Lack of lids cause canning conundrum for produce preservers


STURGIS (AP) – Linda Burnham has been on a scavenger hunt of sorts for the past couple of weeks.

And, she’s not alone.

This is canning season and lids for glass canning jars are nowhere to be found.

Lids, or “flats” as they are often called, have an inner seal essential to preserving the food stored inside the glass jar. Both jars and screw bands can be reused, but flats can only be used once.

“Three weeks ago I started looking. I went to Lynn’s, Ace, Grocery Mart, and Runnings here in Sturgis. Nobody had any lids. Then, while we were over in Spearfish we went to Knechts, Bomgaars, Lueders and Safeway. Nothing,” Burnham said.

So, she put out a plea on Facebook. Her tomatoes were ripening. It would soon be time for canning and lids were nowhere in sight.

Her friend, Rhonda Sigman, replied to the request and said she had two boxes of lids she would be willing to give to Burnham.

Justin Lisko, manager at Runnings in Sturgis, said it’s all about supply and demand. They had received some lids and other canning supplies about three weeks ago, but everything was gone quickly, the Black Hills Pioneer reported.

“We get a few of everything, but it pretty much disappears off the shelves as soon as we put it out,” he said.

This week there were a variety of jars, pickling spices and other canning spice mixes, but no flats at Runnings.

The same was true at Sturgis Ace Hardware, Lynn’s and Grocery Mart.

Grocery Mart Manager and co-owner Ryan Meyer said he received a letter a couple weeks ago saying lids or flats would not be available for a few months.

“When no one needs them then they will be around again,” Meyer said. “People ask about lids most every day. I wish I could do something for them.”

Meyer believes the demand for lids is being fueled by the shortage of aluminum and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisko agreed saying that people are trying to be as self-sufficient as possible. That means growing their own produce and canning it.

“This year people are kicking it up a notch,” he said.

Some worry that novice canners may be putting themselves or others in danger. Michelle Grosek, co-owner of Bear Butte Gardens near Sturgis, is currently enrolled in a Master Food Preserver course through South Dakota State University Extension.

She said there have been a lot of advancements in food safety in the last 20 years, so those just starting out in canning should seek out a good website with tested recipes.

“We don’t want to be spreading botulism,” she said.

Her suggestions for some helpful websites include the National Center for Home Food Preservation at nchfp.uga.edu. Or closer to home on the SDSU Extension website at extension.sdstate.edu/food/preservation.

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