As a homesteader and a herbalist I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. We try our best to eat home-cooked meals almost exclusively so that means I spend a great deal of time meal prepping and cooking. When I’m not cooking/prepping food I’m wearing my herbalist hat in the kitchen instead! My herbal clinic is not stocked with store bought tinctures, instead I make everything myself from mostly wild harvested (or grown) herbs. I also have an entire line of herbal products. Needless to say I spend more time in my kitchen than any other part of the house. I also spend a lot of time using certain kitchen gadgets.
Living this lifestyle for well over 3 years now I’ve learned what I need in my kitchen, what’s super nice to have but not necessary and what is really a waste of money. So without further ado here are my top picks for homesteading and herbal kitchen appliances (in no particular order).
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Must Haves – Homesteading
I use my food processor at least once per week. While I don’t often use it for grating/chopping vegetables (I prefer to take the time to use knives and box graters), I do use this a lot for dips, hummus, chocolate avocado pudding, homemade nut butters and baking with beans. Hummus, black bean brownies and chickpea blondies are staple snacks around here so I definitely wouldn’t be without my food processor.
I have a smoothie every day for lunch so for that reason alone the blender has made my must haves list. I also use it for German pancakes, homemade popsicles, salad dressings, marinades, paleo fudge and homemade ice cream. I have an immersion blender (it’s listed below) so I don’t use it for soups, but lots of folks do. As a note, if you plan on getting into homemade ice cream definitely get a blender that has an ice crusher.
For some folks their substitute for this appliance would be a pressure cooker, but I have yet to fall into that trend. For now my reliable slow cooker stays in my cupboard. I actually have three slow cookers and have been known to use all at the same time (especially when canning apple butter or making bone broth overnight). Soup, stews, meat dishes, apple crumble, mashed potatoes, stir fry, lasagna, curry, chili, pasta sauce, frittatas… you name it, I’ve made it in a slow cooker. I love the convenience of being able to get my meal started in the morning, turn it on and not worry about it until dinner. I even roast whole chickens in the slow cooker and the meat just falls right off the bone. Definitely on my must haves list.
As a homesteader I can a lot and often. As a herbalist I can elderberry syrup a lot (and often). This is an absolute must have for anyone wanting to get into food preservation. Anything acidic, like pickles, chutneys, applesauce, fruit butters, jams, fruit (like peaches) and juice can be canned with a water bath canner. Low acid foods must be canned using a pressure canner and you will find that baby below.
We’ve ditched all that toxic non-stick stuff and we’re almost exclusively using cast iron now and I love it. We have three skillets (all different sizes) and two loaf pans. I hope to get a waffle iron and a griddle at some point as well. Not only is cast iron perfectly safe to cook with (no worries about carcinogens), it helps add natural iron into your diet. For those who are anemic I highly recommend you look into switching to cast iron. Also look into the Lucky Iron Fish company so you can add iron to your bone broths and soups as well.
Must Haves – Herbalist
I know this one likely doesn’t make much sense, but give this post a read and it quickly will. I use my potato ricer for pressing tinctures all the time. Interestingly enough it’s never been used for potatoes!
If you make salves, creams or ointments a double boiler is a must have. I use it in my clinic on a regular basis. If you don’t want to invest in a full double boil click on the link and check out these super cool inexpensive alternatives!
Accuracy when making your herbal products, teas, tincture and other medicines is paramount. All of my tinctures at my herbal clinic are made with a 1:5 ratio (herb to alcohol) and the only way to be certain about my measurements is to have a good quality kitchen scale. When I first started making medicines they were expensive but the prices have really come down.
Another must have for a practicing or budding herbalist. I use this whenever I need to use dried herbs to make tinctures or infused oils. It’s also handy for things like roots, berries, seeds and barks.
Really Nice to Have (But Not Entirely Necessary) – Homestead
This one almost didn’t make the list because other appliances can do most of what it can. You can definitely puree soups in a blender or food processor, but the one area where this beauty shines is mayonnaise making. So if you make or want to make mayo for your family you will definitely want one of these. Plus I vastly prefer it to a blender or food processor for soup. I can make very large quantities of soup (I tend to batch cook and freeze often), waste nothing and clean up is a breeze.
When I used my stand mixer for the first time the very first thing that came out of my mouth was “oh my goodness where you have been all my life?” While definitely not a necessity it sure is nice to have, especially if you do a lot of baking. Just for the kneading bread dough option, it was worth it for me. In addition to food I am able to whip up creams and body butters with ease in my stand mixer. If you get a KitchenAid stand mixer you will also have many amazing attachments to choose from (grain mill, sausage stuffer etc.)
While it’s definitely not necessary it sure is nice to have. Fruit leathers, greens powder, tomato powder, banana chips, culinary herbs… the list goes on and on. This is the dehydrator I have and I’ve been getting along with it just fine. We had planned to upgrade to an Excalibur but now our focus has shifted to finding an off-grid solution instead.
I survived with a water bath canner for many years before venturing into the world of pressure canning. If you plan on canning a lot of food and feeding your family from your own garden then this might be a must have for you (instead of a would be nice). Low acid foods (soups, meat, bone broth & vegetables in water) can only be safely canned with a pressure canner.
I don’t have one of these but man oh man do I want one. If you bake a lot and want to control your flour sources then a grain mill is the way to go. You can grind flour as you need it (instead of using rancid store bought) and you can control where you get your wheat berries from. Right now my biggest challenge is the later, trying to find a source for local (preferably) organic non-GMO wheat berries. Once I find them I WILL be getting a grain mill. For those who are looking to get off grid you have manual choices as well!
Really Nice to Have (But Not Entirely Necessary) – Herbalist
No one likes bits of plant material in their salves or tinctures. I tend to filter things twice; once with a fine mesh sieve and a second straining with cheesecloth just in case.
If you make tincture blends for clients or family then these will come in handy. While it’s tempting to use a measuring cup I find I can’t get one small enough to measure out 12.5 ml of tincture (if that’s what I need). Another item that was incredibly inexpensive and hard to find when I first started out, but now you can get a three pack for a very reasonable price. A friend of mine has personally ordered this set and is extremely pleased with the quality.
Not necessary, any old knife will do, but whenever students watch me chop fresh herbs with my mezzaluna they are always in awe. Every second you spend chopping herbs they are oxidizing right before your eyes. A tool that will make chopping more efficient is a good purchase in my eyes.
Things I Hope To Find Off Grid Replacements For
While we do plan to continue to utilize electricity on our homestead we do hope to one day off-the-grid. This goal seems a bit far off right now (as solar panels aren’t exactly cheap), but there will be some things we’d like to get off-grid alternatives for. In general any appliance that is used to warm or heat things up is a beast on electricity. So here are the main items we hope to replace with non-electric options.
- Coffee maker
- Electric kettle
- Toaster oven
Things I’ve Owned and Never Will Again
This is the list of totally useless for my family, never will I ever invest in these again, kitchen gadgets. I mean no offence if you have/love one of these items – just means my family doesn’t need them as it were 😉
- Popcorn machine
- Electric Skillet
- Bread machine/maker
- Sandwich griddle
What kitchen gadgets or appliances do you consider must-haves? What could you live without? I’m definitely curious and would love to hear from you.
Until next time,
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