In the UK, past habit has been to simply practice “bottling” as opposed to “canning.”
The realization of a need for a canning process of the filled jars is slowly taking hold.
We have a separate page on this topic: The old British method of just “bottling” preserves is known to be unsafe now.
- 1 UK home canning people who have made the move over to processing their jars
- 2 Preserving Jars in the UK
- 3 A note on jar sizes
- 4 Safe Canning Books
- 5 Internet resources for safe home canning information in the UK
- 6 Pressure Canning (for low-acid foods) in the UK
UK home canning people who have made the move over to processing their jars
Here are some UK bottlers and bloggers who have made the switch over to water-bath processing their high-acid food products such as jams, jellies and pickle.
- Hassani, Nadia. Bottling basics. Allrecipes.co.uk. Posted 13 Feb 2014.
- Hetzel, Rhonda. The process of water bath canning (note: her suggested processing times are excessive).
- Nicol, Gloria. Laundry Etc. Blog. Canning entries: https://www.laundryetc.co.uk/category/canning/
- Nicol, Gloria. Gloria Nicol Facebook page.
- Rodgers, Kerstin. Yes we can: Canning and bottling in the UK. Blog entry posted 21 March 2013.
If you are presented with a recipe for home-bottling preserves meant to be shelf-stable, even if it is from a well-known source such as Kilner, Sarson’s, etc, that does not involve heat processing of the filled, sealed, jar, then walk away from that recipe and find another one that does.
Preserving Jars in the UK
If you want to follow North American modern, research-based, proven safety standards, choose jars with two piece lids (as opposed to a wire clamp / bail system.) That’s a flat lid, with a screw-on band to hold the lid down while the filled jar is being processed. Two piece lids allow you to be sure that you have a good seal — and that it’s holding as time passes on the shelf.
Do not use the Kilner jars or Le Parfait, etc, jars with bail-type wire clamp closures for shelf-stable home canning. See the link provided for “why.”
A note on jar sizes
Bear in mind that “pint” and quart” jars can be confusing. US made preserving jars will be delineated with US pints and quarts. A US pint is only 16 fluid oz, compared to an Imperial pint of 20 fluid oz. A US quart is 32 fluid oz; an Imperial quart is 40 fluid oz.
The metric size jars are of course standard: 500 ml (roughly corresponding to a US pint) and a litre (roughly corresponding to a US quart.)
Cost of presrving jars in the UK
Preserving jars are high in price in the UK compared to North America.
For comparison purposes, we have looked at standard, plain, regular-mouth ½ litre (1 US pint) preserving jars. Two brands, Ball and Kilner.
The pricing, and US dollar conversion rates, are as of Feb 2016.
First, the cost per jar of a Ball brand jar, as sold in the US.
Next, the cost of Ball and Kilner jars, as sold in the UK at Lakeland.
So whereas the cost of a bog-standard half-litre (US pint) jar in the US is 53 p (and often less) per jar, the cost per jar in the UK can be £2.00 and upwards — four times more.
While no doubt some Brits will be muttering “rip-off Britain”, perhaps it’s reflective of home canning just not being as mainstream as it is in North America. One can hope that overtime the price will come down, with increased competition and a growing market.
Ball canning jars arrived officially in the UK in the summer of 2015. Ball is one of the oldest home canning suppliers in America. ( Learn more about Ball. )
Kilner Preserving Jars
Kilner makes a series of jars that it calls “Preserving Jars.” (To be clear: not the twist-top, and not the clip-top.) This option from Kilner is a standard mason jar, and operates with the same 2-piece closure system (a lid and a screw band), as do standard North American mason jars. The metal lid width is the exact same as regular mouth jar lids in North America ( 70 mm / 2 3⁄4 in), meaning that any standard North American mason jar lid could be used on a Kilner preserving jar. And, the same as with North American suppliers, Kilner advises that its metal vacuum sealing lids are single use.
You can get the Kilner 2-piece lid jars right on the Kilner site; note again that you want the Kilner jars that take the screw top 2-piece lids.
Here are the Kilner jars for price comparison on Amazon:
These are the replacement lids on Amazon
Here’s a search for all Kilner preserving jar related products on Amazon (note that at times the broad search brings up their other products as well and not just the 2-piece lid preserving jars.)
The Amazon.co.uk prices for the lids and rings, not to mention the jars, do seem eye-poppingly pricey. You may wish to try other bricks and mortar stores first listed here: https://www.kilnerjar.co.uk/stockists . Also see the section on Tattler lids below for saving money on lids over time. Also check e-Bay for used. Note if you are shopping used: you want modern Kilner jars, not the older ones with glass lids and rubber rings.
While the Weck lids are quite different from the screw-band Mason jar type lids, and no North American canning authority has approved of them yet as of 2015, their closure system would appear to be reliable and verifiable. Here’s more information on Weck Jars.
Leifheit jars have a Mason-jar style 2-piece lid closing system consisting of a screw band, and an actual metal lid. The lid is interchangeable with North American wide-mouth 86 mm lids, and has the rubber gasket attached below it. Each lid is single use, as are Kilner Preserving Jar lids and North American mason jar lids, but because it’s a standard size — 86 mm wide mouth, the re-usable Tattler lids work very well with them and are an option to save money on the lids. Here’s more information on Leifheit jars.
You can also buy North American standard mason jars in the UK. Sites such as https://www.cookability.biz sell them.
Here’s a link to their regular mason jars.
Hobbycraft (more reasonably priced, as of October 2016)
Spontex (reasonably priced, as of October 2017)
Here’s two links for 70 mm lids that will fit regular mouth mason jars (which includes modern Kilner preserving jars). Links valid as of May 2015, if they are broken, let us know, but go ahead in the meantime and just search that site on the word “mason.”
Here are Ball jars on Amazon:
If you know of other affordable options in the UK for mason-type jars with 2-piece lid systems, let us know please so we can tell people.
Preserving lids are very spendy in the UK. Tattler lids can help you to reduce your cost greatly over time. They are pricey but they are re-usable for ever, and if you are canning the savings will soon add up; you could also investigate ordering directly from amazon.com and comparing the costs of shipping, import duties, etc.
Tattler regular mouth (70 mm) re-usable lids can be used with Kilner preserving jars.
Tattler wide mouth (86 mm) re-usable lids can be used with Leifheit preserving jars.
Mason jars and lids in the UK: https://www.cookability.biz/h
Safe Canning Books
The Ball Blue book is considered in America to be the bible of safe, sure home canning.
An edition of the Ball Blue Book for the UK was released in June 2015 (link leads to Lakeland; the link to it on Ball’s site went stale in 2020.)
If the recipes in a home preserving book do not have jars being processed with their food contents in them, either with a water bath, steam canning or by pressure canning, then regardless of who put it out, run, don’t walk, away from the book. It uses old-style methods which have been proven unsafe. Preserving food so that it remains safe for consumption is a science, not a fireside art or guesswork.
Internet resources for safe home canning information in the UK
Pressure Canning (for low-acid foods) in the UK
Low-acid foods must be pressure canned.
Some reading : Obtaining a pressure canner in the UK by Fiona Nevile.
Presto Pressure Canners
A minor note about the Presto dial-gauge pressure canners: they are great machines, but the gauge (if you go by the gauge alone) requires checking by professionals every year to ensure that it is staying accurate — something that is getting very hard to do in North America, and is probably impossible in the UK.
Consequently if you order the Presto for use in the UK, it’s vital that you also order the 3-piece Presto Pressure Canner Regulator Weight 50322 which will compensate. It is inexpensive. You can read information about it here: Presto 3-piece weight.
If the above link for the weight happens to go invalid (or shows more than £10 or £15, which would be ridiculous), search amazon.co.uk for Presto Pressure Regulator
You might also try e-Bay.
Bear in mind that you want the 3-piece, part 50322, not the single piece which is 09978 and it really shouldn’t cost more than £15 at the very most.
Even though Hawkins makes large 18 and 22 litre pressure cookers, and a few people are using them as pressure canners, the Hawkins company recommends against using their product as pressure canners. Their website explains why.
The Hawkins pressure cooker is not suitable for canning. It is possible to use this pressure cooker for canning with some modification, which is by substituting the standard 15 lb vent weight (which is supplied with this cooker) with a 10 lb vent weight. However, we have stopped manufacturing 10 lb vent weights several years ago and hence our pressure cookers cannot be used for canning. We do not recommend that you search in the market for other vent weights to fit our cooker since our vent weights are precisely engineered to work with our pressure cookers. Further, in our own trials we have found that our pressure cookers cannot be used as pressure canners at altitudes more than 1,000 feet where more than 10 lb of pressure is required for canning low-acid foods such as meat, poultry, fish and virtually all vegetables. Hence we do not recommend that our pressure cookers be used for canning.”  Hawkins Frequently Asked Questions. Accessed May 2016 at https://www.hawkinscookers.com/11.0.faq.aspx
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