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Tips on preparing food

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Opening jars

You may wish to add a little to the comments about opening jam jars. One maker of jams and marmalades, Duerr’s, has easy-open lids. There is a slip ring around the lid which when turned prises off the sealing lid. It is really easy to use. I have gradually collected a few of these lids and they are ideal for re-use when making jam and marmalade at home.
Patrick Fisher, via email

The most effective and pain-free way to open jars is a gadget called the One Touch jar opener by Culinare. It costs less than £20 and it is magic!
Judy Sealey, via email

Put the metal lid of the jar in about ¾ full max of hot (not boiling) water for a couple of minutes in any convenient bowl, this expands the metal a bit but not the glass, making it easy to open.
R Rowland, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

I found out how to open jars by trial and error as I am unable to grip the jar with my left hand which is required with most gadgets. Wrap a thick towel around the jar, push it against the wall or something solid and then tap all round the lid with a small hammer or kitchen scissors. You will then find the lid comes off easily. 
Dorothy Odds, Chatham, Kent

Wear a rubber glove (washing up type) to open a jar. I find it does help.
Mary Hamilton, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 38 years and have never, until now, found a satisfactory jar opener. I have recently been given the battery-operated Culinaire One Touch jar opener, which is wonderful. The company’s details are:

DKB Household Ltd
Bridge House, Eelmore Road
Hants, GU14 7UE
Janet Oliver, South Brent, Devon

My late wife had very bad osteoarthritis so I am used to the question of gadgets. In any case, even if one is still fit, why let things be more difficult that they need to be? So I use the opportunity to mention gadgets for another of her challenges – opening jars. There is always the well-tried method of running hot water (boiling if necessary) over the lid for some time. This heats the air in the jar, increasing the pressure. I also have a gadget resembling a monkey wrench but with much longer rows of teeth and a much wider and adjustable jaw. Above all, remember to turn or resist in the right direction (lid anticlockwise, jar clockwise). 
Mr C Aub-Robinson, Thurso, Caithness 

I was horrified to read the suggestion that someone should pour possibly boiling water over a jar to open it, and felt it very dangerous. A much better way is to pour some very hot or boiling water into a plastic basin and stand the jar upside down in it for a short time. Much safer, and just as effective.
Freda Richardson, via email

No need to pour boiling water over a jar to open it – just hold the lid part of the jar under the hot tap for a moment or two, or, with the back of a stainless steel knife, tap the sides of the lid sharply two or three times – vertically – on the sides. This releases the pressure and the lid turns quite easily. If you put chunky rubber bands on the lid and the jar this gives a better grip – you can also do this with bottle tops and plastic bottles. I also have kitchen scissors which have semi-circular ridged ‘grippers’ as part of the handles. These are excellent for opening plastic or other bottle tops – again rubber bands help the grip.
Jenny Slee, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

My life was transformed when I bought a Jar Key from Amazon (Lakeland and John Lewis have them too). They only cost £2 or £3 and look a bit like a plastic bottle opener but are brilliant at opening jam jars, pickled cucumber jars, mayonnaise jars etc., and only need minimal pressure to break the vacuum on the lid. I have sent them to friends and family who have painful hands and they think they are wonderful too! I had a Culinare One Touch jar opener and hated it as it tended to make lids fly off the jar and did not fit every is now in the bin.
Carolyn Jones, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester

Opening cans

I struggle to open cans with ring pulls and have tried a number of different devices with no avail. I recently obtained a whale-shaped opener that seems to do the job. You need to lift the ring pull slightly away from the tin, which I find easy enough to do with a knife, and then slot the ring into the whale’s mouth and use the tummy as a lever. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I got it from, so this is a bit of a plea for information as I want to buy another as a back-up!
Dr Sally Brush, Cerrigydrudion, Corwen, North Wales

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