My Greatest Fear #52: Being Unable to Open a Jar

Fire-Grilled-Salsa-047aThere are certain disadvantages that come with (a) living alone and (b) having conspicuously weak wrists.

Yesterday I had a fresh jar of Hacienda salsa that was asking to be sampled. But when I tried to open it, it simply would not budge.

I tried all the usual tricks: I tapped on the lid with a knife. I banged it on the sink. I twisted it with a rubber grip. I stared it down. I walked away as if disinterested and then sprinted back to the jar to catch it off guard. I called it names. I threatened it with things that cannot be unsaid.

I’ve never had a jar this hard to open. After 10+ minutes of trying to get it open, I gave up. I legitimately though that it just wasn’t going to happen.

Because really, what am I going to do? Go door to door in my apartment building asking for strangers to open the jar? When I lived together with a girlfriend years ago, she would open jars after I loosened them. But there’s no option like that when you live alone.

After letting my wrist rest for a while, I gave it one last try…and much to my relief, it opened! Disaster averted.

What would you have done?


14 Responses to “My Greatest Fear #52: Being Unable to Open a Jar”

  1. Jason says:

    Words are powerful—not tough enough for fresh salsa, though. Did you try sweet talking it in its native tongue?

    If one rubber grip doesn’t work, I add an extra rubber grip on the counter (placing the jar on top of it). In dire straights, I’ll run the lid under hot water. …Something about thermal expansion and how heat responds to metal versus glass.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I did plead with it for a while, but I should have tried more direct sweet-talking.

      Thanks for the tip about the water! I’ll try that next time.

  2. Jasmin says:

    ” I banged it on the sink.” That’s brave, Jamey. I would never bang a jar in case it breaks and make me waste the content in it. Makes me sad. Glass shards and food don’t exactly mix well.

    I use a knife or spoon and pry around the edge until I hear that very satisfying and tiny hiss/pop sound(s). Once a little bit of air is in the vacuumed jar, the lid is very easy to open.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I banged it upside down on the metal part–I didn’t want it to break either! 🙂 I’ll try the knife-under-the-lid method next time.

  3. jewelyaz says:

    Been there. Several options, probably don’t need them all. LOL These are in no particular order.
    1. Put it in the freezer for a few minutes.
    2. (My favorite tried and true) Slide the blade of a butter knife between the bottom of the rim of the lid and the jar. Find a spot where the threads don’t obstruct the knife’s path so that you can get the knife right up to the big flat surface of the lid. Then push on the knife slowly with a bit of pressure. What you’re trying to do is get just enough air into the jar to pop the vacuum seal. This works best with commercially-sealed jars like spaghetti sauce and jelly.
    3. Home canning jars are usually quite easy if you’re just opening the seal; use a flat knife and know that they are not supposed to go back on the jar once it’s opened. The rings should NOT be placed back on the jars after the lids are set and sealed because they can rust in place. If that’s happened, the butter knife trick sometimes works to pop ’em loose.
    4. Sometimes I swear.
    5. Sometimes I tap the jar gently against the counter.
    6. Just give up and eat something else. LOL

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I think my favorite is #6 here, but I appreciate the freezer and knife advice too! I’ll try those next time.

  4. RodeoClown says:

    I’m with Jason, run the lid under hot water until it’s warm to the touch, it makes the metal expand juuuuuust a little, but it’s enough to make it much easier to open.

  5. rupertfuller says:

    My other half just punctures the lid with the point of a sharp knife, only issue being you have to ‘de-jar’ into a sealable container if you don’t use the whole contents, though I suppose you could cling film it.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Rupert: It’s a pretty thick lid–I don’t know if I have a knife that could handle it. But I’m impressed you have a knife that sturdy!

  6. Have you considered buying one of those long-handled jar openers that they sell for arthritic people? If that’s not manly enough, you could get yourself a strap wrench, and keep it in your toolbox.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Adam: Ha ha, that’s awesome. I like the idea of having more items on hand that old people use to make life easier. If I see a good deal on one of those, I would seriously consider it.

      • Chance R. says:

        Or double duty of a pair of channel lock pliers in a large enough size have worked for me on a number of occasions.

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