For the off-grid homestead kitchen with limited power options, there are non-electric versions of various small appliances available to make kitchen duties easier. If, like us, you are solar powered with ample power, the following non-electric utensils are still invaluable. In most cases they perform as well as their electric counterparts. However, if you’re still plugged into the electric grid, these ten non-electric small appliances for the off-grid homestead kitchen would be of interest to you as well.
Non-Electric Food Processor
This gizmo has sharp blades that are operated by a handle that is cranked around in a circular motion. I’ve used it to chop up our horseradish roots as well as to puree cooked pumpkin from our garden prior to making pies, breads or muffins. It’s perfect for the small amounts of pumpkin needed for a recipe.
Salad Maker with Interchangeable Cones
I’d say this gadget is at least 60 years old. It belonged to my grandmother who gave it to me long ago when she was getting rid of stuff she didn’t want. Lucky me! This is probably the most versatile non-electric small appliance in my off-grid homestead kitchen. It can grate, thin slice, thick slice, shred or do a fancy waffle cut depending on which cone is attached to the unit. It can be used to grate garden zucchini for breads. I use it to slice our cabbage for sauerkraut, slice our potatoes for potato chips, and shred garden cabbage and carrots for Cole slaw beginning in the fall right on through the winter. I also use it to grate up bars of homemade soap into a fine powder that I use for doing our laundry. I’m so glad I was the recipient of this versatile tool. New versions of this are still available today.
Manual Bread Mixer
I picked this up at a garage sale for next to nothing. It can mix and knead enough dough for 4 loaves of bread at a time. You could even let the dough rise in the bowl with the lid on if you want and use the dough hook to “punch down the dough”.
Manual Meat Grinder
If you butcher large animals such as a pig and/or cow at home you’ll likely want some way to grind up the meat for sausages and hamburger. Manual meat grinders will do the job so long as you’re willing to supply the muscle to turn the crank handle. The meat cubes should be no larger than 1” otherwise the grinder bogs down and becomes very difficult to turn. It also helps if the meat is very cold or partially frozen before trying to grind it. We always ground our meat twice; once with the coarse blade, then a second time with the fine blade. Sausages can be stuffed into casings with a manual grinder provided you have a stuffing cone for it. Our grinder did not have the cone so Ron fashioned one from sheet metal.
Manual Meat Slicer
We used to have a non-electric meat slicer that we used to slice our homemade bacon and dried beef. It looked just like the electric versions except the cutting blade had a crank handle attached to it.
If you have a milk cow you’ll likely want to make butter. A churn is the tool of choice. Although we’ve never kept any dairy animals because we don’t want to be tied down to a daily milking schedule, we do have a butter churn. Years ago we bartered some lumber from our sawmill for some milk from a fellow homesteader and I made butter using our churn.
Food Mills and Squeezers
To make homemade applesauce, tomato sauce, vegetable juice and tomato puree requires a device to strain the product to remove skin, pulp and seeds. A food mill is a possible solution. It mashes and sieves soft foods (apples need to be cooked first) by forcing food through the holes in the bottom plate when the crank is turned. Skins, seeds and such remain in the bowl of the mill.
But an even better device is a Victorio strainer. I use it to process all my tomatoes for sauce, soup, vegetable juice, ketchup, paste and B-B-Q sauce as well as apples for sauce. It clamps to a table freeing up your hands so one can be turning the crank while the other is ladling food to be squeezed into the hopper. The finished product comes out through the screen into the waiting container while all the waste exits through the end of it. This appliance is much more efficient and takes far less time to use than a food mill, two big pluses when you are doing large batches for canning. You can get attachment screens to process pumpkin and winter squash as well as berries if you want. If you’re serious about putting by significant quantities of any of these foods, this is a must have as far as I’m concerned.
Another nifty tool that clamps to a table top, this hand cranked gizmo can peel, core and slice an apple at the same time all with a few turns of the handle. Once again a real time saver if you plan to put up large quantities of apple slices in the form of pie filling, cinnamon apple rings, or canned slices for fruit cups.
Whether you plan to grind your own homegrown grains or grains you bought, a grain mill is a good investment. Unless they are kept refrigerated, whole grains go rancid quickly once they are ground because they contain the germ which is susceptible to oxidation. By grinding whole grains at home you can grind whole grain flour when you need it, eliminating the chance of rancid flour. I usually grind every 10 to 14 days and do enough to last for that amount of time. I grind more whole wheat flour than anything else, but I’ve also ground rye flour, buckwheat flour and cornmeal in our mill. It can be motorized, but cranking the handle is a good upper body workout which means I can eat more fresh bread when it comes out of the oven!
Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!
Ron and Johanna
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