[This is not a paid review and I have no affiliation with 4Ward Industries. The opinions expressed here about these canning lids are my honest opinions based on my experience with these lids and gaskets. ]
I announced that I was experimenting with 4ever Recap reusable canning lids (manufactured by 4Ward Industries) the second week of April (2013). These lids are very similar in design to the Tattler reusable lids that I reviewed in September of 2010. The key advantage to these lids is the ring/gasket is silicone rather than rubber meaning with proper care, the rings should not stretch or wear out. This is an advantage over having to eventually buy replace rings as would be necessary for other reusable lids (eg. Tattler, glass inserts). I have now had over a month to test out these lids on various home canned products. I tested 2 dozen of these lids (standard mouth, wide mouth) under various conditions looking at several variables that were important to me. Here is my full review of these lids.
- product - 4ever Recap lids are a BPA-free heavy plastic reusable canning lid made in the USA. The lid requires a separate silicone ring that is included with the lids. Replacement silicone rings are not available at this time.
- why? - Currently the only approved lids for canning are the two piece metal, single-use snap lids. The three problems with these metal lids are: 1) single-use which adds to landfills; 2) availability which isn't guaranteed; and 3) BPA content in the plastic coating on the metal lids. Until now, two types of reusable canning lids existed: glass inserts (vintage, no longer in production) and Tattler (plastic disc, rubber ring). The 4ever Recap lids The cost of lids was an influencing factor as was the fact the ring is silicone rather than rubber.
- test conditions - I tested the 4ever Recap reusable lids under normal home
canning conditions using different sizes of jars, boiling water bath
(BWB) and pressure canner (PC) processing. I also tested the lids for
ease of use, seal failures, staining, reusing, vacuum sealing, cost,
storage and miscellaneous problems.
- cost - The metal, single-use snap lids cost me 13¢ per lid at their current lowest price. The Tattler's currently cost me an 85¢ per lid investment meaning I need to reuse each lid 7 times before realizing a payback but after that they will cost nothing. The 4ever Recap lids cot me 72¢ per lid investing with a payback of 6 reuses.
- ease of use - The 4ever Recap reusable canning lids have a slightly different preparation method. Once the lid is placed on the jar it and the ring tightened it is extremely important to turn back the ring by ¼- inch for proper venting during the canning process. I really did not have a problem adjusting to the method for using the 4ever Recap lids as it is the same method used for the Tattler lids and glass inserts.
- processing method - The 4ever Recap lids performed equally well in BWB and PC conditions.
- jar sizes - The 4ever Recap lids performed well on all jar sizes I tested on: 250 ml, 500 ml and 1 L standard mouth, and 250 ml and 500 ml wide mouth jars
- seal failures - I experienced 3 seal failures during the testing period using the 4ever Recap lids on beef stock. Troubleshooting revealed one defective threading on
- reusing - I tested reusing the lids canning water both in BWB and PC. I then reused the lids to can other foods and I reused any lids that failed to seal. Lids that were reused performed as well as new lids.
- staining - I did not test specifically for staining because I was not canning any foods (eg. tomato based products) that stain plastic. I suspect there will be slight discolouration from tomato based products similar to the Tattler lids. This staining also occurs on the plastic coating on metal snap lids used on tomato based products. The staining does not affect the seal or food quality.
- storage - Anyone doing larger scale home canning can relate to the storage issues for both filled jars as well as new lids and rings. I remove the rings, wash and dry rings and jars then store any jars with reusable lids without the ring. Storing large numbers of reusable lids could be a problem especially with larger scale canning however, I have not had a problem. I use a plastic tote for the plastic Tattler discs and rings as well as my glass inserts and rings so set up the same system for the 4ever Recap lids. When used properly, there shouldn't be a huge number of the reusable lids not in use but rather they are constantly being reused as soon as there are enough to run a canner load. At most I have about 2 dozen each of Tattler and glass inserts not in use at any given time. As I only have 2 doz of the 4ever Recap lids, I only have 6 of them currently not in use.
- vacuum sealing - The 4ever Recap lids outperform the metal snap lids for vacuum sealing!
- breakage - One of the wide mouth lids was broken when my package arrived. The break was about 1 inch wide, semi-circular, widest at the outer rim and moving into the lid. It was not broke completely through, more of a deep crack where the broken piece being able to flex down. I did notify the manufacture of this problem. They did request the return of the lid so they could see what the problem. According to their instructions defective parts are replaced with no questions asked BUT the consumer pays shipping and handling. This becomes a buyer beware as it would end up costing me more than double the price of that lid to get it replaced. That part does bother me a bit!
- packaging - The multi-pack of standard and wide mouth lids I ordered came simply in a box with the standard lids stacked on top of the wide mouth lids but with nothing to prevent any movement during shipping that could cause the lids to break especially if jarred during cold winter months. Seriously, how difficult could it be to stuff a bit of paper into the box to prevent the lids from moving during shipping?
- seal problems - I experienced a total of five seal failures using the standard size lids. Three seal failures occurred on the first on beef stock processed in the pressure canner. Those lids were reused to reprocess those three jars of beef stock. Two of those lids failed again. They did however, seal on the third time being processed. I determined the cause of one seal failure to be faulty threads on the jar so the ring did not hold the lid as tight as it should have during the cooling period. The actual cause for the other four seal failures remains undetermined.
My inital investment on the 4ever Recap lids was $17.50 for 2 dozen lids. I tested them processing in a boiling water bath canner (water, jelly) and in a pressure canner (water, stock, dried beans). Testing was reduced in comparison to the Tattler reusable lids for two reasons. First, it is not the busy canning season so I'm canning less to begin with. Second, the method of sealing with the 4ever Recaps is the same as the Tattlers and glass inserts so I am not learning a new method. Canning water is the standard method I use for testing using either BWB or PC processing so as to not waste food prior to being sure the lids work as they are supposed to. Both stock and dried beans can be problematic due to natural fats in the oil and expansion in the beans. From experience, these are the two products where seal failures occur most often.
At the cost, the 4ever Recap lids need to be used 6 times before they pay for themselves in comparison to the cost of metal snap lids at current price of 13¢ per lid. It is quite reasonable to expect considerably more than six uses of these lids as the lids themselves should not wear out and with proper care, neither should the silicone ring.I am impressed with the performance of the 4ever Recap lids! Like my other reusable lids, the 4ever Recap lids perform as well as the metal lids. In my opinion once you get over the learning curve for using these lids they are far superior to the metal lids. I also like the appearance of the 4ever Recap lids.
As someone who cans well over 1,000 jars (closer to 1,400 jars the past few years) of food annually, I am elated to find another reliable source of reusable canning lids that reduce what is going to the recyclers or landfill while saving me money. In my opinion, the 4ever Recap lids are equally as eco-friendly as Tattler reusable lids and glass inserts. In general I found these lids seal better than the metal lids as they eliminate false seals. The lids are either sealed or they are not.
Ok, now for the bad and for me that is very much customer service. I contacted the manufacturer over the broken lid. [Edited: It was brought to my attention after I wrote this post that the manufacturer did email an apology in response to my first email. They offered a replacement at my expense.] In addition, I specifically asked two questions regarding the lids that were not answered. Rather the manufacturer ignored the questions focusing only on glossing over the lids. To me, that is a problem and it definitely is a reflection that this manufacturer's business model is not based on repeat buyers since both lids and rings are designed to last indefinitely. I am a high volume home canner who does not have the time to deal with the expense, delay and aggravation of defective canning lids. As a result of the breakage and poor customer service, this product does get a lower rating from me. Again, with this product it is very much buyer beware!
Overall Rating of 4ever Recap Reusable Canning Lids (x/10):
- performance - 8/10
- ease of use - 8/10
- durability - 7/10
- shipping price - 10/10
- price - 10/10
- customer service - 3/10