The canning lid conundrum

canning lids

How do you guys store your used canning lids and rings?

We keep a lot of them around because we use canning jars for so many things other than canning: dry goods, leftovers, food-to-go, body care, etc.  My collection is driving me crazy.

Never was there a set of more awkward objects than a pile of slippery, jangly rings and lids.


[Mr. Homegrown in my Master Food Preserver mode chiming in here–as per USDA advice we use two piece canning lids only once for actual canning]

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  1. I keep them in a clear plastic tote box (in the basement, of course – no room near the kitchen where they might actually be useful). New lids stay in their boxes. Used lids go in ziplock bags (and have a paper label in the bag saying that they’re used, in case someone other than me has to go fetch some). Used rings fly around loose in the box. New rings stay in their boxes. I keep the magnetic lid lifter and the jar grabber in this box as well. That way, when I’m up to my eyeballs in hot jam, I can yell for my husband to grab some rings and lids from the box for me.

  2. We used to have unruly boxes of rings, a similar mess to yours. I started using metal coat hangers. Make a snip near the neck and you can slide on a bunch of rings, then hang them from the underside of a shelf or get them up out of the way. It sort of works.

    • A slight variation on this wire hanger arrangement – flatten the wire hanger and then bend it back into a V. Then slip the rings over the non-hook end. It can be hung in the basement out of the way and then from a cabinet handle in the kitchen when canning. I use this same configuration for hanging Christmas lights out of the way during 10 1/2 months of the year.

  3. To be honest, I recycle a lot of them. The rings get rusty so fast.

    The ones I keep, I just toss into a paper bag and store with the canning jars. We store tons of stuff in mason jars, but I use plastic lids for a lot of things, instead of fussing with the two-piece lids all the time.

  4. We keep ours in a shoe box. It’s not the perfect solution, but at least they’re contained in one designated spot.

  5. I put the rings back onto empty jars until the next time I need them both. The lids go into a stack in a drawer.

  6. Plus one on the coat hanger.

    My mother makes hoops out of coat hangers, so she unhooks the loose end, slides on the ring, and rehooks the end to make a charm bracelet of rings.

    My innovation is to bend the non-hook end of the coat hanger around a ring. This keeps other rings from sliding off. This makes long jangly noodles which can be stored in thin spaces in a closet or hallway.

    I sort my rings by standard, wide-mouth and rusty.

    I also keep used lids in a shoebox, but ruthlessly recycle lids that aren’t pristine.

  7. I have thrown out some of my rings. I don’t store jars with rings on them and there are very few that need rings for things not canned. So they all hang out in a small paper gift bag. I probably could reduce it to a shoe box to conserve space.

  8. I used to get really frustrated by those and by the piles of plastic tupperware-style containers, which seem to breed quickly and vomit themselves out all over the floor on a regular basis (I’ve always had to keep stuff in cabinets and not drawers).

    The best I’ve come up with is to keep lids together with containers, and stack up the empty containers. When the cupboard full of containers gets too crowded, I go through the collection and pare out the excess and recycle it. It’s more bulky than stacking all the plastic yogurt tubs together, but then again, how often do I actually wind up using 40 yogurt tubs (exaggeration)? Not that often – I think it’s really best to plan around a year-long cycle, and I haven’t yet hit a point where I’ve run completely out of all the containers I’ve stored.

    Also with this method I know I have a 1:1 ratio of lids to containers. A handful of extra canning bands and lids go in a small cardboard box, which gets pulled out whenever I’m actually canning stuff. Spare canning jars also go in boxes, and only the ones getting used for yogurt or leftover dinner or what-have-you go in the storage cabinet.

  9. In a gigantic ziplock bag inside the canner itself (which I keep in the basement because it’s so huge). Then they are there when I need them, and not in the way when I don’t.

  10. I put the used lids back on the jar upside down and put the ring back on but I do not tighten it. That way when I see a lid upside down I know it is used and when I grab the jar it already had the lid and ring and is ready to go. Everything in one place. If I have to store the jar, it might as well have the ring and lid with it. 🙂

    • That’s what we do, too. Since the ‘in-between-canning’ uses of the jars usually need a lid and ring, too, like you said, they’re ready to go. When the jar is needed for the next round of canning, the lid goes in the recycling along with the ring, unless the ring can be re-used.

      I keep trying to think of something useful to do with the used lids, but I haven’t come up with anything better than an armored suit, with the lids strung together like fish scales. My wife has been more enthusiastic about the recycling option after hearing about my proposed alternative…

    • Putting the lid on upside down, what a good idea.
      I’m doing that from now on thanks.

  11. on a piece of string. it becomes somewhat of a canning lid wreath when you get a bunch. i hang it on a knob in my kitchen that opens up to my water heater.

  12. After many different goes at storage of these I finally found the perfect plastic “basket” at Daiso (If you don’t know it is like a Japanese $tree)

    Anyhow there is a divider that can be moved where needed so now we have two rows of the rims and a small section that holds the lids…..No more messy drawers!

    • Daiso is the best! One just opened on Sawtelle blvd off olympic, if Mr. And Mrs homegrown are ever on the westside.. I got cat repellant strips, mats of plastic raised nubs to keep cats off of our raised beds. Maybe they might work for skunks?

  13. Two clear tote boxes in the basement and a coffecan upstairs. Tote box 1 = regular size Tote box 2= widemouth

    I use the tattler lids so the rubber rings that are new are just in the ziplock bag so it’s very easy to keep track of.

    Coffee can upstairs catches used lids and rings and holds them for sorting downstairs or putting on that jar of dried herbs etc.

    The tote boxes come upstairs and sit for a few weeks during the major canning of the year and then go back downstairs for the rest of the year. It’s not beautiful nor elegant but it gets the job done and keeps me from going crazy with lids.

  14. I keep the massive load in an old (30+ old) orange sack in the fruit room of the basement, then I keep a small collection handy for daily use in a basket inside of a kitchen drawer.

  15. We keep the box and dividers from new canning jars and use that for storing and organizing the flats and bands. You can stack a surprising number of bands in each square section within the cardboard divider. Same thing with the flats. Keeping everything in the original box makes it easy to just store the box neatly on a shelf and pull it out whenever you need something.

  16. I also vote for undoing a wire coathanger at the top and putting your rings on it, then re-hooking it so it stays closed. I use one for large mouth, one for small mouth, and keep them in a closet, where they hang nicely and don’t get in the way of anything!

  17. I don’t have a great solution for the mess of supplies, but I did want to give a shout out to the Tattler reusable lids with the rubber seal. BPA free. They’ve worked great for us with less waste.

  18. I would love to see everyone’s answers with the total number of jars they own or can with in a year because I think that makes a difference in the management system.

    So add to my tote boxes above a total canned per year around 250-300. Total owned is a bit higher as there are somethings that are on an off rotation.

  19. I keep all new boxes of lids and boxes of lids and rings in the water bath canner where I keep the jar lifter, the magnetic lid lifter and two of my three canning funnels. I splurged on some labels on sale, labels that wash off. The canner is kept in the kitchen so it is easy to get into a new box of lids and rings if I am desperate.

    As for the used lids and rings, I have put those in several places until I found the perfect solution for me. They have been stored in a drawer, commingling with other items like the can opener and ice pick. That soon became insufficient. Then, a canvas bag hanging on the door knob behind the kitchen door worked, almost.

    The problem is the canvas bag involved my handling lids too much for my sanitary sensibilities. Plus, I was always taking the bag from the darkish part of the kitchen to the light from a fixture or the windows.

    At one time, I stored even the used lids and rings in the canner, but that made for too much moving of the canner and searching the dark depths, disrupting the careful packing that made it possible to store so much in the canner. I have many more lids and rings than jars. But, I always seemed to be searching for a lid or ring of the proper size.

    Finally, I put a gallon jug on the counter, a jug with a lid, not a Ball jar. Now, I can throw in my Prego lids, Smucker’s pb lids, and Ball rings and used lids. The main advantage is that I can see into the gallon jar and I can keep the jar covered. I don’t screw on the lid, just sit it atop the jar. Sometimes, I even give the gallon jar lid a little twist but still don’t close it entirely.

    I get lots of lids in a relatively small footprint. I don’t know what happens, but some days I have all lids and no rings or all wide-mouth and no regular mouth. But, I have a jar in my hand, so where is the lid to fit it? This is much more baffling than disappearing socks.

    Plus, this storage method does not necessitate my removing the container to search for a lid and ring. It is stationary. At times I doo slide it over and look through the side to locate the proper lid and/or ring.

    The reason I store peanut butter jars and spaghetti jars is that they have the rubber band attached to the metal lid for a nice water- and air-tight seal for storing in the cabinets or refrigerator. Since the plastic Ball storage lids are not water- or air-tight, I don’t like to use them as much as I did a few years ago. Besides, they have started cracking when I tighten them, not a gorilla-hand tight, just a normal twist from two injured hands. Using used lids for the refrigerator or freezer makes a better seal than the plastic caps. The few plastic storage caps that are not in use or tossed after cracking are stored in the gallon jar, too.

    Since I had to scrape and wash a few spiders, flies, and dirt-dauber nests from canning jars, I always put used lids and rings on stored canning jars. Those nasty jars were cheap or free, so washing bugs out was the pice I paid.

  20. I use a paper towel holder. Since I mostly use wide-mouth jars, those go on the big pole, and the regular rings go on the small pole. Lids go in an plastic quart soup container.

  21. One of the many reasons I love Weck, le Parfait and other glass lid jars. For some reason, a tired rubber ring is so much easier to give up on and toss…

    And, shoot me, I reuse lids all the time. If I have a seal on the jar (determined by lifting the jar by the lid) I am unconcerned whatever the USDA has to say about it. Tell you the absolute truth, I’ve never had a reused lid fail me.

  22. I have a kitchen drawer dedicated to lids (canning lids/rings, plastic jar lids, travel mug covers, etc) When it gets over-full I shift rings and lids to a plastic zipper bag and store it down cellar with the empty jars and other canning stuff. New lids go in the back of the fridge (tip from County Extension years ago). I do re-use lids if the seals look patent, but I no longer can in commercial jars (mayo, etc) because I’ve had too many break in the canner.

  23. Lids I toss in a clear plastic drawer under the sink.

    Bands I string on a piece of twine which I knot loosely and hang in my utility room (or in the pantry, or out in the shed). I always keep one string of rings in the pantry though.

  24. I tie my rings together and they are kept in a large box with my empty jars. I have a kitchen with enough storage to be able to keep them close by and a warm dry environment means they don’t rust. More and more though I’m using recycled jars and lids. I find the cost of the seals is becoming outrageous so reuse them as much as I can also

  25. Hi- I use a bungee cord for the rings. They bungee cord lives in the pantry and is hung up through the rings. I just unhook one end, grab a ring, and hang it back up. One cord for each size. Used lids go in a little plastic basket near the rings, both sizes mixed together.

  26. There is a visible difference you can see easily with some old lid I had from the early 1990’s and those I have have gotten lately on new brand new jars. I have photos to prove with just a plan old ruler.

  27. i use my old lids in the garden, spray paint and write different herbs or veggys on them. I save them all, the more I get, the ore projects I’ll have to find to reuse them 🙂

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