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opening preserve jars

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I have a big problem opening old preserve jars with stewed fruit inside. The jars are the kind that have a rubber sealer band between the jar and the lid. normally you open by pulling the the jutting tab of the rubber ring. Unfortunately the rubber has become brittle with age and the tabs break off and the lids remain firmly on. Any ideas about how to open the jars without smashing them would be welcome!
post #2 of 21
1. If the jars are that old, I would be hesitant to want to eat what they contain.

2. If you are determined, you could hold the metal lid under hot running water to expand the metal. Try to keep the glass as cool as possible so it doesn't expand too. That way, you might be able to unscrew the jar lids (if they unscrew). If they're flat (like canning jar lids), you might try to carefully pry them off with a hand-held can opener (be careful not to chip the glass).

3. If it were me, I'd just throw them away.

post #3 of 21
I would hesitateto eat anything that has been sitting on the shelf long enough for the gasket to become dry and brittle. Everything has a shelf life - - easier to be safe than sorry. :look:
post #4 of 21
I'm really glad this came up. At Whole Foods last week, I bought a jar of Los GarcĂ­a (I think that's the brand) whole guavas. In a glass jar with a metal lid. For the life of me, I cannot open this jar!

I've tried the hot water.
I've tried the special devices for opening jars.
I've tried brute strength.
I've tried asking my male friends.

No luck. I just get to stare at the yummy guavas and drool.
post #5 of 21
Free Rider, did you try turning the jar upside down and "bopping the bottom of the jar with the side of your fist"? Usually the pressure is enough to break the seal and you should be able to open the jar. :lol:
post #6 of 21
Holysmoke may not be intending to eat the stewed fruit; these French-style preserve jars can be used year after year so long as you replace the rubber seal. It's a shame to throw away a perfectly good glass storage jar just because you don't fancy the contents.

For really stubborn jars where a vacuum keeps the glass lid glued tight shut, the best thing is to remove the metal ring or clip that keeps the lid in place and put the jar in a saucepan of cold water that comes two-thirds up its side, bring the water to the boil and leave it simmering for five minutes; as the contents warm up, the lid should gently pop open.

Poor Free Rider! Guavas are one of my favourite fruits, so I have every sympathy.
post #7 of 21
Hmm... although I did bop it quite a bit on the top and sides and just to prove to it that I was going to conquer it, I'm not sure I bopped the bottom of the jar. I'll try when I get home and report back. They sure are delicious looking guavas.
post #8 of 21
Is it a one piece top or two piece top? If it's a one piece top, take the dull side of a chef knife and indent it in three places. It should come off easily.

If it's a two piece top, remove the ring and pry it open with a butter knife.

You can also reverse the process by boiling the jar again.
post #9 of 21
My one is a one-piece.

I'll give those two suggestions a try too.
post #10 of 21
So far everybody's suggestion are great. The best ones though are:

1) Give that sucker a good fwap on the bottom with the palm of your hand (if you do it just right you'll actually hear the vacuum let up a little)

2) Whack the lid a couple good times with the dull edge of a heavy knife (chef's, butter, etc... whatever you got) and then give it a try.

If all else fails....Bust out the dremel tool. j/k
post #11 of 21
Let us know what works if you are successful. Depending on the age of the jar, the glass may or may not withstand the methods utilized to get the seal open.

You may also try inquiring at Homesteading and/or Harvest Forums where many of them can on a regular basis.
post #12 of 21
Well, I fwapped away at the bottom of the jar and no luck getting the vacuum to let up. :(

Other suggestions to be applied this weekend, but I have a feeling a trip to the garage for some prying devices will end up being the method that works.
post #13 of 21
I am assuming that your jar is the type with a hinged lid like the one pictured hereTry slipping a strurdy dull knife (butter knife or dinner knife) in between the seal and either the jar or the lid. Twist the knife. That should do it. Anyway, it works for me.

As for the safety: as long at the top was not tampered with, the contents are probably fine. Of course, if when you finally get the jar open the fruit seethes and bubbles and comes out after you, don't eat it. :p
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice - I'll try heating. In point of fact my jars come without any metal parts and I want to save them as they are very useful jars.

Free Rider, have you tried banging the underside edge of the metal screw-on lid downwards against the edge of the counter repeatedly with some force and on several sides of the lid? I found this method generally works well.
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
I tried heating the jars in a saucepan of boiling water and the system worked brilliantly. I was able to open and save all five jars. Thanks!
They are the reusable type with glass lids that have no sealing system except for the rubber ring.
post #16 of 21
Heres a tool dedicated to that problem, also for commercial foods that are tough to open.


They also have spice jar sized measuring spoons.


Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #17 of 21
I've still had no luck opening my jar. I'll have another go at it next weekend, when I have some more time for the fight.
post #18 of 21
Have you tired running hot water over the lid? The hot water will make it expand, so it may come off easier.

Let us know if you've had any luck with this.
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Get My Free Recipe Book - www.MyFreeRecipeBooks.com
post #19 of 21
That was the first thing I tried, to no avail. I will give the prying a try over the weekend, but I'm afraid I may break the glass jar.
post #20 of 21
All I can say is that must be some awfully tasty stuff inside that jar to spend this much time trying to get at it.

Man, I'd have thrown that jar out weeks ago by now! :)

post #21 of 21
Whole guavas. yum.
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