Are there reusable canning lids?
Maybe you already know the answer (yes, there ARE reusable canning lids!) but you’re wondering how to use them. Or you’re wondering if reusable canning lids actually work? Perhaps you want to know if reusable canning lids are as good as the disposable lids. You might also wonder if reusable canning lids are worth the cost. Here’s what you need to know about reusable Tattler canning lids.
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Yes, Virginia, you CAN reuse canning lids
This is one of the questions I hear often. It makes sense to wonder about reusing canning lids. After all, disposable lids are an annual expense and they’re kind of wasteful. The good news is that you can reuse canning lids and there are two ways to do it. The first way is to save disposable lids, thoroughly wash and sanitize them and use them (with a standard band) to cover canning jars. You cannot, unfortunately, use them in the canner more than once. But they are still very useful for storing things in jars that don’t need to be water bath or pressure canned.
I specifically use spent canning lids for storing refrigerator pickles, herb butters and herb salts and dry goods like beans. Any time I need to store something in a closed canning jar, I use an old lid.
Actual reusable canning lids
So reusing lids (albeit it NOT for canning) is one way to reuse canning lids. The second way is to buy canning lids that are made for multiple uses. I’m focusing on Tattler’s reusable canning lids because that’s the kind I use and have experience with. Sound too good to be true? It’s really not, these lids are the real deal. According to the packaging, Tattler’s white plastic lids are ‘infinitely reusable’ and the rubber sealing rings are good for years and years.
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How do reusable canning lids work?
The reusable lids work almost like disposable canning lids. You place the rubber seal inside the white plastic lid, then place them on the hot jar. Place a standard jar band over the lid, then turn the band until it’s ‘finger tight’. From there, it goes into the canner just like the standard lid and is processed the same way. When the processing is done, however, you must remove the jars immediately and manually tighten the band.
I find this easier to do when water bath canning but it’s not hard with the pressure canner. Just wait for it to depressurize, carefully open the canner (follow the manufacturer’s directions at all times) and then remove the jars. Use a thick towel or oven mitt to hold the hot jar and tighten the band. Easy as can be once you do it a couple of times.
Differences between reusable lids and disposable canning lids
Here’s a couple of important differences between reusable and disposable canning lids. First, Tattler specifies that both the lid and rubber seal should be ‘scalded’ prior to use. While the advice used to be to boil disposable lids, that changed in 2014 and is no longer recommended by manufacturers. The second difference, per Tattler’s instructions, is that the band should only be ‘finger tight’ on the jar before going into the canner.
‘Finger Tight’ bands
Tattler suggests making sure the band is ‘finger tight’ by turning the band on the jar until the jar starts to spin. In theory, the band on a Tattler lid shouldn’t be as snug (pre-canning) as on a disposable lid. Tattler lids needs to be slightly looser in order to release air during canning. In practice, I found very little difference in how tightly I turned the bands on jars with reusable lids vs. disposable lids.
There’s one BIG caution about getting Tattler lids on correctly, though. If they’re TOO loose, they will simply come off during canning. Often, disposable lids will form a vacuum seal from the hot jar contents even before they go in the canner, which keeps everything in place. I have not experienced this same vacuum seal with Tattler’s two piece lids, which makes sense.
Friends, an open jar makes about as big a mess in the canner as you’re imagining. I discovered I could use Tattler’s ‘band spinning’ method to put the bands on but that I needed to do a quick check before putting the jars into the canner. Do this just carefully and lightly lifting the band. If it pulls off the jar, it’s too loose. Tighten it just a bit more. As I noted above, I ultimately found I could get the jar band on correctly by simply turning it until it was secure but not fully sealed – just like disposable lids.
Do reusable canning lids actually seal?
Now we're getting down to the real questions. And the answer is yes, absolutely. My sealing rate for Tattler lids is consistent with my sealing rate for disposables. There's no satisfying 'ping' as the jars seal but they certainly seal just as firmly. I was a little skeptical with my first batch but once I took the bands off, it was clear those jars were sealed tight.
Like disposable lids, store jars with Tattler lids without metal bands.
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Are reusable canning lids cost effective?
This is a really valid question. Let's look at the numbers.
I paid about $.83 per regular mouth lid and rubber seal. Remember, one of the best ways to save money on canning supplies is to order early, prices are usually lower. But Lehman's generally sells Tattler lids for around the same cost. Disposable canning lids cost anywhere from $.30-$.60, or more if you're trying to buy them in peak season.
On the surface, of course, the reusable lid is more expensive. But it will only take three uses for the reusable lid to more than pay for itself! If you plan to can food every year, buying reusable lids is going to save you money very quickly.
Let's look at the big picture numbers
Say you can 100 jars of food each year. You'd need to buy 9 boxes of reusable lids and seals, $19.99 per box of 12, for a total cost of $180. It would also take 9 boxes of disposable lids, at a cost of $6.99 per box, for a total cost of $62. For a single year, clearly it's cheaper to buy the disposables. But your cost to can 100 jars of food for Year 1 and Year 2 would be $124. By year 3, you'd have spent around $186.
It's clear that by your third year of canning, the reusable lids would have paid for themselves and by year 4, you'd be saving $62 per year. So while the reusable lids are a bigger expense up front, they'll save you money long term.
While the plastic lids are 'infinitely reusable', the rubber seals might need to be replaced eventually. They are available for purchase separately and cost $.60 per ring. So eventually, you may incur some additional costs to replace seals. Assuming you get at least 6-8 uses out of the seals (which seems to be the lower end of their lifespan, per other bloggers), the reusable lids will still be more cost effective.
When reusable lids aren't cost effective
There's one time reusable lids will definitely not save you money. If you give away or sell your canned food, you'll likely have a harder time offsetting the increased cost. For those situations, disposable lids are the way to go.
One more thing about reusable lids
This might be really obvious but...since they're reusable, you don't have to buy them again. If you've struggled to find canning lids during peak season (or you were canning in 2020) then you already know how frustrating it is to have food and jars but no lids. Investing in reusable lids means you'll be able to can everything you want, no matter what happens with the supply chain.
And, of course, every time you use a reusable lid, you're helping reduce waste in both manufacturing and trash/recycling.
A few tips and tricks for using reusable canning lids
- use a small pan or glass measuring cup full of boiling water to hold and scald the lids and seals while you fill jars
- double and triple check that the band is on the jar tightly enough - but not too tight- before you put them into the canner
- dry erase markers are a great way to label jars - the maker wipes right off the white plastic lids
- shop early in the year and buy reusable lids in bulk to save money
- the lids don't ping or pop when they seal
- colorful spices or ingredients (like turmeric!) can discolor the white plastic lids
Where to buy reusable canning lids?
I buy my Tattler canning lids from Lehman's Hardware, one of my favorite stores. They stock top quality canning supplies, all made in the USA. Lehman's also has tons of handmade and handcrafted items, including old-fashioned fermenting crocks and Lodge cast iron.
Shop for canning supplies at Lehman's and use one of these clickable coupon codes to save on your order:
Discount codes for Lehman's Hardware-
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