Introduction: Canning With Tattler Lids
Tattler lids are food-grade-plastic canning lids suitable for both water bath and pressure canning. They are reusable indefinitely as long as they are cared for. They are two pieces: the white food-grade-plastic (no BPA) lid and the rubber ring. If the rubber ring splits or stiffens over time, it should be replaced (extra rings can be bought from the maker). They can be used with conventional metal jars, and just the jar rings are available from the maker.
Metal lids have some disadvantages:
- it is recommended that they be used only once for canning (they are still useful if jars are simply used for dry storage); a metal lid used in pressure canning will never properly seal again. I have reused lids that were only subject to short water-bath canning times, but their removal from such jars needs to be carefully done -- a crimp in the lid's edge will cause seal failure.
- they can corrode when used to seal products with vinegar and salt in them
- they are a constant cost for home preserving and price specials on them seem to occur less frequently
Currently the cost of Tattler lid is $2.50 US, If you do a lot of canning and plan to do it a lot of years, Tattler lids are good investment. I may reuse a Tattler lid two or three times in a calendar year as I cycle through stores and different crop seasons.
The handling of the lids differs from the handling of metal lids and this Instructable details how to do this.
Step 1: The Anatomy of a Tattler Lid
Conventional Mason jars and metal jar rings are used with the Tattler lids.
The jar ring is separate from the food-grade white plastic lid. The jar ring is what make the seal on jar (just as the flat ring of sealant on a metal lid makes the seal).
Though thin, the jar ring is fairly tough. It cannot, however, endure having the lid pried off the jar by inserting a knife between the lid and the ring or the ring and the jar's rim. Use a lifting type of cap opener (see photo above of one that Tattler sells) to safely remove sealed lids.
Jar rings can stiffen or split before lids reach their end of life. I keep a box of spare rings on hand should such a failure happen. I think I've used two in the five years I've been using Tattler lids.
Step 2: Proper Fill Level
I have found that Tattler lids will surely seal if you fill jars to 3/4 inch below the rim. If you follow the common recipe directions of to a half inch or quarter inch below the rim, your jars will often not seal with Tattler lids. These empty spaces are defined for metal lids which are thinner.
I have a stainless steel canning funnel whose lower rim will sit at just about three-quarters of an inch below the jar's rim, so I fill to just below that. Another handy quick measure is to fill to the start of the jar's metal ring thread, no matter what the jar size is.
Step 3: Prepping the Lids
Fresh out of their box, the lids do not need to be cleaned.
I always wash lids as I empty the jars, but I usually rewash them before using them again since the white plastic can retain odors from strongly flavored pickles and salsas. If a soap-and-vinegar solution doesn't remove the odor, I find that a thin paste of baking powder in water will do the trick.
Whether fresh or reused, the lids will need to be heated with hot water before they used to seal jars. I pour boiled water on them just before I take jars out of their pre-fill bath.
Step 4: Applying the Lids
After a jar is filled, I wipe the rim with a small wet sponge to remove any food on the rim that will interfere with sealing and to moisten the rim to better ensure a seal.
I use tongs to lift the lid from the hot water and place it on the jar. Then I screw on the jar ring.
The jar ring has to be tight enough that water will not enter the jar during processing, but loose enough that steam will escape the jar so that a vacuum seal will be created as the jar cools.
I tighten the ring "finger-tight" as I would for a metal lid. Then with my hand on the jar ring with my fingers at twelve o'clock (or true north), I turn the jar ring counter-clockwise to between ten and eleven o'clock (roughly north-northwest). If your hands are sensitive to heat, you will want to wear rubber gloves for this.
Proceed with processing, be it water-bath or pressure canning.
Step 5: After Processing
You will definitely need to wear rubber gloves for this last step in sealing with Tattler lids. Jars and rings will be very hot.
After you remove the jars from your processor, tighten the jar rings. You must do this while jar contents are expanded (and steam has escaped) so that as they cool and contract, the vacuum created draws down the lid for a tight seal. There will be no "pop" as the seal is created, but after the jars have cooled, you may feel a slight indentation of the plastic lid.
Leave the jars to cool completely. Before putting into storage, remove the jar rings and try lifting the lids. If a lid lifts off, that jar did not seal. Put it in the refrigerator for early use. Since I rarely consume an entire jar at once, I store jars with the jar rings on so I can seal open jars for refrigerator storage.