15 Must-Have Items for a Country Kitchen (even if you live in a tiny house)
Plus, Bonus Seasonal Must-Haves for Preserving the Harvest
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The time has come!
I’ve been contemplating this article ever since we took the plunge and moved to our off-grid property. As we have had to downsize to live in our RV for awhile, I have taken a real good look at what’s essential and what’s optional in my kitchen. I’ve narrowed down my selections, and come up with 15 homestead kitchen essentials.
Your selections might be different. No problem. You might have more space than I currently have. I currently operate in a tiny little camper kitchen–seriously about 7×9 ft in space. Tiny fridge, three-burner propane stove, and a miniature little sink. But, we are still doing fine, although sometimes, we miss a few of the creature comforts of a larger kitchen.
I can’t have everything…what stays, what goes?
But, since we live in a tiny house, so to speak, here are the items that I would cry about if I had to give them up. Keep in mind, that these are mostly my everyday items, but a couple will come out in the later summer for canning, because with homesteading, that’s part of the deal!
Also, of note to mention is that we operate a Plant-Based Homestead. This means we eat a lot of beans, veggies, fruits, and grains. This also means that we don’t need some of the items you may need for meat preparation. Just adjust accordingly.
15 Homestead Kitchen Essentials for Me include:
- Vitamix—If I had to pick one thing that I would really, really not want to do without, my Vitamix would be that one thing. For Vegan cooking, the Vitamix is the best. It is super powerful and can handle any nuts or berries, making excellent cream sauces, soups, or smoothies.
- I used to laugh at people who said I needed one. Then my husband got us one, and I laugh about how I used to laugh at it. It simply does a better job than my old Oster, lasts forever, comes with a seven-yr warranty, and the customer service cannot be beat. I have to say that ours was a refurbished Vitamix, and we have used the warranty many times over to replace the jars. The motor still goes strong.
- I ordered the Grain Blending Jar, to grind up millet, corn, garbanzos, and such for making gluten-free flours. Vitamix replaced my grain jar at least three times before it went out of warranty. I’m really hard on my jars. Amazon.com sells the Vitamix.
- Presto Pressure Cooker– Not Canner. We eat a LOT of BEANS, beans, beans! A small pressure cooker shortens the cooking time, uses less propane, and makes my life simpler. I learned to use one of these in the Amazon in Brazil. Everyone had one for cooking their beans. My husband and I bought ours almost twenty years ago, and it’s still going strong! We’ve had to replace lost rockers, and worn out rubber gaskets and stoppers, but that’s it! You can get it at amazon.com too. https://amzn.to/2ISjx1W
- Propane Stove--I don’t think they sell these on amazon–or do they? Here, you’re just going to go with what fits your kitchen. Ours is small, but I’m glad we have propane. We hardly notice when the power goes out, and we can still cook!
- Wood Cook Stove–OK, we don’t have one of these in our RV (some people do!) But someday, in our house, we will burn wood, and if we had a cookstove, we could also cook full-time. On a regular wood stove, you can still survive!
- Cast Iron Skillet, Dutch Oven and Cookware–I use my Lodge Cast Iron Skillet almost every day. Our Dutch Oven gets used weekly. We have three cast iron skillets, a cast iron muffin pan, and corn stick pan, plus a bread pan. I have really come to value my cast iron cookware. You can use them in the campfire (which we do), cook stove, wood stove, and the propane stove. Of course you can use them on an electric stove too. Cast iron has to be taken care of carefully, but these items will last forever if you do that. You can also find many of the Lodge cast iron pieces on amazon. https://amzn.to/2XjAFGV
- Air Popper–This is an oldie, but goodie. We have this Classic Popper, and I think it’s still the best. it requires no oil. We do have to run the generator for this popper, but it’s worth it to me. Get it at amazon
- Wooden Utensils–for using on my cast iron skillets. So many types to choose from, but I personally like a wooden spatula because it doesn’t scrape up my pans. I’m pretty sure mine are bamboo. I bought them at a second-hand sale, but you can find them anywhere. Here are some on amazon.
- Good set of knives–I’ll admit it. My knives are cheapos and pretty old. We got a pretty good set when we got married, but over the years, we’ve chipped the tips, lost, and otherwise abused our knives. I have a hodge-podge now. I’ll replace them someday. I don’t really know good knives, but I’ve heard you should get the best you can afford. I suppose that might mean something like the Cutco knives, but they were always out of our ballpark. We currently use some Dollar Store knives! Go ahead and laugh! We also routinely find silverware out in the compost pile, so that kind of explains things, doesn’t it? My friend used to sell Cutco, and I was pretty impressed. You can take a look at amazon.com
- Scripto-type lighters–These things are a necessary evil. Can’t live without ’em, but they are so hit and miss. Every brand we’ve tried, from the Wal-Mart brand, Scripto, Bic, Coleman, and the Costco brand, have been about the same. Some work forever, some just peter out right away. But they are so handy when they do work that I listed them here. These are great for lighting the propane stove, campfire, and for chasing ants around my kitchen! You can get them anywhere, but amazon has a decent deal on them. https://amzn.to/2KqmLwW
- Scissors–Regular and Herb cutting scissors–Honestly, I just got my regular scissors for the kitchen at Harbor Freight. I use them for cutting spaghetti, pizza, and everything. But the Herb scissors are really cool! My mom gave me a pair for Christmas. I’d always seen them and wanted a pair. You can quickly mince up chives and other herbs with these since they have five blades. Get them on amazon by clicking here.
- Mortar and Pestle for Herbs–I have a heavy granite mortar and pestle, which I love! It is so heavy that it won’t scoot around on your counter. Please don’t drop it on your foot! This item is great for making smashed garlic, pestos, and guacamole. I really love mine. Plus, it looks cool! I got mine on amazon years ago, but they still sell it! Here’s a link.
- Herb Strainer for tea –If you make herbal tea from loose herbs, you need something like this. This is what I use when I make my Nettle Tea, and other bulk herb teas. It’s really fine mesh, so it strains out everything. Just the perfect size for one tea mug. Get it here.
- Olive Oil dispenser–we do use a good bit of olive oil. We drizzle it on popcorn, use it for sauteeing, and for salads. I like to have my olive oil in a mess-proof bottle so we don’t waste it. I just like these type of bottles for that. I recently ordered two, and use one for maple syrup.
- Silicone Spatulas–While these technically could go into the optional category, they are my favorites. I’ve used many other types of spatulas, but these are the best for scraping out the Vitamix, peanut butter jars, and for light mixing. They are not wimpy, but also are not stiff. You can find them here.
- Half-gallon Mason Jars for Storage of bulk items–I use these for storing my bulk grains, nuts, raisins, dates, yeast flakes, and stuff like that. They fit nicely in my one RV cabinet, and on my baker’s rack, once we move into our house. You want the WIDE MOUTH, because they’re easier. I swapped out the rings and lids for these plastic lids, because I like them better. Get the jars and lids on amazon. I have white lids, but now I see they have colored lids.
So that’s my list of almost-everyday homestead kitchen essentials! Whew! Of course every kitchen contains many more things, but bowls, pans, and silverware are very much personal preference. I can eat off any plate, and pretty much use anything, but these that I’ve listed just make my life a lot easier.
Wait…what about the bread?
You may have noticed that I forgot a bread mixing machine and a grain mill. Are they a part of my homestead kitchen essentials? Yes and No. That’s because for now, I am not baking wheat bread. When I was, I relied heavily on my Bosch mixer (affiliate link) and Nutrimill Grain mill for making wheat flour. I still have these items, and they are great additions to the homestead kitchen. The Bosch mixer is a work horse, and does bread dough with no problem, as well as cookie doughs and the like. My son is gluten-free, so we don’t bake wheat bread currently. I miss it, as does the rest of the family. Some day we will probably go back, but for him, I use the Vitamix grain grinder and make my flour that way. That way I know what is coming into contact with the grains I’m grinding.
What was I thinking? I Forgot My Most Useful Homestead Kitchen Item—the Big Berkey Filter!
Big Berkey Water Filter
Our Berkey Water Filter gets used daily; hourly, in fact. It’s what gets us by so that we can do rainwater cachement, yet still benefit from pure drinking water. We collect rainwater or fill large tanks to hold our water. We treat this tank water with bleach, but for the best taste and health assurance, we filter all of our drinking water through the Berkey. Our cats even prefer Berkey water—it tastes so good!
I am convinced that the Berkey is the best option for off-grid living, especially on a family scale. We bought the biggest one we could find, because we drink a lot of water! You can filter pond water with this thing!
Seasonal Homestead Kitchen Essentials (Canning and Preserving Time)
In addition to the above homestead kitchen essentials, when it’s harvest time, you need a few more items in the kitchen. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few items that we have found that make preserving much smoother.
- Dehydrator–If you don’t want to can everything, a dehydrator is a handy tool. There are other ways, like the sun, in your car, and more, but reliably, this dehydrator (affiliate link) is nice. We have made so many dried tomatoes and bananas! You can get fancy and make your own fruit leathers and many types of dried fruits. Dehydrating is fun and makes your harvest super easy to store! The Excalibur is the dehydrator we use, and this particular one has nine trays. Ours does not shut off, but they have a new version that has auto shut-off, which would be nice.
- Water Bath Canner–Nothing fancy here! Just the type of pan you’re going to want if you can peaches, tomatoes, and most fruits. Look at your local hardware store, or order it from amazon by clicking here.
- Pressure canner–You need a pressure canner if you’re going to can green beans, potatoes, corn, and any low-acid foods. I have always used the gauge kind, as has my mother. I have had no problems. Some people prefer the weighted, non-gauge type. Do your own research. Since I’ve only tried the gauge type, that’s what I recommend, but I’m not saying it’s better. It’s just what I happen to know. You can find it here. I have a big one, but you have to decide how large you need. I prefer to fill mine up and get a lot done, but if you don’t want to do large batches, then get a smaller one, because the time heating up the extra space will be frustrating.
- Canning accessories (mason jars, rings, lids, lid lifter, jar grabber)
- You can get canning jars anywhere, like hardware stores, Walmart, amazon, and even the grocery store. Decide whether you like WIDE MOUTHED or REGULAR, and then you’ll have to decide on Quarts, Pints, or Jelly Jars.
- You will also need some accessories, like the funnel, lifter, and lid magnet. This set sells on amazon.com
- Applesauce strainer–We have a strainer like this one. It makes applesauce-making much easier. You don’t have to peel the apples–just cut, cook, then crank through the strainer. It mounts to your table or counter. Our boys always loved to take turns cranking the handle.
- Outdoor Propane Stove–This is the only item I am listing that I see as essential that we don’t yet have. It’s on the short list, because cooking inside the RV on a hot day REALLY heats it up! We want to be able to can and cook outside, and plan to invest in one of these outdoor propane stoves. I have read, though, that for canning, we will need to do something to make the legs more sturdy. But, it puts out high BTU, so that means faster cooking time, and shorter canning time, which is a real plus when you’re waiting for water to heat up. Amazon also sells these, as does our local hardware store. Check the price on amazon by clicking here. https://amzn.to/2Xo4bLU
Are My Homestead Kitchen Essentials the same as Yours?
Now that you’ve seen the items that we use in the kitchen, why not chime in and tell me what I’ve missed! There is sure to be something! What items are essential in YOUR country or homestead kitchen? Do you have something that you feel like you can’t live without?
Let me know! Comment below.
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