Have you ever ran out of canning lids at the tail end of preserving season? Or made a special trip into town, only to find stores are sold out of canning supplies? It’s frustrating to come up short, isn’t it?!
In this tutorial, I’m going to teach you how to reuse canning lids in the kitchen so you don’t run out!
But first, let me walk you through manufacturer’s claims, canning safety rules and also why I began reusing lids (on occasion).
Why I Learned How to Reuse Canning Lids
It was the 2020 world crisis that first made me consider reusing my tin canning lids. Here in Canada, there were shortages everywhere, with all food preserving supplies and equipment. Getting your hands on canning lids was nearly impossible.
And while I love my glass lid canning collection, these glass lids and their reusable rubber seals didn’t fit all of my jars! Home canned food plays an important role in our winter food provision and I didn’t know what to do.
So I turned to women of the past who have lived in this northern country all their lives. Surely they’d faced canning lid shortages before! How did they cope?
It didn’t take me long to discover that they reused their tin canning lids. I soaked up all the information I could find and soon after, I was experimenting in the kitchen, trying to find the safest way to reuse my tin canning lids yet again.
4 Steps to Reusing Canning Lids
Now let me just say that as a rule of thumb, I always aim to use new lids. There are risks associated with reusing tin caning lids.
Companies producing tin canning lids make it clear that their lids are designed for 1x use ONLY.
They also state that reusing tin canning lids could result in a failed seal and unsafe food. So while I’m here confessing that I do sometimes reuse canning lids, please note that the process I outline below is not in alliance with their recommendations.
Bear this in mind as you read over the next steps!
Step 1: Check the Lids for Blemishes
The first step in the process is to sort through your lids. Do not use lids that are blemished.
Dented or bent lids should be tossed in the garbage without a second thought. These lids shouldn’t be reused because it will be quite difficult to tell whether or not they actually seal after processing.
Also be sure to inspect the underside of the lid as well.
If the white enamel finish on the underside of your lid is corroded or if it is scratched and you can see metal showing through, throw it out. To the best of knowledge, the metal used for tin lids isn’t food grade and you don’t want it coming in contact with acidic juices or food.
Sort through your used lids and take the best of the best.
Step 2: Clean Your Lids Well
Used canning lids should be washed by hand in hot, soapy water. Keep an eye open for any blemishes you might have missed during the initial inspection. Be sure to thoroughly wash the orange seal free of any sticky juices or food products.
After washing your canning lids, you can move on the next step immediately.
Step 3: Boil Used Lids for 20 Minutes
The primary reason you aren’t supposed to reuse tin canning lids is because the seal is very, very thin. The first time a lid is used, the rim of the jar leaves it’s indent behind.
Unlike a real, thick rubber seal, those embedded on your tin lids will never return to their original fullness.
You can see the indents on this batch of lids that were used 1x. The situation doesn’t look good, does it?
But here’s the hack I’ve discovered: if you submerge used lids in water and boil them for 20 minutes, the heat will soften the seal.
While they never do return to their original fullness, they will become much smoother and even.
Here’s a picture of the above lids after they’ve been boiled for 20 minutes and have been given time to cool.
You can still see a slight indent on some of them, but they look far more usable than before they were boiled!
Really. It’s as simple as that.
Step 4: Use Like a New Canning Lid
Once your lids have been through the boiling process and after you’ve let them fully dry, they can be store away. I do recommend keeping them separate from your new canning lids, primarily because you don’t want to reuse them if you don’t have to.
If you do go to reuse them, treat them just like you would a brand new lid.
5 Things to Be Aware Of When Reusing Lids
As I mentioned initially, reusing canning lids isn’t recommended by producers. If you do reuse canning lids here are a few things to be aware of.
- You’ll likely experience a higher seal failure when reusing lids in the canner, particularly when putting up tiny jars of jams or jellies with short processing times.
- Used lids may let loose in storage and cause food spoilage. If this happens, be sure to throw the food away.
- I avoid reusing lids in the pressure canner; with long processing times it’s discouraging when jars don’t seal.
- Tin canning lids aren’t likely to seal again after a 2nd use.
- If you do plan to reuse your lids, you should learn how to remove them from jars with as little damage as possible.
How to Remove Lids from Your Jars With Blemishing Them
Everyone opens their jars of home canned food, differently. If you are going to keep lids for reuse, I recommend that you use the following technique.
Insert a butter knife between your canning lid and the topmost glass threads on your jar. Give the knife a gentle twist and your lid will pop free. Go easy, and the butter knife shouldn’t leave more than a scratch behind.
I prefer to use this method because it doesn’t interfere or mess with the structure of the lid!
Now that I’ve shown you how to reuse canning lids, I just want to remind you that I recommend avoiding it, whenever possible!
But if you do run out at the end of the year, if stores are out of stock or if you’re short just a lid or two, you now know how to reuse canning lids a second time!