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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
  • [February 1, 2016] - An interesting report on why you should always choose organic tea verses non-organic: Toxic Tea (pdf format)
  • Sticky Post - Warning: 4ever Recap reusable canning lids. The reports are growing daily of these lids losing their seal during storage. Some have lost their entire season's worth of canning to these seal failures!

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Starting the Testing of 4ever Recap Reusable Canning Lids and Gaskets

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 Reusable Lids and 4Ever Cap packaging 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.

4ever Recap lids and rings
I ordered the 24 combo pack for $17.50 and had them shipped to our US postal box.  Their shipping time was good.  The only thing I was not impressed with was one of the widemouth lids was damaged along the edge reaching in towards the centre as if it had been pried down.  Obviously 4ever does not mean forever!  I did email them but they did not offer a replacement although they wanted me to ship the lid back so they could troubleshoot.  Let's see, the lid cost 72¢ but to send back would cost me 42¢ for a stamp, the price of a small padded envelope (25¢) and a trip to the US.  In other words, cutting my loss at 72¢ was the frugal thing to do but I must say I am not impressed.  Leaving enough room in the box for the lids to shift and move around during shipping is likely the cause of the breakage but it could have been due to something else and not noticed during packaging.

Tattler and 4ever recap lids comparison
The Tattler and 4ever Recap lids are similar in function and design but there are some differences.  The Tattler lid (left) is empossed with 'Stieg Tattler® Made in USA' on the top and 'recycle logo 7 Pat Pending 1' on the underside. There are three raised lines around the rim where the gasket sits.   The 4ever Recap lid (right) is embossed with '4ever recap Made in USA' surrounded by three leaves.  The underside as no embossing but there are 6 circle marks (? from the die) and five raise lines around the outer rim where the gasket sits.  What is clearly missing from the 4ever Recap lid is the burr that Tattler lids have.  This sharp piece of plastic is caused when the piece breaks from the mold.  I find it very irritating and really the only thing I don't like about the Tattler lids as it can cause cuts.  I use an emery board on my Tattlers to remove this burr.  The 4ever recap lids are perfectly smooth which is nice.

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.

4 food lovers commented:

Anonymous said...

I ran across this while researching 4everrecap. I'm a Tattler user also, and I thought the instructions seemed oddly familiar. So familiar in fact, they are exactly the same. Except instruction #10 at the link below where they forgot to replace the word "rubber" with "silicone".

They might be made in the USA, but they still look like a rip-off to me.

Garden Gnome said...

Anonymous, the link you provided is simply their application for the 4ever Recap trademark not a patent. If you actually compare the two lids, there are quite a few differences between them so while the idea may be the same, they are still different. This is no different than any other two competing brands with a product that looks the same but differs enough that they aren't identical. I can't really comment on the instructions other than 4ever Recap appears to be almost word for word to Tattler reusable instructions which in turn is almost identical (the first instructions were identical) to the instructions on Presto glass inserts. I would think Presto holds the copyright for the original instructions.

Garden Gnome said...

A few more thoughts - When the glass inserts were all the sealer of choice, there were Kerr, Presto, Ball and a few others. All were pretty much the same concept of a glass disc with flange that sat inside the jar and a rubber gasket. The only real difference was the embossing of the brand and the centre portion that was flat, slightly concave or slightly convex. The metal snap lids that replaced the glass inserts were each made by their respective manufacturers with the only real difference being the brand lettering but basically they were the same. Now we have the two new reusable canning lids that are essentially plastic versions of the vintage glass insert. The only thing new about them is the use of plastic rather than glass. The plastic discs are clearly made using two different die machines so they definitely are not the same, only similar very much like Pepsi and Coca Cola or off brand similar. I would hazard a guess there will be more of the plastic disc with gasket model of canning lids go into production by other offshoot small manufacturers. Providing each uses their own slightly different but similar design, the outcome will be competition which will help lower the price of all of them. From a canner's perspective, that's a good thing!

Debbie Kelsey said...

I have both the Tattler and the 4ever recap, I love them both, but I think I like the 4evers a little better. I have had some trouble with them on old old jars, with the extra thick rims or when I used the mainstay rings but for the most part I love them. I have been fortunate enough to purchase through a co-op with the Tattler and the 4evers are a great buy if you get the 500. I do like that both are offering replacement seals now and find I like the silicone the best on both lids, they are interchangeable.