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July/August 2016

Canning Jar Lifters

Canning jar lifters are essential for home canning. To find the very best one, we tested four nationally available models, priced from about $6 to about $11, lifting filled cup, pint, and quart jars into and out of a boiling water bath.

How We Tested

Canning jar lifters are essential for home canning—their curved grabbing arms are specifically designed to get a firm hold on a glass jar’s cylindrical shape. (Kitchen tongs don’t open wide enough or have the right contours to do the job.) To find the very best one—a lifter that was comfortable, secure, and strong—we tested four nationally available models, priced from about $6 to about $11, lifting filled cup, pint, and quart jars into and out of a boiling water bath. To simulate extended use, we repeatedly opened and closed each lifter and washed them 10 times.

Two of the lifters, from Fox Run and Norpro, shared the classic design: stiff, rounded bars for handles and curved, rubber-coated arms for grabbers. Both worked well with cup and pint jars, but with heavier quart jars, their handles dug into our hands, and their hold on the jar felt a bit insecure. A third lifter, from Weck, deviated from this design by having four tiny feet (two on each side) to hold the jar. This lifter grabbed with less security because the feet only touched the jars at four small points instead of curving around them for a full, strong grip. They were also harder to line up properly for a secure hold.

The Ball Secure-Grip Jar Lifter was the clear standout. Its broad, ergonomic handles felt comfortable even when lifting full quart jars, and its wide, molded jar grips provided extra surface contact for an exceptionally secure grasp. But our favorite feature was the spring-loaded hinge that popped the grabbers back open whenever the user released the handles. This turned a two-handed job into a one-handed one (no more prying the lifters back open to grab the next jar) and meant less time laboring over a pot of boiling water.

Methodology

We tested four nationally available jar lifters, priced from $6.32 to $10.99. The lifters were purchased online and appear in order of preference. Stability: We used each lifter to move cup, pint, and quart jars (filled with water and sealed) into and out of a 20-quart canning pot filled with boiling water. Those with more secure grips on all jar sizes rated higher.

Ease of Use: We rated how smoothly and easily the lifters opened and closed and how easily they aligned to grab the jars.

Comfort: This is a measure of how comfortable the lifter’s grips were; grippy lifters that caused no discomfort (especially with heavier jars) rated higher.

Durability: We washed each lifter 10 times in the dishwasher or by hand (per manufacturers’ recommendations), leaving the lifters damp overnight to check for rusting. Lastly, we opened and closed each lifter 50 times, tugging hard on the handles, to check for durability. Rust-resistant lifters that remained intact rated higher.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.