How to Open the Stuck Lid of a Canning Jar

Once upon a time, the dilemma of how to open the stuck lid of a canning jar – or any jar, for that matter – posed quite a challenge of strength. And sometimes the challenge seemed to require the use of dexterity, cunning, and wit, too.

Thankfully, those days are over.

Now I know how to open a stuck canning jar – and every other jar – regardless of size, shape, or origin. It couldn’t be simpler.

Dexterity is no longer required because gravity is on my side.

Cunning is no longer required because gravity is on my side.

Even wit is no longer required because gravity is still on my side.

As long as I have solid ground to stand on, the problem of how to open the stuck lid of a canning jar is no longer a problem.

And opening the stuck lid of a sticky jar is no longer a problem, either.

All this because gravity is on my side. And so is the power of a vacuum.

No, not the machine you use to suck the dirt out of your carpet. I’m talking about the power of the vacuum that exists as an element of the world of physics. The absence of air. The absence of everything.

As your high school physics teacher said, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” (And when it comes to housework, I do, too.)

But I’ve learned to appreciate harnessing the power of that physical vacuum and I enjoy using the power of gravity to do so.

Here’s how I employ the use of those three elements – solid ground to stand on, gravity, and a vacuum – to open the stuck lid of a canning jar:

I place the jar firmly in one hand (two hands if the jar is really big).

I place my feet squarely and firmly on the solid ground before me. The ground must be hard and smooth – no lawn, carpet, gravel, or other soft or uneven surfaces.

I turn that jar upside down (thanks, gravity!) and bang it squarely and evenly upon that hard surface.

I listen for a shrill but hollow-sounding click!

The magic sound of the click tells me that the vacuum seal has been broken and all it takes now is a light and easy twist of the wrist to open the jar that had been so troublesome a mere bang ago.

I must confess. This doesn’t always work on the first bang. Sometimes I bang the bothersome jar unevenly on the solid ground. This doesn’t work. The jar must hit the surface squarely and evenly in order to release the vacuum seal.

Sometimes I don’t bang the jar onto the floor with the solid strength of determination. This is no time for delicacy.

And sometimes this technique can be startling to a newcomer to the practice. We’re afraid to shatter the glass. We are timid. Cautious.

Don’t be.

It doesn’t take velocity or a great deal of strength to get the jar open. It just takes the right amount of force and the squarely even meeting of the two surfaces to break the seal.

The magic sound – and it will seem like magic once you get the hang of it – actually sounds like the glass rim of the jar might have been broken. It wasn’t. Only the vacuum seal was broken. The canning band around the jar, or the securely stuck sides of a jar from the supermarket, will prevent the glass from breaking. It won’t even crack.

With practice, you’ll be able to know by the sound of it when the seal is broken and when another bang on the floor is needed.

And there are two benefits to using this technique for how to open the stuck lid of a canning jar. First, you’ll quickly and easily get the lid off the jar.

And secondly, the looks on the faces of anyone watching will be amusing beyond compare. And they’ll be so excited to learn your secret once you’ve shared it with them!

My favorite answer for how to open the stuck lid of a canning jar? It’s a matter of science.

 

How to brew organic Kombucha tea

Kombucha tea, also known as Manchurian tea or mushroom tea, is a fermented tea which is said to offer many health benefits.

If you are interested in making your own Kombucha, you will first need to obtain a starter, a pancake-like living colony of yeast and bacteria. You may be able to find Kombucha starters on the Internet, but ideally you should get a fresh one from a friend who is already brewing their own mushroom tea.

Equipment

Kombucha is very acidic, so you will need a cooking pot made of acid resistant material, and a one gallon fermentation container of acid-resistant material such as china or glass.  You will also need a wooden spoon to stir the mixture, clean cloths to protect the fermenting mixture from contamination, and glass bottles for storing the finished tea.

Ingredients

Kombucha is produced by brewing black or green tea, adding sugar to feed the mushroom, then leaving it to ferment for between one and two weeks.  If you wish to ensure that your Kombucha is a hundred percent organic, use organic green tea, African red bush tea, or herb tea, and use organic honey as a sweetener.

Procedure

Cleanliness is crucial when you are preparing your Kombucha, so always wash your hands and all your equipment thoroughly.

To begin, boil two quarts of water in a large stainless steel or heatproof glass pot.

Add 6 teabags or 6 teaspoons of loose tea and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.

Remove tea bags or strain out loose tea, stir in a cup of honey, and pour the tea into a china, glass or pottery container.

Add the “mushroom” starter, cover with a clean cloth (a tea towel is ideal), and leave for between 7 and 14 days. The longer you leave the tea to ferment, the more acidic it will become.

Pour most of the fermented liquid into glass bottles, leaving one cupful behind to maintain the starter, and store you fermented tea in the fridge.

You are now ready to prepare another batch.

You will notice that your “mushroom” will gradually thicken and eventually you will be able to peel a new mushroom away from the “mother” and pass it on to a friend.

If your culture becomes dark brown or becomes contaminated with mould, throw it away and use a new culture.

There is some debate about the benefits of drinking a cup of Kombucha tea every morning. It is supposed to detoxify the system and provide a general feeling of well being. It is also something of an acquired taste, and could possibly also cause allergic reactions.

So prepare carefully and use with caution.

Kids Love Eggplant with these Delicious Tricks

What makes eggplant great to cook with is its mild flavor and its ability to take on the flavors of the other ingredients.  Eggplant is a versatile vegetable, an excellent wheat/pasta alternative and is a good source of fibre, potassium, manganese and copper.  The key to getting kids to like eggplant is making a good impression the first time.  If you serve eggplant as boiled glop with nothing to flavor it, kids will connect their repulsion of that dish to any dish containing eggplant.  So choose delicious ingredients and go for familiar dishes first where eggplant is not the key feature or flavor.  Utilize the shape of the eggplant, whether you make long slices for lasagna or wheels for mini pizzas, eggplant provides a variety of choices.  Let’s take a look at 3 good recipes to introduce eggplant to kids.

1. Eggplant Lasagna: 

This dish is usually very popular with kids, and it can easily be tailored to suit a variety of dietary concerns, be it wheat-free, gluten-free or vegetarian.  Soy cheese could even be substituted if lactose intolerance is a concern.  The key here is that a variety of savory ingredients conceal the limited flavor of the eggplant while utilizing its shape and texture quite nicely.

2. Eggplant Mini Pizzas: 

Here again, a few simple ingredients and utilizing the shape of the eggplant leads to delicious mini pizzas.  The author here also cites the versatility of both eggplant and the recipe.  The eggplant is a bit more exposed, but nonetheless, still a very background flavor to the other ingredients which could include meat, cheese and a variety of spices and herbs.

3. Eggplant parmesan:

There’s a pattern here.  Cheese is a great cover for eggplant.  But also, a good tomato sauce and a few herbs make this dish brilliant.  Don’t want the breading?  Lightly grill the eggplant instead.  Don’t have all the ingredients for the parmesan?  Use the breading to make it a “schnitzel”, a vegetarian version.

Once eggplant becomes accepted as a part of normal eating, feel free to experiment and try a few recipes with eggplant a little more exposed.  But in the beginning, first impressions are crucial, and if the kids like the dish, don’t be afraid to use it on multiple occasions.  Cheese, meat, herbs, tomato sauce, breading, these are all your friends when trying to make eggplant a little more palatable for the kids.  Use the flavors and ingredients they already like to ease them into the idea of eating eggplant, and don’t overemphasize the fact that the dish contains eggplant, just treat it like normal.  Of course, the wonderful thing is, these recipes are not just delicious for kids, they’re delicious for adults too!

Italian Food Recipes Chicken Scarpariello

My Italian-American roommate (actually, my landlord) introduced me to this recipe, which he remembers, was made famous locally by Frank Sinatra’s chef (hence, the name: chicken scarpariello). As what is typical with Italian-sounding meals, the pronunciation sounds way different from the spelling (check it out from your favorite dictionary), but the meal is simply juicy and appetizing. My roommate also tells me that this is believed to be a “poor-man’s meal,” with 3 main ingredients: chicken, garlic, and lemon juice.  We even checked out online recipes; he was surprised to see a number of liberal variations made by other chefs on the meal. Some even add sausages to make it tastier.

To make this particular recipe we recently had at home for dinner, please prepare the following ingredients:
5 pieces of chicken thighs, with skin, cut to smaller chunks
3 whole peppers, cored, sliced and diced
9 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium-sized onion, minced
4 tablespoons of butter
15 tablespoons of lemon juice – adjust according to quantity of chicken
1 cup of white wine
2 cups of regular flour
1 cup of olive oil

1) Boil the chicken cuts for at least 1 hour in medium fire. When done, drain the broth but keep 2 cups for use later. Let the chicken cool down.

2) Flour the chicken. Pour olive oil in your frying pan, set fire to medium. When oil is hot, start frying the chicken. Fry until the chicken cuts have been lightly browned. When done, drain excess oil from the chicken and set aside in the meantime.

3) Saute the garlic and onions in the same pan you have used in browning the chicken, using the same olive oil. After which, toss in the minced peppers, and stir.  Add in the butter, then followed by the white wine. Saute for at least 5 minutes, and add in the chicken broth, and stir. Turn off fire.  This will be the main sauce of this meal.

4) Set oven at 350 degrees.

5) On a roasting pan that has aluminum foil on it, set in place the chicken cuts. Then pour all the sauted ingredients from the frying pan onto the chicken cuts.

6) Give the chicken parts ample dash of the lemon juice – this will give the chicken its tangy flavor.

7) Bake for at least 1 hour.

This is good for 4 persons. Make sure you serve this meal while hot, and with your favorite side dish. Enjoy!

Note: adjust the recipe by giving the chicken a dash of salt to taste. We usually don’t put salt while cooking our meals at home.

In-depth guide to wild morel mushrooms

Wild mushroom season starts as early as March, depending on the weather, and ends as late as October or November in some places, again depending on the weather. Anyone who likes store-bought button mushrooms would probably love wild morels. They make for an enjoyable outing and best of all, in most places, they are free.

Safety

Safety needs to be stressed at the outset. Some mushrooms like the morel are very difficult to mistake for any other mushroom. Other mushrooms, such as the Chanterelle, have several look-a-likes and not all of them are good or safe to eat. It is advisable for even veteran mushroom pickers to have handy a field guide to mushrooms that includes color plates. For the beginner, it is a good idea to go mushroom picking with someone who is experienced. Never eat a mushroom if you don’t know exactly what kind it is and that it is safe to eat.

Growing location

Morels grow, sometimes in great profusion, in most of the conifer forests of Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest. They are common in many areas of the US and Canada, including in deciduous forests. In Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and Northern California, they can be found in such numbers in the fir and pine forests that it isn’t uncommon to fill a five gallon bucket with morels in two hours or less. This is the reason that the Pacific Northwest is known as the morel capital of the world.

Morels will nearly always be found in areas where the ground has been disturbed during the previous year or two. This makes old wildfire areas prime morel areas, but don’t overlook deer trails, logging roads or other similar places where ground has been disturbed.

Growing conditions

Morels will generally only grow where there is surface moisture, whether from melted snow, rain, dew or other sources. They don’t do well in very dry areas nor in boggy areas. They prefer shady areas that do get some sunshine, so it is common to find them growing next to trees that have fallen, or under trees. Many people have the greatest luck in finding them in mixed fir and pine forests, where firs dominate, and they tend to be more often found near fir trees or fir dead fall. This makes it valuable to periodically bend or stoop when looking for morels. Looking at different angles can sometimes let you see morels that you might otherwise miss entirely.

They can also be found in deciduous forests, but seldom in nearly as great a profusion since they are acid loving fungi. Many people have firmly believed that morels love broad-leafed plants, but have been totally amazed at the number of mushrooms they’ve found in pine and fir forests.

Life cycle

Mushrooms like the morel start from a spore. This puts out very fine roots, called mycelium, each strand likely to be smaller than a human hair. These grow and inter-mesh, often very close to the surface of the ground, as they take in nutrients from decaying vegetation. This is important to know for a couple reasons. First, the root system can be several feet across and second, it may put up more than one fruiting body. If you find a morel, scour the area nearby. There could very well be other morels growing there.

Mushroom size and appearance

Like button mushrooms, the morel grows in various sizes. Most are fairly small, but some people have found white morel that had almost ten-inch caps. It is the cap that is the good part, and it is easy to pinch or snap the morels off just below the cap, when collecting them. The cap itself is conical in shape, with many many holes, unlike most other mushrooms. Naturally, the smaller ones are a little harder to see, and making it even more difficult, they will often look like pine and fir cones at first glance. Still, they are occasionally found in staggering numbers.

Storage

Be sure to store the morels in water or an ice chest as soon as feasible, as they are usually moderately delicate. You don’t want to lose any flavor or to have them going bad. They last well, but older morels do often lose flavor.

Morels can be preserved in a number of ways. They can be air dried. They will readily rehydrate by soaking them in water. They can be canned. And they can be frozen. Many people prefer the latter, since they are similar to fresh mushrooms when they are thawed out for use. To freeze them though, you should blanch them first. This keeps the flavor fresh. You can blanch them by frying them in hot grease or butter for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, or by cooking them about the same length of time in boiling water. Let them cool for a few minutes, but then freeze them immediately to preserve the flavor.

For smaller morels, cut the cap width-wise in about 1/2 inch slices, before preparing them for freezing. The larger morels are superb for stuffing with such things as meat, cheese, a combination of both or whatever else you might want, since the caps are hollow. For these, blanch them whole. Also, it is helpful to know that when cooking, morels don’t shrink like button mushrooms will, so a smaller amount will go farther.

Morels are one of the easiest to identify of the mushrooms, so it is hoped that more people will keep their eyes open for them. This mushroom tends to come up in the early spring, after the ground has warmed and doesn’t cool appreciably at night. They are fun to find, and even more pleasurable to eat. 

How to tell if a Pineapple is Ripe

It is not hard to tell if a pineapple is ripe or not. You just need to use your senses properly and conclude correctly. Here I will show how you can diagnose a closed pineapple from its symptoms. Yeah, it is really like doctors job before they send you for x-ray. You can use the look of pineapple, its softness, its smell, and its weight to tell if it is the pineapple you are looking for or not.

Pineapple look: Well this is a very important step for choosing ripe pineapple. Unripe pineapple skin has more green color than yellow, and the green color is very pure. A rape pineapple skin color has less green color and more golden yellow color plus the green color is not very pure and it is a bit brownish. From far an unripe pineapple looks green but a ripe pineapple looks more brownish green. From close look the skin of an unripe pineapple has very sharp edges and the leaves of pineapple looks very fresh, but for a ripe pineapple the edges are not so sharp and leaves look older.

Pineapple softness: Now after looking at pineapple, it is time to pick it up and sense it in hand. If you press a ripe pineapple skin edges – the part which is more golden –  it should be soft. If the edge is hard, the pineapple is not ripe.

Pineapple smell: Well this check is a bit hard and may be different from one person to another one. If you smell a unripe pine apple you should smell the some sort of fresh smell which is not the case when you are face with a ripe pineapple. If this test is hard to do for you just stick to the look and softness tests and you will be happy with the result.

Pineapple weight: Another tricky test is to feel the weight of the pineapple. When you pick up and pineapple and move it up and down in you hand, if you fill that it is as heavy as if you had the same amount of water in your hand then the pine apple is ripe if not the pineapple is most probably not ripe. Again if you think this test is hard to do just try with the first two tests.

If most of the above mentioned tests passed for the pineapple, then you can be pretty sure that your pineapple is a ripe one and it will not disappoint you later on in the house in front of your family and guests.