I have been a high volume home canner for over three decades, reaching well over 1,000 jars of home canned foods annually with closer to 1,400 jars annually over the past 14 years. I really went into high gear with y2K preparedness then never really decreased the amount but rather added more products each year to avoid buying mass produced canned foods with food additives and BPA in the can liner. The single use metal snap lids (the only ones recommended by the USDA) have always bothered me because they are not eco-friendly but the cost is a factor as well. Even with reusing the metal snap lids for vacuum sealing dry foods, many of my used snap lids found their way to the curbside waste collection because until we moved here they could not go into the recycle box. That meant my used lids were ending up in a landfill something that really did not sit well with me. The cheapest price for the metal snap lids was 12/$1 (8¢ per lid) at Dollarama but within a two month period the price went to $1.25 then $1.50 (13¢ per lid). At 1,000 jars my cost went from $80 to $130 annually but in reality more because the old price only had sales tax of 7% added whereas the new price has HST of 13% added.
Back in August of 2010 I was beyond elated to discover Tattler Reusable lids and rings, manufactured by S&S Innovations, Corp. in Fruita, CO and wrote a review of my experience with the Tattler reusable lids. The Tattler reusable lids have proven themselves to be well worth the cost. They perform as promised. I very seldom have a seal failure. They are second only to my glass inserts that are no longer in production but I have quite a few and am always looking for more. Once I got used to the Tattler lids, my intentions were to make the switch to mainly Tattler lids, use glass inserts for jars not leaving the house and use as few of the metal snap lids as possible. A couple of months ago I came across a new brand of reusable canning lids called 4ever Recap, manufactured by 4Ward Industries in Anna, OH. The caps looked very much like the Tattlers but were less expensive and the rings were silicone so I ordered a 24 pack of 12 each of standard and widemouth lids with rings.
The 4ever Recap lids are used in the same manner as the Tattler reusable lids and glass inserts in that they are tightened then turned back a quarter inch for process then fully tightened immediately upon remove from the canner. This differs significantly from the metal snap lids that are tightened finger tight then not tightened after removal from canner. Processed jars regardless of the lid used to seal sit undisturbed for 24 hours after removal from the canner then the bands are removed, the jars and bands washed and dried. The metal bands can be replaced loosely on the jars for storage for all but the glass inserts.
Tattler lids have been in production since 1976 and yet even with all the canning I do and how involved I was with y2K preparedness, I never heard of them until 2010. The tattler lids (original packaging is darker blue) come packaged 12 in a box. Part of the pricing of course is to cover the costs of packaging. When I ordered three dozen the individual boxes were shipped inside a USPS priority post box. The Tatter lids are 3 dozen standard lids for $30.95 (85¢ each) with free shipping to US destinations. Each plastic lid (disc) comes with a rubber gasket that sits on the bottom of the lid during use. Rubber does wear out, can stretch or harden over time and/or become damaged by sharp objects so Tattler does sell the rubber gaskets separately 12 for $3.50 which is a dollar more than when I first started buying Tattler lids.
I could not find a date when 4Ward Industries began manufacturing but it is likely within the last 4 or 5 years if that. The 4ever caps were simply stacked inside a heavy cardboard box leaving room for quite a bit of movement especially of the standard size lids. There is a colour sticker on the box so packaging costs are kept to a minimum. The 4ever Recap lids and rings are 24 standard size at $17 (71¢ each) or a 24 combo pack (standard/widemouth) for $17.50 (72¢ each) with free shipping to US destinations. That is a 14¢ price difference compared to Tattler! Each plastic lid (disc) comes with a silicone gasket. Silicone does not wear out or stretch over time so properly cared for, there is no need to replace the gasket and as such, 4Ward Industries does not sell replacement gaskets at this time.
The flange (sits inside the jar) on the underside of the Tattler lid is lightly larger in diameter than the 4ever Recap flange. On the top side, the part of the lid where the flange starts on the Tattler has a gentle slope towards the centre of the lid. On the 4ever Recap, this portion is raised then has a short, steeper slop. Clearly the dies for the plastic discs are different.
The Tattler rubber gasket is a pinky red in colour while the 4ever Recap silicone gasket is an orangy red. While the Tattler gasket is the same thickness as the 4-ever gasket, it is not as flexible . A comparison of holding each on one side between thumb and pointer finger, the Tattler gasket has a slight bend while the 4ever Recap has almost twice the bend. The Tattler gasket sits tight against the flange but there is a bit of play with the 4ever Recap but only on the standard lids. There is not play on the widemouth lids. I know there were questions on some of the canning forums regarding the gaskets. The 4ever Recap gasket does fit the Tattler lids so if 4Ward Industries ever decides to sell the gaskets separately, the rubber gaskets could be replaced with the silicone ones. I have not tested using a Tattler lid with a 4ever Recap gasket.
According to my husband, 4Ward Industries' business model is not sustainable because it is focused on new customers building their supply of lids and rings rather than building repeat customers. Their model doesn't support those who may need to buy replacement gaskets. While the silicone gaskets will last indefinitely with proper care, they are still subject to damage via sharp objects like knives when opening the sealed jar. The plastic disc becomes useless without the gasket, something we have already seen with glass inserts. Finding the glass inserts is not the problem, finding the gaskets is. Currently, home canning is seeing a renewed interest but it is only the hard core home canners that would be interested in reusable canning lids to begin with. Those are the folk who will quickly note that replacement gaskets are not available so they are more apt to buy Tattler lids that do have replacement gaskets.
I am currently in the testing phase of using the 4ever Recap canning lids so I will be putting them through the paces in both the boiling water bath and pressure canners as well as vacuum sealing, multiple times. I am not anticipating any problems as in terms of design the 4ever Recap as pretty much the same as Tattler. The only big difference is the gasket material being silicone rather than rubber but that should not cause any problems, any more than it did going from rubber to plastisol as the sealant on the metal lids. I will be reporting back each time I use them. In all honesty, providing the 4ever Recap lids and gaskets perform as well as the Tattler lids and gaskets, I will be buying more. I currently have 6 dozen Tattlers, 4 dozen glass inserts and 2 dozen 4ever Recap which is a start but I really need to build my supply of reusable lids. That 14¢ per lid savings is looking very favourable for the 4ever Recap lids.