The joke around here is that I will can (or jar, for those who want to be picky) anything that stays still long enough.
I’m an avid canner, and I go through many boxes of canning lids. It gets expensive.
For the past three weeks, I have been pressure canning everything I can get my hands on. Why? Because I finally bought a full case of Tattler Reusable Lids and had the chance to give them a proper trial.
My general impression of Tattlers is favourable. Like everything else in the world, though, they’re not perfect.
I paid $107.89 plus tax for twelve dozen reusable lids, which makes them $8.99 per dozen or 75 cents per lid, with no shipping. At Canadian Tire, the disposable metal flat lids are $3.49 per dozen or 29 cents per lid. The reusable lids are 2 1/2 times more expensive than the disposables.
Prices will change depending on where you buy them.
While I know there are people who reuse the metal lids, I do not.
The metal lids are flimsy and the rubber sealant is very thin. These are intended for a single use only. Therefore, ever single time a jar is processed, there is a sunk cost of 29 cents. A jar that must be processed a second time costs 58 cents.
The Tattler reusable lids are extremely durable. The plastic flat lids last a lifetime. The rubber gaskets do eventually stretch and wear out, but no one seems quite sure how long that takes.
There are reports of people who are still using their original gaskets, purchased in the 1970s, or having them finally wear out after decades of use.
They should be washed gently – don’t allow children to play with and stretch them. Treat them well and they last a very long time.
This means that, after three uses, the lids are free. (That will change, depending on how much you pay for them) When it is finally time to replace the gaskets, a dozen of them cost the same as a dozen one-use disposable lids.
NO BPA. They win right there.
Yes, I know they’re plastic, but they’re a food-grade plastic that is not made with BPA. And the gaskets are rubber, with no latex.
As part of the test, I wrote on a lid with a Sharpie permanent marker. I wrote MAY on it, twice, figuring that the worse that would happen is that I’d get a lid that I can only use for canning in May.
I immediately tried to wash one of the words off ….. and you know what? It came off. a bit of soap and water, scrubbing with a dishcloth, and it came off.
The other word was left, with the lid sitting in a safe place on the counter, for the past three weeks. Today, I tossed it into a dish of soapy water, scrubbed it with a dishcloth and …. it came off.
The main problem, though, is that the Tattler label on the lid is raised, making the surface bumpy. It was much harder to get ink off the bumpy parts. This means that there is mostly just the edge to write on.
With that said, I’m still not 100% certain that the lids can be written on. We’re all familiar with words on a whiteboard – that dry erase marker might come off easily at first, but if the writing is left six months or more, there will always be a ghost.
More testing is necessary, and I’m going to a six month test to see whether I’m left with ghost writing on the lid. For now, I recommend writing on the jar itself with permanent marker, using a sticky label on the jar, or sticking a piece of masking tape on the lid.
Ease Of Use
Some people struggle with this because the Tattler lids are a little bit more difficult to use than disposable lids. Not much, though. Figuring out how to safely can in the first place was harder than this.
First – you can’t use a magnetic lid lifter because they’re plastic.
Second – there are two pieces, which means they need to be assembled.
Third – they are put on the jars slightly differently.
I use a pair of small kitchen tongs to pick up a gasket, fit it on a lid and pick them up together. It took some practice, but if I pick them both up just right, the gasket slips right onto the lid and I can place the two on the jar as if they were one.
Some people place the gasket on the jar and then add the flat lid. I’ve tried that and keep knocking the gasket into the jar. Not good. Plus my way means I don’t ever touch the gasket and lid! If I’m going to go to the trouble of boiling the lids and rings, I don’t want to touch them with my germy fingers.
Yes, I do wash my hands. I’m just thinking of the doctor when he was putting stitches in my little guy’s forehead. He said, “See? I wash my hands and then I put on my gloves carefully and now I don’t touch ANYTHING except the stuff that’s already sterile and clean – and your head.” Even washed hands are germy.
Reusable canning lids need to vent, and so the rings (which hold the lids in place) must be put on fairly loosely. The lids should not be moving around, but anything short of that is fine. The general recommendation is that you put the ring on as if it were a disposable lid, and then loosen it 1/4”.
Then, when they come out of the canner, check the rings and tighten them.
Please use a heavy towel or oven mitts when tightening. Whether coming out of the boiling water bath or the pressure canner, the jars are very, very hot.
As I said, I’ve been busy the past three weeks, canning everything in sight. Such a hardship. I really do love putting food into my pantry.
We used up all of our canned goat milk, and I don’t like being without that in the pantry, so I canned 12 litres milk in half-pint jars. (No, canning milk is not recommended by the USDA.)
I canned several dozen pints of cubed pork in broth.
I repackaged ketchup into half-pint jars and canned a couple dozen of those. (Why? Because without a fridge, I need my ketchup in little jars. We had blight last year, so we’re using store bought. Guess who will be clearing the greenhouse out of their tomato starts in a few weeks? I intend to plant between 100 and 200 tomato starts!)
I made up a big batch of beans and wieners and canned them. I LOVE having them available for a quick lunch.
And I slow cooked a whole pork shoulder in barbecue sauce and canned that.
The strange thing was that I had trouble with the beans and wieners, and the shredded barbecue pork. Everything else worked perfectly fine. And by fine, I mean that I really notice no discernible difference between the disposable lids and the Tattler reusable lids.
They really do seal exactly the same – except with the beans and the pork in barbecue sauce.
With the beans, I redid the entire batch using disposable lids and they worked, after the entire batch failing with the Tattler lids.
What in the world caused that? The entire batch? I’ve NEVER had that happen, not with Tattlers, not with disposables.
I stressed a lot about it, and examined everything I did, comparing to everything I’ve learned and done in the past five (six?) years of canning. I ruled out all of the obvious things like having the lid clean.
Tattler lids, as far as I can tell, require a bit more headspace than the disposable lids, at least for some things. The beans and wieners swell in processing, and the pork in barbecue sauce bubbles up and pushes on the lid.
None of that happens with thinner sauces (ketchup, broth, milk). Plus, when the thick pork and barbecue sauce mixture pushed the lids up, fat was able to get between the lids and the rims. Beans and wieners are fatty (the wieners), as is slow cooked pork. Bad combination.
My take-away on that was not “Oh, no, Tattlers don’t work” because … they do. They work differently than disposable lids. Tattlers seem to need slightly more headspace in order to work properly. When canning something that is thick and might push against the lid, definitely leave more headspace than normal.
I haven’t tried doing beans again, but I’ll update when I do.
Everything has its negatives. The main problem with Tattler lids is that, because of their cost, no one would want to lose any. Keep disposable lids on hand if you give or sell home-canned food.
And of course, if you are the type who puts up six jars of strawberry jam once a year, you may find that you will never recover the cost of the Tattler lids.
The difficulty in writing on the lids is an issue. It can be dealt with, and it certainly isn’t deal-cincher for me, but it is something to be aware of.
Tattler reusable canning lids are different than the disposable ones, and they do not behave the same. However, they certainly work. Unless you plan to make a batch of jam this year and never doing any more canning, they will quickly pay for themselves.
If you are processing vegetables grown in your garden, jars that have been reused a time or two, and Tattler reusable lids that you have reused a few times — the only actual cost is the amount of energy you use in canning. That adds up to incredible savings over time.
Add to that the convenience of knowing you always have canning lids on hand, and it seems clear to me that Tattler reusable lids are the smart choice for avid canners.
Tattler reusable canning lids have my definite stamp of approval.