A struggle-free method for opening stubborn lids

and a roundup of some of my must-have pantry staples

Hello!

The food world is buzzing about another truly unfortunate BA scandal, so I, like many of my cooking compadres, have jarred and canned food on my mind. This week’s tip will help you enjoy *ahem* safely canned items, and we’ll get to it, but first, a very loosely related tale about my romantic past:

In 2014, I met and became quite smitten with a handsome PhD student who was training to run a marathon in a time that would qualify him to race in the Boston Marathon (read: very fast). I wanted him to think I was a person with “grit” and “strength” and “determination” so I decided I would work my way toward completing an equally impressive athletic feat: one single pull up. I very earnestly thought my intention to do ahhhh pull up was as lofty a goal as the 26.2 mile long run he planned to complete in under three hours. Cute.

After countless pushups and other fitness things (I can’t even remember what those things might be now), I did manage to hoist my chin over a metal bar without assistance. Once, and then never again. And was the young, speedy man impressed? Well, we’re married now, so something must have caught his attention. Who’s to say it wasn’t that single pull up in the summer of 2014 that did it for him?

I tell you this protracted tale of my romance-tinged delusional fitness goal to make it abundantly clear that I’m not working with much in the way of upper body strength. But ever since this particular kitchen hack came into my life, me and my spaghetti noodle arms haven’t once employed the assistance of another, less pasta-limbed person in cracking open the lid of a stubborn jar.

To open a jar with *the audacity* to be tightly sealed, use a butter knife.

As a millennial, I’ve consumed enough infographics and lengthy thought pieces about burnout to understand that there’s obviously nothing wrong with asking for help. But then again, and at the risk of sounding a little #girlbossy, feeling self sufficient in the kitchen is definitely empowering. So with that in mind…

Here’s how:

  1. Ready your sealed jar (this trick is specifically for never-opened jars because it targets the vacuum seal, which is often the culprit of the unreasonable tightness) and grab a butter knife. Warning: It must be a butter knife, not anything with an actual sharp edge. It should also not be your grandmother’s silver. Repeat: must not be sharp or expensive!

  2. Slip the buttering end of your knife in the small space between the lid and the and the glass. The knife will now be at an angle where the handle end is tilted away from the jar

  3. Move the handle end of the knife slowly toward the jar until you hear a pop. This is the vacuum seal releasing. You’re using leverage to slightly shift the shape of the lid, which releases the vacuum seal. If you’re not hearing a pop within a couple seconds, move the knife to another area under the lid and try again, repeating until you hear the pop.

  4. Unscrew your jar with ease and do a happy dance. This trick also usually works with an old fashioned manual can/bottle opener if you have one.

If you need inspiration to test this tip, here is an incomplete list of some of my most beloved jarred items, may of which are pictured above:

  • I love to sneak bread and butter pickles into sandwiches, onto cheese boards, and into various mayo-based salads.

  • Grainy mustard takes most salad dressings from good to very, very great.

  • These anchovies are good and relatively affordable. I like them on buttered toast.

  • A martini wants a good olive, and me and the writer of this very niche blogspot blog agree that these are unexpectedly sublime.

  • Another sleeper hit from Trader Joe’s is the Salsa Autentica. Given Joe’s spotty track record, it’s likely not actually authentic, but certainly is delicious.

  • Marinated sun dried tomatoes are so much better than their dried counterparts.

  • The Cadillac of tomato sauce is expensive, but worth the occasional splurge in my opinion.

  • The world of kimchi is vast, but this brand has never failed me.

  • I couldn’t find my standard brand of preserves at the market so bought these instead and was more than happily surprised.

  • The aforementioned speedy love interest is a big fan of a Manhattan and these cherries are his favorite.

And just like that, we’ve covered an unhinged (unscrewed??) fitness x romance tale, a list of truly delicious jarred foodstuffs, and another very useful kitchen tip. As always thanks for coming along for the ride. If you want more meal prep-specific tips and an expertly curated menu on Fridays, read more about the paid subscription here, or…

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With love and a tip of my chef’s hat,

Erica

Want more? I’m so flattered! You can also follow me on Instagram or check out my blog where you can find my tip-laden e-book collection.

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