Ongoing COVID product scarcity thread

Sweet Tatorman's picture

I cannot relocate the thread in which there was discussion of ongoing product scarcity as a result of the COVID disruption. One I noted recently was the lack of canning supplies, specifically mason jar lids at the local Wally World. This doesn't adversely affect me at the moment as this is an item that I generally buy ahead by one or two years. Looking at my on hand supply it is clear that I will use most of what I have by the end of the season so I was intending to buy ahead for next year. I checked Ebay and they are available there but at 2-3X normal pricing.
Also, as noted by others, Isopropyl alcohol is only rarely available. I will generally buy a bottle when I see it.

David Trammel's picture

Tator, do you mean this thread?

I don't think that was specifically on product scarcity but its a good idea to discuss it. Let me think for a few minutes while I have morning coffee. I will probably create a separate COVID forum and put the threads there.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

David, I don't think that is the thread I was remembering. I cannot rule out the possibility that the thread I was remembering does not actually exist.

mountainmoma's picture
Sweet Tatorman's picture

Yes MM, that is the one

ClareBroommaker's picture

If you are willing to try re-usable lids there is and The second, Tattler, got overrun with orders in spring, but re-stocked so well that they were running a sale earlier in summer.

Ace Hardware has been a good source for canning supplies at fair prices in years past, but I've not looked this year. They will special order for no fee, too.

Elsewhere on the internet, I read of a lot of cleaning products that people have trouble finding, but that doesn't affect me, as I don't buy stuff like ready-made disposable wipes. Just the basic bleach, alcohol, peroxide, soap, detergent. Some of those have been iffy, but my household has not been stuck without, so far.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Thanks for the links CB. I need to revisit the possibility of reusable lids. They would offer an advantage of added resilience in the event of severe disruptive events. The products in your two links look similar. Do you have any basis for preferring one over the other?

My garden buddy and I bought a bunch of Tattler lids four or five years ago since it sounded like a really good idea. However, we could never get them to work correctly and we tried for a couple of years to perfect our technique, but no go. I would say we had a 20% failure rate with each canner load. It didn't matter if it was a water bath or a pressure canner. They were just too frustrating and the failure rate was too high and we gave up on them.

We have experimented with reusing the regular canning lids and had fair success, but we have only used used lids on high acid products or jams or jellys. We select the lids we are reusing carefully to ensure success, but haven't dared do it on more challenging projects.

My friend recently found some other metal lids that are reusable. We just tried them earlier this year on some orange juice and noticed that they are thicker then the usual lids and a few of them didn't suck down as they do even though they looked to have sealed. I took the ring off and tried to lift the lid and it seemed firmly sealed to the jar. I am sure we will be opening a jar or two of the juice and trying the lid over again as we enter canning season.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Kay, that failure rate of 20% after several years of honing your technique gives me pause. I don't think I ever even got as high as 10% on the 4th use of "non-reusable" metal lids. Like you, I inspect them carefully before each reuse.

I'm seeing strange gaps again at the local supermarket after most items stabilized and reappeared. I only recently began searching for rubbing alcohol so I don't know if it ever came back. I'm not finding it now.

Oddly, today at Giant, the Turkey Hill ice cream section had been ravaged. Turkey Hill ice cream is imported from Lancaster County, one county over from Dauphin, and I have no idea why they would have a problem when the rest of the ice cream aisle looked normal.

As a result of the shortages, I've been building up a bigger buffer than usual on anything non-perishable.

If Three Gorges Dam bursts, expect shortages for sure and for a long, long time. I hope that dam holds. The devastation in China and the repercussions in the rest of the world would be severe.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Tattler is the only one I've tried. I'm only using them on jams, since jams keep pretty well without even being canned. In three batches, I've had two that failed to seal, which seems a high rate. I probably need to practice tightening the lids properly. It is a little different than with metal lids. The Harvest Guard lids look just like Tattler, but I really do not know.

Let me know if you perfect your technique for tightening the lids. I watched several video's including Tattler's to no effect. I have since taken to using the Tattler lids on dry goods storage jars and noticed, since I can see it more easily, that it is all too easy to screw up the position of the rubber ring when you tighten the metal ring on the jar.

There is another type of canning jar out of Europe called Wicks. It uses little metal clips on a glass lid with a separate rubber ring. These jars are very expensive and as best as I can tell from what information I can find there is a two step process with the clips. The first step is to simply hold the lid and ring on the jar with enough pressure to allow it to vent during processing and after processing you press the clips into their second position to hold the lid in position after it has cooled and sucked down. It was hard to find information about this, but I think maybe the bale type jars and lids worked in a similar fashion. Has any one used bale type jars in canning?

ClareBroommaker's picture

We have used small wire bail jars, again for jam or fruit butters. They do seal really well in our experience. The rubber seals can get dried out and inflexible over not too many years, but I guess that is true of the seals that come with Tattler types as well. You can get silicone seals for your bail jars. At least 1/4 of our bail jars have silicone seals because the jars were bought at thrift stores and needed new seals, so we bought silicone. The jars are Arc or LeParfait, maybe a Kilner or two(?)

Sometimes the bail jars are really hard to open. They seal with a strong vacuum and sometimes the seals seem to really meld with the glass on both surfaces.

Did you watch the videos on Weck's website? I think that is where I watched a video in which someone was canning green beans in Weck. At the end, they put away the jars in a cabinet and mentioned they could leave them for a month. What? Only a month? That wouldn't do much to get a person from the end of one harvest season to the beginning of the next harvest season.

I will have to check the Weck's out. It has been a while since I looked and I don't remember there being a video. I will also check out more on bail jars.

Thanks for the info.

ClareBroommaker's picture

At this very minute we have jars of peach butter in the canner using very old Tattler lids that we found new-in-box. They are beige in color rather than white. Interestingly, the seals fit on them slightly differently than they do on the newer Tattlers. The seals themselves are the same size, but the rim they fit against allows wiggle room on the new Tattler lids, yet fits snugly on the very old ones.

I know Tattler changed their instructions for tightening the bands a couple years ago. They used to say to begin with making the bands "finger tight" then back off 1/4 inch. (That seems loose to me.) Now they just say "finger tight." I'm guessing the differently sized inner rim on the lid is the reason for that.

Wish me luck on the peach butter.

Update: Well, foo. One out of seven jars did not seal.

David Trammel's picture

I wonder what you could use to extend the life of canning jar seals? First thing comes to mind is a drop of vegetable oil rubbed in, but some oils can degrade silicon. It would have to be heat and food safe.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Maybe store them under a vacuum?

Ok, this past weekend, we could not find canning lids in any grocery store we checked. Jars were mostly gone too. I know about a month ago, I was able to purchase lids, but all gone now. One store manager told me that they had been trying to get more for a month. I have two more places to check today, but I don't hold out a lot of hope that they will have them. Maybe this is a genuine COVID shortage.

Naturally we had a lot of tomatoes to process and we reused our used metal lids and so far, all (30+) sealed. I wouldn't have had that kind of successes with Tattlers. Have you all been able to find lids?

ClareBroommaker's picture

Had the second use lids been used in water bath canning, pressure canning, or both? My pressure canned lids look really "used up".

I think most of the lids I reused were from water bath canned products since that is most of my canning, but some were pressure canned. I carefully inspected them an didn't use the really beat up ones. I also very carefully remove my lids when opening my jars, so they don't get too mangled. So far, so good. I did find this site and ordered lids, but they seemed expensive.

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Lids are still available here at a reasonable price. I ordered and received some a few weeks ago.

Thanks. I will share this site with others that are looking for lids.