January 16, 2011

Thinking About Plastic Reusable Canning Jar Lids

I have an aversion to plastic, particularly in the kitchen. So, when I first saw these plastic reusable canning jar lids, my response was "well, that's stupid!" They're BPA free and are intended to replace conventional metal lids which, as you may or may not know, have a plastic coating inside (damned if you do and damned if you don't). But of course, BPA aside, they're still plastic and plastic is still toxic. Phthalates, dioxins, and BPA are not the only things leaching out of plastic that we need to worry about, they're just the ones we know about. 

So my plan has been to transition to all glass canning jars from Weck. But of course I can't do it all at once. This year I want to grow and can all my tomatoes and green chilies, plus the regular round of strawberry jam, blueberry jam, pumpkin butter, and assorted other pickles, chutneys, and preserves. I roughly calculated that I would need 100, 1L. Tulip glass jars from Weck (their Tulip shaped jars are the cheapest per ounce) just for tomatoes. That's about $350 worth of jars. I won't can green chilies or jam in 1 L. jars (because that's ridiculous) so I'll need a large quantity of other, smaller sized glass jars. I haven't done the whole calculation but I'm sure we're approaching or beyond $1000 in jars. And in future years I hope to grow and can all my pumpkin, fruits, and tomatillos so I'll need even more jars.

Which brings me back to reusable plastic lids. Even if I invest in some Weck jars this year, I'll still be doing a lot of canning in standard Mason jars which means I have to use either the normal metal, one-use lids (which have a plastic lining) or use reusable plastic lids. Can you guess where I'm going with this?

I'm a convert, although I have reservations. Eventually I'll be using all glass for canning but for the moment, if I have to use plastic, I might as well use plastic I don't throw away. It's definitely the "Non-Disposable, Low Waste" choice. However, I do think there is an opportunity here for a manufacturer to make all metal or glass reusable lids that work with the rings on standard canning jars.

And, as a side note: I do use one piece plastic lids for dry food storage and freezing food in Mason jars. I'd rather use zinc lids or something similar but they don't exist any more. One day I might have enough Weck jars to use them for non-canned food storage but I doubt it. Since the food never comes into contact with the lid and I put the lid on the food when it's cold, I don't think there is too much cause for alarm.

What are your canning issues and solutions?


  1. In understand your reservations about the plastic lids. weighing the options between the metal throw away ones vs the plastic reusable one. I will start replacing with plastic. I do use the metal ones over for things like storing spices & other things that don't need the seal. I found a set of 5 weck jam jars at a garage sale. I didn't know what they were, but I knew they had to do with preserving food. I paid $3 and now that I know more about it I am thrilled I have them. For my dry food storage & herbs, etc. I use the wire bale glass jars. I find them at thrift stores. Most need a new ring, but that is ok.

  2. Wow! Weck jars for $3! Amazing find :-)

  3. I'm doing this as well, along with trying to focus more on foods that don't need any processing for preservation: potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and winter growing of greens. Weck jars are really FAB I love them! I also use the old wire bail jars still from my grandma.

  4. How neat to have jars from your grandma! And good idea to focus on storable vegetables. I'd like to do that as well but I'm not sure how they'd keep. I have a book on root cellaring, which includes how to do makeshift cellars in your closet, but we are incredibly hot and humid here... it might just be too much. However I think we'll be moving somewhere much colder. I can't wait to have a cellar!