My kitchen has had just about everything you can imagine up on the counters…a whole deer quartered into a meat lug, buckets of tomatoes fresh from the garden, potatoes still covered in dirt, fresh fish pulled from the pond down the road, or sun warmed wild blackberries brought straight from the woods. Especially during the summer, there is a wide variety of real food that makes its way into the kitchen and is turned into a main dish or packaged, frozen, or canned for later use. Summer is the busiest time for me, as I essentially stock up on what I hunt, catch or grow, and find a way to preserve it for that time of year I can’t do those things.
When it comes to kitchen staples to keep on hand for those summer months, I don’t have a long list of things that I consider necessary, whether it’s food staples to have on hand or kitchen items. However, the things I do use – I highly recommend.
They aren’t expensive and they’re also worth every penny. For years I made sauce and jellies without one, and they were still delicious. However, a food mill was a game changer when it came to making tomato soup and tomato paste or taking the seeds out of persimmons. I’m sure that I will discover many other uses for it as well this coming summer.
If you grow your own meat or hunt your own meat, there is nothing as convenient as having your own meat grinder. Venison in particular is something I always prefer ground fresh and being able to grind what I want when I want is definitely something I enjoy. Particularly if you go through a lot of ground meat, a meat grinder is well worth the investment.
Silicone Ice Cube Tray
This may seem like an odd item to have on the list; however, I used my silicone ice cube trays for so many things. I originally used them for my daughter when I first started making her baby food, however I know use them to freeze pesto, tomato paste, broth, herbs, and other things. Once the ice cubes are frozen, I pop them out and put them in a freezer proof container for easy access.
Quality Filet Knife and Cleaver
For years I used cheap knives and found myself getting very frustrated when it came to cutting meat AND veggies. A good set of filet knives and a cleaver are essential to any homesteader and buying the cheap set won’t always bode well. Buy a few quality knives and they will last you many years. Don’t forget a good knife sharpener to go with it!
I used my grater for cheese just like most folks, however, I use it even more frequently for veggies. Zucchini and potatoes in particular are perfect for grating and freezing for future recipes. It’s also great to use for hard boiled eggs and even stale bread crusts to create breadcrumbs.
I have multiple sizes when it comes to cutting boards, and they definitely save my counters. Whether I’m butchering a deer or slicing veggies, it also helps keep the counters clean and it’s easier to clean everything up afterwards.
Although I use my food mill for most jobs where I need to eliminate seeds and skins, the strainer works well for draining frozen zucchini/veggies or straining things into small containers. It has many uses and should not be overlooked!
I use this mostly for freezing meat. It saves freezer space, and it does a great job at eliminating any freezer burn. However, I also use it to freeze some veggies such as peppers, cubed pumpkin, and firmer fruits. You can also take it a step further and vacuum seal your meat with some onions and mushrooms for an easy crockpot meal.
This is something I own two of – one for canning (16 quart) and one for cooking (12 quart). After using my large one for canning for several years, I decided to buy another one for making large batches of tomato sauce and soup. And let’s be honest, you’ll never regret buying a second stock pot.
Beka Garris (@bekagarris) was born and raised in NNJ and hunting and fishing was a huge part of her life even as a kid. She now resides in SE Ohio with her husband and three-year-old daughter. Her hobbies include hunting, fishing, gardening, and cooking. She is currently pursuing freelance writing.