Urban homesteading is sparked by a yearning to return to a simpler and more self-sufficient lifestyle. This is not only deeply satisfying to the soul, but it makes sound financial sense. While almost any kitchen can support a microwave and any microwave can handle frozen dinners, drying and preserving foods at home requires reliable equipment that can handle the increased workload of preserving foods in bulk.
Whether you are growing and preserving your own produce or looking to support local growers while avoiding the chemicals and additives of commercially preserved foods, your first step is to make sure your kitchen is up to the task.
This doesn`t mean you need to spend a fortune on commercial-grade equipment, though if you can do so it will pay for itself in the long run. Still, a tight budget needn`t stand in your way. With a little planning and a few smart purchases, you can have a functional urban homestead kitchen at a price any pioneer would love.
The most important piece of equipment you will need is an excellent cooker. Get the largest one that you can afford and that will fit in your space. The more burners you have, the more you can have going on at once, which is crucial when preserving end of season produce.
A large oven allows you to dry several trays of fruits or vegetables at one time and also ensures that you`ll have plenty of room for home cooked meals such as roast chicken.
If it is possible to vent your cooker to the outdoors, invest in a large range hood. This helps to keep the kitchen from overheating when you`re sterilizing jars, boiling preserves, cooking down homemade stock or making your own beer.
Look for hand-powered appliances that can do the work of electric ones to save on power bills. A food mill separates seeds and pulp from stewed fruits and vegetables as efficiently as an extractor does but uses a hand crank instead of an electrical cord. Use a mortar and pestle to grind the herbs you`ve dried before storing them in small glass jars.
Counter space is usually at a premium in urban homes, so look for ways to increase it. Store pots and pans on hanging racks to save cupboard space for small appliances to get them off your counters. Store large mixing bowls on top of cabinets so they can be as decorative as they are functional.
Choose sustainable, easy to clean surfaces for your cabinets, counters and floors. Cork is highly prized for floors because of its affordability and sustainability, but it can be difficult to keep clean if not properly sealed.
No matter how self-sufficient and how far off the grid you might want to be, don`t skimp on professional services when it comes to safety. All electric and gas appliances need to be installed and hooked up by professionals to ensure that they will function safely.