October 16, 2021

Tips for Canning with Tattler Reusable Lids

Tattler two-piece reusable canning lids and rings

I've been using Tattler reusable canning lids for about eight years now. Many people like them, but many people don't. The biggest complaint is that they seem to have a higher failure rate than conventional metal canning lids. When I first started using them, this seemed to be true. But the appeal of not having to buy new lids every year was high, so I started to analyze why I was having fails. In this blog post, I'll share what I've learned, and how I've significantly increased my success rate with Tattler lids. It isn't going to be a canning tutorial, just some tips for dealing with a specific problem. To learn how to can, I'm going to refer you to The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. It's offered as free PDF files at that link. 


Who this blog post is for: Folks who are experienced canners, want to use Tattler lids, and are willing to experiment for a better sealing rate.

Who this blog post is not for: Folks who have never canned before, or who tried Tattlers, didn't like them, and prefer metal canning lids.

Okay, here we go. In observing and analyzing the lid failure problem, I have figured out four primary reasons why my Tattler lids don't seal. 

1. Something gets caught under the red rubber ring

The first step in successful canning is to use jars with flawless rims and to careful wipe those rims after filling the jars and before putting on the lids. Anything between the rim and red ring is a guaranteed failure. Assuming I've followed the first step, I've observed two reasons for this to happen:

a. During venting, tiny bits get caught under the rubber ring.

This lid failed, with chili powder being the culprit.

During processing, air is vented under the lid, which helps create the vacuum as the sealed jar cools. We've all had jars that lose some of the liquid during canning, no matter what kind of lids we use. Proper headspace along with consistent canning temperature and pressure are supposed to prevent this. But sometimes, jar contents boil out as well. I find this especially true of powdered spices that don't dissolve and fruits with tiny seeds, such as blueberries. 

  • For the spice escape problem, the answer is to either omit spices that don't dissolve, or put them in a spice bag while cooking the canning contents. Remove the spice bag when filling the jars.
  • For the seed problem, I had a terrible time canning blueberries. If I canned them as jam or pie filling, no problem. It was only as canned berries. So, the solution is either to choose another preservation method or accept the fails for the sake of getting at least some of it canned. I figured, the lids are reusable, so, so what? I used the fails to make blueberry jam. You just have to decide if that is acceptable to you or not.

b. The rubber rings aren't spotlessly clean.

Of course, used rings are washed with hot soapy water after the jar is opened, but does that make them spotlessly clean? Not always.

Here's what I've observed; that when I scald the rings and lids, the heat sometimes lifts food residue from the ring. It's something I don't see beforehand, but after scalding, oils (I think) rise on the surface of the ring. 

This ring looked clean when I put it into the pan to
scald. But look what the scalding water revealed.

So, each scalded ring is examined carefully before putting it on the jar. Rings with residue are scrubbed again and re-scalded. Doing this increased my successful sealing rate noticeably.

2. The rubber rings slip a bit off the jar rim

Rubber ring slippage

This was a problem when I thought I didn't need to carefully follow the instructions from the Tattler manufacturers. In other words, I was taking a short cut which resulted in more fails! To prevent this problem:

a. Feel to make sure the ring and lid are centered on the jar rim.

b. Visually check the ring to make sure it sits flatly on the jar rim.

c. Hold the lid and ring in place while screwing on the band.

My failure rate decreased significantly when I started following those steps.

3. The metal band doesn't screw on properly.

Not all metal bands fit all jars! Seems like they should, but sometimes they don't. Perhaps that's because of variations between brands and batches in both jars and screw bands. Or, maybe the band has become slightly imperfect. What I've figured out is, that if the band doesn't screw down perfectly on the jar, the seal will fail. The band may fit another jar just fine, but if it doesn't seat properly on a particular jar, I use a different band. I eliminated a few more fails after I started doing this. 

4. Allowing the jar to cool too much before completing the seal.

Tattler lids are loosened sightly before being put into the canner. This is to facilitate the air venting process. After processing, the lids must then be tightened to complete the seal. This is easiest with waterbath processing, because the jars are removed immediately when the time is up. With a pressure canner, the pressure must return to normal before opening the canner. Sometimes, I get distracted and don't get to completing the seal until after the jars have cooled a bit. If the contents of the jars have cooled too much, they won't seal properly.

Sometimes a jar passes the seal test, but later, after it's been in the pantry for awhile, I discover the lid is loose. I believe this is from completing the seal after the jars have cooled down too much. They're still hot enough to seal, but the vacuum is too weak to maintain a good seal over time. Again, I've had less fails since I started being more diligent with completing the seals.

Old rings will eventually fail too and must be discarded. 

When you have jars that fail, always take a careful look at the rubber rings from those jars. That can help you diagnose the problem. If a rubber ring is questionable, I'll use a different color screw band (I have a few that are white) on that jar to double check it. I keep a supply of replacement rings to replace those that must be discarded.

I still have occasional fails, but they are much more rare than they used to be. When they do happen, I either add the contents back to the next batch to be canned (for broths, applesauce, tomato sauce, etc.), add it to my leftovers jar for soup, or we eat it. Nothing is wasted, and there's peace of mind in not having to rely on the annual canning equipment supply chain.


Michelle said...

Interesting! I have some Tattler lids but not enough to use them exclusively; still, I have had 100% success with them in waterbacth canning, with cinnamon being the only spice sometimes present.

Leigh said...

Michelle, I'm so glad you've had such good success! Fails are never fun. I've had no trouble with cinnamon either, only chili powder.

Tattlers are expensive, which is a deterrent. But so many of us have been experiencing shortages of canning supplies, that I'm glad I bit the bullet and made the investment.

Mama Pea said...

Thank you, Leigh! This is the best advice I've read to insure success when using Tattler lids. Nothing like real experience along with very good pictures to help the rest of us understand how to use these lids. As always, thanks for sharing your experience.

Leigh said...

Thank you, Mama Pea, for your kind words. Much appreciated!

Kathy said...

I’ve switched to Weck canning jars and love them. However, they are an investment initially.
With them as well, I make sure the rubber rings are spotless before sanitizing them.
While I don’t can too much anymore, I sure will look into Tattler. Thanks, Leigh!
(L’il Rascal is 13 now and weighs about 16 lbs.!)

walking in beauty carmarthenshire said...

thanks Leigh, I can vouch for most of these comments, but thanks for reminding me to wash the rings better than I~ sometimes do.
I have also had a problem with the little plastic 'tags' on the edge of the lids, which sometimes prevent the rings from going on smoothly. My husband trims them with a file for me.

Leigh said...

Kathy, so good to hear from you! I love Weck jars; lucky you! They are on my wish list for someday. That would solve the problem of the metal bands eventually rusting away. I especially like the look of Weck's cylindrical jars. They seem so efficient on space.

I can't believe L'il Rascal is 13 years old! And such a big boy too. How time flies. Seems like just a couple years ago he was a kitten. We love our current cats, but the original Rascal was truly a special cat.

Walking in Beauty, thank you! It's nice to have the confirmation. I confess I was surprised when I first discovered the hidden "dirt" on my rubber rings. Nice that your husband helps!

Nancy In Boise said...

Great info! I bought some but haven't used them yet. I guess there was a "controversy" recently about using Tattler rings under used standard metal lids. I never thought of that! This woman teaches canning and is an educator, link here for her video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFZwIPp5pNQ She apologized a few days later, I guess Tattler got tons of calls. I might buy some extra gaskets, nice to have backups!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Thank you Leigh! I have some of these but have not used them yet. I will definitely keep these in mind.

Leigh said...

Nancy, I hadn't heard that one; probably wouldn't have thought it up either! I suspect, though, when there are shortages, folks come up with all kinds of creative ideas.

TB, Tattlers are a little different to use, but not much. I still buy the metal lids for items I plan to give as gifts, also for vacuum sealing jars. Someone told me Tattlers can do that too, but I've never tried it.

Ed said...

Have the majority of them lasted all eight years? I wonder how many you have left of your original investment?

I have thought about them off and on over the years. I grew up using just plain metal ones and I rarely have a failure. But last year, I ran out and couldn't get anymore due to Covid until well into winter. That has caused me to rethink things and perhaps but a few of those to have on hand. However I went overboard and now have about a four or five years supply of metal ones on stock so I may wait a couple years before buying any.

Leigh said...

Ed, I've only thrown away one rubber ring so far because it tore. But I keep a close eye on a few more. I do have a lot of them, however, because of last year's canning supply shortages. I don't necessarily choose the oldest ones first, I just keep them all in a small tote and grab what I need per canner load. So, I'd say they have pretty good longevity and have made up for their higher cost.

Sharon Kwilter said...

I found many of the problems when I used our Tattler lids. Thanks for the reminders and expanded list. Very helpful.

Leigh said...

Sharon, I hope it helps!

Kathy said...

Leigh, one thing about the Weck jars I love is that you can stack the smaller ones one top of each other in the canner. That blew my mind when I first used them. And you still have to make sure the rings are clean as well as the rims, so no chili powder allowed! LOL!
I don’t have many of them and, as you know, they are an investment. But worth every penny!

Leigh said...

Kathy, I've added them to my wish list!

Ron Clobes said...

Just checking back after a long time dealing with things on our homefront. Anyhow on the Tattler lids I find I get best results if I boil the lids and rings at a rolling boil and put them on hot and then get everything back into the canner. I an under the impression you don't want to boil regular lids as I get almost perfect sealing action on regular lids just heating them up lightly. I guess I prefer the regular lids over the Tattlers, but happy that I have the Tattlers as the regular lids have been hard to come by lately.

Leigh said...

Ron, good to hear from you! I agree that the tattlers are fussier to work with, but I've been willing to do it from a prepper standpoint. I'm glad I did because that has paid off! Toward end of summer this year, too, all canning supplies have been sold out. I'm really glad I stocked up on the tattlers.