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A Better Can Opener?

September 03, 1997

People probably gripe more about the can opener than about any other utensil. The handle is hard to turn. The cutting wheel slips out of the cut. It accumulates an unsanitary buildup and inserts it into every can you open. The lid always falls into the can and you have to fish it out past the sharp edge you've just cut.

A device called the Lid Lifter solves these problems (while creating a minor new one) with the blindingly simple tactic of operating sideways. Other openers cut down into the lid to separate it from the can. Instead of cutting down, the Lid Lifter cuts into the side of the can just below the lid.

This means it's cutting in a straight line, rather than a curved path hemmed in by the seam of the lid. Because the cutter doesn't have to fight the seam, it cuts more easily, especially on smaller cans, and never pops out of the cut. The cutting mechanism doesn't plunge so far into the can, so it stays cleaner. And the lid absolutely can't fall back into the food, since this device grips the lid, rather than the can.

The only drawback we can see (apart from dropping a can if you thoughtlessly open it without any support) is that the edge of the can is very sharp. (The lip seam now stays with the lid, producing a safer lid but a more dangerous can.) This means you can't drink out of the can, but we can live with that. Works right- or left-handed; five-year warranty.

Lid Lifter, $13.99 at Bristol Kitchens.

Eggs With Corners

The Egg Cuber is a Japanese gadget that has been around for at least 30 years (in its earlier version it was the Square Egg Machine) but still has a certain goofy charm. It's a sturdy transparent plastic box with a lid you screw on; get it good and cold in the refrigerator and then stick in a peeled, still-hot hard-boiled egg. About 15 minutes later, the egg will be cubical with vaguely childlike rounded edges. It looks rather like the fuzzy dice that were popular hot rod accessories in the '50s (except for the fuzzy part).

Egg Cuber, $2.95 at Sur La Table, Pasadena.

For Kitchen Samurai

This is an impressive knife--light and well-balanced, good for the usual slicing tasks of a chef's knife but with a more emphatic point and more room between your knuckles and the cutting board. The blade and the handle are a single piece of metal.

And it's absolutely razor-sharp. We were impressed with the paper-thin slices of citrus it cut when we tried it in The Times Test Kitchen and the ease with which it sliced a ripe tomato. Moreover, people who have owned the knife for some time tell us it keeps its edge remarkably well. All the 40-odd Global knives made by the Japanese firm Yoshikin are made of molybdenum-vanadium steel, which is said to stay sharp longer than any other steel alloy.

The handmade Global knives have won many awards since their introduction in 1989; last year the German magazine A La Carte voted them "sharpest knives." Unlike many stainless steel knives, they can easily be resharpened, though Yoshikin recommends using a special whetstone or a diamond or ceramic steel.

18-centimeter Global Oriental Chef's Knife, $62.95 plus $7.95 shipping from Professional Cutlery Direct, (800) 859-6994.

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