You know when it happens. It"s always at the point in your recipe when you need to pour in a specific, crucial ingredient – the bottle won"t open. The lid is stuck like glue, as if a circus strongman got to it or the lid-tightener machine in the factory went haywire. Laugh it off and consider your many options.

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One of the most effective ways to feel accomplished when a jar or bottle won"t open is to wrap some kind of rubber around the lid. It doesn"t have to be an official rubber jar opener. Any flat piece of rubber will work.

Some people keep a thick rubber band in a kitchen drawer just for this purpose. Rubber gloves will coat your hands in rubber so you can get a firm grip. If you embraced the silicone kitchen trend, a silicone trivet or pot holder will seem as if it was made for opening jars instead.

Sometimes a rough or nubby piece of cloth will do the trick: think dish cloth, hand towel or bar towel. If the cloth slips on the bottle, try dampening the cloth slightly. Don"t drench it; a little dampness can be enough to get a grip, while a soaking cloth will drip water all over everything and still may not solve the problem. Use your shirt if it"s handy – it"s already wet from working in the kitchen, right?

Somewhere back in time, you learned that hot water makes metal expand, and you thought, "When will I ever use this?" That time is now. Try running hot water on the top of the lid and listen for a pop as the lid expands. If you still can"t open the bottle cap, turn the bottle upside down in a bowl of very hot water.

For a really stubborn, stuck cap, fill a small pot with just enough water to cover the lid and the neck where it attaches and bring the water to a boil. Immerse the bottle in it upside down.

Insert the blunt, rounded end of a table knife under the cap and gently try to break the seal. Go ahead and try it a bit more forcefully. No luck? If you have a butter knife with a pointed end, try it the same way.

Insert a blunt-edged screwdriver between the lid and the glass and push up firmly. If that doesn"t do it, try the same with the pointed end of a beer bottle opener. Determined to open it even if it means sacrificing the lid? Puncturing a small hole in the lid with the sharp end of the opener releases the pressure in the jar, allowing the lid to open rather easily.

Many people swear by this method, though it"s a bit extreme. Hitting or banging an item that could shatter into a thousand pieces and splash its ingredients all over the walls and floors – and you, no doubt – just doesn"t seem smart.

If you"re that desperate, tap the center of the jar lid several times with a heavy utensil. Avoid hitting the bottom of the glass bottle with your hand – many have gone to the ER after that maneuver – and if you"re thinking of banging the jar lid on the counter or floor, take a deep breath and pause.

Maybe it"s time to throw in the towel and phone a friend. You know, that person who gives the lid a seemingly effortless twist while passing by, and presto – the bottle that wouldn"t open is open at last.

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Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area and writes about food for and She started baking on her own at age nine, creating appetizers at 10, and making family meals by 14. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh, where she often cooked elaborate meals and desserts for friends.