The covid-induced shortage of canning jar lids has stretched into 2021. What are our options when we can’t find enough new lids for all our canning projects?
Although last year’s canning jar shortage seems to be over, finding new canning jar lids remains an issue. I personally thought this shortage was behind us too, as I had no problems finding new lids at the grocery store all winter long. But then Julie over at Twice as Tasty, asked me about the canning lid shortage. It seems demand caught up with supply (since more people have summertime canning projects than wintertime canning projects!) while I was blissfully unaware, and now the shelves are bare. My backyard peach tree will soon be ready to harvest, which usually means turning them into jars of canned peach preserves, peach butter, and peach chutney. With no lids, what are this year’s alternatives?
Alternative Canning Jar Lids
There are a couple of choices when we can’t find new lids.
Tattler lids: These plastic lids, while more expensive than metal lids, are reusable. I have never used Tattler lids, but many home canning enthusiasts are pleased with them. The processing method is slightly different than using two-piece metal lids, so be sure to follow the directions that come with the lids. These lids work with both water bath and pressure canning.
Off-brand canning lids: Search online and you will find many canning lids, they just aren’t the Ball or Kerr brands that we know. Again, there seems to be some question as to whether or not these lids work as well as their more common counterparts. If you do go this route, be sure to store your jars without the ring, and to check often that the seal still holds. Any jar that has lost its seal must be tossed. Some off-brand lids can only be used for water bath canning so be sure to read the product information that comes with them.
Keep searching: If you are an avid canner, when you do find a box of jar lids, grab them! They are still being manufactured, but supply is not keeping up with demand. So check out the shelves of every grocery store, department store, hardware store, and feed store you visit!
Online sales: I just did a quick search and found several boxes of Ball brand lids – mostly with the rings too. The price was at least triple the normal price. Only you can decide if that is an option you want to pursue.
Alternative Preservation Methods
I am not willing to spend lots of money on lids, or take a chance on off-brand lids. I will probably ration my jam and pickle projects this summer and preserve using other methods.
Freezing: Many of the aforementioned peaches are sliced and frozen each year. I may do more this year and then turn the frozen peaches into jam once jar lids are available again. You can do this with any fruit. You can also make mostarda, relish, curd, and tomato sauce and freeze it instead of canning it.
Dehydrate: Of course, freezing jars of product demands a lot of space, but dehydrating fruits and vegetables uses little space or energy. The last few years I have been dehydrating more of the garden harvest and turning it into easy-to-prepare soup, salad, and skillet mixes. Stone fruits, vegetables, and berries can all be dehydrated. I don’t dehydrate watermelon or cucumbers, but do dehydrate almost everything else. Dehydrating is my favorite way to preserve cherry tomatoes, and l often slice large tomatoes, slow roast them in the oven, partially dehydrate them and then pack in containers and freeze. It sounds like a lot of steps, but the end result is worth it. (See my Dehydrating 101 class for Mother Earth News Fair here)
Dry storage: If you usually can your carrots or potatoes or winter squash, this might be a good year to prepare some sort of root cellar. Find (or create) a cool spot that won’t freeze. Carrots can be stored in sand, while potatoes can be stored for months when covered. Brush excess dirt off potatoes before storing, but do not wash them. Wipe winter squash and store on cardboard. Make sure they do not touch each other. Dry storage should keep these vegetables, along with apples and pears, in good condition for months. I stored my spaghetti squash in a box in the garage last winter, and it kept them fresh until May!
How are you dealing with the canning lid shortage? Share your brilliant ideas with the whole Seed to Pantry Community!
I purchased an off brand from my local ACE hardware store. There is no manufacturing name, just a plain white box with lids. I did two batches of crushed tomatoes and the lids buckled and deformed on quite a few. All but two sealed. But the deformation is visible. All but two sealed. I do not plan to use the rest of these lids. I took out a Kerr small mouth lid and weighed it at 8 grams. The “no name lid” weighed in at 6 grams. I could feel the weight difference. I’m going to assume the thinner lighter lid will buckle and deform, I’m now on the hunt for Kerr or Ball lids.
Meli, thank you for sharing this. I have heard of other people who struggle to determine whether or not off-brand lids have actually sealed, but did not know about the buckling issue. Good luck finding lids as the harvest beckons!
I still don’t understand this year’s shortage. We search every week for lids and were only able to stock up once back in March. The shelves remain bare! They don’t even get new stock in. You’d think Ball, Kerr, and the off brands (we’d buy anything at this point) would have increased supply. It is so frustrating.
It is frustrating. My understanding is that the shortage is due to the usual covid issues; fewer workers, supply chain slow downs, etc. Hopefully this too shall pass!