Most times we can open jars of food with little to no problem, a bit of pressure is applied as we’re twisting and then “pop”, the tight vacuum seal is broken and the lid comes off with ease. Occasionally though it just won’t budge, even after bringing some serious muscle power to the job…so how does one remove them?
Here are a few different ways to open stubborn jar lids:
- Take a butter knife and give the metal a few good wacks along the top edge (turning the vessel incrementally while you hit it), this should help break the seal and make the top come off easily.
- Use the smooth edge of the knife (or the handle) and you’ll need to whack it (not light taps), but not so hard you shatter the glass.
- A metal spoon can be used instead.
- I consider this the best technique since it was my grandmother who taught me this method. It’s my “go-to” fix when problems arise, I’d say it has about a 99% “unstuck” success rate. Grannies always know!
- To improve traction, put on rubber or latex gloves so you can grip really well when twisting.
- A square of plastic wrap will work well too.
- Lightly moisten a dishcloth or towel and use that to grab hold of the top and twist, this also gives you more gripping power.
- Try breaking the seal by running the jar under hot water for up to a minute (tilt vessel down so the water can reach the underside of edge).
- Giving the top a few wacks with a butter knife while doing this can also help speed up the process.
- You can also put it upside down in a bowl of hot water (just an inch or so deep to cover the lid edge) and leaving for up to a minute before trying again.
- Rubber bands will do the trick too! You’ll need a wide one to place around the lid then grab hold of it to squeeze and twist.
- Not working? Try another wide rubber band, this time placing around the glass sides so you have two firm places for gripping.
- Keep a square of rubberized non-slip drawer and shelf liner in with your kitchen gadgets, this can also be used to give you more traction (drape over jar before twisting off).
- A silicone oven mitt will work the same & a comment below from Amberose recommends using a mousepad (clever!).
- Try giving the bottom a good wack with the heel of your open hand. You may need to do this a couple times.
- You could also tap the bottom on the countertop (cover with a towel first to prevent damaging the surface), do so with enough force to loosen the seal without shattering the glass.
If trying to open a stuck jar that has previously opened successfully, the airtight vacuum seal isn’t the problem. What’s likely happened is the food contents crusted shut because old syrup or sauce has solidified underneath and between the lid and glass rim.
Here’s How To Fix This:
- Soaking in hot water should do the trick (as mentioned above) since it will help soften the crusted goo and loosen things up.
- You might also need something for extra grip (such as a rubber glove, elastic band, etc.). To prevent this problem in the future, wipe rim with a clean damp cloth before twisting closed for storage.
Bonus: Helpful Tips From Readers
- Rita: The pointy end of a beer can opener turned upside down & pushing it gently under the cap until you hear a pop. Christine says a blunt knife can be used for this technique, K Brown recommends a teaspoon.
- Kelly & Jack both recommend poking a small hole in the top to release the pressure.
- Cheryl’s tool of choice: A strap wrench. She keeps one in the kitchen drawer for this very purpose.
- Mary cuts a long piece of masking tape, folds it in on itself (so sticky on both outer sides), wraps a strip around the lid & another around the glass sides. Two-sided tape works well too.
- Sam Bready: Sets the vessel in ice water & then applies heat to the top. The jar contracts slightly while the lid expands.
- Jenny: Had good luck with applying heat with a hair dryer while wacking with a butter knife.
Did I miss your tried and true? Please share in the discussion area below 🙂