Homestead Kitchen Items I can’t Live Without

These unique corn-cutters take the juicy kernels right off the ear (hopefully non-GMO corn)

A friend of mine is moving to another country to homestead for the first time. She asked what kitchen utensils I would consider absolutely necessary to homestead successfully. So I came up with a list of things I would rather not be without. A homestead mindset learns to adapt to what is available, but with a choice I would definitely include items that make homesteading more efficient and doable.

I’m taking for granted the commonly used items like measuring spoons and cups, large stirring spoons, dippers, scrapers and spatulas, small to extra large mixing bowls, stainless steel and cast iron pots and pans, ovenware, teapot, and a good set of knives necessary in any kitchen used daily for food preparation. My list of “must haves” is colored by living off grid as sustainably as possible. Three years on this off grid homestead has influenced my preferences, which will likely keep changing as we become less and less dependent on commercial industries and food.

My absolute favorite off-grid homestead kitchen utensil is our GrainMaker grain mill (I get no benefits for promoting it, but believe it’s the best). An heirloom quality mill that will way outlive me (including its hardened alloy steel burrs), it meets my specifications of producing flour as finely ground as my old electric Whisper mill did, with speed and enough ease that our youngest children can use it. Installed on my kitchen counter, we use it regularly for wheat, brown rice, coffee, and other grains. It can also grind nuts (making peanut butter), beans, and corn, and dehydrated potatoes, garlic, onions, and tomatoes.  It took a few years of saving to purchase, but is well worth it!  Read more about it in an old post:  My Super Duper Hand Powered Grain Mill.

Back when Farmer Boy was still six years old he easily helped grind grain with this mill.

A gallon jar for fermenting kraut

Glass jars are a huge part of the modern homestead kitchen. We use one gallon and half gallon “pickle” jars to store our raw milk in the fridge or in a cupboard to sour, to make kefir, sauerkraut or other lacto fermented veggies, sprout grains, and store whey or freshly brewed herbal tea. One-gallon “cider” jars are perfect for our rotating storage of filtered drinking water. Wide and small mouth quart jars store fresh cream, buttermilk, rendered tallow, dehydrated herbs, homemade dressings, and of course canned goods. Smaller jars are for canning or storing salves and other concoctions. You simply cannot have too many jars with tight lids, in my opinion.

Quart canning jars for storing almost anything…here holding hot rendered tallow

Preparing to make butter with my Magic Mill DLX.

We use an electric blender and hand-held beater regularly, especially with my big mixer on the blink. I prefer my Magic Mill DLX Mixer for kneading bread, mixing batters, mashing potatoes, and churning butter, but after 17 years of vigorous use, it needs repairs. So, we’ve been kneading dough by hand, making butter in the blender, and using the small electric beater for mixing. A hand-powered beater mixes things that aren’t too thick, and my wish list includes a large hand-cranked butter churn and a hand cranked blender.

Water bath canners are easy to store and less expensive than pressure canners. We can applesauce and tomato products, but prefer to dehydrate or lacto-ferment fruits and veggies as much as possible. Canning kills live enzymes and nutrients, while lacto-fermenting greatly increases nutritional density. Nutrients are preserved in dehydrating, which leads to another valuable homesteading item: a dehydrator. I love my nine-tray Excalibur Dehydrator, but it’s not always best for an off grid homestead because it uses lots of battery power to run when the sun is not shining. I hope to some day make a solar dehydrator.

Our water bath canners (an old picture of Evensong a few years ago)

Dehydrating cooked pinto beans in the Excaliber

We have some hand-cranked or held graters, slicers, choppers and mills for food processing, mostly purchased at thrift stores or eBay. They are a must for processing larger quantities for canning, or for making meals for a larger family. We recently used a hand-cranked meat grinder for grinding sprouted grain to making a lacto-fermented bread.  When making applesauce we use Victorio strainer which is much like the one my grandmother used to separate the pulp and the sauce.  A mortar and pestle, garlic press, masher, veggie peeler, and bamboo cutting board are also vital.

Grinding sprouted wheat in a meat grinder

The Victorio strainer separates pulp and sauce of cooked apples to make applesauce

From the archives, Blossom and Honey Bun mash acorns in our Haitian mortar and pestle to make acorn burgers

Funnels are useful for pouring home brews into small-mouthed containers or spray bottles; strainers can be used for filtering soaked herbs, whey, broth, or cracklings from tallow; and colanders are essential for straining kefir grains and pasta. Cheesecloth or cotton fabric is useful for draining cheeses and squeezing juice from grated roots or veggies.

Straining liver cleanse tincture with a seive and funnel (Magic Mill DLX to the right)

Kefir strained with a colander

A few other important items are a wooden rolling pin for rolling out pie dough or pasta, and a scale for weighing dough, herbs, or homemade soap ingredients. I like wooden spoons for making mint tea, and a hand juicer for quickly juicing lemons or limes. In Florida, an electric citrus juicer is wonderful for making large quantities of fresh orange juice. We use our hand-crank popcorn popper almost daily for a GMO-free healthy salty addition to lunch.  Some use a candy thermometer for cheese and soap making, although I usually tend to “wing” it without one. A crock-pot and stick blender are useful in making soap, herbal remedies, and personal care products. We keep one little pan and lid exclusively for heating water and soaking soapnuts each day in place of laundry detergent.

A scale and crockpot, here used to make soap

Our hand-crank popcorn popper on our 16 brick rocket stove

One item that we use almost daily is a “basket cooker” made from a laundry basket and blankets, cutting way down on fuel consumption for cooking. I describe it in detail in an earlier post.

A laundry basket lined with blankets can save a lot of cooking fuel

Tuck a few thick blankets securely around the hot pot and let it “cook”

This Big Berkey has filtered our water continously for 15 years; the filter elements were changed twice. In recent years we’ve added a second Big Berkey to meet our family’s needs.

Finally, we would not be without our Big Berkeys.  These gravity fed water filters take no electricity, and if cleaned several times each year will filter relatively clean water many years without replacing the filtering elements. If there is a breakdown of clean water supply, these filters are able to make pond water (or worse) into fit drinking water. For our family two Big Berkeys keep up with our rotating water storage needs. We fill them several times a day with our well water, emptying them into the glass jugs mentioned earlier for daily use.

Please share other ideas on items that may be more durable, efficient or sustainable, or have multiple uses to replace other utensils in the off grid homesteading kitchen.

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Blessings,

Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt VI

Hubby wouldn’t be without his coffee press, truly off the grid and better flavored coffee

Note:  Credit must be given to Silver Oak for editing, critiquing, commenting on, and offering Scripture for what is written.  This is his vision (shared by me), and he blesses me for taking time to write it down, freeing him to answer the many projects calling his name “out there.”

Linked w/Natural Living Mama, Barn Hop, The Art of Homemaking, Growing Home, Backyard Farming Connection, Down Home Blog Hop, Homemaking, Wildcrafting Wednesday, HomeAcre Hop, Old Fashioned Friday, From the Farm Blog Hop, Little House in the Suburbs, Farmgirl Friday, and Simple Saturdays.

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11 thoughts on “Homestead Kitchen Items I can’t Live Without

  1. Oh this is so useful! Thank you!
    Would you consider sometime, posting some of your recipes, tips, and tricks for a lot of what you make?
    (In all your copious spare time, of course! LOL)

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  2. Oh, almost forgot! Where/how do you store all of the things you use in a tiny house kitchen? I’m worried about that when downsizing. We have lots of kitchen gadgets, and while we intend to get rid of many of them, it sounds like you still have/use quite a few.

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    • First I sold many things I had formerly used, like my microwave (although there was one installed in our current kitchen which we use as a cupboard), electric can opener, electric food processor, electric skillet, electric coffee bean grinder, electric grain mill, electric coffeemaker, and toaster. I also sold most of my crystal serving dishes, etc, and kept only more practical items that are both beautiful and useful, and often more rustic to fit our current lifestyle. I sorted through all utensils and got rid of what we seldom use (a scissors replaces my old pizza cutter, etc). That freed up lots of space! I try to only keep things that are multipurpose or that are used regularly. We have a storage shed where I keep canning and soap making supplies, which also helps. Our kitchen takes up more than 1/4 of our tiny house, and the cabinets use precious space pretty efficiently, which is a must in a tiny space occupied by lots of humans. 🙂

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  3. You have compiled an excellent list. Your mill is beautiful!!! And I agree about the jars. One can’t have enough jars on the homestead. I would also add some extra large stainless steel bowls for washing produce for the likes of canning, blanching, dehydrating, large batches of bread rising, etc.

    Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! 🙂

    May you have a warm and cozy winter!

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    • Good point about the large stainless steel bowls. I have several of those plus a few plastic tubs that come in handy for large batches of things, which is a regular occurrence when you have a larger family. Thanks for your input.

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  4. I really enjoyed reading your update. We are saving up to purchase a grain mill like the one you use. I would love to have the instructions on how you built your rocket stove and some of your favorite recipes would be great! 🙂 Hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and blessed New Year.

    Angela

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