We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. Click here to find out more. Allow cookies

arrow Register here

Forgotten password?


  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
Messages 1 2 

Potato ricers and can openers. by Ken Dunn on 20 February 2015 10:05am
It is thanks to Bill Bryson's Notes From A Big Country that I decided to write the following essay.

I'm a bargain hunter and my wife is a kitchen utensil collector and user and buyer. We mash potatoes and open cans sometimes for meals. Over the years we have mashed lots of potatoes and opened lots of cans with the utensils for doing same.

Let me start with can openers. Back in the olden days you used to get one that you pierced the can lid with and then levered the opener round the rim until the inner part of the lid was cut off to a point where it could be folded back and the contents emptied into a saucepan. I don't remember having any trouble with this type.

Secondly there is what I call the butterfly screw type where you squeezed two handles to pierce the fixed cutting edge into the inside edge of the lid and then turned the butterfly screw to move the cutting edge round the lid so it could be removed (if you were lucky) or folded back as before.

Thirdly there is the type, similar to the second one, which has a sharp rotating wheel which cuts into the inside edge of the lid as the butterfly screw is rotated and the lid (if you are unlucky) drops into the contents of the tin or can be folded back as before or removed with a very careful twist.

Fourthly there are the battery driven types which jam on the lid when the batteries expire halfway round the cut and removing the opener from this position on the lid is almost impossible. There may be some battery driven types with an easy release mechanism for when this happens but I haven't found one.

Lastly there are the electric can openers, driven by mains electricity, which you attach to the kitchen wall and the can lid is held out of the way by a magnet when it is cut off by the machine. I have no experience of this type.

You can see from the preceding list that opening cans can be achieved by many different methods and because there are so many methods I put it to you that none of them are 100% foolproof.

Let's examine the foolproofness of each type. All of them require a bit of skill to use and the first one requires some strength and coordination to get it all the way round the tin safely.

The second one also requires a little less strength than the first one but to work properly the cutting point must be sharp and long enough to cut comfortably into the tin and slice easily through it as the butterfly screw is rotated. Not all can openers of this type are made like this. Also on this type the bush within which butterfly screw turns must be very hard so that the life expectancy of the opener is reasonably long. Not all can openers of this type are made like this.

The third type can come with comfortable plastic moulded onto the handles and butterfly screw and it will work alright until the plastic mouldings work loose or crack with the pressure being applied to them. With all versions of this type I haven't mentioned the wear that you can get on the serrations that help to move the cutting edge or ring round the underside of the top edge of the can. This wear eventually causes slippage of the mechanism and the opener will no longer work.
I'll say nothing more about the fourth type as my gripe is well described above. Perhaps I should mention that rechargeable batteries are unsuitable for this type as they do not contain enough energy to power the cut effectively.

The mains electricity one may be perfect but it does not give the thrill of trying to use all the other types.

Finally on can openers, my recommendation. Go to a good kitchenware shop and find an opener like the third type completely made out of metal and although it will be 5 to 10 times the price of all the other types it will be well worth the money but remember you will forget all the fun you had trying to use all the other ones.

On the matter of potato ricers, which some of you may never have heard of never mind used, I will keep this fairly brief (compared to the can opener discourse) and say that they are a waste of time and energy for the following reasons:
1) They take up twice the space of a potato masher.
2) It requires great strength to get the cooked potatoes through the contraption and if you squeeze too hard the handle will bend. Then your husband/wife will have to straighten it and there will be no guarantee that the handles won't bend again the next time it is used.
3) They are very difficult to clean properly.

So to finish on my recommendation for potato ricers: a) either buy one made to the same standard as the Forth Rail Bridge or b) use a standard masher in the pot and use a large spoon to serve up the potatoes.

P.S. I have watched my wife use the potato masher tonight and on watching her use the contraption I am certain that my comments above are justified.
Re: Potato ricers and can openers. by Lounge Trekker on 20 February 2015 4:44pm
Hah hah hah! Kitchen gadgets are like better mousetraps. The shinier they are the better they will sell. Doing the job well...that's another story.

I use the sharp wheel-type can opener and it works very well on the 3 or 4 cans I open a month. I had a friend with a large family who uses an electric opener. She could make a good TV advert showing how this tool increases your kitchen efficiency. As she used a few cans a day, it was an effective labour and time saver. With one hand, she'd have the lid off, the lid caught with the magnet, and the contents into the saucepan in about 5-7 seconds per can.

I use garlic most every day, and I had money burning through my pocket, so I got sucked into the better mousetrap. It sure looks cool, and the removable parts for cleaning are cleverly designed, but this tool was invented to keep the designers busy, not to press garlic any better! The press I use is over 20 years old and until I see another identical to it...it will be the one. The new-fangled device will just take up space until I give it away.

I don't need a ricer. I can get fluffy smooth potatoes in less time than she got one scoop into the ricer...with an old school masher. Rinse it and cleaning is near done.
Re: Potato ricers and can openers. by suzulu on 24 February 2015 12:26am
I always have trouble with can openers so thank God for the ring pull type of can. I have a special gadget which hooks onto the ring and makes it easier to pull it.

I have never seen a potato ricer.
Re: Potato ricers and can openers. by Ken Dunn on 24 February 2015 4:43am
I forgot about the ring pull type of can where I could have added a bit about breaking fingernails when lifting the ring pull. I now use a strong knife to lever it up before I can get a proper hold of it. Then when the lid pulls away the speed of release sends stuff on the lid flying everywhere!

I'm glad you've never seen a potato ricer suzulu. I think you'd be best keeping it that way.
Re: Potato ricers and can openers. by Spursfan2 on 24 February 2015 2:58pm
We have a ricer, though we don't use it often. It does make beautifully smooth mashed potato.

One of the most 'dangerous' items in a kitchen, in my opinion, is a mandoline, especially if people don't know the proper way to use them. We used to have one, as my husband (a fully-trained chef) had it amongst other kitchen accoutrements he brought with him to our marriage.

As you would expect with a professional chef, it was a very good quality model, made of wood not plastic, and of a solid design.

He didn't like me using it, for fear of me cutting myself which was fine by me as I was quite scared of it. It did have a grip to hold the item to be sliced, but even so - those blades were mega-sharp!!

Eventually, after decades of use, we threw it out - after making it safe of course.
Re: Potato ricers and can openers. by Spursfan2 on 24 February 2015 3:01pm
For Sue

Re: Potato ricers and can openers. by suzulu on 24 February 2015 5:03pm
Thanks, Anne, but for some reason that website wouldn't load on my computer. I found a video on YouTube though. It looks like hard work.

The mandoline sounds like a lethal weapon! :)
Re: Potato ricers and can openers. by tucsonmike on 25 February 2015 2:55am
I would use my teeth, but I hate dentists.
Re: Potato ricers and can openers. by suzulu on 26 February 2015 2:35am
LOL, Mike!
Re: Potato ricers and can openers. by kazzzz on 20 March 2015 6:36am
I have a tupperware chopper, pop the cooked spuds, butter, milk and seasonings inside, a few pulls on the cord and you have the creamiest mashed spud ever!
Messages 1 2 

  Reply to this post:
  Register here


Select a discussion theme.
Register (or log in if you have not yet done so).

To start a new discussion topic:

Write the name of the topic in the 'Subject' box.
Type your message in the larger box to contribute.
Click 'Submit'.

To join a discussion topic:

Click on the discussion topic of your choice.
Type your message in the larger box to contribute.
Click 'Submit'.

To edit your message:

You can edit a message at any time after posting it as long as you're signed in.
Click on the 'Edit your message' link above the message.
Make your desired changes.
Click 'Submit'.

If you find you don't want to change the message after all, click on 'Return without changes'.

To set a chatmark:

Register (or log in if you have not yet done so).
Click on the "Set chatmark" link on the Chatter Box pages. This will set the time at which you have logged in.
Click on the "Go to chatmark" link to see all messages posted since you set your chatmark.

You can set your chatmark at any time and as often as you like.