Electric can openers are not popular right now

Electric can openers are not popular right now

Reaching into the jumbled kitchen drawer holding everything from measuring spoons to the potato masher, I pulled out one of the two hand-operated can openers we have. Every time I use one, I remember the lost appliance everyone had to have but I have not seen in a home kitchen in years: an electric version.

They didn’t take up a lot of counter space, and they were as ubiquitous on kitchen counters as toasters. They usually had a little electric knife sharpener on the back, so they did double duty, but the sharpener tended to grind a nice knife into a raggedy ripsaw and was responsible for the snapping of more than a few paring knife blades.

They made the hand-crank can opener seem ridiculously antique. All you had to do was slide a can of any size under the thing, latch it into the cutter, press the upper mechanism and you got the unmistakable and specific sound of a can being cut open. A magnet caught the lid, and you were good to go.

I haven’t seen one for so long I’d assumed they were probably passé, like the dishwasher mom had to drag like a dead goat over to the sink to hook up the leaky hoses, but a quick look at an online retailer offers plenty of electric can openers, most in the $15-$30 range, except for one at $735.

The accompanying customer questions were unsurprisingly things like “Is this price a mistake?” “Have you ever sold one?” and “Does this come with Bengals season tickets?”

Even if most of them are small, they still take up counter space, and newer hand can openers are super effective and fast. The two we have don’t use a blade as they don’t cut the can open. Instead, they reverse the factory seal to remove the lid without creating any sharp edges.

I highly recommend seeking one out as they really make short work of a job you want to get quickly out of the way for $10 or less. Stash it in the drawer and you free up counter space for a fancy espresso maker. As for me, I’m trying to get enough counter space to make room for one of those air fryers people keep raving about. I even ditched the coffee maker, but we’re not there yet.

One caveat: I saw a customer return the kind of can opener I’m describing because it didn’t work. Be aware the seal-reversing model clamps to the top of the can, rather than to the side as with the metal-cutting gizmo.

While we’re opening cans, here’s my recipe for making something you’ll need a can opener for — and a potato masher.

REFRIED BEANS

1 fifteen-ounce can pinto beans, with liquid

2 slices smokey bacon, diced

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 chili in adobo sauce, finely chopped, along with a tablespoon of the sauce

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the bacon over medium low heat until most of the fat has rendered and the pieces are beginning to brown. Drain most of the fat and add the onions, cooking slowly until soft but not browning. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then add beans with their liquid and toss together with the bacon and onions. Add the chili powder, cumin, adobo chili and sauce, and salt and pepper. Once the beans are hot, remove a few of the beans and reserve. Using a potato masher, mash up the beans until they are the consistency you like, adding a little water if needed.

Return the whole beans to the pan, squirt in the lime juice, mix together well and serve. The reserved beans add extra texture. You want something semi smooth but not like infant food.


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