Wherever you buy canning supplies, follow tips for safe food preservation

Iowa State University Extension
When canning, be sure to follow the current guidelines.

Home food preservation – canning, freezing and drying food at home – increased during the 2020 pandemic, causing shortages in both canning jars and lids.

The trends continue in 2021 as we continue to see increased home food preservation and shortages of canning jars and lids in some areas.

However, if you are wondering where to buy canning jars and lids, the best option still may be your local retail store, not online, according to the Human Sciences Extension and Outreach food preservation team at Iowa State University.

For example, according to FreshPreserving.com, the website for Ball brand home canning products, these products are currently only sold through authorized third-party retailers. The company announced in June that it had increased jar and lid production to replenish stock at retail stores as quickly as possible. The FreshPreserving.com site includes a “where to buy” feature and a list of authorized retail partners.

Wherever you buy your home canning supplies, ISU Extension and Outreach nutrition and wellness specialists recommend these tips on lids for safe and successful home canning:

  • Refer to the manufacturer's recommendations for shelf life on lids. If you choose to use lids beyond the recommended shelf life, please note they may not seal.
  • Off-brand or generic lids may not be reliable. Reports indicate they may have less metal and less sealing compound.
  • If you choose to use off-brand lids, consider using water bath canning only, not pressure canning. Keep in mind that the product still may not seal.

ISU Extension and Outreach and the National Center for Home Food Preservation do not recommend using reusable lids at this time. Testing of the Tattler Reusable Canning Lids brand is currently underway.

Extension resources for home food preservation

ISU Extension and Outreach has many resources on how to preserve food at home using the most current methods and recipes, including the online "Preserve the Taste of Summer" classes which are free and run from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Classes include:

  • Preserve the Taste of Summer 101: Aug. 5.
  • Salsa Making Basics: Aug. 4.
  • Totally Tomatoes: Aug. 24.
  • All About Apples: Sept. 13.

Register at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/events.

AnswerLine is another resource for home canners. Call toll-free Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - noon and 1 – 4 p.m. for answers to home food preservation questions or any questions related to home and family.

  • 800-262-3804 (in Iowa)
  • 800-854-1678 (in Minnesota)
  • 800-735-2942 (Relay Iowa phone linkage for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals)
  • 515-296-5883 (toll charges may apply)