There was a piece on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme the other day about pressure cookers and how these somewhat retro items are becoming more popular again. The piece reflected how their usefulness and versatility is overcoming their association with bland, boring food. My Latvian grandmother swore by hers but managed to destroy everything by overcooking it and my mother used hers for bulk batches of soup and pulses which me and my brother dreaded.

I bought a monster specimen second hand a few years ago that I use for bottling my produce after I ran out of freezer space. My Namco Country Canner has a 10 litre capacity and comes with a mighty pressure gauge on top like a steam engine. I can fit three one litre preserving jars in it and the contents keep for months if not years using less energy than a freezer. It’s an Australian make and its handy instruction booklet talks about Primus stoves so I have images of housewives in the outback bottling like mad on their isolated homesteads.

Its ominous seething and hissing can be slightly unnerving at first but it’s very safe if you follow the instructions. You do need to be careful as it comes up to pressure; there was a mark on my parents’ kitchen ceiling from an unfortunate lentil eruption. I don’t cook meals in mine as it’s so huge that the amounts I need for myself and Mr Greedy Gardener would be swamped in its cavernous interior. Perhaps I’ll buy a smaller one more suitable for cooking for two.


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