Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
If you’ve ever tried canning your own food at home, you probably have made a run to the grocery store for yet another box of traditional metal canning lids. During late summer and early fall, those boxes of lids can quickly sell out and become hard to find.
Tattler lids are a great solution. They work much like metal canning lids but can be reused instead of thrown out after one use. Keep reading to learn more about how these lids work and how they can help you save money.
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Tattler Lid History
As with any American company created from the ground up, the Tattler canning history includes some interesting twists and turns.
Invented by Loren Stieg
Loren Stieg first invented this plastic canning lid in the 1970s, thanks to his experience as a tool and die maker in Michigan. His mother was an avid canner, and he learned much about the canning process from her years of canning food for the family.
Stieg found some success selling the reusable canning lids in the Midwest where many rural communities rely heavily on canning produce from home gardens and orchards. However, much wasn’t done with the company for over 25 years.
According to the Daily Sentinel, Loren originally called the lids “tattler” because of the sound that the first lids made when canning. In essence, he first designed the lids to make a noise when they were sealed to tattle on themselves. However, the design ultimately changed, but the name stuck.
Son Boosts Business
The overall reach of Tattler lids was limited due to the time and distribution issues. In 2010, Loren’s son, Brad, resurrected the brand and started selling the unique lids on the internet. Brad saw record growth in 2011 and 2012, and many stores now carry Tattler lids nationwide.
Stieg Parts Ways
In 2014, it was reported that Brad sold his interest in the company and signed a non-compete clause that lasted 5 years. The clause expired in March of 2019, and Stieg got right back into the reusable canning lid business. You can find his new company, Harvest Guard Reusable Canning Lids, that closely mimics the original Tattler lid.
Tattler Lid Materials
Tattler canning lids come in both regular and wide mouth sizes. The overall materials look much like traditional canning lids.
The Tattler lids are plastic instead of metal like traditional canning lids. The company states that the lids are indefinitely reusable, but most recommendations suggest using the lids up to ten times before replacing them. Usually, the lids are white, but there have been special colors made in the past, including pink and green. The top of the Tattler lid has the brand name molded into the plastic.
Each box of lids and rings includes a thick rubber ring to be used with each Tattler lid. This ring is separate and must be placed on the jar before the lid is placed on top. There is an E-Z seal Tattler lid that includes a spot for the rings and lid to be connected prior to canning as well.
The rubber ring is recommended to reuse as long as it is in good condition and isn’t showing any signs of wear or tear. If the lids fail, they usually do so because of the rubber ring. You can find replacement rings on the Tattler website.
The traditional canning bands used for metal lids are the same as those used for reusable Tattler lids. You can use the bands that you have on hand or purchase new ones as well.
How to Use Tattler Lids
While canning with Tattler lids is much like canning with metal lids, some differences are important to know. The company offers detailed instructions on how to secure the lids, rings, and bands properly.
Prepare and Fill Jars as Usual
Follow your standard canning procedures when using Tattler lids. Always inspect the jars, lid, ring, and band for cracks or damage. Wash, rinse, and sterilize the jars while leaving the lids and rings in scalding hot water. Fill the jars and leave the correct amount of headspace. Wipe the rims to ensure a proper seal.
Placing Ring, Lid, and Band
The most significant difference when canning with reusable Tattler lids comes when you place everything on the jar itself. First, put the rubber ring on top of the jar’s rim to cover the entire perimeter well.
Place the plastic lid on top of the ring to line it up correctly on top. If using the E-Z seal combination, put the rings on the bottom of the lids and use as one step.
Take the metal band and screw it onto the jar using your fingers. Lightly screw the band until the jar starts to move in correlation to the turning movement. It is vital that you don’t over-tighten the lids as they will create too much pressure when sealing in the canner.
Again, many homesteaders who first use Tattler lids are surprised at how little the jar is sealed at this point. It is crucial to refrain from tightening down the lid as you would a metal lid!
Process as Usual
Once the jars are filled and topped, process them in your pressure canner or water bath as usual to create a seal. When the jars are finished, make sure to tighten down the band of the jar immediately after taking it out of the canner.
The plastic lids may be slightly domed during the cooling process but should suck down to create a flat surface. The lids won’t pop like metal lids, though, so it is always a good idea to follow the canning process correctly.
Good Tips to Know
As with any newer product, there are many questions regarding the safety of reusable plastic canning lids. The Tattler company states that their lids are safe to use as long as the correct instructions are followed.
Plastic Lid Use
Some homesteaders don’t like the idea that the lid is plastic instead of metal. There is a trace amount of formaldehyde in the plastic lids, but the company states that the trace is only an issue when the lid is heated up to 450°F. Tattler states that the lid is safe to use with all food types except those containing 15% or more of alcohol.
Keeping Track of Uses
When labeling the canned food, it is recommended to use a paper label on the side of the glass jar instead of the top of the lid like you would typically do for a metal one-time use canning lid.
To help keep track of how many times a lid has been used, add a tally mark each time you use a Tattler lid. Once there are 10 tally marks on the lid, you’ll know that you used the lid 10 different times and should consider replacing it.
For the most part, national and state government agencies do not recommend the use of reusable plastic canning lids. Much of this has to do with research and the different composition of plastic lids than metal lids. Another reason why some government agencies don’t recommend using them is the greater chance of user error when placing the rubber ring on the jar and the lid.
It is important to use reusable canning lids at your own risk and exercise caution when opening homemade canning jars. If you ever have doubts about the food or the canning process, it is best to throw it out!
Many homesteaders choose to use reusable Tattler lids to save money on the farm. Not only do they help cut the cost of preserving your own food, but they also are easy to use once you get the hang of it. Consider picking up a box or two of Tattler or other plastic reusable lids this year.
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