How to Use Harvest Guard Reusable Canning Lids (with Video)

How to use Harvest Guard reusable canning lids

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If you've done any home canning this year, you're probably aware that we're currently experiencing a national shortage of canning lids. The reason is simple: Manufacturers simply did not anticipate the huge increase in demand they've experienced due to COVID-19 and more people growing and preserving their own food. Naturally, this shortage has brought about renewed interest in reusable canning lids.

For years, I avoided reusable canning lids because:

1. They are a bit of an upfront investment and

2. Some people have difficulty getting them to seal.

But if we can't get our hands on conventional canning lids, reusable ones seem like something we ought to look into. Therefore, I bought a small number of both Tattler reusable lids and the lesser-known Harvest Guard reusable canning lids. The Tattler website immediately informed me that shipping would be delayed due to high demand. Harvest Guard sent me a similar message shortly after I placed my order, but did offer me 10% off for my patience. Both companies insist they currently have plenty of product - that they are not sold out. The delay, as I understand it, is due to lack of personnel to pack and ship the unusually high volume of orders. I still have not received my Tattler lids, but I did recently receive my Harvest Guard lids. (You can order Harvest Guards here.)

For those who are not familiar with modern reusable lids, both brands consist of a plastic disc and a rubber gasket. Now, I can hear you thinking: "Plastic! I don't want plastic near my food!" I really do get that sentiment. But with conventional canning lids, the white part that is closest to the food is also made from plastic. The major brands are BPA-free...even though some studies show non-BPA plastic can be just as problematic as BPA plastic. The Harvest Guard lids are made from Polyoxymethylene Copolymer (also called Acetal Copolymer), which is BPA and Phthlate free plastic that is FDA and USDA approved for direct contact with food. According to the manufacturer, it has been "used extensively in the food and medical industries since the 1940’s." It is not safe to use with anything that contains 15% or more alcohol (including tinctures) and should not be taken above 250 degrees F. Harvest Guard lids are suitable both for water bath and pressure canning.

As much as I think some smartly-run American company needs to create old fashioned gasket-style canning jars (such as our grandparents or great-grandparents used) so that we can be completely free of plastic in home canning, that hasn't happened yet. Yes, there are Weck jars, but they are cost prohibitive - I assume because they are imported from Germany. Plus, as far as I can tell, they are not approved for pressure canning.

To test Harvest Guard's lids, I chose to can a few jars of water - because reusable canning lids work a little differently than conventional canning lids and I wanted to be able to focus on the process without worry of making a mistake that would waste food. All these jars sealed perfectly. In fact, I had to laugh because I had trouble opening them! Some people (like my husband) can push them open with their thumbs, but that didn't work at all for me. I ended up ordering this style can opener, said to safely open Harvest Guard lids without damaging them.)

Next, I canned some spiced crabapples. (You can find the recipe over at The National Center for Home Food Preservation website.) Again, every single jar sealed perfectly. 

I was so pleased with these lids, that I immediately ordered more. I am concerned that the canning lid shortage may well last into 2021.

How To Use Harvest Guard Reusable Canning Lids

When you first receive lids from Harvest Guard, you'll need to wash them in warm, soapy water. The manufacturer says both the plastic and the rubber gaskets are dishwasher safe, but I chose to hand wash mine because I feel it might be gentler on the product...Besides, my dishwasher is broken! Ha! (It's important to note that even though the lids and gaskets are reusable, they don't last forever. The rubber gaskets should be replaced as soon as they show signs of wear; the lids should last many, many years if well cared for.)

Once the lids and gaskets are washed, proceed this way. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for a video showing all the steps.):

1. Warm the lids and gaskets.

The manufacturer says you should "sterilize" them, but there is no need to sterilize if you are processing your jars for 10 minutes or longer (which you always will be if you're using a tested safe recipe. The actual food processing sterilizes the jars and lids.).

HOWEVER, you do need to pre-warm the lids and gaskets. To do this, heat a saucepan of water almost to a boil; add the lids and gaskets and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer for a minute or two. Keep the lids and gaskets HOT. 

By the way, I find it easiest to put the gaskets on the lids before simmering them, but if you simmer them too hard, they will likely separate.

2. Fill a canning jar and wipe the rim clean, then use tongs to remove a lid and gasket from the hot water. (If the gasket has separated from the lid, you'll need to put it back in place.) Center the lid on the jar.

3. Place a standard canning jar ring onto the jar. Use one finger to hold the lid in place and, using the opposite hand, tighten the ring.

When the jar begins to turn, remove both your hands. Hold the jar in place with one hand (use a hotpad!) and tighten the ring with the opposite hand, giving it just a quarter twist of the wrist.

4. Repeat with all the jars, then just as you normally would.

5. After removing the jars from the canner, let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes, to cool slightly.

6. Tighten the jar rings firmly. Obviously, the jars and lids are really hot at this point, so use a towel or pot holder to protect your skin.

If for any reason the lids appear to dome upward, it means you have over-tightened the rings before processing and you should NOT attempt to tighten the bands now. (Doing so could cause hot liquid to burst out of the jars.)

7. Cover the jars with a towel and leave them alone until they come to room temperature.

8. When the jars have reached room temperature, remove the rings.

9. Test the seal of every lid by carefully picking up the jar by the lid only. If the lid comes loose, refrigerate the jar or reprocess it.

10. Mark the contents of each jar. You may wish to use a label maker or sticker on the lids or jars to note the date of processing and the contents. Some people report they write on the plastic lid with a Sharpie; when they open the jar, they use an acetone-based nail polish remover and a Q-tip to remove the writing. (Be sure to wash the lid with soap and water afterward.)

Watch me walk through the process in this video:


  1. Thank you for this article/review! Very informative! Still can't find lids around here.

  2. Thank you. I was wondering about these. Informative as always

  3. I would like to know how the harvest guard lids are doing after being sealed for some time. I worry about the seal giving way after being on the shelf for awhile.

  4. I have heard stories of reusable lids coming unsealed during storage, but I have not experienced that at all.