Here are three important lid tips that will help streamline home canning for beginners.
- We recommend using only Ball® or Kerr® brand lids. They are BPA-free and offer the safest, most reliable results of any lid on the market.
- Only use a lid once for canning. After the first use, the lid will no longer seal effectively. Use a fresh lid every time to ensure your jars seal properly, safely preserving your food.
- Pre-heating lids is not required! After extensive testing by our Quality Assurance Team, we found that it is no longer necessary to pre-warm lids before use.
Why don’t I have to preheat my lids?
Our Quality Assurance Team performed comprehensive testing to determine the need for pre-heating lids. Ultimately, we determined that it’s completely safe to skip pre-warming lids in the canning process. While it’s still safe to simmer your lids before use, you should never boil them. Our recommendation for over 40 years has always been to simmer (180°F) - not boil (212°F) - the lids.
When was this change made?
Believe it or not, in 1969! At that time, we switched our sealing gasket from a latex base to one of Plastisol. Latex required pre-heating to soften the material before canning to create an effective seal. The Plastisol does not require preheating, but doing so will not damage it.
What about sterilizing the jars?
Sterilizing jars and lids is not necessary for home canning. If you’re following a recipe that processes in your canner for 10 minutes or longer, this will sterilize the jars and lids.
How should I prepare my lids now?
Removing the simmering step was designed to make the home canning process easier than ever, speeding up the time it takes to preserve your favorite fresh, local produce. Since our testing found that pre-heating isn’t necessary, we recommend prepping lids by washing with warm, soapy water and keeping them at room temperature until you’re ready to can.
Why haven’t I heard about this before now?
In the past, we’ve recommended pre-heating lids in simmering water in our Ball® Blue Book Guide to Fresh Preserving as well as on product packaging. In recent years, we’ve announced these updates on FreshPreserving.com through live webcasts and canning demonstrations as well as on social media and through updated packaging changes. While many of our customers are experienced canners who do not seek instructional updates, we recommend staying up-to-date on not only the USDA’s current best practices but also those of the manufacturer. Through online resources, packaging and social media, we are trying to communicate the change with as many preservers as possible
Won’t this lead to more seal failures?
Any seal failures are likely unrelated to the updates in the Ball® or Kerr® canning lids as the sealing compound has remained essentially the same since 1969. If you are experiencing seal failure, please visit our Problem Solver page to explore possible solutions.
These tips are the most important things to remember when canning, but they just scratch the surface when it comes to our lids! Here’s everything you need to know about lids.
What is a Canning lid?
Canning lids are one- or two-piece toppers that seal onto a jar for preserving fresh food. The lid is airtight and keeps food shelf stable for up to a year when processed correctly. Lids come in two varieties: metal-coated and plastic.
Metal Coated Lids (one-time use only) are the only USDA-recommended type of lid for home canning. We recommend Ball® and Kerr® brands. They’re made in the USA and are BPA-free and phthalate-free. They are the standard testing lid of the USDA and universities for developing home canning guidelines. Other brands are made in China or other countries and may contain BPA and phthalates, known to buckle easily, causing frequent seal failures.
Plastic Lids (reusable) are not within USDA canning guidelines due to the solid rubber gasket, which does not vent well and lessens the vacuum seal. Plastic lids require extra caution when tightening bands on hot jars (outside of normal canning processes), are expensive for gifting and are more difficult to seal than conventional lids. Additionally, testing has shown that these lids may lose half their vacuum over the course of a year, often within the first six months.
Tip: Use Ball® Plastic Storage Caps for storing foods in the fridge or freezer.