cool Terra Cotta Carafe. The VKB Carafe, available for $42, is a modern design, made of unglazed red terracotta, mounted on a gray silicone base (to avoid marking the surface on top of which it resides). It contains one quart of water, and is easy to pour one-handed. While we enjoy its capabilities, we are not in love with the too obvious silicon in its base, and find the design as a whole somewhat unbalanced. We like the fact that the base is integrated with the pitcher, and therefore harder to misplace.




#1 Terracotta Carafe Cooler. This hand-made carafe cooler is composed of unglazed red terracotta, with a plastic base and stopper of the same color. It is available from Fante's Kitchen Wares for $25.  It is 9" high and 5" wide, and contains a little over one quart of water. We find the classical shape graceful, and the use of plastic is not so obvious as that of the VKB carafe. Using the stopper does not appear to generate any difference in temperature, so we assume that it is not a necessary implement. Because the belly of the carafe is larger than that of the VKB, it is necessary to pour from the neck of the pitcher (an etiquette no-no:-), or hold the carafe with two hands.


We also found several other self-cooling terracotta containers that we did not feel were appropriate to the task. This 2-gallon filtering water dispenser, by Royal Doulton, adds a transparent plastic holder on the top, and uses a diatomaceous water filter, which needs to be periodically rinsed. The plastic top just looks too tacky to us. We like the lines of the Stefani Terracotta Water Crock a lot more, but it includes a replaceable filter that periodically needs changing, and we are doubtful of some of the "scientific" claims of the company, which look to us more like pseudo-science.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Manual Can Opener Online Sources

Manual Can Openers Review Part 5

Where can you find good sources of information when researching can openers, or, more generally, kitchen tools and gadgets?








Forums

User input, when it can be found in good quantities, is always what we trust most. No professional reviewer is as good as large amounts of users owning and using a tool for long durations, and most professional reviews fail at identifying the weaknesses of a product that come out in the medium and long term. In many cases we consider forums an outstanding tool for finding out issues, and also for identifying new products that may not be widely distributed, but that resolve standing issues in existing products.

In the case of kitchen tools and gadgets, however, surprisingly, despite the large number of cooking sites, there are not as many good destination forums as we would like to see. Very few have the right combination of focus on kitchen tools, good traffic, and high quality user participation.
  • Chowhound cookware forum ***. Chowhound is the best, and really the only good forum site to discuss cookware today. It represents an enormous community of users, and even its lesser forums still see good traffic. While it has a dedicated cookware forum, many threads in other forums also discuss kitchen tools and gadgets, so using search is essential:-) Some typical can opener discussions are thread1, thread2, and thread3.  
  • ChefTalk Chef Forum **. Reserved for chefs only (but you can read on), the Chefs' forum on ChefTalk is full of entertaining and instructive information, such as, for instance, how to deal with overcooked prime rib when you need to serve 200 guests (the answer: drip cooked beet juice on it, it will look medium rare). While often useful, this forum does not have valuable information on can openers. ChefTalk also has other forums that are open to all.
  • GardenWeb cookware forum *. While we normally rate Gardenweb at three stars, in this case, the traffic of Gardenweb's cookware forum is low enough that it has not accumulated a large amount of data, and does not provide answers in a timely manner. 
  • Cooking.com cookware forum *. Because of low traffic, the cookware forum of Cooking.com does not have critical mass- although as a forum site Cooking.com is very good.
  • DiscussCooking Cookware and Accessories Forums *.  While DiscussCooking has large amounts of users and good traffic overall, the Cookware and Accessories forums are not gathering enough traffic to make them lively enough for a strong database of information.

User review sites

Amazon user reviews ***. Amazon is an excellent source of user reviews for kitchen gadgets, and sells most, if not all, of the can openers and kitchen gadgets that are in general availability, either directly from Amazon, or on the Amazon Marketplace.

Cooking.com user reviews **. The Cooking.com cookware store, also a marketplace (i..e many vendors participate in it) has a good number of user reviews. The range of products is narrower than Amazon, and there are fewer user reviews.

Shopping sites user reviews *.  Other kitchen shopping sites, such as Target and Walmart, also have user reviews. They have not reached the broad range of offerings found on Amazon and Cooking.com - but they are still useful when they carry the item you need and when users have written about their experience.

Wize *.  Wize is a review aggregator, which consolidates access to the reviews from multiple large sites (including the most of the ones mentioned above) in a single location. The concept is incredibly useful - but the application is still weak, as there ae not enough categories available, and Wize search rarely finds the item you are looking for unless it already belongs to its pre-classified categories. In a year or two, hopefully, Wize will become widely useful - and we will up its star rating:-)

Bing Shopping *. Bing Shopping (MicroSoft search engine applied to shopping) now displays results with the review ratings it finds as well, although it only picks up review information from a few sites (so far we have seen Amazon and Bestcovery reviews only displayed in Bing). Like Wize, as Bing extends its coverage of review sites it will become more useful.

User review sites *. One can occasionally find some reviews for a specific product on epinions, buzzillions, rateitall, or reviewcenter, although it is mostly a hit-or-miss proposition.


Comparative review sites and expert sites 

Cook's Illustrated ***. Cook's Illustrated Magazine, a subscription magazine and site, is the Consumer Reports of cooking. Their test kitchen proofs recipes, and publishes equipment reviews.Their equipment reviews are excellent, although we do not incorporate any other suer input that their own testers. As a consequence, like Consumer Reports, their picks do not always line up with the feedback from the equipment owners and users themselves...

A Cook's Wares **. While the site is an online store for cookware, in the discussions section Byron Bitar, a cookware expert, discusses pros and cons of many cookware items and gives his informed opinion of how they compare. Many of his discussions are excellent, although some sections are starting to be a bit dated. There are no discussions on can openers.


Consumer Search Can Opener Review **. Consumer Search, a good review site for consumer products, has a review out for can openers. Unfortunately, manual can openers are a small part of the review, and their sources are not very good in this case.

Bestcovery Can Opener Review *. Bestcovery has staff rate equipment in a wide range of consumer products areas, and published a review on can openers. Their reviews are a good first cut at looking at a category, but do not look in depth at the range of products available. While they identify the popular products in a area, they cannot be trusted, in general, to identify the best products in the range.

Galttech Can Opener Review *. Galttech is another review site which offers expert reviews, and which has a can opener review  out. They do not pretend to select the best, but orient the reader towards products in the upper range of functionality. They represent a useful addition to field knowledge.

Consumer Unlimited Can Opener Review *. Consumer Unlimited is another site that produces "expert" reviews that are poorly researched. They offer a can opener review which is up to their typical standards: slightly informative but by no means definitive.



Other resources
 
Fork & Bottle **. Fork & Bottle does not provide direct reviews but points are numerous interesting resources in food and wine, which can be exploited to yield data.


Builders' square product search engine **. A surprising resource, Builders' Square has an excellent products search engine for many cookware products, and can often find models that are not available on cookware sites such as Amazon or Cooking.com.

The Find **.  The Find is a product search engine that lists its finds in a grid-like results list, with pictures. It has interesting one-click filters, such as price or color. While its range is limited to the online stores that it spiders, its range is wide, and it can be a good tool to find unusual products.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Top 4 Compact Travel Can Openers

Best Manual Can Openers Part 4

After discussing what makes for a good can opener, we reviewed and rated traditional can openers and smooth edge can openers. Several leading can openers make opening can a smooth and painless experience, yet most, if not all of them, are quite bulky, and represent too large a tool to take along when you are going camping or backpacking. What are your best choices when small and compact tools are necessary?


These models did not make the grade


The ChefCraft Butterfly Can Opener appears to be an exact copy of the Ekco can opener, but a bit more expensive. The Bradshaw Mini also appears to be a clone of the same.




The Coleman can opener is compact and folds, but it is quite a bit larger than the P38 and P51 G.I. folding can openers, works on the same principle, and has no advantages over them. For some reason the longer edge of this can opener is on the wrong side, and therefore does not increase the leverage needed to open a can. This tool works for right handers only.


 The Ekco Mini Can Opener  (also here) is small, compact, and inexpensive, but bends easily and requires significant hand strength. Reviewers complain that it is hard to figure out how to use it.










The best compact travel can openers

#4 P38. The P38 G.I. can opener, known by all ex-servicemen in our country, goes back to WWII when it used to be included in each ration pack. An article by Major Renita Foster discussed all the uses that it could be put to... It is thin and foldable, and so small that you can put it on your key ring. It requires significant hand strength to punch through the can lip, much less to go around the top. It is a great classic for all hikers and campers. Beware of imitations (really no cheaper than the real thing...) which fold, bend or rust - the only models we know of that work reliably are made in the USA, preferably by the same company which manufactures them for Uncle Sam. This model is for right handers only, and can be obtained for $1 to $2.


#3 P51. The P51 G.I. Can Opener is almost twice as large as the P38, and gives more leverage on the cap lid., requiring slightly less strength to puncture the top. It is our favorite among G.I. can openers, and a perfect  tool to slip into a pocket for a light backpacking trip. When a couple more ounces are acceptable, our #2 choice winner below is preferable because of its ease of use and better ergonomics. Again, avoid non-authentic versions of this great classic, which are likely to be of poor quality. This model is for right handers only, and can be obtained for $1 to $2. The picture below shows relative sizes for the P51 and the P38.

#2 Nogent Super Kim. The Nogent Super Kim Can Opener  is an outstanding compact can opener, easy to use, requiring comparatively little hand strength (i.e. within the compact can openers reviewed in this category), although very expensive ($45). It carries very few reviews on the web, but we tested it at ConsumerPla.net and came out impressed. Made of totally out of stainless steel , it carries high leverage due to its long butterfly handles (wrapped with thick, comfortable vinyl) and makes it easy to start opening cans. Its gears have a special spring which maintains the opener in tight contact with the can once it is started. Because of its compactness and geometry, it is easy to clean. Its stainless metal is sturdy and does not rust easily despite our attempts. We talked to several owners of Super Kims who reported upwards of 10 years of continuous use without damage or rust.


#1 Normann Copenhagen Butterfly. The Butterfly by Normann Copenhagen, available on line for $20, is the most recent of all can openers reviewed in our series, as it was introduced in 2009! Its use on a can is illustrated by our introductory picture at the top of this page. We were not able to find a significant number of user reviews for it, but had it in our testers' hands - and they were were truly impressed. It has elegant, sinuous lines, and comes in 8 bright colors which allow it to be easily found in the kitchen (one of the design criteria for its creators). Although it is for right handers only, the shape of this can opener is particularly comfortable, and gives a great amount of leverage to the hand, particularly compared to the P38 and P51 (although we feel that it still requires more strength than the Super Kim). It is small and compact, more so than the Super Kim, although not as compact as the P51 because it does not fold and it is made of thicker metal., The butterfly handles are wrapped with comfortable vinyl. The combination of lightness, simplicity, and comfort made it our favorite among all compact can openers. Some of our testers liked it so much that they stated they would use it in their kitchen.

In an intriguing note, we should mention that we actually tested a model that our testers rated higher than any of the models below - but we were not able to either find it on the web, or even identify its manufacturer: it is a butterfly-like rigid can opener, about the size of the Normann Butterfly but with an additional metal side parallel to and alongside the opening blade,  manufactured in a French speaking country, and marked RC Lame Acier Trempe JUNIOR. Our testers found it easier to use than all others, more rigid, and with more leverage. If you can identify this compact yet powerful can opener please contact us!

All of the can openers reviewed here require more strength than the top choices in our traditional and smooth edge can opener reviews, although only marginally more for the Super Kim and the Butterfly. The difference is enough for us to recommend that arthritic cooks should not consider these selections, which focus on compactness as the main criterion.

Next we discuss online sources for manual can openers, and for other kitchen tools... So come back soon!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Handy, Dishwasher-Safe Vegetable Brush: Cool Gear

With concerns mounting about pesticide residues on produce, being able to clean produce as well as possible before preparation suddenly takes on more importance. Oxo Good Grips Flexible Vegetable Brush has an outstanding set of reviews on Amazon, showing very high satisfaction from practically all of its users.



Oxo's vegetable brush gets kudos from its users by being easy to hold, even for people with arthritis, having the right amount of stiffness in its bristles, and being dishwasher-safe. Many users mention that they use it every day or practically every day, throw it in the dishwasher basket after using it, and wonder what they would do without it: "easy to maintain and ... DURABLE", "easy to hold and use", "Stiff enough to really clean the veggies ... and soft enough that it doesn't tear the skins", "size and grip is perfect", I use this every day; don't know what I would do with out it", "dishwasher safe and sturdy", "fits near perfectly in the palm of your hand", "does a great job cleaning vegetables", "small enough to sit on top of your sink", "Scrubs my potatoes, turnips, carrots, beets and other such veggies perfectly", "Easy on arthritic hands." This product ends up with an outstanding ratio of positive to negative reviews (102/5). Oxo Good Grip's line focuses on making tools that are easy to hold and use. This vegetable brush, which has now been around for quite a few years, has a very clean look, excellent usability, and could well become a classic of design.



If your hands are very weak, an interesting alternative is Chef'n Vegetable Brush, which does not share the same clean design, but offers a finger lock on the back of the brush, guaranteeing a decent hold even with a very weak grip, as long as your third finger fits the ring. This vegetable brush is a much more recent introduction, and has gathered a modest, but excellent set of reviews. People love the finger holder and the ability to throw it into the dishwasher, and one user reports using it for over a year without loss of functionality: "It fits great in my hand and doesn't slip and slide around", "After each use, I put it on the top rack of my dishwasher and it stays clean", " It's easy to hold b/c of the finger slot which makes it easy to use", "I keep this by the sink and use it all the time." Beware if you have really thick fingers, as the finger lock may be a bit tight for you, despite its flexibility.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The 4 Best Smooth Edge Manual Can Openers

Manual Can Openers Review Part 3

Smooth edge can openers open a can from the side, by pressing against the top seam and separating the lid from the can, without having to cut it: there is no sharp edge left on the lid after opening. Because they do not contact the food inside the can, they are more sanitary. Theoretically, since there is no cutting involved, these can openers should last longer - but we found in practice that some of these models actually break down quickly. This may be due to the fact that, for some reason, many of the designs in this class of devices make very heavy use of plastics. It is however possible to find some outstanding models. Below we compare the models we found available.


These models did not make the grade


The Brabantia Side Can Opener is a can opener with little distribution and very few reviews on the web. We were not able to obtain it for our own hands-on test. We will update this review with more information on the Brabantia if more user reviews appear.






The CIA Masters Collection Side Can Opener  is a good looking can opener, also with few reviews on the web. When we tried it, we had a really hard time starting a can. Some of our testers were not able to reliably operate it to opening, even after starting the can. This product is not recommended by Cook's magazine, which mentions that the tool is hard to attach to the can, and that the handle is hard to turn.





The  ChefMate SafeCut Can Opener is an ugly tool with a lot of plastic, which gets kudos from some of its users for its ease of use, even for large quantities of cans. However, it gets panned by many for its lack of durability, and is referenced several times in reviews of other can openers as a tool that breaks down quickly. Even 5-star reviews mention the need to replace it frequently.





The Good Cook Orbi can opener has an original appearance, but those users that have owned it for a while report that it breaks down quickly, in a very repeatable manner. The overall positive to negative ratio of user reviews is mediocre. 


The Kuhn Rikon Ergo Safety Lid Lifter (also available in other colors such as green), is another remarkably ugly tool that provides a sea of plastic under the guise of ergonomics. This tool will keep hold of the lid so that it can be disposed of. It is criticized by some users of the better Kuhn Rikon can openers as being less usable and ergonomic: "the worst part about the Ergo is its knob, which simply is too large and thick to turn easily." Other Kuhn Rikon models offer more to the user.




The Kuhn Rikon Safety Lid Lifter Can Opener is another plastic monster with large numbers of reviews. While most of these reviews are positive, several complain about early breakdown, and some mention metal shards left over after opening. There are better Kuhn Rikon alternatives.
The Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Lifter  (also available in other colors such as red and blue) is more compact than the other Kuhn Rikon openers mentioned above, and gets excellent reviews. Some users complain that, in order to open a can, it needs to be positioned "just so." It is made with much more plastic than the Deluxe model - we don't see any good reason to use this one when the Deluxe model is available.

The Kuhn Rikon Slim Lid Lifter, all plastic outside and stainless inside, gets pretty good reviews although not quite as good as the better Deluxe Safety model by Kuhn Rikon. Some users complain that it is more awkward to use or hard to turn than others. It does not appear to be dishwasher safe according to Kuhn Rikon customer support, despite some advertising to the contrary. Based on the Kuhn Rikon literature, it is a lower priced version of the regular Safety Lifter. This model is recommended by Cook's magazine - but we feel there is no reason to go for this product when the better Deluxe Safety model is available.


The MIU Can Do Safety can Opener, another one-handled plastic opener, has many reviews but poor ratings, and many users complain that it simply breaks down quickly. It is also downgraded by Cook's Magazine because it rusted in the dishwasher despite being advertised as dishwasher safe.






The Oxo Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener  is another large plastic monster, which , unusually for Oxo tools, does not do a very good job at its task. It counts many reviews on the web, many of which are complimentary, but most of which focus on the advantages of smooth edge can openers in general. When looking at reviews from more experienced or specific users, we finds out that the gears strip easily, that the tool has fragile teeth, and that it sometimes does not work well: "after just a year, its performance has become hit or miss, sometimes not opening the can at all", "the gears began to strip", "It requires too much force to work properly and frequently it does not work at all", "The second one is now only three months old and is failing", "Most of the time I have to go around twice to get the can opened."

The Pampered Chef Smooth Edge can Opener, a basic smooth edge can opener, has a small number of reviews on the web, not all of them good. We tested it. We found that its grips are too thin and inflict hard pressure on a small part of the palm, and that it feels like a cheap tool when in hand, probably due to the flexing of the metal parts.






The Progressive International Safety I-Can Opener  is a clunky tool with a large crank handle and middling reviews. Some users liked the leverage of the handle: "There is no pain and the ratchet style makes opening a breeze", "It is amazingly easy to use and does not hurt using it." Others, however, reported quick gear failure and handling difficulties: "It's hard to get it positioned on the can, and sometimes can take several tries", "Within 3 weeks of receipt the crank mechanism failed." While there were not enough reviews as a whole to establish statistical validity for the problems raised by these reviewers, we feel that, despite a recommendation by Cooks Magazine, we cannot endorse this product at this time.

The Rosle Can Opener is, like all Rosle products, a deluxe can opener, at least by its price ($35). It has a single grip and a plastic turning handle, and should not be confused with another fully stainless Rosle can opener model, even more expensive but of much better quality. It carries a large number of reviews, many of which are not positive. Reviewers like its looks and, in general, its operation, but complain about its remarkable lack of reliability given its high price:   "high price, low quality", "gears stripped after 6 months", "doesn't last long - Buyers beware", "the Rosle can opener stopped opening cans after about seven months", "very quickly stopped opening cans". Its review record makes it clear that it cannot be trusted to work reliably in the long term.

The Zyliss Safe Edge Can Opener is another can opener hiding under a sea of plastic. Some owners are enthusiastic about the Zyliss: "goes very smoothly and quickly", "nice weight, good grips and easy to turn." One literary user went so far as writing a good haiku on it: "Fits right into hand/ Never slips off / outer rim / Nothing it can't do / / You caress can edge / Sharp hidden blade, shy cunning / Oops my top is off!"  Other users, however, even in good positive reviews, report poor handling and metal filings: "a great disappointment for both ease of use and safety", "it leaves small filings of metal on the lid that fall into the pan", "This one leaves the lid on the can", " It can be somewhat fiddly", "awkward to get used to the way it clamps onto the can, and the lid removal clamp is really a challenge to get it to work." While it is recommended by Cook's Magazine, we do not feel that its user reviews warrant rating this product among the best.


The best smooth edge can openers


#4 Rosle All Stainless. The Rosle All Stainless Can Opener is a beautiful, all stainless tool, with two large stainless grips of large diameter and a softly contoured stainless handle. It is the most expensive of all the can openers we tried ($45), but it is handsome and well designed. The grips are very comfortable and the cans are easy to grab. The handle does not require a lot of pressure to turn it, but it is small enough that we do not feel it should be recommended to users with arthritis. The tool has gathered few reviews on the web, probably due to its price, but thy are all excellent: "Never has it been easier to open a can,there are no sharp edges", "it takes very little effort to open", "smartly engineered and of great quality", "beautiful, works well and anything from Rosle will last a lifetime." We are not rating this tool higher due to its small number of ratings.

#3 WMF Profi Safety. The WMF Profi Safety Can Opener  has many things in common with the Rosle All Stainless model: it is handsome, all stainless, efficient and expensive ($40). We found the grips, also made of large diameter stainless tubes, to be very comfortable, and liked the handle more than the Rosle one: being of larger size, it was perceived as much more comfortable by our testers with weak hands. This can opener is dishwasher safe. The reviews for this model are few but excellent: "good balance", "finger safe","easy to use", "lid and can are smooth with no sharp edges." We are not rating this tool higher due to its small number of ratings.

#2 Fissler Magic Smooth Edge. The Fissler Magic Smooth Edge Can Opener, available for $26, is a single grip tool with a plastic handle and head over stainless frame, and is dishwasher safe. Its curved stainless steel single handle is punctured by multiple bumps to make it more grippy, which also makes it a touch harder to clean. We found it easy to handle and position over the can, and had no difficulty starting a can or finishing to open one. The Fissler has a good number of reviews, all positive without exception: "it attaches to cans easily, and smoothly removes the lid from the can", "it works so easily and effectively", "it is compact and easily stores in my kitchen gadget drawer", "simple, clean, easy design, well manufactured and durable", "the most compact, best smooth edge can opener", "easy to use and works beautifully."  This excellent can opener requires a but more grip strength than others (although not much), and should not be recommended to people with severe arthritis. 

#1 Kuhn Rikon Auto Deluxe Safety. The Kuhn Rikon Auto Deluxe Safety Lifter (it can also be found in other colors such as black),  available for a very reasonable $18, is far and away the darling of the smooth edge can opener crowd. It is a single grip model, with a plastic head and handle built on top of a stainless steel frame. The handle is made of a thick stainless steel tube to make it ergonomic, and it is dishwasher safe.  We found it very easy to grab cans with. Starting to open a can could be reliably done. Going around the can was smooth and painless. Both the grip and the handle were comfortable. This model has an outstanding ratio of positive to negative reviews, and users rave about this smooth edge can opener: "Kuhn Rock-on", "Rolex of can openers", "lid comes off smoothly and cleanly", "it did its job so efficiently that it took me awhile to realize the can was actually open", "takes up less drawer-space", "compact and stylish", "opens cans with a minimum of effort", "sturdy, easy and comfortable to grasp when using", "minimal effort to turn mechanism, easy on fingers", "the most well made piece of gear in my kitchen", "my hand cramps up when trying to turn small levers, so the big wide handle on this is perfect", "easy to turn." Many users with poor grip hands found it easy to use, although a couple of users reported otherwise. This model carries many user reviews on the web, and the outstanding ratings it gets from a diversity of users makes it our #1 recommendation for smooth edge can openers.


Next we review compact portable can openers... So come back soon!

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The 5 Best Traditional Manual Can Openers

Best Can Openers Review Part 2

Traditional can openers cut through the edge of the lid itself with a sharp cutter, using side gears to turn around the can. They need to be carefully washed after use, as they are in contact with the food. If you use a can opener to open animal food (such as cat food), we advise you to keep a separate can opener for that specific purpose, as there may be dangerous contaminants in animal food.

These models did not make the grade

The Amco Swing Away Comfort Grip Can Opener  is a remake of the most famous of all traditional can openers, with the addition of thicker grips, to make it easier to use, Users appreciate the cushy grips: "the soft, padded handles are comfortable in your hand." Unfortunately, this can opener's parts appear to rust quickly, and it has a tendency to chew cans rather than opening them: "I wish I owned a can opener that didn't rust", "has failed to completely cut the lid off of any can I've used it on". One would expect the cutting parts for the comfort grips model to be the same as for the regular model, but this does not appear to be the case. Reviews for this can opener are not good enough for us to recommend it.

The Chef'N EZ Squeeze Can Opener, a one-handed can opener, has few reviews on the web. It is dishwasher safe. One user bought three but has seen them all fail. Cook's Magazine does not recommend the product due to poor safety and performance: messy and awkward, hard to disengage.







The Cuisinart Can Opener with ABS Handle gets low reviews, due to its poor handles and it gears wearing out quickly. We find its aesthetics questionable as well.








The  Faberware Pro Can opener  has no web reviews. We tested it. We found that the grips were flexing, and that the handle required significant strength. The metal seemed thin, and the plastic was not comfortable. In the end, we do not feel that it compares well with the best in class.








The Harold Import 889 Can Opener is also without web reviews, and was tested by ConsumerPla.net. We find it to be the worst can opener we have ever tried, difficult to use, rarely able to cleanly open a can, with handles that flex easily, and gears that rust quickly. It would be difficult to come up with a worse model. The Chef Craft can opener appears to be the same model exactly. 





The  Kitchen Aid Can Opener is a stylish and good looking tool, with lots of reviews, half of which are unfortunately very poor: "it was awful...difficult to use, shredded the paper at the top of the can's label, and was very difficult to get started", "reminds me of a car turning its wheels will all smoke and noise but no results","if you DO get it to cut, it requires tremendous hand strength and multiple stops and starts."





The Oneida Stainless Steel can opener  a good looking tool, succeeds in getting a record 100% poor reviews, rusting, bending, and in general lacking structural strength.








The Oxo Good Grips Can Opener is the lower end of the Oxo family of can openers. It suffers from poor handles and does not compare well with the better Oxo model with steel handles.








The  OXO Good Grips Locking Can Opener offers only plastic to the sight - and so much plastic. It has many reviews,  but a poor ratio of good to bad reviews. Users like its comfortable handles, but complain about its poor handling,  lack of reliability, and breaking locks: "the lock on mine broke after just a couple months of use", "it's difficult to get it to lock on properly and gets dislodged during cutting easily also", "some of the teeth on the lower wheel ... were worn." While it is recommended by Cook's Magazine, its poor reliability record and mediocre user reviews make it impossible for us to rate it high.


The Pedrini Black and Satin Classic Can Opener gets significantly more bad reviews than good ones. Users report very poor quality control, with numerous experiences of DOA tools:"More like a Can't Opener", "the first time I used it, today, it broke", "Black & Crappy", "Today I used it and the handle you turn just broke off", "Cheap product! Broke on first use." Some of the reviews are actually quite entertaining... The tool, however, should definitely be avoided.



The  Pedrini Soft Grips Can Opener has no reviews on the web. We tested it along with other Pedrini tools. These grips have nothing soft about them. In fact, we found them thin and uncomfortable, as they dig into your palm and fingers. The handling of the tool is awkward. We were not able to reliably start opening a can.







The Best Traditional Hand Can Openers


#5 Amco Swing-Away. The Amco Swing Away Portable Can Opener , also available in red, and originally made in St Louis, is a great old fashioned classic, with an excellent set of reviews: "I paid $6 for mine at least 15 years ago. It works like a charm", "I've owned and used this can opener for nearly thirty years." Late models, however, are now made in China, and many reviewers complain of that: "I'd be more satisfied and would have been willing to pay more for the genuine made in USA model." Some note that the quality of the previous, US made Swing-Away was better: "I then bought this one for myself, it is made in China, and the rivet was loose", "the action between the gears on the China model being a bit looser/less precise than the old one." Many of the excellent reviews for this model apply to the old US made version - it is not clear if the latest version will prove as good in the long term. Because of this uncertainty, we are ranking the traditional Swing-Away #5 but do not endorse it at this time.

#4 Nogent Super Kim. The Nogent Super Kim can opener, despite its outrageous price (due to its importer), is a truly interesting device, very compact yet powerful and effective. It carries very few reviews on the web, but we tested it at ConsumerPla.net and came out impressed. It is the most compact of all can openers tested, except for camping models. It carries high leverage due to its long butterfly handles and makes it easy to start opening cans. Its gears have a special spring which maintains the opener in tight contact with the can once it is started. Because of its compactness and geometry, it is easy to clean. Its stainless metal is sturdy and does not rust easily despite our attempts. We talked to several owners of Super Kims who reported upwards of 10 years of continuous use without damage or rust. Its unreasonably high price ($45) takes away quite a few points. 

#3 Amco Swing Away Easy Crank. The Amco Swing Away Easy Crank is a portable version of the old fashioned wall mounted Swing-Away crank opener from the 30s. Its gets raving reviews from its owners, who love the ease of use and the leverage of this can opener, in particular for users with weak hands:  "It is a pleasure to use", "does NOT skip, easy on your hands", "I have Arthritis, this DON'T (sic) hurt your fingers or thumb", "This is so much easier to use.." Because of the long handle and crank, it is necessary, when opening small cans, to set them on the edge of the work surface so that the handle does not strike the counter. Our only concern is that new offshore manufacturing by Swing-Away may significantly impact the quality of this item.

#2 WMF Profi Stainless Steel. The  WMF Profi Stainless Steel Can Opener is a clean, traditional, well-built design with quality materials. It is dishwasher safe, an unusual quality which is greatly appreciated by its users: "It cleans immaculately in the dishwasher without rusting or spotting", "I have had them for a few months now and have noticed NO rusting", "It cleans up easy." The design is elegant and functional: "this thing cuts soooo smoooooothly. NICE! Sleek, comfortable to hold", "Sharp blade that opens with ease", "the grips are solid and very substantial, definitely quality here", "this thing opens cans like a hot knife through butter", "Great stainless steel quality and heavy in feel." All parts are stainless withe the exception of a good quality plastic handle. This can opener gets excellent web reviews from its owners, with nary a negative review out of the lot. While it is easy to use, we feel that it is slightly harder to turn than some others, and should not be recommended to users with arthritis or very weak grip.

#1 Oxo Steel Can Opener. The Oxo Steel Can Opener  is the best of all, a great modern classic, with comfortable thick grips that can be used by most users with weak hands. Its gets truly outstanding reviews (an amazing 165 to 9 positive/negative ratio) from its owners, who love the sturdiness, the comfort and the ease of use: "fast, easy to use, and comfortable", "I'm a totally disabled Veteran. My wife is disabled also with a severe upper back and neck problem that affects her hands. She doesn't have much strength in her hands. This can opener is so easy for both of us to use!", "I've never used a unit like this that was so effective, fast and easy", "easy to use and easy on the hands", "the handle turns very softly while opening the can (almost no effort is required)." Please note that, despite what the Amazon listing says, it is not recommended for use in the dishwasher. Our two regrets on this excellent model (which has been in use with ConsumerPla.net since 2002): it is not dishwasher safe, and its looks are not as clean as we would like them to be.


Next we review smooth edge can openers... So come back soon!

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