Sunday, December 12, 2021

Testing a theory

Last May, I posted a piece about reusing disposable canning lids, based on something I saw on SurvivalBlog.

Ever since then, I've been removing disposable lids from jars with extra care, washing them, and tucking them away.

Today I decided to re-can some salsa I had purchased in bulk last summer, and used this opportunity to test the theory of how easily disposable lids are reusable. Maybe "easily" isn't the right word; "reliable" might be a better description.

At any rate, I pulled out the used lids I had available...

...and boiled some water.

I turned off the heat under the pot, dropped the lids in the hot water, and let them parboil.

While the gaskets were softening, I washed some jars.

I filled the jars with salsa...

...stacked them in the pressure canner...

...and brought the canner up to 12 lbs. pressure (adjusted for our elevation) for 30 minutes.

When their time was up, I let the canner's pressure come back down to zero, and removed the jars to cool.

Every jar sealed. Every. Single. One.

It breaks my heart to think of all the disposable lids I've discarded over the years after one use, when all this time I could have been saving and reusing them.

Folks, don't do what I did. Remove your lids carefully (trying not to bend them or damage the gaskets) and save them for another use.


  1. I learned this from the Amish that live close to me. They didn't reuse them in the pressure canner, only in the water bath. I never asked why.

  2. I was saving used lids for teotwawki. But after reading about reusing lids on Rebel Canners I boiled about 100 lids and now have stocked them to use immediately. I canned dry packed chicken and they all sealed in the P.C. You're right. All those lids that I tossed a few years ago and then going through the shortages last year makes me almost cry.

  3. I have bags and bags of my old lids, I consider it part of my prepper stash, and yes at least 3/4 or more will reseal even with rolling boil. also there are the new Tattler reusable plastic lids and rubber rings that take a bit of learning curve but last for ever. and don't forget a 5lb bag of citric acid, never goes bad, and lemon juice may be in short supply some day, for tomatoes.

  4. I have had very good luck reusing disposable lids once, preheating the lids like you did. I tried some for a second reuse and had a few fail to seal, but I did not continue the experiment. Still, getting two uses out of each lid is a great improvement.

  5. I know many people are vehement about not re-using lids, but I'm afraid a time may come when there's no choice.

  6. Patrice, you can use rubbing alcohol to remove the writing on your used lids then they look like new.

  7. When will you do a longevity inspection? Also do you pop the lid into its original shape with the dimple out?

  8. Patrice, I have always water bathed my salsa and was curious as to why you used the pressure caner ?

  9. My understanding, from the Amish, is that they can only be reused once. So a total of 2 uses. That works for me if I need to do it. Better than wasting them in the garbage.
    But I'm not so sure I'd trust anything from the last year or so, especially off brands.

  10. Can you please explain how you get your lids off the first time canner jar with out making a crease or a "lift" on the outside of the lid? I have tried many various ways and it seems like there is always an imperfection...
    I do still save them as they work perfectly for many other uses with jars, so it's a win win either way but I would love to know how you get them off with out any damage.

  11. After you wrote the original article, I also thought about all those lids I tossed (must be a marketing ploy). Because I had kept some for sealing dry goods I decided to put them to better use. I ended up with 30 1/2 pints of cherry jam, I used new, off brand and used lids. 2 did not seal well, one new one and one used, the remainder fulfilled their job. To open lids I have purchased a gizmo that was vintage on eBay that is made for opening home canned jars without damaging the lids. Thank you for all your teachings on this site, I love it.
    I never thought of canning a store bought item (duh!) so thank you again and I will try it. Would water bath be good or does pressure canned do better for an already processed food product.

  12. As a child, our family either ate out of the garden or from our home canned goods. We always reused lids. Take the sharp tip of a very sharp knife and gently go around the sides of the lid on the jar just a tiny bit at the time barely trying to loosen it at all. You'll get the hang of it. The seal will release and then it'll come up easier without bending the lid.
    I think the rubber on the lids may limit length of opportunity for re-use. We always reused old ones first when canning, and if the seal failed it was either re-canned with a new lid or refrigerated for immediate use. And a failed lid got permanently marked, but still had further uses. Refrigerating leftovers, jars of nails or screws in plastic jars( don't want scratched canning jars ) making pincushions or Christmas decorations, whatever.
    These days I would also consider reusing lids for storing dried foods, and it would probably be ok to leave the ring on those to ensure continuation of the seal, unlike jars that have been canned.
    So much useful junk. So little space.

  13. I've been reusing lids for the past year. It seems the previous horror was that some lids wouldn't seal, rather than the fact that used lids weren't safe. Mine invariably seal. I'm on my 3rd round for many of them. Both water bath and pressure canning. I don't boil or do any other prep than thoroughly wash and make sure they are intact. Fortunately, I saved several buckets of used lids for target practice...

  14. when you know better, you do better.

    I actually feel bad about my kids' shoes. I was always told that no matter what, the one thing you don't buy secondhand is kids' shoes (for some reason I don't remember). So I always bought top quality shoes for my kids and tossed them when they grew out of them. Ugh. Dozens and dozens of pairs I could have used to bless the less fortunate. Oh well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  15. I too experimented with my once used lids and they worked fine.. when I remove a lid I take a thin piece of wood and wedge it between the lid edge and the glass screw edge and gently pry it up.. a can opener can dent the edge of the lid but the wood piece doesn't seem to be as destructive.. I have always cleaned my used lids and stored them away , I have boxes full. I also have Tattler's .

  16. I've been reusing lids since I read the article on your blog. They have all sealed beautifully. I mark my lid boxes "used" so I know which ones have been used. I tried many ways to remove the black marker and then found out quite by accident that putting a used lid into hot soapy water, letting it soak a minute or two, and then rubbing it with a dishcloth will take off the black marker; leaves the lid in pristine condition. I bought a "Pry-a-Lid" (Amazon or Ebay) to remove the lids and it does a super job.

  17. We have lived in a throw-away society for so long, we have all gotten used to doing things that really make little or no sense - like disposing of so many things that are perfectly reusable. I have also used perfectly good and gummy jelly jar lids with the jars from the store in the water bath and steam canner for jellies. We will be finding out in the near future just what we CAN do that we've been convinced we can't for many decades now.

  18. I'll also be following your response to Amy, about the best way to remove lids. Thanks for trying this experiment, and sharing it!

  19. Not about lids, but re-using. If discarding clothes, think about buttons, zippers, eye hooks, everything. And discarding the fabric? Don't! Fabric is expensive too. Even ratty fabric can be washed and made into wash cloths or tp wipes. Long before paper products people had to use something to wipe with and it wasn't all corn cobs, which my grandparents kept a stash of in the outhouse.

    1. Preach it! I have always ripped out the zippers and taken the buttons and any other usable re-usables off before cutting up too-tattered clothing for rags or quilting squares.

  20. "It breaks my heart to think of all the disposable lids I've discarded over the years after one use, when all this time I could have been saving and reusing them."

    There are valid reasons to throw out the lids, such as water quality issues that would affect the canning process.

    The presence of high amounts of calcium or barium in the water could make the lids less likely to seal again.

    Barium in the water is especially a problem in parts of Florida, and so throwing out the lids seemed like it could be for that kind of reason.

    But where we've had water without these kinds of contaminants, we've been able to reuse lids at least three times, sometimes a lot more.