Let us never forget the great canning lid shortage of 2020. It’s like the whole world woke up one morning and decided to start canning. Who could blame them? The world seemed to shut down around us. People were panicking and buying everything off the shelves. The preppers were in their bunkers making sure they had everything they needed. Then there were those of us that were left in between. We weren’t preppers that had everything but we also weren’t buying everything. We were simply living and trying to put as much food up from our gardens as possible. The canning lid shortage really put a dent in that work. They were sold out everywhere. Even into the middle of winter the lids were still sold out. In fact, it wasn’t until August 2021 that I was able to buy Ball Canning lids (just the lids) again. In the meantime, I needed a way to keep canning. Thankful for Instagram for introducing me to the world of using canning lid alternatives to help get the job done.
Canning Lid Alternative #1 – Freezing
I just want to take a second to mention that you could do more freezing. In the event of a glass jar or canning lid shortage there are other options. Freezing is one of the easiest and quickest ways to keep preserving food. The problem becomes electricity. If this is something that you are worried about then freezing could become an issue. We try to can more than we freeze for this very reason. I would hate to put a lot of time, effort, and energy into preserving food only for it to spoil if the power goes out. This fall we had a few storms that came through and wiped out power for nearly a week. That would cause anyone who is preserving food to shudder. Unless, of course, you are smart enough to have a generator. We know we should have one but we still don’t. I guess that is another reason that we prefer canning.
Canning Lid Alternative #2 – Reusing Metal Lids
I started saving metal lids a long time ago. I was mainly using them for things that were dry and I was keeping in mason jars. The other thing I would use them for is in the freezer. Basically, I use them for anything that isn’t reprocessing the jars.
In the summer of 2021 I found Ruthann Zimmerman on Instagram. She is a former Mennonite and has shared an incredible number of tips and tricks with the homestead community. It’s been incredible learning from her and this one tip truly changed my life. She is the one who taught me that you can reuse the metal canning lids again. This does not follow Ball’s processes. This does not follow the “standard” procedures. In fact, just about anything you read is probably going to tell you not to reuse these lids. So why does she do it? That’s how her grandma did it and probably her grandma’s mom too. It’s something that was passed down through their generations of family. She saw them doing it and that is what she did as well. More importantly, it has worked for them for all these years too.
How to Reuse Metal Lids
When you are getting your jars and lids ready for a water bath there are a few steps to start the process. For us this is when we put the lids in a pan on the stove in some water to simmer. I bring them to a boil and then just let them sit in the hot water until I am ready to use them. To reuse your metal lids you start the same way. Put them in a pan with a little water on the stove. Before bringing them to a boil add in some baking soda. There is no exact science here. Just dump a little into the water until you feel comfortable. A couple teaspoons should be the most that you would need unless you are processing a ton of lids. I’m usually only doing a few at a time so I just dump a little in and call it good.
It has worked for me every single time. I have not had any issues with jars sealing when reusing my lids yet. Keep in mind, this is my first year doing it. I haven’t gotten to the point where I am reusing them multiple times yet. If there is any sort of issue that arises you can count on me to update this post. As long as the lids are in good shape and not bent or damaged I do not expect to have any issues.
Canning Lid Alternative #3- Reusable Plastic Lids
I was a little more skeptical about the reusable plastic lids. I watched someone trying them and her first batch of 12 had two come out that did not seal. That didn’t seem like great odds. There are always risks to canning though and sometimes a lid doesn’t seal for one reason or another. Sometimes we do everything right but it just doesn’t work. That is always a risk and that is why I decided to give the plastic lids a try.
Our plastic reusable lids are the Tattler brand. There are a couple reasons why I ordered them. First, they are made in the USA! It’s so rare to get products like this anymore and I try to put an emphasis on buying them. It helps to stimulate our economy and puts our jobs back here in the USA. That is important to me and can be worth spending some extra money on.
The second thing I love is that they are a Michigan based company. As a born and raised Michigander I love being able to support companies in our home state. That means the job I just supported could be my neighbor and it’s a blessing to be able to support them. The third thing I loved was free shipping! They are a little bit more expensive than metal lids but it was free shipping. I paid around $10 for 12 lids.
Preparing Reuseable Lids
The lids take the same preparation as metal lids. Put the rings and the plastic tops in the pan and simmer them until you are ready to use them. I thought for sure it would be super hard to get the bands and everything all lined up and make it hard to seal, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. I used tongs to get the bands and lids out of the water. Once they were out I could use my fingers to align them on the jars. Then just use normal metal bands to seal them down and process as normal.
The first time I used them I did a batch of 10 jars and they were a mix of pints and quarts. I’m so happy to report that every one of them sealed right up. I took the bands off and they were perfect. Again, this is my first year doing this so I can’t speak to what will happen next year when I use them for the second time. As I promised before, I will update if I start to see issues. As long as there are no cracks or chunks missing from the bands I don’t think I will have any sort of issue. Plus now I can just order more bands for the plastic lids that I already have and those are even cheaper!
I hope you find this helpful as the great canning lid shortage continues. Even if things get “back to normal” I will continue to using these canning lid alternatives. Reusing lids is better for the environment and saves me a ton of money. The reusable lids are definitely saving me money over time because that is kind of the whole purpose. Are you able to find canning lids in your area or are you still hunting like me?