For most, homesteading starts in the kitchen. I began my journey into kitchen homesteading about 15 years ago after attending a workshop in Chicago about fermenting vegetables. I was fascinated by how easy the process was. Just a few jars, a bowl, produce, and viola! I had delicious, healthy sauerkraut.
Of course, I needed a home for my new-found passion, so I began to reorganize my kitchen into a homesteading paradise.
Are you ready to transform your kitchen into a sustainable and productive haven? Here are 7 tools that I can’t live without in my homestead kitchen and are the perfect place to start when gathering supplies.
1. Cast Iron Pots and Pans
For homesteaders, cast iron pots and pans are a must-have kitchen tool. Iron cookware has been around for centuries, proving durability and efficiency. Their versatility makes them a staple in my homestead kitchen.
I particularly love my cast iron pan and Dutch oven. These kitchen essentials have made my homesteading journey smoother and made my life easier.
Here’s why I believe every homestead needs classic cast iron cookware:
- Longevity: Cast iron is robust and can last a lifetime or longer if properly cared for, perfect for the self-sufficient kitchen.
- Versatility: You can use cast iron for baking, frying, sautéing, and even grilling. It’s a handy kitchen tool that comes in handy in many cooking scenarios.
- Heat Retention: Cast iron retains heat very well and heats evenly, which makes it perfect for slow cooking and baking bread.
- Value for Money: You don’t need to spend a fortune on cast iron cookware. It’s worth the investment and can even be cheaper than other high-end kitchen appliances.
- Natural Non-Stick Quality: When properly seasoned, cast iron cookware becomes naturally non-stick, eliminating the need for excess oil or butter during cooking.
I can even bring them with me when camping or traveling, knowing that I can safely put them directly in the fire or on a grill.
You can find my favorite enameled dutch oven pot and other high-quality options if you’re interested in investing in one. I like to have both enameled cast iron and raw cast iron to choose from for my different cooking needs.
2. A Good Set of Knives
Knives are ridiculously important to me. Not only does a good knife with a sharp blade and intuitive grip make cooking and prepping faster, but it also greatly reduces the risk of injury.
Some homesteading projects that benefit from quality kitchen knives include:
- Canning: You’ll often need to dice or slice large quantities of produce during canning season, and a good knife makes the process so much easier.
- Fermentation: Whether shredding cabbage for sauerkraut or finely chopping kimchi ingredients, a sharp knife is essential for making fermented foods.
- Bread Making: A sharp knife is crucial for scoring bread dough before baking, allowing it to rise properly and creating a beautiful crust.
I recently paired down to a minimal pair of knives since I’m living on the road, and they have a built-in sharpener. I must say, this has been a game-changer to be able to quickly sharpen the blade right before use.
Check it out here, this 2-set is under $20 and a great investment.
3. Mason Jars
If there’s a jar, I can ferment in it.
If there’s a jar, I can use it to store something.
If there’s a jar, I have an easy leak-proof container for leftovers and picnics.
I love mason jars and have an excess amount of them at all times.
Mason jars are not only great for making fermented foods but also work well for storing dried herbs, homemade broth, nuts, grains, and more. They’re also perfect for making overnight oats or chia seed pudding.
I like to keep a variety of sizes on hand, from small 4-ounce jars for spices and dressings to large half-gallon jars for bulk storage. They’re also great for canning, whether water bath or pressure canning.
One tip I’ve learned is to always have some spare lids on hand as they tend to wear out after multiple uses.
I started out collecting used jars from products like tomato sauces, marinades, and pickles. So even if you don’t want to invest in jars, you can start by collecting used ones and reuse them for your homesteading projects.
4. A Blender or Food Processor
Homestead kitchen tools were simple in my early days. I used a box grater and elbow grease to shred cheese, make pesto, or blend up dips. I used a knife to finely chop herbs and vegetables.
But my love for kitchen projects eventually justified an upgrade and investment in a blender and food processor. These tools have saved me so much time and effort, making it easier to take on more projects in the kitchen.
I use my blender for blending up homemade nut milk, smoothies, soups, and sauces. More than anything else, I use them for prepping my vegetables for quick easy fermentation.
If you’re on a budget, start with a blender, and it will still make a big difference in your homestead kitchen. There are also plenty of food processors under $100 that make for great starter options as well.
5. Coffee Grinder
A coffee grinder is another versatile tool that’s not just for coffee aficionados. While it’s primarily used to grind coffee beans, it can be used for much more in a homesteading kitchen.
Here are a few ways I’ve used this tool to get the job done:
- Spices: A coffee grinder is excellent for grinding whole spices. Freshly ground spices have a stronger aroma and flavor than pre-ground versions, enhancing your dishes significantly.
- Flour: If you’re out of flour or need a small amount for a recipe, a coffee grinder can come in handy. You can grind grains like oats, rice, quinoa, and others into fine flour.
- Tinctures: I use a coffee grinder to grind up dried ingredients for making tinctures. The fine powder makes it easier for the alcohol to extract the desired components.
- Nuts and Seeds: A coffee grinder can easily chop nuts and seeds, which makes it perfect for making nut butter or for baking.
- Herbs: Dried herbs can be ground into a fine powder or coarsely chopped for use in various dishes. This is particularly useful if you grow and dry your own herbs.
Remember to clean your coffee grinder thoroughly between uses, especially when switching between coffee and other ingredients, to prevent cross-contamination of flavors.
6. Reusable Dish Towels
Homesteading can be messy and my kitchen supplies constantly need to be wiped off mid-project. To cut down on waste and save money, I invested in reusable dish towels.
These are great for drying dishes, cleaning up spills, or wiping down counters. They also come in handy for straining homemade broth or nut milk.
I recommend getting a variety of sizes and types, from smaller bar mop towels to larger kitchen towels. Look for ones made of absorbent and durable materials like cotton or linen.
7. Instant Pot
This modern tool is an essential homestead kitchen item for me, even though it’s not a traditional one. It’s my favorite kitchen tool because it can perform so many functions and takes up a small amount of space. It’s also easy on electricity and helps me save time and energy.
This is also my go-to travel homesteading tool. I’m currently on a year-long road trip and store it in my Jeep Grand Cherokee so I can cook up hearty meals and homestead no matter where I am.
I use it for:
- Pressure cooking beans
- Sous viding meat and vegetables
- Sterilizing jars
- Dehydrating small portions of herbs and fruits
- Pressure Canner
- Making yogurt
- Cooking rice or grains
- Homemade broth and stock
- Making DIY beauty products
There are plenty of different models to choose from, and I recommend getting one that matches your specific needs. It will make your life easier!
I currently use the Instant Pot Duo Crisp 11-in-1 Air Fryer and Electric Pressure Cooker. It’s a little pricier, but it has all the functions I need and takes up minimal space in my small kitchen.
Additional Kitchen Items That May Be Handy In Your Homestead
Here are a few additional homestead kitchen tools that are less precious for me personally, but very popular amongst homesteaders:
- Canning Supplies: To preserve food for long periods, canning supplies like water bath canners, pressure canners, and canning jars are essential. They’re especially useful for preserving homegrown fruits and vegetables.
- Mortar and Pestle: This tool is great for grinding spices and herbs, or making pesto and guacamole. It allows for a level of control over the texture that electric grinders don’t offer.
- Kitchen Aid Mixer: A versatile appliance that can knead dough, mix batters, whip cream, and with the right attachment, even make pasta or grind meat. It’s a handy tool that can cover a variety of kitchen needs.
- Dehydrator: Ideal for preserving fruits, vegetables, and meats by removing their water content. It’s also perfect for making snacks like fruit leathers or jerky.
- Kitchen Scale: Essential for accurate measurements in baking or preserving recipes. It can also help with portion control if you’re watching your diet
- Stock Pot: A must-have for making large batches of soups, stocks, or for boiling pasta. It’s also useful for water bath canning.
- Cutting Board: Necessary for safe and efficient food preparation. Opt for a durable material that’s easy to clean.
- Crock: Useful for fermenting foods like sauerkraut or pickles, and for slow-cooking meals.
- Grain Mill: If you’re growing your own grains or want to grind your own flour, a grain mill is the best homesteading tool.
- Hand Mixer: While not as powerful as a Kitchen Aid mixer, a hand mixer is portable, easy to store, and sufficient for most mixing tasks.
- Compost Bin: Turning kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich compost is a great way to reduce waste and feed your garden.
- Bag Sealer: Helps keep food fresh for longer periods. It’s particularly useful if you buy or harvest food in bulk.
Designing Your Homesteading Kitchen: Ideas
Creating a functional and efficient homestead kitchen requires an intuitive design that caters to the unique needs of a homesteader. Here are some design ideas inspired by various sources:
Embrace Open Shelving
Open shelves are not only trendy but also practical for a homestead kitchen. They provide easy access to frequently used items, like dishes and glasses, and can display your home-canned goods.
Utilize Natural Materials
Many contemporary homestead kitchens feature natural materials like timber, granite, and marble. These elements create a warm and cozy feel that enhances the overall ambiance of the kitchen.
Plan for Food Preservation
A homestead kitchen isn’t just for cooking daily meals. It’s also where food preservation happens. Design your kitchen with space for canning, fermenting, dehydrating, and other preservation methods
Opt for a Rustic Style
The rustic style is synonymous with homesteading. Incorporate elements like wood stoves, cast iron cookware, and farmhouse-style decor to create a practical and charming rustic kitchen.
Add Cozy Elements
Adding curtains, homestead-style canisters, wall decor, or even a small kitchen island can make your kitchen feel more inviting and homey.
Keep it Simple and Utilitarian
Your homestead kitchen should be a reflection of simplicity and utility. Avoid unnecessary frills and focus on creating a space that’s humble, lived-in, and functional.
Consider a Summer Kitchen
If you live in a warmer climate, a summer kitchen might be a good idea. This outdoor cooking area can help keep the main house cooler during the hot months and provide a unique space for baking and grilling.
Final Thoughts: Creating a Homesteading Kitchen
Remember, the goal is to create a kitchen that aligns with your self-sufficient life. Your kitchen should facilitate your work, whether it’s canning summer’s bounty or baking a loaf of homemade bread.
So review the above tips and ideas, prioritize which elements are most important to you, and design a kitchen that supports your homesteading journey. With time, you can always add new tools or design elements as your needs evolve.