A guest post from Jill of The Prairie Homestead.
Beginning a journey into eating and preparing real food can be overwhelming at first. Not only do you begin to re-think everything that’s in your pantry, you also begin to look at kitchen gadgets in a whole new way.
The items you never gave a second glance in the past, suddenly are at the top of your wish list. (“Honey, I want a tortilla press for Christmas…”)
Grain mills, high-powered blenders, dehydrators, mixers, and the list goes on… These items are wonderful to have but sometimes their price tags can send you into shock.
As I slowly continue to build my collection of specialty appliances, I’ve been pleased to discover a few simple, inexpensive items that have saved me numerous hours in my real food adventures.
I’m willing to bet that you probably already own most, if not all, of these items. But perhaps you have yet to unlock their full potential in your real food workshop.
Five Simple Must-Haves for the Real Food Kitchen
1. A Thermometer. It’s true, once you become an expert chef, you’ll probably no longer need the assistance of a kitchen thermometer. But until then, as you navigate the unknown waters of traditional cooking, you will discover that your trusty thermometer can really give you a boost of confidence. I prefer to use a inexpensive, metal, meat thermometer. This simple tool can be used while making cheese and yogurt, baking bread (no more doughy centers!), and as you cook your tender grass-fed steaks and roasts.
2. Glass Jars. As you weed out the plastic in your kitchen, you’ll find yourself turning more and more frequently to glass. Start building a collection of glass jars and containers of all shapes and sizes. Yard sales are a wonderful place to find these. I use my jars in the freezer (check out Katie’s tutorial on freezing in glass jars), fridge, and pantry to store my homemade beef stock, cooked beans, dried fruit, granola, dry grains, popcorn, vanilla extract, flour, water kefir, sourdough starter, and raw milk. Plus, everything looks prettier in glass!
3. A VBB (Very Big Bowl). This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a must-have in my kitchen! I only recently acquired a VBB, and I have no idea why I allowed myself to struggle so long without one! Even though my family is still small, I love cooking in big batches to save time. A giant bowl makes it a cinch to mix up double or triple batches of bread dough or granola, without dirtying multiple bowls and slinging food all over the countertop. It’s also a lifesaver when it comes to cheesemaking, catching whey, picking and processing your garden harvest, and preparing food for canning.
4. A Slow Cooker. A slow cooker can enable you to fill your kitchen with all the benefits of slow, traditional foods, without being tied to the stove all day. Since beginning our journey into whole foods, I use my slow cooker more than ever before. I’m notorious for putting things on the stove, and then totally forgetting about them… But with my slow cooker, I can simmer homemade broth, beans, roasts, and wholesome casseroles without risking burning the house down.
5. Wooden Spoons. Wooden utensils are a economical way to start building your collection of quality cookware. They last longer than their cheap plastic counterparts, and come in handy when working with things like sourdough starter or kefir (metal utensils are usually not recommended for stirring such things) And, I have to admit- I always feel a little bit more Laura Ingalls Wilder when I’m holding onto a wooden spoon. 😉
As I continue to save up for the big items on my kitchen wishlist, (pressure canner, anyone?), it’s a relief to know that some of the best tools are some of the simplest.
What are some of the simple tools you can’t live without in your real food kitchen?