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How to Safely Reuse Canning Jar Lids for Preserving Food

My husband and I went to town and planted a bunch of tomatoes this year with the idea to can them for later. This isn’t a new idea and more folks are doing the same. So much so that canning lids and supplies were one of the first things to have supply chain issues.

When I ran into this problem two years ago, I used what new metal lids I had on hand and froze the rest. I also bought https://amzn.to/3xdyLsO on back order at the time to make sure I had canning jar lids for the following year. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links for your convenience.)

And then I didn’t can anything last season.

Can I Reuse Metal Canning Jar Lids for Canning ?

You cannot and should not reuse metal canning jar lids for water bath or pressure canning. Metal canning jar lids re coated with a one time use compound that, when heated, creates the airtight seal when the jar, lid, and contents are processed during water bath and pressure canning.

To illustrate this point, you can see in the photo below, an indent in the sealing compound of a used canning jar lid. The rim of the canning jar created the impression when I sealed the jar and contents under pressure during the water bath canning process. 


how to can food with reusable canning jar lids

The only way you can safely reuse this used metal canning jar lid is to store dry goods in the cupboard.

This impression in the sealing compound will not seal properly if someone tried to reuse it (against any and all recommendations) to can food. The micro leaks in the used sealing compound may cause harmful bacteria to grow in the jar and the food may be dangerous, deadly even, to eat.

In my research I found only one company makes reusable canning jar lids: Tattler in Reed City, Michigan (this isn’t an ad or sponsored post, just information to help you avoid accidentally buying counterfeit canning lids like I did a few years ago.)


DIY Zero Waste Water Bath and Pressure Canning
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Tattler’s reusable canning jar lids have two parts: a rubber sealing ring and a BPA free plastic lid. The Tattler lids use the same metal canning jar bands that the disposable metal canning jar lids use. Tattler says you can use their reusable canning jar lids for both water bath and pressure canning.

How to Water Bath Can with Reusable Canning Jar Lids

I’m a use what I have on hand kind of gal because it saves money and in this case, it is also a zero waste way to can and preserve food. I plan on using the Tattler lids to can and preserve this year’s vegetable garden.

Many people suggest you can a few test jars with water or something small to get the hang of how the Tattler lids work differently from traditional jar lids

I’m canning four jelly jars of tomato sauce as my test batch. I was originally going to freeze the sauce before I remembered I should try canning something small with the new lids. That way I still have time to buy metal canning jar lids if I don’t like the reusable canning jar lids.

Spoiler Alert: I’m going to use the Tattler lids this year.

1. Just like normal water bath canning, double check that your canning jars do not have any nicks or cracks on the rim, your metal jar bands are rust free, and (if are reusing the Tattler lids) the rubber rings are solid and flexible so they will seal. If your rubber rings have split or hardened from past use, discard them and replace them with a new rubber ring.

2. Just like normal water bath canning, clean, sterilize, and heat your canning jars, Tattler lids and rings. I heat, clean sterilized my jars in the dishwasher. I simmered the lids and rubber rings in a pot of water on the stove like I do with metal canning jar lids.

3. Just like normal water bath canning, fill the canning jars with the food leaving the proper amount of head space per USDA guidelines.

4. Just like normal water bath canning, wipe any food from the top of the jar with a clean cloth or sponge.

5. NEW PROCEDURE: Put the rubber ring and plastic lid on top of the clean jar.


how to reuse canning jar lids
Since time is of the essence when it comes to filling, capping, and plunking hot jars in a canner, I used empty jars to illustrate some of the steps in this tutorial.

6. NEW PROCEDURE: Tattler jar lids need to be screwed to the jar more loosely than you do when using a metal canning jar lid to work properly. I admit this is counter intuitive after years of tightly screwing on metal lids on jars for water bath canning. In fact, I had one jar fail because I didn't realize I put the band on too tightly. Oops. Good thing I ran this test batch, huh? 


can I reuse metal canning jar lids for pressure canning

Tattler suggests after you line up the metal band and jar threads over the Tattler rubber ring and lid, put your finger on the center the Tattler lid as you use your other hand to screw the metal band onto the jar. Screw the metal band onto the jar until the jar begins to spin under your finger. STOP. This is how loosely Tattler recommends their lids to be to seal properly.

7. Just like normal water bath canning, process the jars according to the food inside and size of jar per USDA guidelines.

8. NEW PROCEDURE: Remove the jars from the water bath canner. The food in the jars may still be bubbling when you remove them from the canner because the pressure is still being released from the jars. This expected and totally OK. It should only last for about five minutes tops.

After the contents of the jar stops bubbling, tighten the metal band onto the canning jar as tightly as you would if you were processing a disposable metal canning jar lid. Allow the jars to cool to room temperature.

is it safe to reuse metal canning jar lids
You will want to protect your hands from burns from the hot jar by using a clean towel or potholder to hold the jar and tighten the metal ban onto the jar after water bath processing.

9. NEW PROCEDURE: Test if the jar has sealed by removing the metal band from the canning jar and picking the jar up off of the counter by the white Tattler jar lid. If you can pick the jar up by the lid, Congratulations! The jar has sealed! If not, the jar lid has not sealed properly and the contents should be refrigerated and eaten immediately.


how to safely reuse canning jar lids for canning
While the procedure is slightly different, overall the Tattler lids worked well. The only downside I found is the common complaint the at the reusable plastic canning jar lids don’t make the ping sound like metal canning jar lids do when they seal.

It doesn’t matter how many years experience I have with canning, I still hold my breath until the lids sing Ping! that they are sealed.

Looking for more food preservation and canning tips, tools, and ideas? Check out the following options – and more! - below!

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Great tips! Thanks for sharing on Crafty Creators Link Party!
Niki | Life as a LEO Wife