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You can buy a pressure canner in the UK!

Summer runner beans

Summer runner beans

I’d been thinking about importing a pressure canner from America for some time. I already bottle/can fruit and tomatoes each year but a pressure canner would enable us to bottle lots of other home grown vegetables for use during the winter. And of course the thought of being able to can spaghetti sauce, cassolet, confit of duck, patès and pesto to name but a few delicacies would be amazing. No need to pay electricty for freezer space, everything nicely on view on our shelves.

Water bath canning and the oven method takes some time and is only safe for fruit and tomatoes (if you add salt and lemon juice to the latter). Pressure canning is fast – so it’s much cheaper and energy efficient. And it’s safe. No chance of poisoning Danny or the Min Pins. OK you have to pay for the jars – Kilner (made by Ravenswood) or Le Parfait style but once you have invested in the jars only the top seals need replacing. Le Parfait seals seem to be a bit more economical and the used rubber seals can be reused as airtight seals on jars of dry goods.

A lot of people in the UK would like to invest in a pressure canner but no one appeared to supply one. As it happens, back in mid July I got an email from Jean D pointing me to a website that sells a pressure cooker large enough for canning. I rushed off to take a peek. As they didn’t actually mention canning so I was a bit uncertain. However this afternoon I decided to investigate the Hawkins Big Boy 22 litre pressure cooker further. I discovered that in America this is sold as a pressure cooker/canner – check it out on! You will have to invest in a rack for the bottom if this is not included. But these can be picked up quite cheaply in the UK.

I also discovered that you can buy the Hawkins 22 Litre Big Boy on Amazon UK! Also an 18 litre one. The 22 litre Big Boy on Amazon UK is slightly cheaper than the one on the website that Jean D found.

There is a seller on Ebay UK that will send a Mirro canner to the UK – this seems like quitw a good deal as it includes the best rated canning book in America – The Blue Ball Book (see below). However if you import from the USA you not only pay for the international delivery but also the VAT when it comes into the country and sometimes extra Post Office charges too. I had to pay nearly £100 tax when I imported a collection of lead toys from America several years ago, which was a bit of a shock as it was on top of humungous delivery charges.

You do need to check that your stove is suitable for a pressure canner. Ours has a ceramic hob that is unsuitable for most canners. But we also have a small table top gas cooker and we’ll use this for canning.

There is also one final point to consider. And this is very important. During my research I found out the canner with the nifty circukar dial can be a bit of a nightmare. This was a bit of a dissapointment as I liked the idea of checking this guage from time to time. This type of guage has to be recalibrated regularly and apparently you have to stay with your eyes glued to the dial. This is fine if you are just dealing with vegetables but if you care canning a tasty chicken casserole this can take up to 90 mins. The ones with the simple top like the Hawkins Big Boy and the Mirro are strongly recommended by many Americans as they automatically control temperature. You can hear if something goes wrong.

I read a lot of American websites with regard to preserving – canning is BIG over there. If you are going to invest in a pressure canner you would be wise to buy a good, highly recommended book. Ball Blue Book of Preserving seems to be the ultimate bible. A canner is a big investment – this book would help you to guarantee that it’s put it through its paces.

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  1. Chris Dalziel

    I live in Canada and have been using my Presto Canner with the weights for 30 years. I use it to can vegetables, soups, meats,fish, as well as fruit, jams and juices. You can use it as a boiling water bath canner, too, but I can fruits and juices with a 5lb. weight under pressure.

    The initial investment in the Pressure Canner is about the same now as when I got mine 30 years ago — $85 cnd. But what makes it a wonderful investment is that all the parts are available to keep it going — even new handles, pressure weights, rubber gaskets. Amazon carries them all. So I expect my pressure canner to last another 30 years. Even at twice the price it would have been a bargain amortized over its useful lifespan.

    I do have a farm now and we raise all our own food, but I used the pressure canner regularly even when we lived in the city. I consider it my best investment for food security and self sufficiency.

    We have a lot of available jars for canning in North America. Glass jam jars and Glass tomato sauce jars with lids that have a line of rubber or silicone seal work well, if you have them in UK. You can reuse these lids for canning numerous times. Simply boil them for 5 minutes to soften the sealant and place them on the jars before canning. If the seal completes, the top is depressed so you know it worked.

    I’m enjoying reading your blog.

  2. heather

    Linda when you come round, hope you feel better soon, the reason for pressure canning is ultimatly botulism I did an open learning at the university of georga on it??? I think? but also I am a Occupational Health Nurse with an interest in environment, botulism is a spore which live in the earth and is more common in some parts of the world than others, CT where I lived in the US apparently uncommon? Uk uncommon, not unheard of just uncommon.
    not a paranoia USA moment I actually was agreeing with proper canning, in most cases.
    I just don’t water bath or do anything to pickles, and interestingly I found in the US pickles where a 50/50 mix of vinegar/water which I couldn’t get my head round…just use vinegar but in the main I do water bath, even though on high acid foods I feel like a fool almost doing it..but then I am feeding to my 6 year olds and my friends and their children, how would I feel if they got ill.
    as yet and I am gearng up to low acid foods, I was just trying to help people in the UK understand what is the safe outer limits of the US guidence, I wasn’t trying to be rude

  3. Just to add my two penn’orth, i have been in contact with Prestige recently and they confirm their 6L high dome pressure cooker model 57059 is ok for bottling and has instructions in the booklet.
    It is around £50 inc delivery from Amazon. I did a lot of bottling in the 70’s/80’s in a pressure cooker and it was great,and have been meaning to start again,.

  4. Practical Parsimony

    Heather, that is why I mentioned bit about checking the gauge every year. I am puzzled as the pressure canner was what I was suggesting. HOWEVER, I am running a temperature right now, so my menopausal brain is on meds. We have more botulism that UK? How odd.

    I am always just horrified when I see AU or UK canning jars, just a jumble of used store food jars. That is something I would never do. AND, I would never reuse a flat/lid! But, that is how we are taught. So, it is not a condemnation of your way.

    Amie, for that very reason, no seal, I have decided to get the one without the seal that screws down.

    My head is jumbled with this fever, so if it sounds weird (what I said), just ask…lol. My last post was about canning bacon. I want to lear to can meat, so I need a new, better canner. Or, did I say that last comment? sigh….

  5. One note about the “All American” pressure canner (I know, what a name, hey?) – they don’t have a rubber gasket type seal, so the seals never need replacing, unlike older models of pressure canners that you might find in yard sales or used somewhere. The aluminium lid & body meet to create the seal; you just need a little petroleum jelly to make the seal work best. The lid locks down with Bakelite lugnuts, and it’s got a gauge as a guide, but is a weighted pressure canner. I don’t know about the Presto brand.

    Yes you must let it cool down completely after running it for pressure canning, because a) if you try to speed the cooling you’ll explode the jars and b) the calculation of the timing of the processing includes that cool down time apparently. Plus it’s just scorching hot, you don’t want to go near it until it’s cooled & the pressure dial reads “zero”. But if you’re using it just for boil-water bath canning, then you can keep it warm in between batches, which I find hugely useful.

    It comes with racks (two in the case of our 21 quart one).

  6. heather

    Hi Linda

    in the Uk we are a little more limited so a pressure cooker is the best option, so long as it complies with the 10lb weight and fluid volume is 16 qrt or more it is as good as it gets.
    we don’t have extension offices in the UK so it is gauges we need to stear clear of, and in fact the advice I got in the US was weights are the best option as even if they get bashed they are still the same weight (unless it smashes which is highly unlikely)I only refer to 10ib weights as in the UK very few areas are above 1000ft so greater weights are not needed.
    we can’t buy anything really greater than a pint jar to can so qrts are not really needed and the racks are really not possible to buy (well we can’t get pressure canners)in the UK so ring support is okay, I have a rack and it is worse than useless as anything under a pint falls through.

    I too reuse flats as I can’t get them here but I I am pretty careful and mark them so they don’t get used twice.

    electric canners wouldn’t work in the UK if for the US market as the voltages are different and life is too short to wait for anything American and electrical to get to heat (appart from cookers/stove) I never thought I would jump up and down in front of a microwave screaming HURRY UP! until I lived in the US hehe.

    I was very much when I moved to the US typical US paranoia.. but I did a little research and it really isn’t in the US as botulism is very common in a lot of States soil the UK doesn’t seem to have this as an issue 27 cases in industrially made hazelnut yogert, 3 from a polish sausage and 3 other cases in 25 years, the US can match that in a 6 month period with a population 6 times larger so not good odds, but there again we don’t tend to can low acid foods very often so could become an issue, as more do. I personally do not water bath pickles but do jams, jellies, salsa, I am about to try carrots Pressure canning and from what I learned in the US I will be pressure canning I have 2 presto’s.
    I love them.

    on my annies salsa recommendation, I forgot to also mention tomato sauce in the recipy is passata not tom sauce 🙂

  7. Practical Parsimony

    Read this thoroughly:

    I think someone else gave this, also. The dial has to be check every year. The weighted “jiggler” does not. Supposedly, the use of both is recommended, so maybe buying both would be best. American Canner is supposed to be the best.

    As to not buying a rack and using canning rings, I would not try it. The rack separates the jars so they do not clink together and either break or weaken the jars.

    You need to get a canner/cooker not just a cooker.Get one that will hold quarts.
    This is not faster than a water bath. You must leave the pressure canner sitting while it cools. You cannot force cool it by putting under water or taking the lid off. The jars are under pressure. You can either break the jars or the food might spoil.

    If you can meat or some other foods, you must have a pressure canner. You can make soups with meat and can them.These foods cannot be canned with a water bath canner.

    You will have food that can be stored independent of electricity use. You can use gas, electric, an outdoor grill or a wood fire to can in them.

    You can even buy a canner that plugs into an electrical outlet in the kitchen over the kitchen counter. It can be run off a generator if necessary. This one takes all the guesswork out of canning. If you buy a really good pressure canner, you will never buy another.

    I bought a pressure cooker of stainless steel to cook whole meals of vegetables–cabbage, potatoes, carrots all go in the pressure cooker. I add onion, a bit of celery and bell pepper for seasoning. It all cooks in one pot in under 20 minutes with enough to feed four or more.

    I have another about 60 years old with only the jiggler on top. I will not use it again unless I find a new seal.

    Go to Lehman’s for a pressure canner/cooker.

    It seems you could interest a supplier in shipping a lot these to England for redistribution through a retailer. Or, a retailer in England should be interested in stocking these. Tattler brand are reusable canning lids that preppers here swear by as being really cost effective over time.

    You cannot reused the flat seals we use in the US. A new one must be used each time. However, I save all old lids/flats and use them, along with the screw band to store leftovers in the refrigerator, dried beans, sugar, and flour bought in bulk to keep pests out. Any questions? Linda

  8. heather

    Hi I moved back to the UK from America in Dec I had my Pressure Canner shipped back to the UK it is a monster 64 Qrt,and just before I moved I brought a smaller on in Walmart which was on sale, they are brilliant, my only regret is I didn’t buy more mason jars, I stocked up on the lids, I nearly died at the price of jars in the UK.
    on the presure cooker/canner question so long as the cooker has a weight of 10ib or more and holds more than 16 qrts of fluid, not product it will work fine as a canner, the problem arrises is that pressure cookers normally only have a 5Lb weight.
    I have the ball blue books and find some of the recipies are alittle on the sweet side for british taste including the savory ones.
    one place for good recipies and canning tips is the garden web forum Harvest, if you don’t do anything else try Annies salsa it is to die for I follow it but omit the sugar and use lemon/lime and cider vinegar. kosher salt is just pickleing salt if my investigations are correct. good luck and happy canning, I am making crab apple jelly this weekend 🙂

  9. martina

    Could you send me the PDF as well?

  10. martina

    No need to buy a rack for the canner. Just use some of your extra rings from the mason jars put together with some wire. Just lay it on the bottom of the canner.

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