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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.”
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