Tempted to recycle your equipment from last year’s canning project? Find out if it’s safe to use for another go-round first.
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Pickled vegetables canned and for sale at farm store
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If you've decided that you want to get started with canning fruits and vegetables, it's time to get your supplies ready. The inspiration for your canning endeavor obviously begins with a bounty of beautiful produce, which can be enjoyed for months to come if stored properly. However, even though the produce is fresh, it's worth considering what equipment can be recycled. 

What if you have a few jar lids kicking around from a past canning project? Can you use them again? 

Mason jar, lid and band
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Can You Reuse Canning Lids?

If you have canning lids from a previous canning project, they are not safe to use again. Canning lids are designed to only be used once.

Reusing canning jar lids can result in the jars not sealing properly, and jars that aren't sealed correctly are not safe to eat. 

The lids are designed to have a sealing compound around the rim to help them create an airtight seal during the canning process. This material is made for a one-time-only canning. Bottom Line: Reusing lids that have already been utilized in canning will result in improperly sealed jars, which will compromise the safety of your food in the jars.

Where to Buy Canning Lids

The good news is, canning lids are not difficult to come by. The products you need for canning are available at most stores that carry kitchen supplies and products. You can find canning supplies at stores like Lowe's, Home Depot, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walmart, Michael's, hardware stores and delivery from Amazon. It depends on the store and their sales stock as to how the lids and jars are sold. They may be sold individually or in bulk; some stores will offer jars and lids sold separately.

Making Pickles
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Are Buckled Canning Lids Safe?

Sometimes the lids on your jars will buckle during the canning steps. What does it mean?

Buckling lids are fairly common when canning. It can either indicate that the jars were not filled correctly or properly tightened. Unfortunately, this will most likely mean that the vacuum seal will not adhere or that it will come loose during storage. A buckled lid is easy to identify, as it will not be flat in appearance.

The problem occurs in the "headspace" of the canning jar; this is the space between the bottom surface of the lid and the top of the food item in the jar. If the lids are too tight, air becomes trapped in this space and is forced out of the jar. The air cannot easily escape, so it creates a force that results in the lid becoming buckled and deformed.

Buckling can also be a result of trying to cool the jars too quickly. If the cooling process is rushed by manipulation it can cause the jars to crack or break, ultimately leading to a loss of liquid and buckled lids.

Do You Need to Sterilize Canning Lids?

As of the early 1970s, there is no need to heat or sterilize canning lids. The lids of the jars don't need to be sterilized and you are safe to use them at room temperature. Make note that it is, however, still recommended that you heat the glass jars prior to filling.

Rows of pickling jars drying upsidedown on a table
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How Long Should I Boil Lids for Canning?

Past guidelines for canning fruits and vegetables recommended dropping the lids in hot, simmering water before pulling them out to be paired with sterilized jars.

It was traditionally recommended that you put the flat lids in a saucepan and cover with water for about five minutes before you are ready to work with them. Next, bring the water to a simmer over medium heat but not to a boil; reduce the heat and keep the lids hot until you're ready to use them. But again, sterilizing the lids with boiling-hot water is not necessary — a simple wash with warm, soapy water will do. 

The most important part of the canning process is creating the seal between the lid and the jar. The idea is to "lock in" the freshness of the produce. A few inexpensive items and simple steps are all you need to begin your canning journey — just be sure to start with fresh lids!