This is a partial transcript of an interview with Brad of Tattler Reusable Canning Lids.Edited for clarity. Included here is about 10 minutes of the entire 30 minute podcast.
Sharon: I'm speaking with Brad from Tattler. We just thought we would sit and chat today a little bit about your lids.
What's the difference?
Tattler lids basically work the same as the old traditional metal lids but there are some definite differences in how you use those. You want to go over what those differences are?
Brad: Sure. Specifically the difference between the Tattler lids and the traditional lids that most people have used for decades is - the standard lid is either a Ball or a Kerr, some brand of that sort. It's metal and it's a one-time use throwaway.
Tattlers are plastic and reusable. It has a separate rubber gasket. That rubber gasket serves the sealing function that the plastisol compound on the underside of the metal lids currently serves.
How do you use them?
Functionally what you do to ensure that these work properly is do not over-tighten the metal screw band when you put it on. That's just part of the technique. It's a little bit different from what people are used to. It's not difficult but if you're a long time canner, it's a little bit hard to break the habit perhaps.
How you put that metal band on the jar is the only functional difference other than the simple fact when you take Tattler lid off, you wash it and you put it in the cupboard until you're going to use it again later. Whereas with the metal lids, you throw it in the trash.
You must tighten that metal band after you pull it out of your processor, whether it's a water bath or pressure canner because what you've done by leaving that band looser, you have allowed pressure to release during the canning process. But when you take it out of the canner, you have to compress that gasket to the point it ultimately needs to be when that jar is sealed.
As the jar starts to cool, it creates a vacuum and it sucks down on that lid and rubber ring combination. A lot just depends on how tight or loose that metal band is. If it has been very loose to start with and then it's not tightened down afterwards, you will have problems with the seal.
So again, it's a functional difference with how to use the Tattler lids. But follow those two steps:
You shouldn't have problems. It's just a little bit of a different twist.
Occasionally people will leave them too loose. It would really, really have to be insanely loose before you put them in but - I mean I've seen that. I've talked to people who've said, So while they're really loose, the metal band was just flapping on the top of the jar. You don't want that. Effectively, what you're trying to do is ensure that you've got contact with the metal band and the lid and it's just starting to compress that gasket slightly.
If you can visualize it, it's just enough so that when you put it into a water bath for example, it's compressed enough that no water flows in but it's not so tightly compressed that as pressure builds, it does not release properly. Again, it's a little bit of a different twist on an old way of doing things but this twist only really involves your fingertips as opposed to a gorilla grip.
Sharon: I know some people with the old lids; they really tighten down very, very tight. It doesn't have to be gripped down very, very tight. I know I had a few jars that didn't seal correctly when I first got tattler lids but only a few. Then I kind of got the hang of it and it wasn't a problem.
Brad: Honestly speaking, we use these in my household and we have occasions when one doesn't seal here and there. Serena my wife just did 60 pounds of chicken in the pressure canner and I think there were four jars out of all of those that didn't seal. So there's like 60 pints and quarts total that we had. There were a handful, a small handful that did not seal. I really look over those pretty hard.
Now chicken and greasy broth and things of that nature are some of the hardest things to can for people. So I don't look at that - that failure rate as being catastrophic. I would like it to be none. But reality whether it's a Tattler lid or a traditional metal lid, you're going to have failures. It happens.
Now we don't want a high rate obviously and again, I don't think that's a high rate but I know that it happens occasionally. What Serena did is she took those lids that did not seal off. She cleaned everything up. She put those lids back on those jars and she resealed them and they all sealed.
So that's a little bit of a difference. Now I understand you're cooking your food twice and you don't necessarily want to do that. But in this scenario, the lids didn't work the first time for whatever reason. Maybe too much grease underneath there, I don't know.
But they sealed the second time. You wouldn't be able to do that with a traditional metal lid. You use it once and if they didn't seal, you throw that one into the trash and grab a new one.
Sharon: Maybe I can talk a little bit about the difference in the old lids and the tattler reusable canning lids. In the old metal lids, that sealing compound is in the lid itself and once it's compressed, because it's trying to seal, then it doesn't - fluff back up. (laughing) That's not the correct terminology but -
Sharon: Reshape, that's a better word. Whereas the Tattlers, the gaskets of the Tattler lids, they reshape and can be used again. They don't stay compressed. I know in your instructions you're supposed to take that gasket and flip it over each time you can with it. Personally I can never see a difference so I don't ever really focus on that very much. I just reuse them and -
Brad: If you can see the grooves, flip it over. I have seen occasions but if you can't, it doesn't matter. I mean that's how it is supposed to work - the rubber has regained its shape.
Brad: After about ten uses, it's just not going to regain in shape and will need to be replaced. We've talked to people that have told us they used them more than that. "I have used these for 20 years!" and I'm sure that that's a little bit on the generalizing side of things but you can effectively expect 10 uses out of those rubber gaskets before you have to replace them.
While the instructions do say if you see the seal grooves from the previous time you used them, flip it over and most people tell us they can't see it and that's OK.
How long do they last?
Sharon: You mentioned that you can use the gaskets approximately 10 times, maybe a little bit more. I have seen sometimes on - out in the internet. I've seen people comment that oh yeah, these are reusable forever. I clarify they're not usable forever. Ten years can seem like forever. I mean that's a really very, very, very long time but the white plastic lid part is forever.
Sharon: But the gaskets are not.
Brad: That's correct. The gasket will break down. That is a part of this that ultimately has to be replaced but that's after like I said about 10 years and the replacement cost of those is about the same cost of one dozen metal lids.So if you were able to see - say you make the investment on Tattler lids today and you can go 10 uses and I say uses as opposed to years because some people use them three times in a year and sometimes they will use them once every two years.
So let's say 10 uses down the road, you've got to replace the rubber gaskets for the cost of one dozen metal lids and away you go for another 10 uses. That's pretty good math.
Sharon: That's very good math.
Brad: It really becomes quite cost-effective after about two to three uses depending on where you live and how you buy your lids. If you're one of those people who wait until the end of the season and Walmart has a massive sale and you're getting them for 75 cents a dozen, that's tough to compete with.
But the average person goes out and buys them as they need them and they're going to pay whatever those costs are on that particular day and we watch that and then determine our price. Our lids are about 2.5 to 3 times more expensive at the outset. But if I can use them 10 times, I got 7 uses for free and then I potentially have to replace the rubber gaskets and that gives me another 10 uses. I'm money way ahead.
Sharon: Right, and you mentioned sales at the end of the year. But you know what? I don't know about maybe other places that are different but by me, they don't even have canning supplies through the end of the season. It will be in August. Then they will quit carrying them and so we run out and they're just not available.
Brad: That's why the Walmarts and the big box stores aren't necessarily the best.
Sharon: No, they're not.
Where can you get them?
Brad: We have products now in True Value and Ace Hardware distribution centers going out to their stores. We're almost finished with Ace Hardware. We should be in their distribution network here shortly.
Sharon: Yeah. My Ace Hardware has them already.
Brad: Oh, do they?
Brad: Well, that's great.
Brad: That's good to hear.
Sharon: So some of the people out there might want to go ahead and check their Ace Hardware and see if they have them now.
Brad: We do ship direct to a lot of stores. I mean we're not just Ace Hardware and True Value. We ship direct to a lot of stores and you can find that information on our website. There's a retailer's link on our website as ReusableCanningLids.com and that will show people. You can go in and pick your state or your zip code and drill down and see if there's a retailer near you.
Sharon: OK. I'll include a link.
Brad: I mentioned those big stores or the Ace and True Value because they have year-round displays of canning.
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