Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Canning Applesauce with Tattler Reusable Lids (for the first time): Part 1

I have honestly never been as nervous about a canning project as I was a couple weekends ago.

Even my very first time canning wasn't as nerve-wracking because I had seen my mom do it countless times and my project was fairly small- 10 pints of stewed tomatoes.  What made this project different wasn't it's size, even though we'd be canning a lot. We would be using different lids and my trial runs with those lids didn't go very well.

Let me start at the beginning.  While Tattler Reusable Lids have been around since 1976, I hadn't begun to hear about them until just a few years ago.  I was intrigued by them- loving the idea of not having to toss expensive metal lids every year (or every couple as I've been known to reuse them but have/will never advocate that practice).  But I didn't know anyone who used them or ever saw them being used.  Blog posts about them popped up here and there but I was a bit apprehensive because of the cost.

It was two weeks before our annual applesauce weekend and I knew I had to buy lids.  Was I going to buy metal lids once again or should we take a leap and try the reusable ones?  We decided we couldn't bear spending that much money on disposable lids when for a little over twice the price we could purchase lids we could reuse for 15 years or more.

After refreshing my memory about their product online, I called the Tattler folks.  First, I asked if my order would arrive on time.  The helpful woman put me on hold and spoke with the shipping manager.  Yes, they would arrive in time.  Next, after asking if she uses Tattler lids herself (she does), I asked if I was crazy to be using the lids for the first time on a big project.  She was very honest and said something to the effect of, "Yes, you kind of are."

She went on to explain that you use the Tattler lids differently than the metal ones and that for people who have canned for a long time making the switch has a learning curve and can be challenging.  She gave me some tips on making the adjustment including doing a trial run by canning water before the actual project so I could get a feel for them.  I decided to take the plunge and ordered 180 lids for $150.

I usually don't track things I order, but I tracked these lids.  I checked on them a couple times a day even. I really, really, really needed them to arrive in time for me to do at least one trial run.  We would begin making applesauce Saturday morning.  They arrived Thursday mid afternoon and I immediately pulled out jars to get started.  Here are the tips the Tattler folks provide on their website:

In addition, the nice lady on the phone suggested using only one hand to place the metal rings on the jars after lidding them, stopping when the jar starts to rotate on the counter.

My first trial run consisted of canning 6 pint jars of water.  I turned the rings until they just caught in the thread and stopped.  After pulling all 6 from the canner, I tightened the lids to finger-tip tightness.  Four out of the six jars sealed. Ugh.

My second trial run consisted of canning 6 pint jars of water.  This time I put one hand behind my back and turned the ring with one hand, stopping when the jar turned on the counter.  After pulling all 6 from the canner, I tightened them tighter than finger-tip tight.  Again, four out of the six jars sealed. Boo.

My third trail run (Friday night!) consisted of canning 6 pint jars for water.  THIS time, I tightened three of the lids finger-tip tight and the other three slightly tighter than finter-tip tight.  I kept track of which ones were which in my canner.  After pulling all of them from the canner, I tightened them down firmly.  The next morning, while Jamey was already chopping apples, I checked the seals and one of each set of three didn't seal (again, four out of six sealing).  I didn't feel like I was learning much of anything- except getting four out of six jars of water to seal.

Of the 150-180 quarts we were planing on canning that day, I could hardly stand the thought of 50 jars not sealing.  Our only other option was to run out and buy metal lids.  The thought did cross my mind.  But I REALLY wanted these lids to work.  I REALLY wanted to get a handle on them.

I avoided thinking about how we had little-to-no freezer space to freeze what didn't seal and how I had just given all my extra containers to my sister to use so short of eating applesauce non-stop for the next week (or filling zip-lock bags and distributing them around into neighbors' freezers), we were going to be up a creek if this didn't go well.

We wash the apples the afternoon before to get that step out of the way.  Here they are clean and ready to go.

Sadie and her Grandpa working the "Squeezo" with the beautiful, pink applesauce in the forefront (Cortland apples are our favorite)

Once again, Jamey's parents brought down their large, Amish-made outdoor canner for us to use.

Jamey's parents had brought the apples down from Pennsylvania for us and were such good sports in light of our, what felt like, dare-devil canning pursuits.  One by one, the saucing team of four adults and three kids ate breakfast and got to work.  The day was fun despite the cloud I couldn't shake. We wouldn't know until the next morning how successful our Tattler practices were because...

1) Tattler lids don't make a popping sound.
2) you can't tell for sure if they're sealed by looking at them.
3) the way you tell if they've sealed is by waiting until the jars are completely cooled, removing the metal ring and then lifting the jar by the plastic lid.

If the jar has sealed, you can lift the jar by the lid.  If it hasn't the lid lifts right off- I had experienced this first hand.

So.  In the spirit of camaraderie (hee hee), I'm going to let you go a day (or two) to wonder. Just like we did.

Stay tuned for how it all turned out (and forgive me for being a tease...please?). ;-)

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  1. Wow! That's a lot of apples. Mine froze this spring so 0, zip, nadda:( I will anxiously await your conclusion. I have heard about reusable lids, but didn't really give them a second thought for the same reasons you listed. Hope they worked.

  2. Can't wait to see the results. I am a newbie canner and although I have stocked up on lids, the idea of reusable ones is very appealing.

  3. Oh.my.word. You are very good at cliff-hanging! I'm expecting this has a happy ending, or you might have wanted to get this subject over with. :)

  4. Ohhh, You are mean!!

  5. What a tease indeed!!! I was eagerly waiting the conclusion....it will help me decide if I go for the reusable as well. Cant wait until next post!! :)

  6. I can't wait to hear how it turned out. I have never used the "reusable" lids and rings. Like you, I use the old fashioned kind and NEVER reuse them. But I always feel like I'm being wasteful to throw them out hahah!!! One question, do you cook down your apples before you run them through the squeeze?? I'll be anxiously awaiting your next blog post about these. If they work for you, I just might have to give them a try. That applesauce sure looks good! Blessings to you!!!

  7. Several years ago I took the 'plunge' and bought tattler lids in bulk (after trying one pack of a dozen). It definitely is a learning curve but I am finally feeling more confident in them, and love that I can reuse them many times. When lids did not seal for me it was because I was making them to tight before canning. I will say that I miss the rewarding 'ping' sound that goes with using metal lids.

  8. One of my favorite sounds in life is the "ping" of the canning jar sealing. I would miss that. Mainly, as am older, really can less and less each year (less being a relative term) . I have seen lots of blogs pushing the use of these lids but you are the first I have read any cautions with. I am hoping for the best for you....I am guessing 3 didn't seal at most, after all your practice. I will stick with the metal lids. Also, used lids strung together make nice shiny clappers to hang in fruit trees to scare off the birds. We have them in the raspberries too.

  9. NO PING!?!?! This is something that I would have to get used to! Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  10. My husband is a buyer for a farm store. He brought some home and asked me what I thought. I turned my nose up. Now I'll wait for your results and think about it. :)

  11. I am anxious to hear how the lids finally did work, but what I'd like to know even more is how do you like your "squeezo"? I was looking in Lehman's at the Roma brand one. I'm wondering whether they really take the time out of making applesauce.
    I'm using a peeler/corer at this point and then cooking down the slices into sauce. It takes a while and if the Roma makes it more streamlined, I'd be happy to invest in one. What are your thoughts?

    1. Buy one!! The model we have was about $30. There are more expensive ones out there for sure, but ours works just fine and we've been using if for a good 5 years already . If you make a lot of applesauce, it really is a must. I explained the process under Lanette's comment below. I am confident you won't regret buying one if you make a lot of applesauce:-).

  12. Ok, I will tell you this... I had great luck with the Tattlers in water bath canning. Horrible luck in the pressure canner. I have a case of wide and regular mouth, and use them only on items I know I won't give away. I miss the pings. Next season, I may not use them (I bought them mainly to have on hand in case of a shortage of lids, which is why these were invented in the 70s).

    Now, a question for you... do you cook the apples before you squeezo them? If so, how long?

    1. Lanette, Yes, the apples must be cooked before going through the squeezo. We quarter them and remove the stem (leaving the peels and seeds on/in), then cook them down in about a half inch of water (turning them over and adding more water if needed so they don't burn). Once the apples are really soft (as if falling apart/mushy), we ladle them into the squeezo hopper. The squeezo gets rid of the seeds and peels, making short work of the project.

  13. I would have said you don't have a mean bone in your body, until I read this post. ;) Curiosity is peaked so I guess it worked! :)

  14. AARRRRGH! (Okay, I've got that out of my system.) How could you leave us hanging like that?

    Excellent article on their use! Looking forward to Part II.

  15. Oh, you are a tease! I was waiting to hear, as I have started using Tattlers this year and have been pretty disappointed that my failure rate seems to hover around 25%. I need to know the secret to getting these to work better, as I really want to love them!

  16. Hello! I just found your blog and am really interested in the Amish-made water-bath canner. Do you have any information on where it was made? We're in central Pennsylvania with a lot of Amish in the surrounding communities. I've never seen such a thing, but can imagine what a time-saver it would be when canning large quantities. Thank you!

    1. It was custom made at the request of my in-laws at a business that made/makes large BBQ grills. I would think that any welder who wouldn't mind following some instructions could bring it all together:-).

  17. Thank you for such a detailed review. I'm really on the fence about these lids. I did catch your reveal post already, but I just had to say thanks for this one, for all your thoughts and questions and doubts. I love that this is your version of living on the edge :)


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