Friday, July 31, 2020

How to Can Using Glass Canning Lids and Top-Seal Rubber Rings

First of all, let me say right up front that I am NOT recommending that anyone can with glass lids.  The safest way to can foods at home is to use the flat metal dome lids that have the sealing compound attached to the outer rim.  I find that kind of lid to be extremely convenient and reliable, and the "ping" that you hear as they seal is one of the most rewarding sounds that I know.  They are definitely my favorite canning lids to use.

However, from what I read online and what I see in stores around here, we are currently in a nationwide shortage of that type of canning lid.  Our experiences so far in 2020 have taught us that supply lines can certainly become unreliable, so I think it is anybody's guess as to when canning lids will be readily available again.  And surely Nancy and I are not the only people in whose basement rest boxes of antique canning supplies which have been passed down from generation to generation simply because no one took the time to throw them out!

Now, part of this blog's purpose is the preservation of the nearly lost skill of cooking on a woodburning cookstove, and let's be honest: its tone is unmistakeable.  I am a huge proponent of using wood cookstoves.

This post is different, though.  This is not a ringing endorsement for the use of glass canning lids; it is merely an educational post so that information about another nearly lost skill is out there and available for others.  I'm afraid it could come in quite handy in the near future.

Enough with the disclaimers and onto the meat of the post:

The data that I'm going to share with you comes from my 1937 Ball Blue Book, my 1946 Kerr Canning Home Canning manual, and my 1953 Ball Blue Book.  While I wouldn't consider the canning time tables and the instructions for oven and open kettle canning pertinent anymore, the information on how to operate the canning hardware itself is still accurate for these vintage lids.

The equipment that you will need is unique to this type of jar closure.  Of course, the first necessity is the actual glass lid itself.  To be clear, there were two types of glass canning lid marketed in the first half of the twentieth century.  One type was for the bail-type jars and had a niche in the top in order to accommodate the upper wire bail which held it in place. These are larger in diameter and have a convex shape.

The lids that I'm talking about here are the same diameter as today's dome lids and fit over the opening of the jar just like they do.  They have a lip on the bottom side which fits down inside the jar.

A picture of a Presto brand glass canning lid.
These lids can only be used with metal bands that are specifically made for them.  I have two different styles of bands; one has the hour-glass shaped opening in the top, and the other looks like a standard canning jar ring.

The picture below is of a canning ring for glass lids on the left and a standard ring for dome lids on the right.  You can see that the ring for the glass lids is taller than what is used today.  That is because the glass lid and the rubber ring are much taller than the sealing edge that a dome lid has.

To use glass lids, you also have to have a "top-seal" rubber ring.  These are entirely different than the rubber rings that are used with the old zinc canning lids; they are smaller in diameter and never have a tab.

When you are going to use them for canning, the rings must be softened and hydrated.  This is accomplished by scalding them and leaving them in hot water until you are ready to put them on the jar.  You can also boil them for five minutes.

Once your jars are packed with the food to be canned, fit the rubber ring around the outside of the bottom of the glass lid.  

Place the lid and rubber ring on the top of the jar.

The next step is to screw the ring onto the jar firmly tight.  Then unscrew the ring one quarter inch.

Process the food in whatever method you would ordinarily use for what you are canning.  In these pictures, I was canning Grammer's Sweet Pickles ("Grammer" is our name for my paternal great-grandmother who was the first woman to live in our house).

At the end of the processing time, remove the jar from the canner and set it on a towel.

Immediately tighten the ring that quarter of an inch that you backed it off before processing.

After the jar is completely cooled, you can check whether the jar has sealed by lifting the jar by the glass lid.  If you can lift it by the lid only, the jar is sealed.

To open the jar, insert the tip of a paring knife between the rubber ring and the lip of the jar.

I've read that glass lids are still popular with some home canners for extremely high acid foods like pickles because the food doesn't touch any metal.

Obviously, this kind of canning lid can be reused indefinitely.  Vintage instructions indicate that new rubber rings should be used, but rings were very often used multiple times.  I have used both new (unused old stock) and used rings with equal success so far.  I don't know whether the rubber rings available for use with the new Tattler lids would work for this type of lid, but I suspect not, due to the fact that their width is not the same.

One can usually purchase new old stock rubber rings on Ebay.  Be sure that they are labeled "Top Seal."  Common brands are Top Flite, Ball, Cuppers, and Bulldog.

Again, this is not a recommendation to use this type of lid, but who knows what skills we may need to revive in the future?

Let me know in the comments what you think.  Have you used this type of lid before?  Should I write a post about using the old zinc lids too?

Be safe, everyone!


  1. Jim,

    Another great post!

    I had heard, too, canning lids were in short supply. That information was from a man who has a store and would like to have a stock of lids. But, recently, I found a notable supply at a small Amish-run store, and bought what we need (hopefully).

    Except for the jars with wire bails, I have almost never even seen glass lids. We'll have to watch for some. It doesn't hurt to have options!

    Thanks, again, for your informative posts.

    1. Thanks, Brett! Yes, we too visited our closest (formerly Amish, now English) stores. One had only a few Ball lids in the one dozen boxes, and they were limiting the number of those that could be purchased. The other had one last sleeve of 29 dozen, and we bought it. They had a few smaller packages of two, three, and four dozen they had put together, but someone came in after us while we were still there to buy lids too.

  2. great informative post-I never did know how to use these type of lids thanks

  3. I wrote about using bail jars in 2010, we use them every year and I wanted to write a tutorial. I would add several things to your post, firstly that the Viceroy jar rubbers say on the box to boil them for 15 minutes prior to use and secondly to break the seal you pull the tab straight toward you and that breaks the seal without potential damage to your jars. I almost never have seal failures with bail jars and the rubbers can be used over and over.
    That post I wrote is here:

    1. Thank you for this information, Mrs. G! I enjoyed reading your post. I've got some bail jars too. I just might try using them, too.

  4. Where to get glass lid canning rings? I have the glass lids and rings. Looking for rings

  5. Where to get glass lid canning rings? I have the glass lids and rings. Looking for rings

    1. Hi, Jenny!

      I just did a quick search on Ebay, and there are several listed there. Just be sure they say "top seal" and read the descriptions carefully. Ebay search words are "rubber canning rings." For this type of closure, you will only be able to find new old stock.

  6. Thank you for sharing this information. I am not a fan of plastic so was hesitant to use the Tattler lids but would gladly use glass lids. I am (at this moment) testing Tattler-type lids with some glass lids that I bought earlier this year. I much prefer re-usable items and know glass lids and rubber gaskets are still very much in use in other countries. If the Tattler-type rings don't work, I'll be looking on ebay for new "old" stock :)

  7. You can use tattler brand gasket. It works great.

    1. Hi, Emily!

      To clarify, did you use Tattler gaskets with the old fashioned glass lids?

  8. Thank you for this post! You inspired me to set on a journey to find glass lids. I used the tattler wide and small mouth with my glass lids. The only ones I couldn't get to seal are the no. 10 (Ball and Presto) with writing around the rims of the lids. The Presto no. 10 you have in the pics are the best I have found to seal 100% with tattler gaskets. The Viceroy did not work for me. I have ordered harvest guard rubbers, they are slightly smaller, to see if they work with my stubborn lids.

    1. Thanks for this information Momof3! Canning lids are still very hard to find around here this summer, so canning with glass lids may become a little more common this summer. The more information available, the better!

  9. I use glass lids for the vast majority of my canning. I live on the Canadian prairies and have found lots of Gem jars and glass lids and screw rings at thrift stores. Gem jars have a mouth size between regular and wide mouth. They still sell the rubber rings at Canadian Tire, labelled Viceroy Rubber Fruit Jar Rings, as well as metal gem-sized lids. I also use Tattler lids and sometimes metal lids when I run out of Tattler lids. I have to say that I like the glass lids best. Tomato doesn't stain the lid like it does Tattler lids. I find the glass jars have an extremely strong seal, much stronger than the metal lids. I rarely have any seal failures. And I really like the reuse-ability of them--so far I've used the rubber rings at least 3 times and they are still holding strong, just boil them for 15 minutes before using them. I don't have a wood cookstove yet, but it is on my dream list. Thanks for the great blog.

    1. Thank YOU for sharing this great information, Emily!

    2. Hi Emily, do you find that the regular depth Gem metal rings work with the Gem glass lids as well as the vintage deeper Gem metal rings?

  10. I love them. Actually use them all the time now with all my canning that I do every year