Thursday, November 4, 2010

Things I Like: Tattler Reusable Canning Lids


Well, as promised in my last post I got a sample of these Tattler brand reusable canning lids to try out and I've been busy canning today so I could let you know what I think of them. Here is a link to their website:

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids and Rings

You can find all the information and instructions you'll need there and you can order them from their site. I know there are a few retailers who sell them, but I don't know who or where exactly, so online may be your best bet.

The above picture is what a box of 12 looks like as well as the instruction pamphlet. Below you can see the two separate parts- the lid and the rubber ring:
To use them you'll want to start out by putting the lids and rings in simmering hot water until ready to use. (I skipped this part 'cuz I'm a cheater! The only reason to do this to the lid is to sterilize it. As for the rubber- it will help soften it, but fyi, I had no problems even though I skipped this step.) Then simply put the ring onto the lid like so:
Then place the lid on the jar:
Now, I'll show you one mistake I made the first time I used these, just to show you what a dork I am!
Can you see how I've got two rubber rings stacked on top of each other? Whoops! The rubber rings are quite thin and I thought to myself that I should be very careful to separate the stack of rings so I didn't do this very thing, yet somehow I still managed it! This is actually a jar that I canned and funny enough- it still sealed just fine. Obviously you don't want to do this, but it's not the end of the world if you do. I'd recommend separating them well as you take them out of the box if you're worried you'll be a dork like me and do this.

One other thought about the rings- they seem to be a tad fragile. Basically, I recommend keeping them away from your kids because I think they would tear if pulled on very hard.

Once you have the lid in place simply screw a regular band over it like so:
Now, screwing the band on is where these lids are different from regular lids. The instructions say:

  • Screw band on jar loosely. Center lid on jar and hold in place with finger while you finish tightening the metal band, THEN TURN BACK 1/4 INCH. product must be allowed to vent during processing.
  • Process as per instructions for various foods.
  • TIGHTEN METAL BAND FIRMLY IMMEDIATELY UPON REMOVAL FROM CANNER
Notice it says turn back 1/4 inch -NOT- 1/4 turn. Many people make this mistake which leaves the lid too loose. 1/4 inch isn't very much at all. I found that it was easier to simply use my fingertips to tighten the band and only screw it on until I started to feel resistance. Basically I screwed it on so that the band was just barely snug. It worked great and was much easier than trying to tighten them and then loosen them only a tiny bit.

So, follow that first step for tightening the band and then you'll just process the food as you normally would. I was doing pinto beans because, sadly, I discovered these lids after my canning was all done and beans are the only thing I could use a few more of. But, since beans involve pressure canning I figured I could really put these lids to the test. You may use these lids for pressure canning, water bath canning and vacuum sealing.

 When the processing time is up take the jars out of the canner and immediately tighten the screw bands. Use some oven mitts or a towel to hold the jars while you do this as they will be HOT! Then allow them to cool completely. When cooled take off the screw bands and check the seals. I did this by grabbing the jar by the ring/lid and lifting the jar off the counter a little. If the lid doesn't come off into your hand the jar is sealed! There is no "ping" sound when the jar has sealed and no indentation in the lid like the classic metal lids have. This can be a little annoying at first because you can't tell at a glance if the jars have sealed or not. But, I think the benefit of these lids is that you don't get any tricky ones that look sealed but really aren't. (Anyone else get the occasional tricky lid?) Lifting the jar off the counter by the lid is a fool-proof sign it's sealed.

Another difference between these and the throw away type is the fact that you can't just write the date and contents on the lid with a sharpie. But, it's simple enough to slap a piece of masking tape on there and write on that:
You may also run into problems if you tend to give away lots of bottled food as gifts. You wouldn't want to give away your precious lids! Perhaps for gifts you could simply use metal lids and save your reusable ones for your own stash of food. Or I've seen some creative poems folks will send along with the jar of food suggesting that the recipient should return the jar and lid and they will likely receive more goodies in the future. 

To open the jar just slip a butter knife (nothing sharp!) between the rubber and the jar like so:
I learned quickly to keep a finger on the lid while I did this so it didn't pop off and go flying across the kitchen!

I wanted to test if these lids would seal time after time, so I did four small batches. Each batch had pints and then a small jam jar in it on which I used the same lid over and over. Once the batch had cooled and the lids sealed I opened the jam jar, dumped out the beans and did another jar full with the same lid. By using a little jar I didn't end up with a ridiculous amount of opened beans I had to use up. I've noticed that others who have tested these lids just canned the same batch of food twice. That seems ridiculous to me because then you are cooking every last bit of nutrition out of the food! So, that's why I did this itty bitty jar.
  • When using the lids again just flip them over to the side that is smoothest. The other side will have little grooves in it from the lid. Rotating them like this will cause them to wear more evenly. 


I did the equivalent of 11 pints between my four separate batches and everything turned out great. I got great seals on everything. It was certainly different from the canning lids I'm used to, but as I'm an experienced canner I didn't have any problems. It's simply a new technique and another step or two I had to remember to do.

As for beginning canners- I'd recommend starting out with the classic metal lids until you have a several dozen quarts under your belt, then branch out and try these lids. I think you need to get the hang of canning first and then take on these slightly trickier lids. Or, work with an experienced friend who can make sure you're doing everything right.

Now, let's look at the low-down on cost:

Tattler lids come in wide mouth and regular mouth. I'll just compare regular mouth for simplicity's sake.

  • Package of 3 dozen regular mouth lids and rings: $20.95 or about $0.58 each (plus shipping)
  • Bulk package of 500 lids and rings: $277.90 or about $0.56 each (plus shipping)
  • Bulk package of 1500 lids and rings: $789.75 or about $0.53 each (plus shipping)
  • Bulk package of 2500 lids and rings: $1,243.15 or about $0.50 each (plus shipping)
  • Package of 1 dozen replacement rubber rings: $2.50
  • Cheapest classic metal canning lids I've bought: $1.44 per dozen or $0.12 each (This is an AWESOME price, they are usually more. I did get some on clearance once that were only $1.00 a dozen, but that's rare and lucky.)

Obviously the Tattler lids cost a lot more up front, but after a couple of years you've made up the difference and they are supposed to last for years and years. The plastic lid part will last forever, so you'd only have to replace the rubber rings if they wear out. You can get a better price on the lids when buying in bulk but most people wouldn't want to jump in and buy that many all at once. You could team up with a group of fellow canners and go in on a bulk package all together though.

One last bit about these lids is that they are BPA free. I'm not really into all the hype about BPA, so you'll have to look into that on your own. I haven't yet found any hardcore evidence that it's a big deal. But, if it's something that worries you you'll love having a canning lid that isn't coated with the stuff! 

So, what do I think of these after trying them today? Well, I'm really excited about the idea in general, and I had great success with them this go-round. I don't know if I believe the rubber will hold up for 10-20 years like they advertise on their website. I don't know how different the rubber is from the stuff on your classic canning lids. I've seen plenty of old canning lids that have rubber which is completely rotting away. I can't help but wonder if these won't start to rot and fall apart after several years as well. I believe I will at least buy a package of 3 dozen and try them out for a couple of years to see how they do long term.

I really like the idea of having a whole supply of canning lids on hand. I've heard there was a year or two when everyone ran out of lids and you just couldn't get any. What if there was some kind of disaster and it stopped the flow of such things to the stores, yet you had a whole garden full of food needing to be preserved? I'm the food storage, emergency preparedness type so I think having long lasting lids like these handy is a great idea.

Check out their website and try them for yourself!




5 comments:

  1. I'm so excited about these lids. I can't wait to try them. The funny part is, when I first thought about using them I realized I'd have to break my lazy habit of writing on canning lids. I guess I'll have to stock up on labels too! Thanks for the review!

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  2. Hi Holly, I just ran across your blog because of the Tattler lids. We just got some for Christmas and I'm looking forward to trying them out.
    And hey, cooking, sewing, homemaking - I don't think you're weird at all!! =)

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  3. Hi Holly :) I too am in the process of switching over to Tattler lids. I started with my testing last August. I really like these lids. Some of my lids have already been used a couple of times so they are starting to pay for themselves. I figured I had to reuse each lid 8 times to realize a payback so that won't take long.

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  4. Holly, this is my first year using Tattler lids. I love them! (Why did I wait so long?) Instead of masking tape, we've started using the blue painter's tape for labels, etc., because it doesn't leave residue like masking tape does.

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