I am NOT recommending that anyone can with zinc 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.
After I started writing my last post about canning with glass lids, I had to do my Covid-altered grocery run, and Nancy and I made a trip to our closest formerly-Amish stores. I've talked to a few others too, and the current canning lid shortage is confirmed. In fact, one of our friends told us that her canning lid supplier--a very fascinating Mennonite store named The Dutchman in Cantril, Iowa--called her and told her that they would not be able to get canning lids until September! My thinking is, with the way 2020 has gone so far, what's to say they will even be able to get them then?
And so, while I'm not advocating canning with anything other than new dome lids, it seems like knowing how to can using other types of canning lids might be a prudent skill to have right now. Plus, friends, zinc lids seem to be EVERYWHERE. You frequently see them at antique stores, second-hand stores, and estate sales; and, if you're like us and living in a farmhouse that has been in the same family for generations, there is likely a stack of these in your basement. If you can't find them in these places, never fear; Ebay has a ton of them too.
You will also need rubber sealing rings. These don't seem to be as plentiful as the lids, but that's all right because they are still available new. I see them in Amish stores, and Lehman Hardware currently carries them, too. You can buy them here: https://www.lehmans.com/product/standard-old-style-canning-jar-rubbers/ They also carry wide-mouth ones. The rubber rings used with zinc lids come in two styles: with a tab and without a tab. I see the ones with a tab far more often.
The kicker with zinc lids, though, is that you need to have older canning jars. Whereas nowadays the sealing edge is the top lip of the jar, it used to be down on the shoulder. The new style canning jars don't have a sufficiently wide shoulder to create a seal.
|Two Kerr canning jars. This is not the best example, but the one on the left is older and has |
the wider shoulder. The jar on the right is newer, and you can see that the shoulder
has been reduced.
|This is an example of a lid that is in good shape. Notice how the edge sits |
on the counter all the way around.
|A view showing the milk glass on the inside of a zinc lid.|
|A zinc lid and rubber ring sitting in scalding water on the Margin Gem. It |
was so cool here a week ago today (Aug. 4) that I fired up the Margin Gem
and did the day's canning in the house.