It CAN Be Done!

It’s often the very simple two-handed tasks, when approached with one hand, that seem to morph into monstrously frustrating and anything but the simple tasks we used to know. Case in point, opening cans and jars.


Rosanna Radding,

It’s often the very simple two-handed tasks, when approached with one hand, that seem to morph into monstrously frustrating and anything but the simple tasks we used to know. Case in point, opening cans and jars. There was a moment in time when I was convinced opening a can or a jar with one hand was one of those impossible tasks. Alas, that was a short-lived notion. Once again, I invoke my mantra: with the right tools almost anything is possible.

There are numerous tools, in fact, that assist getting those particular jobs done with relative ease. Allow me to first address can-opening.



Fig. 1 The Zyliss one-handed automatic can opener

Fig. 2 A jar-key releases the vacuum from jars

Fig. 3 Non-slip material helps stabilize jars and cans

For 20 years I have been on a quest to find the best one-handed can opener. Last year, I believe I found it. It is the Zyliss one-handed, battery-operated can opener (fig 1). It sells for around $20 both online and in kitchen stores. To operate, position the device on the top of a can of virtually any size; press the big black button, which engages the motor, causing the blade to clamp onto the can; now stand back and watch it wobble around until the top is detached from the can. Press the button again to release the top from the opener. It’s a piece of cake! There are other brands, but I have found this one to be the most reliable.

With jar opening there are several options. My favorite is the jar-key (fig 2), which looks like a bottle opener. It releases the vacuum on jar lids, which then can be opened more easily. Once the vacuum is popped, I can set the jar down on a piece of nonslip material (fig 3),

Fig. 4 An under-mount jar opener

Fig. 5 A one-handed automatic jar opener

press downward so the jar doesn’t move around and then I can often open it with one good twist. Another way to hold a jar to be opened is to sit down in a chair. Wrap a piece of nonslip material around the vacuum-popped jar, hold the jar tightly between your knees and turn the top to open.

If that method doesn’t work for you, there are jar openers that one can secure to the underside of a kitchen cabinet (fig 4). These gadgets have a “V” shaped metal blade with little gripping teeth along the inside edges. You push the jar as far into the “V” as is necessary to get a good grip on it and twist. Of course, popping the vacuum first with a jar-key helps a lot!

Lastly, just recently I’ve found a Hamilton Beach one-handed, battery-operated jar opener (fig 5). It looks and operates like the Zyliss can opener. Start with the device arms fully open. Position the opener on the jar, press the open-jar button to grip the jar and the lid and it tightens down and opens the lid. Once opened, press the release-lid button. The right tool at the right time can make all the difference in the world!

This information is provided by the American Stroke Association as a resource. Listing of these products should not be construed as a recommendation or endorsement by the American Stroke Association.

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