Recently, Jarden, (the company that manufactures all Ball Canning Jars and lids), very casually mentioned that they completely changed the recommendations when using their canning jar lids.
No explanation was given for this change.
So, I called them up to get the scoop.
Below it is the latest information…
I originally wrote this post Friday, Aug 22, 2014 outlining a change by Jarden on how to prepare their canning lids for use.
This was news because:
- This was a change in a time-honored procedure.
- Their new messaging was not matching what was written on most current jar and lid packaging.
- Their customer service department was giving out a slightly different message over their hotline number than what was actually the official procedure change.
I have since had a conference call with the Jarden Company to clear up the facts. The post below reflects what is “officially” their company wide messaging on the new options for preparing their canning lids and the reasoning behind it.
At the end, is a timeline of the research for this post.
Here is the Updated Post…
The Old Recommendation:
Now, as canners we know that the recommendation has always been to drop the canning lids into a pan of hot, simmering water while you prepare your recipe. Then as you fill your jars, you pull the lids out of the hot water and use them.
The purpose of the hot water was to soften the rubber gasket and make for a good seal.
The New Recommendation:
Jarden (Ball Canning) now says that we do not have to heat the canning lids in hot water before canning.
NOT AT ALL.
Instead, we can just wash the lids and use them at room temperature.
Now, just to be clear the Jarden Company changed THEIR recommendations. There have been no changes to the USDA recommendations of 2009 which states to “follow the manufacturer’s instructions” for preparing the jar lids. (USDA Ag Info Bulletin No. 539 – Pg. 1-15).
Why The Change?
Although the Jarden hotline reps originally told me this was due to the the new BPA free coating, that is not the case. The change in their recommendations has nothing to do with the BPA free coating.
It is simply that Jarden tested the process and determined that we can heat or not heat the lids in warm water and get great results either way.
However, if the lid is overheated in boiling water, it can cause the plastisol to thin out. If that happens, you either get a poor seal (that fails later on the pantry shelf) or no seal at all.
So, they now recommend that we either:
- Wash the lids and use them at room temperature
- OR we only place them in warm water no hotter than a simmer (180 degrees)
The choice is ours.
Note: I have information below on how lids are affected by the high temperature of the Pressure Canner.
Why Don’t The Box Instructions Reflect This?
Many boxes on the market still have the old instructions.
Jarden says that the updated information has already been printed on this year’s boxes. It takes time for this to trickle down through the stores and store shelves.
Where is This Info on Their Website?
At the time of the original post, it was difficult to find the information on the Ball Canning website. We could only find it here. It says:
“After many years of research, it was determined that preheating Ball and Kerr lids is no longer necessary. The sealing compound used for our home canning lids performs equally well at room temperature as it does preheated in simmering water (180 degrees Fahrenheit). Simply wash lids in hot, soapy water, dry, and set aside until needed.
Note: Instructions on lid, cap, and jar packaging is changed. However, retail stores may stock packaging having either instruction.”
The Ball Canning Company is currently creating a special page with this new lid information clearly spelled out. (I will link to it when they do.)
So Either Way Is Okay?
Yes, we can do it either way.
However, as you can read from the comments below, many people are feeling they are getting seal failures from not heating.
Gently heat or don’t heat at all. The choice is yours.
But just do not OVERHEAT the lids before using.
What About Sterilizing the Lid?
We can’t boil the lids to sterilize them. All we can do is wash them in soapy water and rinse.
I asked the Jarden Company about this specifically during our conference call because we all know that according to USDA recommendations, any recipe processed less than 10 minutes in a water bath must have the jars, rings and lids sterilized.
They say that all we can do is always process our preserves for 10 minutes or longer in a water bath to take care of sterilizing. (All pressure canned products are automatically sterilized during the processing time in the pressure canner)
This discussion brings up the whole topic of what plastic formula is used as the coating replacement for BPA (Jarden won’t say exactly as it is proprietary).
Is it worse than BPA or does it matter? (The food should not be in contact with the lid).
I wrote about that over here a few years ago. There is a lot of discussion in the comments.
Which Lids Are BPA Free?
The BPA free change happened around 2013. All the lids manufactured last year were BPA free, but there were many stores still selling out the old stock. Last year’s box only said “Made in USA” and did not make any BPA Free distinction.
According to Jarden, if you find any of the following markings, your lid is BPA free:
- Says “Made in USA” on the box
- Has an American flag on the box
- Says “BPA Free” on the box
- Says “Made in USA” on the lid
So even if your box is missing, you can tell your lid is BPA free because it will say “Made in USA”.
Also note that if you have really old lids, (5 years or more), the rubber seal loses elasticity with time and may not seal as well. I use old lids for when I freeze things like soup.
What About Other Brands?
There have been no changes in other canning lid brands. Each manufacturer of jar lids has their own recommendation and procedures for using the lids. Always read the box and follow their instructions for best results.
But Ball Canning (Jarden) is the largest maker of jars and lids in America. So most of the lids you buy would follow this new procedure.
What If I Forget and Overheat the Lids?
No worries. The canning police will not come write you up. The worst that can happen is that you get some seal failures.
What About Pressure Canner Temps?
One question that kept coming up in the comments below and on canning discussion boards across the internet was this:
If over heating thins the plastisol gasket on the lid, what happens when it reaches over 240 degrees of a pressure canner?
I got the official answer from the experts at Jarden.
They said that yes, overheating in a pan of water will cause the plastisol to “thin” which means it spreads out on the lid’s surface and flattens out too much.
However, when that heat hits while in the pressure canner, that plastisol is up against the glass jar rim and they have found that the extreme heat just causes it to spread around the glass rim (as you would hope it would) and gives a good seal.
The difference is that in the saucepan of water, the plastisol has no place to go but out across the lid and gets thin. In the second case, it is up against the glass rim and spreads around all sides of that rim which ends up giving a good seal.
So, there you go.
Did You Catch The Change in Procedure Before I Did?
Tell me in the comments below!
Timeline of Research for this Post:
- Ball Canning had their Can it Forward live event on the Internet. I recorded it and when watching later, I was surprised to hear Ball reps clearly say toward the end of the event, “We no longer recommend that you heat the lids.“
- I searched the Ball Canning website and could find nothing on this new procedure. (They have since made corrections and are preparing a special page)
- I called the Jarden Canning Hotline (The company that makes the Ball lids and jars) and got verbal confirmation on this new procedure and was told that they “are no longer recommending we heat the lids” and that it was because of the BPA lid change. (Note: Both of these points turned out to be slight mistakes by Jarden’s hotline reps.)
- I contacted the PR department to confirm (Yes, in writing) that everything I was told over the phone was correct (They did confirm in writing) and I let them know I was going to post on this.
- I wrote this post that you are reading. It went viral immediately and stirred up many more questions by my readers. (Such as: Why aren’t the boxes reflecting this? What about the temps during pressure canning? And more that you can read in the comments.)
- I called Jarden on Monday morning to get a third confirmation on all that I had posted. They confirmed with me over the phone (again) that everything was correct. (This later turned out to be misinformation again and I am so glad that they record their phone calls so they can check and address the issue.). I then asked several of the questions brought up by my readers, got the “official answers” and posted an update.
- I also alerted all of my contacts at Jarden (in PR and Sales) that my post had gone viral and I knew they were going to get questions. They did.
- Ball Canning (Jarden) put up a brief statement on their Facebook page, which slightly contradicts what was said at the Can it Forward event AND what was told and confirmed to me. Instead of saying, “We no longer recommend that you heat the lids”, they are saying, “gently heating is still okay.” There was quite a discussion going on there due to the mixed messaging as I was not the only one getting different information from the hotline. They did apologize in the comments for the mixed communication.
- Jarden Company contacted me to set up a conference call to answer any and all remaining questions that my readers were asking.
I had a conference call with the Jarden Company, which included their PR Department and Jessica Piper, their Ball Brand Educator. Here are the facts they wanted me to pass on to all of you:
- We CAN gently heat the lids if we want to. But we do not have to. They have determined that gently heating and not heating at all work equally well. If we want to warm the lids, this can only be warm water up to 180 degrees F (a simmer). We CANNOT boil the lids.
- Although I was told earlier by Jarden (as were some of you) that this change in policy was due to the BPA free lids, that is NOT the case. Their gasket has been plastisol since 1969 and there have been no changes made to it. Only the undercoating of the lid has changed to a BPA free coating.
- This change in the procedure options was 100% due to the fact that they noticed through testing that both methods work.
- We also CANNOT boil the lids to sterilize them. If we have a recipe that processes for less than 10 minutes, which means (according to the USDA recommendations) that we should pre-sterilize, our only option is to process the recipe for at least 10 minutes so the lids are sterilized during the process.