Canning lids are often reused in home canning. Reusing them has become common, especially in the extreme shortage of canning supplies due to the pandemic. While the number of people reusing canning lids has increased, some safety considerations should be taken into account before doing so. This blog post highlights some essential points that every home canner should be aware of before deciding to reuse canning lids.
The decision to reuse a canning lid or not lies in the hands of the home canner. Yes, you can reuse canning lids. However, the efficiency of the seal on reused canning lids cannot be guaranteed.
Why is Reusing Canning Lids Not Recommended
Throwing out the canning lids after you finish a jar of canned food might seem wasteful to most people, but every safe canning guide out there will warn you to never reuse a canning lid. The North Dakota State University, or NDSU as more popularly known, states the following:
This article and many more that you will find over the internet don’t recommend reusing canning lids for one simple reason. The reused lids might not seal properly.
And it seems like a good enough reason not to gamble on reusing canning lids, right? Why waste time, money and, energy spent on canning something just for it to spoil because you decided to reuse a canning lid instead of using a fresh one?
However, it is essential to note that all the articles out there advise against reusing canning lids just because there is a possibility that the seal might not work and the food might end up spoiling. But, if you do want to reuse your canning lids, not all hope is lost! You can follow a few steps that will help you minimize the chances of sealing failure. In the sections below, we describe how exactly you can get optimum results when reusing canning lids.
- Check the rubber seal for any inconsistencies. If the seal feels loose, stiff, or too weak, discard the lid.
- Check the metal to see if there are any dents, chips, or cracks. If any, discard those lids.
- Check the lids for rust and corrosion.
How to Safely Reuse Canning Lids
The most crucial component of a canning lid is its ability to seal your jar and preserve it for longer shelf life. When you place a canning lid on a jar, the sealing compound softens and molds itself to your jar rim. As the contents of your jar cool, it sucks down on the lid, and the rubber seal clamps down entirely on the jar, thus, creating a vacuum seal.
Whenever you are reusing canning lids, you must sterilize them well before use. Make sure you follow the below steps:
Always check your canning lids for any imperfection before deciding to reuse them. The closer they are to their original new state, the better. In case of any blemishes at all, discard them.
Sterilize the used canning lids well before reusing them. First, rinse them with warm water to eliminate any leftover canning residue from the previous cycle. Next, wash them with soapy water to completely clean them. Finally, boil the lids in water for 15 – 20 minutes to soften their seal.
While new seals are no longer required to be boiled before their use, it’s recommended to boil them when you are reusing them. The reason is simple, boiling the lid in water softens the seal, which improves the chances of a vacuum seal being created in your jars.
Use the canning lids the same way you would a new one. When it comes to deciding whether resuing canning lids are fine for pressure canning and water-bath canning, some people say that it’s better to reuse canning lids when you pressure can. The reason is, the high pressure inside the pressure canner helps to create a stronger seal, and the chances are better for longer shelf life.
What to Do and What to Avoid
- Avoid reusing the canning lids more than twice. Using the canning lids a third time raises the seal failure rate exponentially.
- Keep extra close attention on the jars that are sealed using reused canning lids. Chances are they might pop open when in storage.
- Mark the lids that you plan on reusing and store them separately from your new canning lids.
- Reuse canning lids only if you are okay with the possibility of food waste; however slight that possibility may be.
- Never stack the canned jars with reused lids on top of one another.
- If you plan to give the canned jars to friends or family, you should use a fresh new lid. You don’t want the top to pop off in their pantry!
- Mark the jars that have a reused lid when canning so that you can keep an extra close eye on them during the canning process.
How to Remove Lids Without Damaging Them
When you are planning on reusing canning lids, you must remove them with as little damage as possible the first time. There are two ways that you can try out to see which one fits you best:
Use a butter knife and gently anchor it between the canning lid and the jar rim. Apply pressure very gently to try and release the pressure inside the jar. Once you remove the top a little bit, the vacuum seal will be broken immediately, and you will be able to get the lid off with minimum damage.
When using a knife to remove the lid, make sure you use a butter knife as they are quite dull and minimize the chances of damage to your canning lid.
Most can openers have a small hook that you can use to remove the canning lids easily. Anchor the hook under the canning lid and apply pressure gently until you feel the lid release.
Both of the above methods will help you get the canning lids off with minimum damage so that you can reuse them.
Reusable canning lids are lids that are specifically designed to be used more than once. In recent years the market for reusable canning lids has grown, and there are a variety of these lids that you can try.
Harvest Gaurd is one of the most popular choices out there when looking for reusable canning lids. The pack comes with lids and gaskets for each lid. The recommended way approach is to soak the gasket in hot water with a little bit of vinegar to soften the rubber. When you are ready with your canning jars, remove the rubber rings from the water and place them on the lids and then the lids on the prepared jars. When you twist the rings on the jars, you need to keep them a little loose than you would for a conventional canning lid. The rest of the canning process remains the same.
Harvest Guard canning lids have excellent reviews, and the reusable gaskets are good for 6 – 8 uses!
Tattlers is a brand that has been around for a long time and has proven and is well established. The process when using Tattler canning lids is the same as when using Harvest Guard canning lids.
However, the durability of Tattler canning lids is almost double of Harvest Gaurd ones. Tattler promises that their reusable lids are good for 10 -12 uses.
So What’s the Verdict?
Metal canning lids are designed with just one use in mind. While it’s challenging to maintain their structural integrity so that they last for multiple cannings, it isn’t impossible. We have shared multiple tips and tricks to help you achieve just that.
However, we would suggest that you try to limit the occasions where you are reusing canning lids. The possibility of food wastage due to failed sealings is very real, and you might end up wasting your entire canned produce. Instead, go for conventional new metal canning lids or try out the specially designed reusable canning lids.