The ‘Brazilian’ Can Opener

Yes, today I am going to tell you a little bit about can openers or as they are called in portuguese abridor de latas. Why am I going to dedicate a post to can openers, or to be more specific, one type of can opener? To be honest, this can opener has given me a lot of headaches, took me a long time to master, and I have not seen it anywhere else besides Brazil. It has given my husband many an opportunity to poke fun at me because of my difficulty with learning how to use it. And lastly, every household in Brazil seems to have one of these simple can openers. So, if you are going to cook in Brazil you are going to need to learn how to use this abridor de latas.

1855 Lever-type can opener

1855 Lever-type can opener – the first can opener!

When I first came to Brazil in 2005 I was enthusiastically introduced to this can opener by my husband. I remember taking one look at it and saying “I prefer the normal one.’ Needless to say I didn’t learn how to use it in 2005 and only dared to try and use it several times in during the next eight years. You can guess that all of those embarrassing attempts resulted in me reaching for the normal can opener.

Now that I am settled in Brazil and on quite a few occasions have only had this can opener available to use I have had to learn to properly manipulate it so as to end-up with an open can. The first attempts were embarrassingly miserable. I tried to pierce the top of the can with the sharp blade-like end and couldn’t get it through the metal. Eventually I managed to pierce the top of the can and then struggled to cut the rest of it. Instead, I would jerk the can opener around, almost cut my fingers (if that is even possible with a can opener), and yell in frustration. But, eventually I managed to get the hang of it and now I am opening cans with this simple device in seconds!

To my surprise this is now the can opener that I first reach for when I need to open a can. Although I have now mastered the art of using this can opener I am still the butt of most jokes in the kitchen. My husband can’t refrain from having a laugh whenever I pull out this can opener to use!



14 thoughts on “The ‘Brazilian’ Can Opener

  1. This can opener is the death of me in the kitchen in Brazil. Really, why aren’t there easier ones to use??? Whenever we visit family there we always have two gifts to pass on: a can opener (a normal one, as you called it) and a potato peeler. For the tias and friends that actually start using them, they are amazed. But I think most just get put into a drawer and never seen again…


    • It is not an easy opener to use that’s for sure. You just have to take an afternoon and practice opening cans with it. Once you get the hang of it isn’t that bad but I still like the ‘normal’ one.


    • It is challenging. But now that I know how to use it I actually find myself teaching for it most times. Great to hear that you like my posts. I am loving the experience of learning to cook the many tiny foods here in Brazil.


  2. LOL. THAT can-opener is the Brazilian luxury version! Most folks around here still use knives to punch holes in cans and open them (which I refused flat-out to do with my good culinary knives that we had troubled to salvage from our US household goods when we moved). We bought one of those little ones pictured above and since it was cheaply made it doubled in half on the first can we tried! Yeargh. I finally bought a twist-the-handle can-opener on a visit to the States and packed it in my luggage. My husband found it recently in the the drawer and looked at it as if it were gold: “WHERE did you find this???” Apparently it’s not just us that can’t stand that little abridor.


    • I haven’t seen people using knives to open cans around where I live but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is common practice. Yes, the ‘normal’ can opener, as I call it, is definitely a luxury item…


  3. Lol!!,i live in the Caribbean and was introduced to it on a visit to brasil, likewise it took me a liitle while to get the hang of it. now, it is the ONLY can opener i use , its Brilliant and so easy, i have recently misplaced it and in looking for an image of it to try and get another i stumbled on this post ..thanks for posting and image, for i must get another, lol 😉


    • Glad you stumbled across this post. This is the can opener I use most now, but it definitely took sometime to learn how to use it. I hope you manage to replace yours soon!


  4. You actually CAN cut one of your fingers by using this item from the age of stones! Seriously, I understand why you said that you prefer the “normal” one. Whenever I watch a video related to food on YouTube, and I see the person using that “legit” can opener, I wish I could have one of those with me. In fact I know how to use ours (if I didn’t, how’d I open the cans?), but it took SOO long for me to learn! And I still cut my hand sometimes…


  5. I love this can opener! I had one from when I lived in Brazil and recently lost it. I haven’t found a way to replace it yet but I keep looking. Post here if someone finds a place to order them! I will too!


  6. I love what you write about our food and country. I actually love this can opener!. My friends and I missed it when we were in Omaha-NE – we had the same problem with a can opener we bought at wallmart.


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