The 10 Best Jar Openers
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in February of 2017. If you've ever struggled to access a container of your favorite pickles, olives, jelly, or pasta sauce, then look no further for a solution than one of these convenient jar openers. Available in a range of different styles and sizes, including both electric and manual options, they can loosen even the toughest of vacuum seals. Many of them work on various bottles, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 16, 2020:
Anyone who's struggled with a stubborn jar and those who deal with mobility issues can attest to the necessity of having a reliable jar opener in the house, but needs vary greatly. That's why we've selected a wide range of models to assist in a variety of situations, whether you need help for a better grip or cannot twist or squeeze anything at all with force and require an automatic option.
When the Instecho Automatic became unavailable we brought on the similar Besmon Automatic, as we knew this list couldn't be without at least one unit that did the entirety of the work for those who have had surgery or are disabled. It works with a variety of lid sizes and with containers of any height, isn't overly bulky, and doesn't require a ton of power. Two AA batteries are all that's needed. It's not too loud during operation, but it is a little slow, so if you're in the middle of cooking and need to open a jar for ingredients, it's best to do it beforehand.
And while we love the ingenuity of the Swing A Way Adjustable, too many people have an issue using it. It can be hard to get it to grip tightly, tends to slip, and has a narrow handle that can hurt the hand when applying force. We used the vacancy to bring on the extremely practical and budget-friendly Harold Import Company Brix Original, which is effective on any size canister. It doesn't take a ton of pressure to operate, has no moving parts to clean or break, and slips easily into any drawer. Another upside is that unlike other options that clamp down on lids, this one shouldn't damage the tops of most canning jars, so you can reuse them later.
Also joining the ranks today is the Prepworks by Progressive Multi-Purpose. This set is best for anyone who just needs a bit of extra help gripping caps. They're much more effective than grabbing a towel from the kitchen and come in three sizes and shapes for convenience. The ribbed cone-shaped one is a favorite, while the other two are handy but thin, and likely won't last through years of abuse.
June 07, 2019:
Thanks to its extra-wide V-shaped grip, the EZ Off White can handle lids of almost any size, and it works equally well on small caps for water bottles and fingernail polish. It's easy to mount in just a few minutes, and its slim profile means it won't get in the way when you're cooking. The Leifheit Extra Wide is a handheld model with hinged handles that allow it to accommodate larger jars than most similar options. It's made from durable stainless steel, so it won't rust over time, even if you clean it in the dishwasher. The LuFu 3-in-1 is great for those who hate single-use gadgets, as it works on cans and bottles in addition to jars. It uses pressure rather than a cutting wheel to open cans, so there are no sharp edges to worry about.
If you have arthritis or an injury that limits your mobility or hand strength, you may want to go with an electric model. The Black+Decker Lids Off is a completely hands-free model that clamps onto lids and uses a turntable to twist them off. It's height-adjustable for jars up to 8 inches tall and collapses to take up less storage space, but it's more expensive than most. The Instecho Automatic is much more affordable and equally easy to use, but it's not as powerful and doesn't handle lids with canning rings very well.
Etsy Vintage For collectors looking to add a finishing touch to their retro kitchen, prop departments, or anyone who likes to go for a tried-and-true vintage model that stands the test of time, consider checking out Etsy. There's a wide-ranging selection of antique jar openers in myriad designs and materials from a variety of eras. etsy.com
Quality Logo Products Personalized Whether you're a company trying to get the word out about your canned goods or an event organizer in the kitchen space looking for a useful giveaway item, Quality Logo Products has an array of options. These personalized jar openers come in all shapes and sizes, with your logos or artwork printed right on top, and are sold in bulk at low prices. qualitylogoproducts.com
A Brief History Of Preserving Food
By the mid-19th century, canned goods had become somewhat of a status symbol in Europe, and the increased demand led to the invention of machine-made steel cans in the 1860s.
They say that "necessity is the mother of invention," and the practice of preserving food is no exception to this rule. During the early years of the Napoleonic Wars, the French army had such a problem keeping food from going bad that in 1795, the government offered a cash reward of 12,000 francs, which was huge at the time, to any person who could find a way to preserve food safely in order to feed the troops.
It took quite a while, but the incentive worked. Fourteen years later, a young chef and candy maker named Nicolas Appert finally cracked the code and won the prize, earning him the title of "The Father of Canning." With a lot of trial and error, he eventually figured out that food cooked inside a champagne bottle would not spoil if it was sealed tightly. Interestingly, at the time, he had no idea why his method worked, as the concept of pasteurization was not discovered for another 50 years. Unfortunately, despite his modern-day esteem, he never got to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Shortly after Appert's initial discovery, another Frenchman by the name of Philippe de Girard expanded upon the original method. He recognized that glass jars were not only heavy, but also expensive and hard to transport, so he came up with the idea for the tin can, and a British merchant named Peter Durand helped him patent it in 1810. By the mid-19th century, canned goods had become somewhat of a status symbol in Europe, and the increased demand led to the invention of machine-made steel cans in the 1860s.
Today, we have a huge variety of tools at our disposal to make opening canned and jarred foods easier, but this wasn't always the case. The can opener wasn't invented until after canned foods had already been around for 30 years. Before then, metal canisters were extremely thick and had to be opened with a chisel, a soldier's bayonet, or another sharp, sturdy instrument. These days, cans are much more common than glass jars, which are mostly used for home canning and for higher-end store-bought preserved foods.
The Health Benefits Of Fermented Foods
Preserved foods, in particular those that are fermented, are often even better for you than their fresh counterparts. During the fermentation process, microorganisms like yeast, bacteria, and fungi transform sugars and starches into natural preservatives, such as acid and alcohol. This results in an abundance of probiotics or "good bacteria," which help to balance the natural flora in your gut.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects your mood, appetite, memory, and sleep, is created in your gut, and a healthy balance of bacteria helps contribute to that process.
This helps your overall health in a variety of ways. Fermented foods are easier to digest and can help people who are lactose intolerant to break down dairy products with less discomfort. A good bacterial balance can also bolster your immune system by strengthening your stomach lining and reducing inflammation, and everything works better when your immune system is happy.
Fermented foods can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and can help to lower your blood sugar and cholesterol. There's also evidence that shows that consuming fermented foods on a regular basis can make you less likely to develop atopic dermatitis or eczema. And, believe it or not, the foods you eat can even influence your mental status and behavior. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects your mood, appetite, memory, and sleep, is created in your gut, and a healthy balance of bacteria helps contribute to that process.
Now, we're not saying that preserved foods are a magical cure for everything. But there's no doubt that they have a lot of health benefits, and they're pretty darn tasty, too. And if you're looking to up your intake, there's no shortage of options at your disposal.
Some of the most common foods and drinks for getting your fermented fix are kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, and even sourdough bread. Many pantry staples in Asian cuisines are also fermented, such as kimchi, soy sauce, miso paste, and fish sauce. And, if you really want to get serious about adding more fermented foods to your diet, it's easy to make your own homemade pickled vegetables with just a few simple ingredients.
Why Are Some Jars So Hard To Open?
No matter how strong you are, you've probably encountered a jar that just would not open, however hard you tried. It can be embarrassing (even if there's no one around to witness it), and infuriating — especially if you're really looking forward to eating whatever is inside the jar. But why does this happen?
Sometimes, jars that have already been opened and refrigerated are even harder to open for the second time than they were the first.
When a jar is heat-processed, its contents expand, which causes the internal pressure to become lower than the atmospheric pressure outside the jar. This difference in pressure pulls the lid tight to the top of the jar, creating a vacuum seal. And while that's great for preventing contamination, it can also make the jar really hard to open.
Sometimes, jars that have already been opened and refrigerated are even harder to open for the second time than they were the first. That's because the cold makes the lid contract, which tightens the seal. This explains why running a jar under warm water can help loosen it up and make it easier to open.
But rest assured that stubborn lids may one day become a problem of the past — a Japanese glassmaker and an engineer from the Shibaura Institute of Technology have discovered how to make a glass jar that's easier to open. After studying men and women of all ages, from their 20s to their 80s, they found that the shape of a bottle and how it fits in the user's hands has a big impact on how difficult it is to open. They learned that a jar shaped like a parallelogram makes it easier to apply the necessary force to twist off the lid. They filed a patent on the idea in 2014, but until the design hits the market, at least you'll have your trusty jar opener.