With the national shortage of canning supplies, it’s become extremely difficult to find jars, lids, and even pressure canners. So what do we do if we can’t find what we need to preserve the harvest?
Or maybe we’re OK for this year, but the shortage will likely continue into the next canning season. Don’t be without the canning supplies you need for next year! Do this NOW!
If you’re in a pinch and really need to preserve your harvest, be sure to check out these other methods of food preservation:
Where Can I Find Canning Supplies?
This year, with major supply chains on backorder, in order to find canning supplies you may have to look for them in non-obvious places:
- Hardware stores
- Smaller grocery stores
- Country mercantile or antique stores
- Garage sales
- Grandma’s attic
Get on a Waiting List
If the places above don’t have any canning supplies in stock, and they have no idea when they’re expecting more, get on a waiting list to be notified as soon as they’re back in stock.
Some places may even allow you to pre-order to ensure your spot on the waiting list.
Try Social Media
Hop on Facebook and put out an ISO for canning supplies. If people need money and are willing to sell their canning supplies, you might be able to benefit!
But know what to look for before blindly buying used canning supplies:
- Make sure all reusable lids are not more than two years old.
- Make sure jars are free from nicks and scratches.
- Check the sealing compound on all two piece canning lids to make sure they’re in good usable condition.
Keep watching online store supplies. For instance, at the time of this recording, Lehmans has certain sizes of the All American pressure canners in stock!
But know your online sources! If you’re going to order something from Amazon, you’ll want to know where the products are coming from.
You can actually find canning lids online right now, but if they’re coming from China, the metal will be weaker and there are reports of the lids actually shrinking or crimping during the canning process.
You also need to know that the sealing compound on the lids are not as robust, meaning many people are reporting losing their seals much easier.
I also couldn’t ensure any of the sources are BPA-free or food-grade plastic.
In short, always check the reviews! But be attentive, I actually saw reviews for a DIFFERENT product under the product review I was reading.
There were a few products with positive reviews that I would take a chance on. But be smart with what you’re canning with these questionable products. Avoid canning higher-priced items like canned beef (or venison, etc.).
Because the metric system is used, it’s important to note that a regular mouth jar or lid is 70m and a wide mouth jar or lid is 85m.
Can I Reuse Canning Lids?
Reusing Lids is generally a no-no, but if you can’t find canning lids and are risking your harvest going bad, what do you do?
Ball tells you NOT to reuse lids, however, Ball also stands to profit every time you need to can.
A master-canner friend and I put our heads together to discuss the practicality of reusing lids. What are the dangers, what are the benefits, and what is the true concern?
The real danger of reusing lids is that they won’t reseal. But if your jar doesn’t seal you’ll know it right away! So the only real worry is that you’ll need to use up a few jars of food if they don’t seal.
How to Reuse Canning Lids
In order to reuse a canning lid:
- Make sure the lid is completely free of dents and nicks.
- Inspect the sealing compound on the bottom of the lid and make sure it’s all still there. You need a complete ring of sealing compound in order to reuse the lid.
- It’s probably best to keep reused lids to water-bath canning. The reason for this is that the higher temperature of pressure canning is going to break down the sealing compound faster.
- You can try to use a lid in a pressure canner, but you’ll just want to make sure your lids have a proper seal after the jars have fully cooled.
Be sure to check out our top canning mistakes to avoid so you know how to properly and safely store your food.
One-Part Canning Lids
In some parts of the world, one-part canning lids are the only lid options available.
We’ve been told in the US, by the USDA that they’re not safe.
“As long as the proper jar type, size and shape is used with properly researched canning procedures, the lid choice itself, for example, two-piece metal, plastic, or one-piece metal lids, does not affect the microbiological safety of the canning process. The issues become ease of use, success in sealing, and maintenance of vacuum and food-quality during storage.”So Easy to Preserve
The bottom line is they just don’t have the funding to go back and test a whole new kind of lid for safety.
The exciting thing about one-piece lids is that they’re readily available right now, but they’re not sold as one time use lids, they’re acutally sold as reusable lids.
One thing you have to be careful of with the one-piece lids is to NOT overtighten them. If you overtighten them, you risk ruining your lids or breaking your jars. The two-piece lids do have much more forgiveness.
What Jars are Good for Canning?
We’re often told not to use jars that aren’t approved canning jars. The reason we’re told this is that jars, such as spaghetti jars from the grocery, may not be able to handle the pressure of the canner.
If this is true, however, the worst thing that will happen if you try using a different kind of jar, as long as the lid actually fits, is that the jar is going to break in your canner.
If that’s it, then you might lose a jar or two of food! But, if it works, then you’re just fine!
Do be sure you’re watching for any nicks or chips, as with all canning jars.
Also, be sure the size of the jar correlates with the canning times. If you’re using a jar that’s in between sizes, you’ll always want to can to the larger jar size.
Pressure Canners & Water Bath Canners
Right now water bath canners are still relatively easy to get. But if you don’t have one, or can’t find one, it’s important to note that you don’t actually need a water bath canner in order to water bath can.
You can use a large stockpot with lid. The important thing is that the jars don’t touch the bottom of the pot. Simply fold a kitchen towel and put it on the bottom of a stockpot and water bath can that way.
DO NOT try to pressure can in your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. These are not safe.
Don’t ever use a pressure canner that doesn’t have a weight or a pressure gauge that’s been tested within the current canning year.
Where can I find pressure canners?
- Pleasant Hill Grains is taking pre-orders for All American canners, and some sizes are expected to be in stock by November 2020.
- Lehman’s is getting some sizes of pressure canners in stock.
- Multiple sizes and models of pressure canners are still available through Amazon.
- You can even check your local Walmart or big-box store.
Will there still be a canning supply shortage in 2021?
If you don’t have all the canning supplies you need for next year’s canning season, I’d recommend sourcing everything now. Get on the pre-order list or waiting list, or, better yet, just have your supplies waiting!
Having canning supplies is as good as money in the bank! Especially if we see price increases in the future.
More Canning Recipes & Tutorials:
- Preservation 101: Introduction to Canning
- How to Water Bath Can
- Step By Step Tutorial For Canning Meat (Raw Pack Method)
- How to Can Beef Stew for Easy Convenience Meals
- Canning Bone Broth or Stock (Chicken, Beef, or Vegetable)
- Easy White Bean Chicken Chili – Pressure Canning Recipe
More Related Posts on Preserving:
- Five Common Canning Mistakes to Avoid
- Canning Mistakes to Avoid When Water Bath & Pressure Canning
- Food Preservation Calendar (A Year-at-a-Glance)
- Can you Pressure Can in an Instant Pot?
- How Long is Canned Food Good For?
- Prepping Your Pantry for Preserving Season
- Building Up a Well-Stocked Pantry
Josh: Hey guys, this is Josh.
Carolyn: And Carolyn.
Josh: With Homesteading Family. And welcome to this week's episode of the Pantry Chat Food for Thought.
Carolyn: This week we're going to be talking about what to do when the canning supplies are gone.
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Josh: All right. So today we're going to be talking about canning supplies. And people are having a very hard time getting a lot of things, particularly jars and lids.
Carolyn: Yeah. Right now they are pretty much gone in a lot of places-
Josh: Well that's what a lot of people are telling us.
Carolyn: ... they just can't get them. So we're going to be talking today about what to do if you are in that situation, you're wanting to can more but you can't get the supplies, maybe you want to start canning but you're having a hard time finding lids, jars, canners. We're going to be talking through your different options, creative ways to find them, all sorts of things. And a few of them might really surprise you. So I think this is going to be a really fun session in the Pantry Chat today.
Josh: Sounds like it. But before we get started, let's catch up for a minute and answer subscriber question.
Carolyn: Some chitchat.
Josh: What is going on with you here in... We're in late October.
Josh: Winter's coming.
Carolyn: Winter is coming. Winter feels like it's here already. We had a very cold snap. We got down to six degrees already. Six. As in only a few degrees away from zero.
Josh: Yeah. That's November, late November weather.
Carolyn: That's what we'd expect then, not this early. We feel like we're about a month early on this kind of weather. So that has sent us scrambling, a little bit, to get some of our final preps in place for winter. But I've actually been doing a few winter prep things that are maybe not so homesteady this last week. One of them, and this is a big one, if you live somewhere where it gets cold and freezes, you really, if you have any chips in your windshields, your vehicle windshields, you have to get those fixed before the weather starts fluctuating too hard. Because those will turn into cracks, and breaks, and all sorts of things.
Carolyn: So I actually was able to get a windshield fixed yesterday, which was great. Get a chip fixed. And it's good to fix them when they are chips and not cracks. I also did, I know I talked about this a little bit last episode, I completed the entire family clothing switch.
Josh: Good job.
Carolyn: It's amazing. I always think to myself when I'm going into this, wouldn't it be easier just to go to the thrift store and just buy them everything they need rather than sort through these dozens and dozens of boxes? But then after I do it and I see how small my shopping list really is for clothing, and I think, "No, it's worth it." Every single time it's worth it because we're able to move clothing from one person, or from one season, to the next person or season. And we end up saving a lot of money by organizing our clothes that we're not using anymore and keeping them stashed away, and then being able to bring them back out. So it's definitely worth it.
Josh: And to give a picture, it might not seem like that big of a deal to you to be switching clothes. But we're talking 36 boxes.
Carolyn: There's a lot of boxes of clothes.
Josh: And, in this case, this was the girls day. So six girls all packed into the living room, and all the existing clothes that are in the room having to be all brought out and shifted around and gone through and tried on. It is crazy.
Carolyn: One of my number one goals, and I talk about this in my household management series, when I'm talking about clothing and laundry, is to reduce the overall amount of clothing that's actually in the closets, or in the drawers, or in circulation at any give time. The less laundry that you actually have to do the better. The fewer amount of clothes that are hanging up, the fewer amount of clothes there are to get thrown on the ground, to get stepped on, to get lost. So anyways, always looking to reduce the amount of clothes while still making people feel like they have good options to wear.
Josh: Project board good fruit.
Carolyn: Yes, they did. It was a good one. What about you? What have you been up to?
Josh: Just the winter preps really. Getting the hay in, getting feed in, we brought in 15 times of hay. And about five tons of feed.
Josh: And I'm making sure the barn's good to go, our electric systems, our water deicing systems are all working and running. We've got some new baby chicks in that we're just having to watch over and take good care of. It's a little cold to bring them in this time of year. But for egg layers we really like it, because they hit the spring running, when we need new egg layers. So they're taking a little extra attention, just because it has been cold. And-
Carolyn: Yeah. We had a little snafu with the baby chicks, the other morning, didn't we?
Josh: Yeah we did, yeah, yeah, yeah, we did. We lost a couple with the getting the water heaters going.
Carolyn: Oh, the water-
Josh: The trough heaters-
Carolyn: The trough heaters are the-
Josh: They take a lot of electricity. And so we have to be careful, because we don't have a large breaker at the barn. That's an upgrade to do in the future. And anyways, a few things, it got overloaded, tripped, and the chicks got a little cold.
Carolyn: Got it.
Josh: Yeah. So that was a little rough. You got to be careful, you got to watch those guys any time of the year, but especially this time of year, so.
Carolyn: I came down to coffee in the morning and Josh was sitting by the fire snuggling five little chicks trying to warm them up, the ones that had gotten excessively cold, and got them all toasty again. And he was sitting there peeping to them over coffee. It was really cute. It was a heartwarming moment, so.
Josh: They were talking to me too.
Carolyn: They were.
Josh: Yeah, we had a good morning conversation.
Carolyn: They were. And they perked up, and they got back out to the coop, so.
Josh: Yep. Saved them, saved all of those.
Josh: Yeah. So yeah, that's really it. Getting ready to wrap up the garden. I mean, the garden's done as far as harvesting. But I like to get everything wrapped up, all my compost down, and readily set up for spring to make spring a lot easier. Yeah, I started doing that a few years ago, and that's really, really helpful to do that now, especially with a no-till system. This makes spring really easy, so.
Carolyn: Yeah. I'm really hoping to do the same out in my cottage garden. But I'm not seeing the window of opportunity here. So it may wait for a spring day. I don't know. We'll see. We'll see if I get it done or not.
Josh: Yeah. Sometimes it's hard to get it all done. You got to prioritize. And pick your battles.
Carolyn: Yeah. Absolutely. All right. So let's move on to a-
Carolyn: ... a viewer question here. So DC on preparing your garden and soil for winter asks, "Can you use chicken manure even if it is fresh and allow it to stay still spring? Like six months out?"
Josh: Oh absolutely. That's a great way to go. It's high in nitrogen. And so you definitely don't want to put it right on your plants or within a few weeks, you want several months. But it's great. You can lay it out there, and if you could broadfork it or mix it in with the soil a little bit, that would be great as well. And then when things get going in the spring it'll have a little better contact with the soil, and everything will start kicking in a little earlier for you. If you're just going to lay it on the top, if that's what you need to do, that's fine too.
Josh: Just as soon as your ground is workable get out there and just mix it in with that top inch or two of soil. As soon as you can. And that'll help get it broken down. So that's a great, great idea. If you're cleaning out the chicken coop. We do that, but what we do is, we put it all into one big compost pile, which is what I forgot to say, and what else we're doing. We've started next fall's compost now. And one of those was cleaning out the chicken manure out of the barn along with other things. We just put it in a big compost pile.
Carolyn: Yeah, and then it composts for the year, along with other things that you're adding to it and-
Josh: Sure. Because we need compost in a lot of different areas. But this is absolutely great. If you've just got some chicken manure and want to get it on your rows, let it sit still spring, totally works fine.
Josh: All right. Okay well, diving in, and this is an issue, this is just one of many issues that people are dealing with with watching supplies run out. We are supply challenged in a lot of areas, in homestead living, and a lot of areas just in life. I mean, we're still waiting for a bicycle we ordered, twin bicycle for her birthday months ago.
Carolyn: Months ago.
Josh: And this is going to be the reality. This is not, we don't think, going away anytime soon. We're going to talk about this today, right?
Josh: Including with these canning supplies. This isn't just going to get better after November 3rd, or after December 31st, 2020. There's a lot of reasons to understand that we're going to have some supply issues for a while. And as homesteaders, we want to be able to can. And you've got some great ideas and resources here, because a lot of people just can't find canning supplies. They're gone.
Carolyn: Yeah. They are actually gone in a lot of places, and they're completely out of stock. I've seen websites now starting to say, "Not taking any more orders for 2020, completely sold out for 2020." They're just gone. And they're seeling ahead, right now, in most places in order to get canning supplies you need to order them now and expect to wait for two to three months at this point, is what they're saying. So this is an issue if you've got food you're trying to get on the shelf right now.
Josh: Well, and a lot of people did extra gardening this year. Right?
Josh: And so they're wanting to do extra preserving. And there's a lot of forces all kind of going to work at once here to make this a challenging situation.
Carolyn: Right. So there are actually a lot of options that we have. Some of them are maybe non-standard options, but we're going to talk about the safety of them, how to use them safely, and some of them are just creative options that you can look around. So I think you guys are going to be really surprised at what you can do, and what you've been told you can't do, but maybe for reasons you didn't expect. So we're going to go over that today.
Josh: Right, some good solutions.
Josh: Real, real good solutions here.
Josh: Cool. So a little bit about the current situation, what's going on, I mean we're identifying that they're gone, they're hard to get. What's happening with that?
Carolyn: Yeah. Well between people getting nervous this spring and everybody deciding, "Hey, I'm going to grow a big garden, I'm going to preserve more, I'm going to can more." I think that that is a really reasonable response to the way that the world is right now.
Josh: And can I add, we hope that you guys that are doing that will stick with it. Don't just let this be a reactionary moment or season in 2020. Seize this opportunity to increase these skills and lifestyle, and bring it into your life wherever you're living.
Carolyn: When we were a more agricultural society it was very common practice for most households to have their year's worth of food brought in in the fall, because that's the way the agriculture year works, right? You're harvesting your food-
Josh: Growing season, harvest season.
Carolyn: ... you pack everything in, then you eat it off during the next year until you can replace that. And it would be a great thing to be getting back to a little bit more of that. But as people started realizing they wanted to do that this year, and seeing the events of COVID, they started buying in supplies at a level that was unprecedented at the same time that factories were shutting down, delivery services were shutting down, things were shutting down, or because of social distancing they were having to decrease capacity. And so factories were slowing while demand got bigger. And so at this point, now they're so far behind that even if COVID just disappeared next week, which-
Josh: Which obviously it's not.
Carolyn: ... it's not going to do.
Josh: It's going to continue to impact production in many areas.
Carolyn: Even if it did though, we're now months and months behind. So this is something to take seriously, even if you're thinking about next year's canning, right? So this is why it's always a good reason to buy ahead. If you know that you're going to can next year, you should always... It doesn't matter if it's a COVID year. We're not talking 2020, 2021, 2022, any year that you go, "Hey, I'm going to can next year." When you're thinking about buying your garden seeds, get all your canning supplies. Just bring it all in.
Josh: And so why you need to be... Well even if you're having a hard time getting canning supplies right now, you need to be creative and continue to look. Don't give up. Carolyn's got some solutions for you here, but still be planning, still be looking and thinking ahead to 2021, 2022. So be creative about finding your sources of supplies. And there's some things here you're just going to want to stick with over time.
Carolyn: Right. Good. Okay. So let's talk about how to get the supplies right now if you're looking and you don't have them.
Carolyn: Okay? All right. So the first thing to do is to be creative about finding resources close to you, okay? They still do exist. There are still places that we have canning supplies in the system right now. You may need to go look at small out of the way grocery stores, hardware stores often carry canning supplies. And in fact, they're a great source for them.
Josh: Well and I noticed, they run out but then they get resupplied. They've got a supply chain, and so they're going to have access to some things that you might not have online at times. And so while they don't carry as much, they do generally continue resupply. We've seen that here at our local store. And that's where you want to find out, when are they getting them in, when's the next batch coming in, and that's where you can continue to think ahead, just on that one source.
Carolyn: It's very true. And you need to be talking to the people there. Ask them, "Hey, you don't have any on the shelf. Do you have any in the back? When do expect a next shipment in? Can I get a phone call when it comes in?" Just start talking to people in your local stores. Ask around on Facebook and Craigslist. There's a lot of people who thought they were going to do a big garden this year, they got all their canning supplies. And then maybe they decided it wasn't worth it, their garden didn't work out, now they have extra canning supplies. So put out an in search of, or an ISO for people who have canning supplies and see if you can find any.
Josh: And I would stay on that one for a while too, in your Facebook groups, in your places, because you're going to find that more and more, even as we work through the winter. People may still be holding on and keeping them. There's just a lot of variety of situations. And you're going to find that a lot of people went out and maybe panic bought, did different things. Somewhere in here, maybe towards Christmas, people need Christmas money, different things. There's a lot of strategies to employ there, where people may be selling, in this case, these canning supplies, jars, lids that you want. Just stick with it and stay engaged.
Carolyn: Yeah. If you're doing that, one really important tip, and we'll talk about this again later, is make sure that the reusable lids are not older than two years. You want to use them within about two years, especially if you don't know how they've been stored in somebody else's house. Again, go to the big box stores, go to your Walmart, your places like that. Ask them if they have any more in the back and if they have any chance that they're going to be bringing any more in. Just start talking to people.
Carolyn: But also keep watching online stores, because I have seen them now start to restock and get little stocks of things, and actually list them. Lehman's just got a whole new stock of one size of their all-American canners in. Which have been sold out everywhere else, they're completely sold out. But you can, at least at the moment that we're recording this, you can go and get them. They said supplies are limited. But you do need to be watching, because these things do show up. So keep looking.
Josh: All righty. So, but while you're doing that, there are some other things out there on the market that you're going to run into, right?
Josh: That you need to think about. And this is particularly, I think a bunch of Chinese made products and lids particularly are coming on the market and available. And that's not our favorite go-to, but it's there, it's a resource, but it sounds like there's some things they need to know if they're going to go that route.
Carolyn: Yeah. If you go to Amazon right now and put canning lids in, you are going to get tons of options that are ready to ship tomorrow. There are a lot out there. Chinese manufacturing companies have seen this opportunity, and they've jumped in in a place where there's a need right now. The challenge is, is the quality is not as good in most cases, maybe there's somebody out there making some really good ones. It's not as good as your normal American-made or American-controlled lids that you're used to finding.
Josh: So what's wrong with them? What are the issues?
Carolyn: Okay. So the metal is much thinner for one. And so canners are experiencing crinkling with the lids, where the lids are actually warping in the canning process.
Josh: Wow, that sounds like-
Carolyn: That's not good.
Josh: ... sounds like aluminum foil.
Carolyn: Well, it's not good. Especially if you want those things to be shelf stable. The sealing compounds on the lids are not as robust. And so people are losing their seals much more easily. Also, on all the ones that I looked on, I couldn't find anything that said whether things were BPA-free or if they were made from food grade materials. Now we assume that in something that's manufactured in the United States. You can't just make that assumption if it's made other places with fewer controls.
Carolyn: And so you really need to look. I would highly recommend you read the reviews. Amazingly enough, of all the different products I look for on Amazon, and I clicked in and read the reviews, a vast majority of them somehow had managed to get reviews from a different product in their review section. So I don't know if that's a...
Carolyn: I don't want to call anybody out when I don't know the circumstance. Maybe it's an Amazon mistake. Maybe it's a really tricky way of getting a lot of five star reviews that you don't actually have, because it's for a different product. I don't know. But please make sure you actually read the reviews before you check in. Don't by anything that's not reviewing the actual lids so you know what's happening.
Josh: And one thing we do is, we go and read the negative reviews, not just how many stars, and how many people, but what are some of the negative reviews? Because if there's enough of them and there's enough consistency, and it's not just people... There's always people that are complaining and whining, don't like something. But you can often get an idea if there's a legitimate concern there, by reading through those negative reviews.
Carolyn: You kind of have your heads up. So, now all that to say, if you can find one that looks good, and there were a few out there that I thought, "Ooh, it was BPA-free. It did look good. It did have good reviews." There were a few of them there and I thought, "I'd take a chance on that." Just be aware that those lids often have a higher chance of failure. So I wouldn't be putting really expensive food in that jar. I wouldn't be filling a quart sized jar with beef and canning it with one of those lids when I might lose multiple of the jars. That can be a real bummer. So just be aware that you're going to have a higher chance of failure. And just so that you know, if you're looking, because they're working in millimeters, they're working in the metric system-
Josh: Mm-hmm (affirmative). The metric system.
Carolyn: ... over there, a regular mouth jar would be a 70 millimeter. And a wide mouthed jar would be an 86 millimeter. So if you're seeing different options and you don't know how to interpret them, just know that that 86 is the wide, and the 70 millimeter is the regular.
Josh: Good. That's good information to have.
Carolyn: Yeah. Good to have on hand.
Josh: Great. Okay. So those are some of the options that are out there on either finding your own or using these other alternatives that are out there, and what to watch for. But you've got some great tips on what to do if you just can't find what you need but you still can find some used or have some used or whatever, if you're already canning or you know somebody that is. So let's talk about reusing lids. In my understanding, that's a generally a no-no. No-no.
Carolyn: Yep, no-no.
Josh: Don't do that. But I think you've got some tips that can help people out. We're getting in a tough situation. And you need to be creative. So what can people do?
Carolyn: Well, a good friend of mine who is a master preserver, she also helps me inside our masterclass, our persevering, The Abundant Pantry: Canning Masterclass. And she and I were putting our heads together over this one, because there are a lot of people who just literally cannot find jars, or lids I mean, and cannot get them. And so we were discussing the practicalities and the safety issues with reusing lids. And here's the thing about reusing lids, Ball tells you not to reuse them, okay?
Josh: Of course.
Carolyn: Ball also profits every time you buy new lids. So let's talk about, what happens, what is the safety or the danger if you reuse a lid? Well the danger is that your lid may not seal, okay?
Josh: Right. Might not seal correctly.
Carolyn: It's not going to seal correctly.
Josh: You don't know it and-
Carolyn: Well here's the thing, if it doesn't seal correctly, then you do know it-
Josh: Oh, that's true.
Carolyn: ... because you don't have a seal.
Carolyn: And so the real issue with this here is that you may lose seals on things. It's kind of like we were talking about, those Chinese made ones, you may not want to put your high dollar items inside that jar, just knowing that you may have a higher chance of a seal failure if you're reusing your lids. Okay. In order to reuse a lid it would have to be completely dent, nick, non-bent, completely free of any sort of twisting of the metal-
Josh: So it needs to be in good shape.
Carolyn: Any damage, right?
Josh: Right, yeah. It needs to be in very good shape.
Josh: Which, it's easy to damage them when you're taking them off.
Carolyn: Yeah. When you're removing them from a jar, I have heard that there is a special tool out there now, I haven't seen it yet, that's just for removing lids from the jars without damaging them, just so that you can reuse them. That would be worth looking that one up and checking out.
Josh: Yeah, it would.
Carolyn: So you need to have a completely good shape lid still. The other thing that you need to do is inspect the sealing compound on the bottom side of that lid and make sure that it is all still there. You need a complete ring of sealing compound still on that lid. If some of it has come off, then you're not going to want to use that one, you're going to want to toss that one, okay?
Josh: Got it. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Carolyn: The other thing is that, it's probably best to keep this to water bath canning, and just reusing it for water bath canning. The reason for that is that the higher temperature of the pressure canning is going to break down your sealing compound a lot faster. So if you've water bath canned something, you can save the lid from it when you open that item, and then use that lid again for water bath canning again. That should be very safe as long as you get a good seal.
Josh: Could you use a water bath canning lid, if you're in a jam, that you've used for water bath canning and you need something for pressure canning?
Carolyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Josh: Could you take that water bath lid and then use that for the pressure canning? That sounds like that would be under what you're describing, that would be a good solution.
Carolyn: Absolutely. You could definitely do that, just again, realize that you may have a higher percentage of failure with those lids. So but the big key here guys is, don't ever store your jars with the rings on, that way you're very sure if you get a false seal, or you get anything funny going, you always know when you have a lid failure. There's no question about it. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, we did a video I think last year on the top five canning mistakes you shouldn't make. You really need to check that out.
Josh: We'll get you a description for that down below.
Carolyn: Yeah. That would be really important.
Josh: Or in the show notes.
Carolyn: Good, okay.
Josh: Yeah, I had one thought on that too, just in addition to it. If you are going to do that, and you're doing a lot of jars, and because there is an increased risk of failure, just be a little more diligent in going through your stocks and checking things. Because if you can catch them, I would assume if you're catching them quickly you could still use them.
Carolyn: You have 24 hours after the canning process to catch a seal failure and get that item into the refrigerator. And then you have to use it like a fresh item. So it's no longer preserved. But that can absolutely work. And, of course, you can can it again. You have to go through the entire process again, but you can do that if you get a seal failure there.
Josh: Right, cool.
Josh: All right. So another solution is a discussion about these one part lids.
Carolyn: Yes, one part lids.
Josh: One piece?
Carolyn: One piece lids.
Carolyn: You can call them either things. In some parts of the world, those are the only lid options that they have. So they're actually accustomed to using them. Now we've been told in the United States that maybe they're not safe. They're recommending against by the USDA.
Josh: But wait, but yeah there's a lot of the world that is using them just fine.
Carolyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes.
Carolyn: Now I dove into why it is that the USDA is not recommending them. And you guys might be surprised, I actually have a quote for you here from So Easy to Preserve, who's authors help write the USDA complete guide. So this is as into the USDA as we're going to get a quote from and an explanation from. And they say, "As long as the proper jar type, size, and shape is used with properly researched canning procedures, the lid choice itself, for example two piece metal, plastic, or one piece metal lids, does not effect the microbiological safety of the canning process. The issues become ease of use, success in sealing, and maintenance of vacuum and food quality during storage."
Carolyn: Okay, so-
Carolyn: ... they're straight out telling you, this is not a safety issue.
Josh: This is not a safety issue at all.
Carolyn: It's not a safety issue.
Josh: Even though we've been told that or made to feel that way.
Carolyn: Yes, yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And this, again, is one of those things where they just don't have the money to go back and test and entire different set of lids. And so by default they say that they are not safe.
Josh: Is that right?
Carolyn: But even here they're saying, it's not a safety issue. It's a handling issue, which means they're a little bit harder to use and you may have more jar failures. More jar failures could mean 1%. It could be actually a very, very small number. And so it's really good to know, because one piece lids are very available right now. And the other thing about one piece lids is that they are often sold as reusable lids.
Carolyn: And they are not single use lids. After doing this research, I honestly think that I'm going to start looking at using one piece lids more regularly in my normal canning, not even as an emergency backup-
Josh: Well that's a-
Carolyn: ... because I love the idea of reusable lids.
Josh: Sure. It's a huge money saver. If you are canning 500, 1,000 or more jars a year, that's huge if you can either reuse them or even better, have a lid that's made for that and reusable. And I don't think it's a funding issue, I think they don't want us to go that route issue.
Carolyn: That could be too.
Carolyn: There's a lot of them available pretty cheaply. The one thing that you do need to know on using reusable lids is... I'm sorry, the one piece lids, is that you cannot overtighten them. You can get away with a lot more overtightening on the two piece lids, because it still allows a little bit of venting from the lid. You will ruin your lids and possibly break your jars if you overtighten these. So you want to make sure you just tighten them down until the sealing compound is in contact with the rim of the jar. That leaves them lose enough to allow venting until that seal makes a solid contact during the canning process.
Josh: I see a video coming for next year's canning videos. Because people are going to want to remember that and have something to refer to. So, make sure you're at least reading the directions or finding out if you're going to take advantage of those. But that sounds like a fantastic resource right now if those are widely available.
Josh: So moving on to jars. And jars are another one that people are having a hard time getting. We get people asking us that all the time. And some of the previous options, I think, apply. But let us know about other jar options.
Carolyn: Okay. So this is another one where we're kind of go outside of the box a little bit.
Carolyn: Because we're told regularly not to use other jars besides home canning Mason type jars.
Josh: So what are other jars that would work for canning that they're telling us not to use?
Josh: Just give us a few descriptions. What is it that people use that they don't want us using?
Carolyn: Right. Grocery store spaghetti sauce jars is really-
Josh: Oh, cool, okay.
Carolyn: ... glass jars from the grocery store. And what is noted safety-wise is that they won't be able to handle the pressure of home canning. Now-
Josh: Because the glass isn't designed, or whatever-
Carolyn: That's what they say.
Josh: ... it is supposedly.
Carolyn: Exactly. Now I had a great conversation one time with a Amish lady, actually she was an ex-Amish lady who was telling me that her dad was a grocer and laughed at that notion because how much more heavy duty the store bought jars actually are. Because they have to be banged around all the time. They have to be shipped, they have to be everything, with minimal packaging. And so he laughed at that. But let's go a little bit more scientific than that, okay?
Josh: Sorry for my ignorance here. How are those foods canned? Are those not heat canned? Are those... They're-
Carolyn: They're canned under a much more controlled process. So they can get away with things in a factory setting that we can't in a home setting. So there is some differences in the canning process.
Josh: But they're still exposed to heat-
Carolyn: Yes, yeah.
Josh: ... and actually quite a process.
Carolyn: So here's the thing, again, what's going to happen if you get a jar from your spaghetti sauce that you bought at the grocery store, you've got that sitting on your shelf, as long as your lids actually fit on the jars, so we're talking your good canning lids, as long as those screw down, they actually fit, what's going to go wrong with that? Well, if it's not able to handle the heat it's going to break in the canning process. Probably in your canner.
Josh: Right, yeah.
Carolyn: That's kind of it.
Josh: That's kind of it.
Carolyn: That's kind of it.
Josh: And so you're going to know it if something goes wrong.
Carolyn: Right, exactly.
Josh: As long as the lid fits, so your lid needs to screw on properly, you're not having to force it on, or screw around with it. Obviously the shape needs to be, the size needs to be there.
Josh: But if those all come together and you can it, and you get a seal, and your jar doesn't break, then-
Carolyn: Then you've got a jar that's sealed.
Josh: ... then what's the problem?
Carolyn: Yeah. This is again, going back to that comment, there are no microbiological things happening here. This is not changing anything about the canning process. This is not a problem for canning. The things you do need to make sure you watch for those, one, obviously anything that's nicked and chipped. But you have to do that for your regular canning jars too.
Josh: Sure, especially if you're finding used ones, which we all do.
Carolyn: Right, exactly. But you have to make sure that the sizes correlate to our canning sizes so that you know that you are canning for the correct amount of time, right? Our canning recommendations on time are based on the jar size. If you get an in between jar size, in between pint and quart, you always go to the higher size time requirements in the safety charts, right? So you have to make sure you've got the size worked out, you have to make sure there's no chips, and you have to make sure your lid fits.
Carolyn: And if all of those things are true, and the jar survives the canning process, which I've got to say, I've done this multiple times, I've never had a jar break. So chances are it's going to survive the canning process. Then you're good to go. You're not endangering your family with botulism or anything else just by using a store bought spaghetti jar, as long as you get a good seal and you do the processing correctly using the correct method for the correct amount of time.
Josh: This is really powerful.
Carolyn: It is.
Josh: I mean, these are really powerful options, as far as canning goes. And a lot of the point of canning, besides preserving food and being prepared and healthy food is cost. And we are very cost aware on these things, and wanted to get the cost of our good quality food down. And this is a big deal.
Carolyn: It is a big deal. And we have this issue where the safety that comes out, we're told all these things that are supposed to be about safety. But sometimes it's just because they haven't tested it, or maybe they feel like it's ease of handling, and honestly, I would like to be able to make those decisions myself. If it's just an ease of handling or the chance that I might have a few more jar failures or seal failures, I would like to be told that, and I would like to be able to make that decision-
Josh: Right, because those-
Carolyn: ... as a responsible consumer and preserver myself. They don't really present it in that way. So it takes a little bit of work to sort it out. But I think this is really important. And we need to start doing this in the preserving community and kind of go, "Ball, let's let go of our monopoly here. And let's be real about the information and talk about safety versus how do you get us to keep buying your jars and your lids." So-
Josh: Right, well there's no incentive there.
Carolyn: Okay. I'll get off my soapbox. Okay.
Josh: Right, no, no, this is great. This is very, very good information. And but we do need to move on. So let's talk about canners for a moment. I know there have been times where canners were very hard or nearly impossible to get. What's going on now and what thoughts do you have?
Carolyn: Right now water bath canners are still relatively easy to get.
Josh: Yeah those are-
Carolyn: And the great thing about them is, you don't even need a water bath canner, you can use a stock pot with a lid as long as you have some way to keep your jars from being in direct contact with the bottom. And a kitchen towel works for that. A rack works even better. But you don't actually really need a water bath canner. So that's kind of an easy get around. They're still available if you want one anyways.
Carolyn: The pressure canners are really the issue here. And let me say right up front what I always say, no you cannot use your Instant Pot. That is not a safe option. And I know I'm giving you a lot of things here in this Pantry Chat where we're talking about things that are outside of the recommended safety box, but we're keeping them still safe, just maybe outside of the actual official recommendation.
Josh: Well, you're-
Carolyn: The Instant Pot, using an Instant Pot or another electric pressure cooker is not inside a safe quantity. That is not safe. And the reason for it is because you cannot actually gauge how much pressure you are actually canning at at anytime. All you've got, in some of them, is a little digital readout that may be off by five pounds of pressure. Who knows? We have no idea. And so I would never consider pressure canning in anything that wasn't either one, using an actual pressure weight, or two, has a gauge that is testable and has been tested within the year of using the canner.
Josh: Hence a pressure canner.
Carolyn: Hence a pressure canner.
Josh: You need to use a pressure canner, okay?
Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah.
Josh: So are they out there? Are they still cost effective?
Carolyn: There are some out there still. And they are coming back out. In fact, let's see, I think it was Pleasant Hill Grains right now, is taking pre-orders for all-American canners. And some of the sizes they were expecting to have by November. Doesn't help us for next week necessarily, but it is coming up on the sooner side. Like I said, Lehman's is getting some in in stock. I'll put links to all of these things in the description.
Josh: Yeah, good.
Carolyn: And there are multiple that are actually still out there. There are some of the Presto models that are still available that you can actually just go buy, whether it's on Amazon, on Lehman's has a few of those, and most likely in your local Walmart or different big box stores.
Josh: And it looks like Pleasant Hill Grains are-
Carolyn: Mm-hmm (affirmative). They're taking pre-orders.
Josh: ... are taking pre-orders.
Carolyn: Yeah. So if you don't have these things just get on the pre-order list now. Can I say that? The same thing with lids, just go ahead and get on the pre-order list, because this is probably not going away. Start thinking about next year.
Josh: Yeah. Your money invested here versus in the bank waiting and waiting until next canning season when you start thinking about it, the things we're dealing with, inflation, and money printing, a lot of other issues in the backdrop, durable goods in your home is a great thing to have now. Especially when there's resource scarcity. So stay diligent and stay on it. And even if you can't solve your problem immediately with some of these things, you're going to be able to still take advantage of these opportunities as they come along and be better prepared down the road.
Carolyn: Yeah. Absolutely. Okay.
Carolyn: So real quick-
Josh: Yeah, real quick-
Carolyn: Real quick.
Josh: ... that there are other ways to preserve foods besides canning, right?
Carolyn: There are. And we've just done a whole series here on the Pantry Chat of different preservation options that you have, and talking about each one of those. One we don't talk about in that, but was probably your best friend if you've got something you want to can today and you don't have supplies, and that's your freezer. That's a great way to just get food preserved, even if it's while you're waiting for your canner to get here, or your jars or lids to get here.
Carolyn: So don't forget to use your other preservation options. That's freezing, dehydrating, fermenting is an amazing option. If you have a freeze dryer that can be a great way to go. So just keep your mind open about how you're preserving the food.
Carolyn: Okay. Good. Well, I think that's pretty much it. We already talked about making sure you get on the waitlist and make sure, in everything, when these supplies come back in and you start buying them, for canning lids especially, the single use canning lids, make sure you're not buying more than two year supply of them, because that sealing compound does start to break down. If you're storing them in perfect storage conditions, honestly I don't even really know what those are, I would assume it'd be a little bit higher humidity, not high humidity but medium humidity.
Josh: Not a lot of temperature fluctuation.
Carolyn: Then you might get away with longer than that. But you don't want to get so many on hand that you just lose them all and they're not worth it. So start with two year supply. And it's always good to be working out a year ahead of what you need.
Josh: Right on. Well hey guys, we hope this has been informative and helpful and solved a real challenging problem for a lot of us homesteaders and preservers right now. And we will look forward to seeing you next time.
Josh: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Pantry Chat Food for Thought. If you've enjoyed this episode please subscribe, rate, and review.
Carolyn: To view the show notes and any other resources mentioned on this episode you can learn more at homesteadingfamily.com/podcast.
Josh: We'll see you soon.
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