The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

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. Hi

    Did you get one in the end and did it work!? I have been looking and mostly cursing the lack of big beautiful canners you cannot get here and found you link. It would be great to know.



  2. I’m surprised you mention confit of duck as something you’d like to do if you had a canner. Confit is a very old method of preservation, far pre-dating any form of pressure cooking, and certainly shouldn’t need any form of pressure cooker or canner. It’s the salt that acts as the preserving agent, with the cover of fat also aiding preservation, by excluding air and therefore micro-organisms.

  3. I have been really enjoying your site by the way! Look forward to trying the thermos soup idea!

  4. Hi, I’ve been searching for days now to find out how to can using my pressure cooker here in the uk. I have a Duromatic Inox 5 litre pressure cooker and would like to jar bean dishes, tomato sauces, cassoult, chicken, meat etc. I have no idea where to start. My pressure cooker has two setting marked by rings on the walve. The first being 8psi and the second 15psi. Can anyone offer help / guidance in using this cooker for canning?

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Darren

      I know that John Harrison uses an ordinary pressure cooker for canning – there might be some tips on his site. It would be worth looking at some American sites too – as they do much more canning in the USA than we do.

  5. Hi Fiona,

    I was just going by what the manufactures website says about it, they describe it as a pressure cooker for cooking large quantities of food but not as a pressure canner.

    I was just concerned that it may not be able to achieve the 240F temperature required for the safe canning of low acid vegetables and meats if it has a limited working pressure, as it doesn’t state what pressure it works at. This could be a problem, especially at altitude, as I have a friend who lives in the Bulgarian mountains who was considering buying one for canning.

  6. Hi, just wanted to point out that the ‘Hawkins 22 Litre Big Boy’ is not a pressure canner, it’s a pressure cooker as it has no pressure gauge. A pressure gauge is required in order to know that the correct pressure has been maintained for the correct duration for safe canning and to avoid the possibility of botulism.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Dave if you look at it on it is described as a pressure canner and it does have a gauge – not with a dial but similar to the Mirro gauge.

  7. I am awaiting delivery of a Mirro 22qt pressure canner to be delivered to UK from Canada (Feb 2012) Total cost £115 from
    Another company sells cheaper, but customer feedback not so good.
    Hopefully I won’t have to buy another freezer, like I did this yea.r when the allotment started producing!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Danny wants us to cut down to one small freezer 🙁 Thank you so much for this info. It looks as if I have to definitely invest in one this year!

  8. mauramac

    Message for Shaz. Is it too late to ask for a copy of the pdf for the Bell Blue Book please? If not could you email it to Many thanks Maura.

  9. Hawkins big boy 22 and 18l look good but seem to have only one pressure weight on a chain. does anyone who has one know what pressure they work at ? 5ibs 10ibs or 15ib?

  10. I just got my new Mirro canner from here:
    Total was about £85 including shipping with a week. Have already canned nine jars of chilli.

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