One thing the pandemic and associated shortages taught us all is that it’s best to stock up on things. For me personally, I’ve also shifted to reusable items as much as possible. For this reason, I decided to invest in reusable canning lids, both Harvest Guard and Tattler. In this article I show you how to use reusable canning lids.
Reusable Canning Lids Have a Little Bit of a Learning Curve
Before I get into the meat of this article, I want to admit that there is a learning curve when it comes to using reusable canning lids. But all of the images that I included in this article are from the FIRST time I used reusable canning lids. At the end of the article, I’ll share with you how many of the lids sealed, and how many failed.
How to Use Reusable Canning Lids
Now let’s get into the step-by-step instructions for using reusable canning lids.
Step 1: Heat Canning Lids and Gaskets
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Back in the day we used to put metal canning lids in simmering water before using. Then Ball, and other canning lid manufacturers changed the instructions to indicate that you no longer had to take that step.
It should be noted, however, that with reusable canning lids such as Harvest Guard and Tattler, you MUST heat the lids – and more importantly, the gaskets, before using them. Heating the gaskets helps soften the rubber, which makes it easier for them to seal. So don’t skip this step!
Step 2: Place the Gaskets onto the Lids
With metal lids, the rubber “gasket” (the red, rubbery compound) is part of the canning lid. Reusable canning lids differ from metal canning lids in that they have two parts, plus the ring.
The two parts are the metal lid, and the rubber gasket.
What I typically do is take one lid and one gasket out of the hot water at a time. (I leave the others in the hot water, so they stay hot.) I then put the gasket on the lid, as shown in the photo above.
Step 3: Center the Gasket and Lid on the Filled Canning Jar
Next, turn over the gasket and lid, and place it on your filled canning jar, making sure to center both the lid and the gasket.
I mention centering both the gasket and the lid because sometimes when I flip both over and put them on the jars, the gasket slips a bit. If you notice the gasket is sticking out one side, be sure to move it back to the center point.
Step 4: “Loosely” Put on the Canning Rings
This step is probably where you’ll experience the biggest difference between using reusable canning lids, and metal canning lids.
With metal canning lids, we’ve all been taught to put them on “finger tight.” However, if you put reusable canning lids on fingertip tight, they will be too tight.
There are two basic ways to figure out how tightly to place the rings on the jars when using reusable canning lids.
Adding Rings to Reusable Canning Lids, Method 1
The first method is the one that I use most often. Here’s how it works.
After putting the lid and gasket on your canning jar, place the ring on the jar. With your finger on the top of the lid, pressing down, tighten the ring until the jar starts to spin. Once the jar starts to spin, you know that the canning ring is tight enough.
Note that it’s important to do this on a solid surface rather than on a tablecloth or towel. The reason for that is that if you have a cloth under your jar, it won’t spin.
Adding Rings to Reusable Canning Lids, Method 2
The second way to figure out how much to tighten the rings when using resuable canning lids is to do what is most familiar – screw on the rings until they are finger tight.
Once they are finger tight, turn them counterclockwise 1/4 of a turn, so they are slightly looser than fingertip tight.
Process Jars with Reusable Canning Lids
After you’ve put the reusable lids on your jars, you’ll process them in the exact same way as you would any other canning lids.
This is great because you can use a mix of reusable and regular canning lids in the same batch. One reason you may want to mix the use of lids is that reusable lids have a higher initial cost than metal lids. So, if you are canning something you plan to give away, you’ll want to use regular metal canning lids for the ones you’ll share with others, and keep the jars that have reusable lids for yourself.
How to Handle Reusable Lids AFTER Processing
After you process whatever you’re canning, there are a couple of extra steps to take with reusable lids.
First, after opening the canning, I leave the jars in the canner for about 5 minutes. I then carefully remove them from the canner – just like I would for any other type of lid.
After placing them on a towel, I tighten the lids. This step is very important! If you don’t tighten the lids, they won’t seal properly.
Note, when you tighten the lids, be sure to use two potholders – one to hold onto the jar, and another to use for actually tightening the lid.
Cover the Jars with a Towel Until they Cool Completely
The next step may seem a little strange, but the official Harvest Guard canning lid instructions say to put a towel over the jars until they cool.
Note that I’ve had some people tell me it’s wrong to do this. I’ve even had people tell me that covering the jars with a towel will result in “flat sour.”
Since there was a bit of controversy about this, I reached out to Harvest Guard for clarification. They confirmed that I should indeed cover the jars with a towel, because in their experience, that helps the jars to seal properly. They said that flat sour won’t happen when using this method.
Checking the Seal on Reusable Canning Lids
Once the jars have been cooling for about 24 hours, remove the towel and check the seals.
The photos in this article are from the first time I ever used Harvest Guard lids, and thankfully, every jar sealed.
As you can perhaps tell from the photos, in this first time of using the reusable lids, I just canned water. I recommend canning water when learning how to use new lids or a new canner, because there is less pressure.
I have of course used these lids multiple other times since then, and my results have been mixed. Sometimes the Harvest Guard lids have sealed really well. And other times, I’ve had some failed seals.
I do suspect that sometimes the failed seals have been my fault. Since using reusable canning lids requires a bit more care, I may not always do all I should. For instance, I may rush the process of heating the lids and gaskets. If they aren’t heated properly, that can result in seal failure. I also may not be as mindful of perfectly centering the lids and gaskets, or may tighten the rings too much.
Also, I want to say that in spite of the occasional lid failure, I still recommend having reusable canning lids in your stash of canning supplies. They do save a lot of money. More importantly, if you have reusable canning lids, you never really have to worry about not being able to buy lids.
My personal opinion is that in today’s uncertain times, every prepper should make purchasing reusable canning lids a priority.
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