Canning Lids — Controversial Uses by R. Ann Parris
The most common canning lids are one-use disks of thin metal with coatings on the inner side. They’re typically one-use items, which can generate a lot of waste if we can much, but sometimes there are exceptions, either to the rule or wiggle room we can play around with.
There are lids that are actually intended for reuse with water-bath canning, and a few that are rated for pressure canning (NOT the white snap-down single-piece lids that are rated only for freezer/fridge jams and pickles). People tend to love them or hate them.
If we rearrange our preserved foods a lot, there’s some that are apparently a little more likely to pop their seals easily. Some of the ones that are rated for pressure canners and the ones that are only rated for water-bath canning apparently tend to warp. Do some research if reuseable lids are of interest, because there are good ones out there, at least for water-bath canning.
Some standard lids can have a second life, depending on the first.
I dehydrate and store goods in canning jars, sealing them with oxygen absorbers. I don’t fret reusing those lids, either first for dehydrated goods or previously canned lids for the dehydrated goods. I imagine you could get enough O2-eaters into a jar to seriously dent the coating of that lid more than the factory’s steam seal did, but it’s never been an issue to me.
If they’ve been in a canner, they go in a particular tub, and I inspect. Mostly, they seal just fine. If I have a straggler that hasn’t popped down when the others have, it’s no big deal with dehydrated foods — just snag another lid and maybe add another O2 eater in case the first has been exhausted.
Adding to the controversy, I will also use store-bough jars that have lined metal lids with oxygen absorbers for dehydrated foods.
(For risky-person assessment purposes: I do not risk dry canning/oven canning, I do not reuse store jars and lids for water-bath or pressure canning, and I have a number of store jars that are immediately relegated to other purposes because they’re less reliable.)
We don’t always need a perfect lid for a jar.
That includes our home-canning supplies as well as store-bought jars. Previously used lids can be retained for use with nonperishable dry goods like tubes of Frontline or Fiproguard, eyeglass repair kits, fire strikers, blister packs of meds, nail files, bottles and mini-tubes of eyedrop and ear drops, clothespins, and paperclips.
We can also reuse lids for jars that provide a “hard” barrier to protect seeds from critters and typical household and basement moisture, and in our pantries and cupboards as storage of dry pasta, grains, dry milk, beans, and herbs we’ve opened and are going to be using up relatively soon.
I prefer to use an oxygen absorber and well-sealing lid for water-sensitive items like matches and cotton balls, but that’s a personal choice and in many cases would be unnecessary.
Canning jar lids don’t have to have only one life.
That frugality isn’t necessary for some of us right now — although what some people have to pay for lids, and wide-mouth over regular-mouth sizes, can be a definite wallet suck. However, if we water-bath or pressure canned even just our off-season veggies, we can be looking at upwards of 800-1200 jars … and the lids for them.
That means it might not take much time at all to move through our stockpiles, and few store shelves have many available even during harvest seasons, which could make resupply during an event difficult. Having some idea of what we’re comfortable doing with used lids could become incredibly important during a crisis.