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Canning Jar Lifters

Published July 2016

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, all priced about $12.00 or less, 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.


We tested four nationally available jar lifters, all priced about $12.00 or less. 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.

The Results


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.


Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.


Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.


Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.


Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.


Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.