There’s something about being invited into someone’s kitchen that nurtures a deeper connection between us that person. Perhaps it’s the culinary equivalent of those celebrity newsstand publications, where you get a glimpse into their private world—a peep into all things personal. But rather just gawking at their shiny appliances and pantry organization, we look for inspiration that we can apply to our own farmstead kitchen.
With that idea in mind, we asked homesteaders we admire for their self-sufficiency and culinary creativity about their favorite kitchen items. Most of the items they always have on hand embrace simplicity, are inexpensive and serve multiple purposes. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to incorporate these items into your own kitchen.
1. Canning Jars
“I haven’t found anything more versatile than classic canning jars. Aside from the obvious use for home-canned food, I use them for everything from general storage for dried goods purchased in bulk to using the jars and the rings as cookie cutters for making biscuits. I even transform canning jars into travel mugs by poking a hole in the lid and inserting a straw. To save money when I buy yogurt, instead of buying the pricier little individual containers that use all that plastic, I buy the largest yogurt container and divide it into small half-pint canning jars for individual portions.” —Wendy Brown, Co-author of Browsing Nature’s Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs
“I hoard spatulas. It’s such a diverse type of tool with many shapes and purposes, but specifically my little metal spatula for flipping eggs and pancakes and my high-heat scraper spatula are my most used kitchen tools.” —Kate Payne, Author of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking and The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen
3. Bread Machine
“Our family’s large investment that we’ve recouped over the years is a bread machine, which I end up using primarily now as a mixer for bread and pizza dough. While it’s a larger unit space-wise, it does multiple things, like making jellies and jams. I just throw one part fruit and one part sugar in and press the button and have a homemade jam a couple of hours later.” —Roger Doiron, Executive Director and Founder of Kitchen Gardeners International
4. Bamboo Toaster Tongs
“They are inexpensive and so versatile for things beyond getting toast out of the toaster and work much better than any other tongs I own. They are great at picking things up, like taking something out of hot water or pulling brats out of beer.” —Brenda Carus, Homesteader
5. Stainless-Steel Nesting Bowls
“A set of stainless-steel nesting bowls that fit into each other and come with lids [are] lightweight, easy to store, [serve] multiple functions, [are] inexpensive and [are] just about indestructible.” —Tom Ponik and Kristi Waits, Urban Farmers
6. Cotton Dish Towels
“My most versatile item is a big—as in as large as I can find it—100-percent-cotton dish towel in any color other than white for easy washing. I use it for multiple things beyond drying dishes, from a cover for rising bread to tying it around my waist as an apron to a makeshift salad spinner by throwing the washed greens in and patting them dry. It even makes an impromptu cape for a ‘super chef’ costumes for my kids.” —Brett Olson, Creative Director at Renewing the Countryside
What are your kitchen essentials?