Editor’s note: Watch for a Living Ready University Online Course on food preservation and year-round garden planning from Tracy Schmidt coming later this month.
Here is a list of items I would be at a loss without in my modern homesteading kitchen.
There are many fancy gadgets available, but having these core modern homesteading items will put well on your way to a year-round stock of preserved foods.
Modern Homesteading: Canning Tools
I have a couple of water bath canners in different sizes. Remember, the bigger they are the longer it takes to boil the water.
I also have a pressure canner to safely process low-acid foods, such as green beans and meat. With pressure canning, you can ensure even heat throughout the cooking process.
Modern Homesteading Items: Dehydrator
I prefer the cube dehydrators with the multi-trays but the circular-style ones are also good. I actually use both on a regular basis for my food dehydrator recipes. I use the mesh sheets for herbs and liner trays for leathers.
Modern Homesteading Items: freezer containers for food
I keep a list of what is in my freezer, and I also keep bags in larger bags to help with organization. I use the large zippered treat bags from Halloween. You can get great deals on them after the holiday is over so keep an eye out!
Modern Homesteading Items: 18-qt Electric Roaster Oven
It might sound surprising, but my electric roaster oven is actually a great canning tool. It keeps my canning jars warm during canning. It gives me an additional source for hot water if my canner runs low. It also helps me cool down my produce after blanching when I put ice water in the insert.
The empty insert also holds large amounts of produce, such as corn and beans, when I am prepping for freezing food.
Modern Homesteading Items: Cutting Board
It is important to have a good cutting board that will not slide off of your counter. Try to buy one that has a ridge around the edge to catch juice from items being chopped. It is also important to purchase a cutting board that will come clean.
It used to be thought that wooden cutting boards were better than plastic, but that is no longer the case. Get a cutting board that you can wash thoroughly and sanitize in your dishwasher or diluted bleach water. Food particles can hid in the scratches on a wood cutting board and make you sick.
Modern Homesteading Items: Sharp Knife Set
Having a sharp knife set will keep you safer. A quality knife will have a full tang that goes up into the handle which is then riveted together several times.
Do not put your good serrated knives through the dishwasher. Taking the time to hand wash will help preserve the sharp edge. Always cut away from your body, and keep your fingertips curled under so any misses will glance off your knuckle and not result in separating your finger.
You will be doing a ton of chopping, slicing and dicing during food preservation preparation so spend money to get a good set of knives.
Modern Homesteading Items: Vacuum Sealer/Vacuum Food Storage Containers
The vacuum sealer is a great thing. It helps your preserved food retain a higher quality by keeping out the air and moisture that advance spoilage.
It also allows you to preserve food in appropriate portions. For example, you can make several dried herb pouches in a strip you can then cut apart as you go.
Be sure to stock up on plenty of vacuum food storage containers in a variety of sizes.
Modern Homesteading Items: Stockpots
I have several large stockpots and seem to use them all. My favorite pot is a 7-qt, old enameled stockpot with a glass lid I picked up at a thrift store for a couple dollars. Nothing seems to sticks to this pot, which provides a great cooking experience and an easy cleanup making it a must-have kitchen tool.
Modern Homesteading Items: Large Cookie Sheets
I buy the largest cookie sheets that will fit in both my freezer and oven. I like to freeze foods such as meatballs, hamburger patties, blueberries, strawberries and onion rings individually before I bag them.
Modern Homesteading Items: Flexible Silicone Mats
I find these mats to be invaluable for freezing berries and other foods on the cookie sheets. They can be lifted and the berries can be funneled right into freezer bags or vacuum food storage containers.
This is an easy-cleanup winner in my book as things don’t stick, they can be washed easily and the cookie sheets stay clean.
Remember that using recycled products is a great way to live a subsistence lifestyle in the modern homesteading kitchen. Again, there is some foraging required, but it will save you some money and help the environment. Go picking at thrift stores, flea markets and country auctions to find pots, glass jars, and utensils such as large ladles and spoons.