Help! I need to get a jar of pasta sauce open but can't seem to budge it. I've tried using a dishtowel, and running it under hot water, but the lid is still stuck. What else can I do to open this jar?
Go around the edges, tapping the rim with the handle of a butter knife (leaving little dents). That should allow you to twist it off.
In future, if you're using a jar that you'll be emptying (like pasta sauce), the quickest way to open them is take a sharp, sturdy, pointed knife (or even a screwdriver), brace the jar well in a cloth, then carefully make a hole in the top of the lid (just place the point on it and give it a tap or two on the end of the handle). This breaks the seal of the jar, which is what makes it hard to open.
My favorite jar opener:
You just need a gentle lift to let a little air in and then you can remove the top bare-handed. The lid is not damaged (unless you use more force than necessary).
In a pinch, you can use channel-lock pliers to do the same thing. Hold the pliers "upside-down" so the longer jaw is under the edge of the jar lid and the other jaw is against the top and gently lift. A little air leaks in just as with the JarKey and then you easily open the jar by hand.
You need to depressurize it. It is very easy to do to simply take the pointed edge of a fork and jab the top of the container (the tin lid). Any small puncture made will work, once done the lid will open normally without any strenuous force. This method will work in the case where traction cannot force the lid open.
The OXO Good Grips Jar Opener works well for me. I have arthritis in my thumbs of all places.
For a few years I have used a Culinare One Touch Jar Opener. I bought one for my grandmother who was too weak to open jars herself and she loved it, and as I have a touch of RSI, thought I would get one for myself, it can open pretty much any straight sided jar - tad noisy, but very effective! (Amazon)