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If for some reason the grid went down tomorrow and stayed down for an extended period of time, would your kitchen meet the needs of your new self-sufficient life? Perhaps your kitchen would keep functioning just the same way it always has. Maybe you’d get by, but it’d be a bit uncomfortable. Or possibly, your kitchen wouldn’t be much use at all.
If you’re looking to increase your self-sufficiency, or decrease your footprint (or both), then your kitchen may need some of the following items.
The basis for any self-sufficient kitchen is a wood stove. You can’t cook without it if you find yourself without power.
Finding a wood stove is easy in some areas by looking on-line or by word-of-mouth. Some people are perfectly happy to get rid of an old one, or sell it for $50 on up. If you want to purchase a new one, however, be prepared to spend a few thousand dollars.
The practice of dehydrating food has been around since the sun has been drying berries on the bush. Some off-grid homesteads have solar dehydrators. Those with power (electric, wind, or solar) find that the conventional dehydrators don’t take that much power to run.
Most people with working dehydrators aren’t willing to part with them, and that makes them harder to find. You may luck out and get one from a second-hand store, but most likely you’ll need to purchase a new one. Start with a simple model if you aren’t sure how much you’ll want to dehydrate. When you get serious, move on to the Excalibur with 9 trays to help you get more done.
If you live in just the right area where you can grow a garden year-round, you may be able to self sufficiently meet your food consumption needs. For everyone else, food preservation is a must.
Aside from dehydration, canning is the most popular form of large-quantity and long-term food storage. Acidic food may be water-bathed, but most vegetables and meats must be pressure-canned for safe long-term storage.
You don’t need to start with a top-of-the-line pressure canner. I personally have used a Presto pressure cooker for years, and it works rather well for me, even though I do a lot of pressure canning each year.
A kitchen scale is necessary not only for weighing foods, but also ingredients for soaps and other cleaners. Scales also become invaluable when you are trying to stick to a diet, as “one cup of apples” to one person can be a completely different measurement to another person. A weight however, is a constant.
This is the one I use for most of my kitchen needs.
Bowls, pans, and other kitchenware can break and wear-out over time. Cast-iron, however, is made to last. Many of the cast-iron pieces in our family have been around for three generations or more, and will likely be around for a couple more generations.
On the down-side, starting a cast-iron collection can cost a mint. For tips to building your supply on a budget, read this.
Some people never have a need for a mixer. But once you are living self-sufficiently, you start cooking from scratch, and that means a lot of mixing. Should you be without power and find yourself making all your meals from scratch, do you have a good hand-mixer to help you with it all?
I’m not a big advocate of those small butter churns. If I had to do a small batch each time I needed it, I would be making butter all the time. Since it’s not exactly a quick process, or one that I just love to do, I’m a fan of the larger churns that get a larger amount of work done all at once.
In the end, a larger churn gives me more time for other chores.
I use cheese cloth (or a similar substitute) for so many things. Obviously, I use it for cheeses, but I also use a lot of it when preserving, and making soaps as well.
When rinsed directly after use, you can occasionally use the same piece again (as when I am canning tomatoes for a few days at a time). Sometimes, however, it’s really just single use.
Because I use so much of it, I buy it by the roll.
Water filtration system
Do you filter your own water? I will admit that because we are on our own private well, I never did. However, once we started using a Berkey water filtration system, we had no reason to go back. I also have the piece of mind that should anything ever contaminate our water, we would have a high-quality filtration system in place. (Read this to see my review of two of the most common models.)
Good knife set (and a way to sharpen them)
If you hunt, or harvest your own meat (or both), a good knife set is absolutely critical.
Some prefer a set for the kitchen, and a separate set for hunting/butchering–that’s our personal preference too. While I love my kitchen set, this is the hunting/butchering set we’ve got on our wish list right now (I can’t find a link to our current hunting set, sorry.)
What do you have in your self-sufficient kitchen that you couldn’t do without?