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Old 01-11-2013, 09:10 AM   #1
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Reusing Canning Lids

I noticed that there was a flurry of reaction to my reusing canning lids on another thread ("peach canning"), so I started this new thread.

A lid -- whether reused or brand new -- either seals or it does not. If a reused lid seals and stays sealed, there's no reason for it to cause problems.

I am careful. [After canning, I remove the rings and carefully wash each jar, especially at the rim where the seal is. (Food crusted on the edge of the seal will attract bacteria, and their growth might break the seal. Also when I open the jars, I am careful not to dent the lid's metal. (That way, I can reuse the lids.)]

I started reusing lids when I was doing canning experiments for my book Cooking and Experimenting with Pressure Cookers. Since I was only doing experiments, I started reusing the lids. I must have used some lids 10 times. Now, I am reusing many of those same lids for canning fruit and meat stocks. No problem.

I just found confirmation for reusing canning lids here:

Reuse canning lids? - Page 2 - Survivalist Forum

I though this letter on the forum was pretty cool. (I had never thought of "plumping" up the sealing gums after they sagged.)

"My parents have reused lids for at least 35 years. When you reuse them, you have to boil them which "puffs" them back up and they have no or very little indent in them. My parents look at them after they have been boiled to determine whether or not they can be reused. If they are unable to be reused, they place a mark with a chine marker on them and use them only for sealing once they open to refrigerate the item or use them for storing dried foods."


Sorry for belaboring this point. However, I found that some of the advice provided by Ag Extension officials, USDA, etc does not make any sense. Reusing canning lids is one of them.

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Old 01-11-2013, 09:45 AM   #2
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Ball recommends not reusing them. I know they make them and that can be self serving, however at $.25/lid my health and the food I can is worth not reusing.

If you wish to reuse them that is your choice.
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:22 AM   #3
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There was a lot of discussion on that forum to which you linked and a fair bit of it was against reusing the lids.

When you are reusing lids and one of them doesn't seal, what do you do with that one? Try again? Throw it away? How often do you have to re-process your food? How many times are you willing to re-process to get a good seal?
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:36 AM   #4
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My experience with lids that don't seal is not because the lids are reused, it's because I didn't tighten the rings enough or didn't allow enough head space. Reused and new lids seal about the same.

If a lid doesn't seal within 5 min of opening the PC (pressure cooker), I open the jar and check the seal. If it still looks good (enough plump gum), I clean the seal and jar rim. If it doesn't look good, I use a new lid.

In either case, I usually recan the jar. With my 5 min rule, the jar, food, and PC are still piping hot. I put the sealed jar back into the PC and recan it.

For fruits, which are really easy, I just bring the PC back up to 15 psi (maximum pressure). That will sterilize the new lid just fine, because steam is at 250F, which will kill just about anything but spores. I pressure cook just 1 min, turn burner off, and wait 10-13 min before opening the PC. Because fruits are acidic, they only need to come to 160-180F to sterilize. The recanning is just to sterilize the new lid.

For meats and the danger of botulism, I have to pressure cook much longer. The odd jar that doesn't seal may become dinner. Or I'll recan it. It doesn't seem to hurt. I never throw the food out.

Attached is a picture of 4 pint jars of papaya and pineapple that I just canned this morning. The jars all sealed fine.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankZ View Post
Ball recommends not reusing them. I know they make them and that can be self serving, however at $.25/lid my health and the food I can is worth not reusing.

If you wish to reuse them that is your choice.
+1 But you go further than that, Diana, and tacitly advocate that everyone who reads your posts and, I assume, reads your book when it comes out, to do the same (otherwise, why post?). Remember that many folks will take your advice as carte blanche to simply go on reusing lids regardless, and their relatives may sue you and/or your publisher when they succumb to food poisoning.
One Survivalist on the thread that you mention seemed to think that the button on the pre-used lid popping early was a Good Thing whereas, everything else being equal (and I agree that it seldom is) the lid was popping at a lower negative pressure than the new ones. Not good, and the lady who likes shiny things seems to think that she can avoid botulism in a boiling water canning setup because "botulism is caused form unsanitary canning conditions." Folks like this need really simple instructions that tend to err on the side of safety.
I must agree, though, that when Armageddon comes and I am busy fending off blue-helmeted U.N. troops, ravening zombies and neighbors who are desperate to get at my preserves (strawberry jam with a hint of lavender, Yum!), I shall probably not worry greatly about reusing my canning lids. I'm just not sure where I'll find anything to can.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilinYuma View Post
+1 But you go further than that, Diana, and tacitly advocate that everyone who reads your posts and, I assume, reads your book when it comes out, to do the same (otherwise, why post?). Remember that many folks will take your advice as carte blanche to simply go on reusing lids regardless, and their relatives may sue you and/or your publisher when they succumb to food poisoning.
One Survivalist on the thread that you mention seemed to think that the button on the pre-used lid popping early was a Good Thing whereas, everything else being equal (and I agree that it seldom is) the lid was popping at a lower negative pressure than the new ones. Not good, and the lady who likes shiny things seems to think that she can avoid botulism in a boiling water canning setup because "botulism is caused form unsanitary canning conditions." Folks like this need really simple instructions that tend to err on the side of safety.
I must agree, though, that when Armageddon comes and I am busy fending off blue-helmeted U.N. troops, ravening zombies and neighbors who are desperate to get at my preserves (strawberry jam with a hint of lavender, Yum!), I shall probably not worry greatly about reusing my canning lids. I'm just not sure where I'll find anything to can.
Cheers
Thank you for expressing my sentiments so well.
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:30 PM   #7
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I have relayed my experience, not advocated anything.

By the way, my book Cooking and Experimenting with Pressure Cookers has already been published. It has two small sections on canning fruits and meat stocks. I go into the food safety science (F-value) in a way that intelligent people can understand. Using thermocouples to measure the food temperature during canning, I document several cooking episodes. In some episodes, the food sterilized easily. In other instances, even 50 min of pressure cooking was not enough. And I explain why.

I believe that there are a few people who want to understand more about canning than what's in the Ball Canning book or the USDA manual. Perhaps not on this forum, though....
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:33 PM   #8
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Ah, thanks for telling us the name of yr book. I looked, when you made yr first post, and had no luck. I see that you are also the inventor of the "Walstad method", and while that may not cause much excitement on this forum, any method that obviates the need for those irritating CO2 cylinders has to be worthy of consideration. :p
Unlike you, I am not a microbiologist, but I did take a rather mediocre BSc in biology and worked with autoclaves, so I and am very aware of the difference between what most people believe is "sterilization" and what actually obtains. As a result, I believe that when giving public advice, erring on the side of safety, especially in this case, where so little is to be gained, is the wiser course.
That said, I see that your book has not yet been reviewed, partly, perhaps, because of its unavoidable cost(small publisher, though with a cute name, little perceived demand), and possibly, folk find it "too technical" to review. At the end of the month, though, when I come back from my wanderings, I shall buy the Kindle edition and give it a try. I see, incidentally, that you have a method of cooking chick peas that takes 45-50 minutes off Alton Brown's method. That alone should make it worth checking out!
Cheers
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:03 PM   #9
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PhilinYuma,

Thanks very much for your kind words. Uplifting. I had despaired of finding an open mind on this website!

Yes, Mr. Alton Brown suggested 45 min of pressure cooking to cook chickpeas. This is the kind of outrageous cooking advice that I constantly see in the "cooking world", especially when it pertains to pressure cooking or canning.

As for my pressure cooking book, the reviews may come once it gets to the right people. I'm willing to wait it out. My first book on aquarium ecology (first published in 1999 and still going strong) weathered the test of time. I believe this new book will as well. Even if it doesn't, I am personally enjoying the fabulous food I've cooked and canned.

Cheers!
Diana
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:34 PM   #10
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Sorry for belaboring this point. However, I found that some of the advice provided by Ag Extension officials, USDA, etc does not make any sense. Reusing canning lids is one of them.

But that is exactly what you are doing.

It also sounds like you are using this forum to promote your book. Is this a self published book?
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