Manual Kitchen Tools For Off Grid Living
Whether you’re a homesteader, survivalist, prepper, or simply into self sufficient living… manual kitchen tools are a must-have. At least the essential ones.
Kitchen Tools Without Electricity
Electricity. Electric appliances. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that! We have our share of electric kitchen ‘tools’ and appliances that sure do make life easier. However, what if there was no electricity? Be it a grid down scenario, or a desire to live less reliant upon it, lets brainstorm which manual kitchen tools we might need…or want.
I’m going to start with a list of manual kitchen tools off the top of my head in no particular order. Add your suggestions in the comments below.
I just finished a cup of coffee. Freshly ground coffee beans from the electric grinder went into the electric drip coffee maker to produce a wonderful cup. No electricity? Well, I see three options. Cowboy coffee, Percolated coffee, or a French press. And, a coffee bean hand grinder with plenty of beans in storage :=) Or, a supply of freeze dried coffee (grin).
[ Read: Green Coffee Beans Long Term Storage | Shelf Life | How-to Roast ]
Manual Can Opener
Here’s an important manual kitchen tool… We’re all pretty used to our electric can opener, right? Sure is convenient. I keep several manual can openers too. One is none, two is one… What about the old Shelby P-51? Got some of those too, although not as easy as a good hand crank can opener.
OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled
(popular on amzn)
[ Read: P-38 or P-51 Can Opener – Handy, Compact for Emergency Kit ]
Hand Grain Mill – Grinder For Wheat (and other)
Do you make your own bread? Do you do it all from scratch? Sometimes we do. Although we certainly take advantage of our electric bread machine too. Where does the bread flour come from? Well, we also utilize our electric grain mill to grind our wheat into flour.
With that said, we also have a hand grain mill to get the job done without electricity. It takes longer. Crank, crank, and more cranking… But it works! I wrote about some good choices for these, which may interest you.
[ Read: Hand Grain Mill Choices For Wheat – Flour – Grains ]
Speaking of grinding wheat into flour, a sifter is a good manual kitchen tool. You just add flour and turn the crank. Makes for a fluffier bread because it grinds out any remaining clumps.
Stainless Steel 3 Cup Flour Sifter
(most recommended on amzn)
Manual Meat Grinder Kitchen Tool
Processing that game meat without electricity? Or processing livestock? Grinding up meat combinations? Making sausage? Feed meat into the grinder and place a plate or bowl beneath the blades to catch the ground meat…
Stainless Steel Manual Meat Grinder
(well rated on amzn)
Mortar and Pestle Set
You’re probably growing some of your own herbs. And you’ve probably got a storage of bulk spices, some of which may need grinding. A natural marble mortar and pestle set to easily grind herbs, spices.
Natural Marble Stone, Grinder and Crusher
Slice or shave vegetables, potatoes, you name it… Just be careful with it! One reason I use a Mandoline is for consistent slices for my food dehydrator.
Adjustable Mandoline with cut-resistant gloves
(Gramercy Kitchen Co. editors choice on amzn)
Manual Rotary Egg Beater
You know the kind… the egg beaters with the crank handle. A sturdy hand mixer easily mixes up ingredients for smaller baking jobs and other tasks, without the use of electricity.
OXO Good Grips
Mechanical Kitchen Timer
Not digital (like everything these days), but a mechanical kitchen timer. Remember the kind where you turn the dial and it dings when its done? I’ve got one of those…
Visual Mechanical Kitchen Timer
(unique visual timer)
Camp Stove and Camp Oven
Maybe you’re going to cook over fire. Or maybe you have a LP tank and stove/oven. So you’re all set with those kitchen tools. But if you don’t, you’re going to need a stove burner. A camp oven would be nice too (yes, Coleman makes one). I also have a SOLO rocket stove, which heats up incredibly fast with just some twigs.
[ Read: Best Butane Stove For Indoor Use – Single Gas Burner ]
Coleman Camp Oven
Analog Kitchen Scale
Talking about manual kitchen tools… A dial kitchen scale with ounces and pounds easily readable. Great for the big and little projects from portioning foods or weighing garden yields.
Taylor Precision Stainless Steel
(Iconic food scale via Taylor Precision amzn storefront)
Manual Pasta Maker
Feel like making some pasta dough and feeding it through a pasta machine for homemade noodles? Spaghetti, Fettuccini, Lasagna or Dumpling Skins? We’ve had a pasta maker for years… It’s fun to experiment.
Big Berkey Countertop Water Filter
I should have put this first! There’s nothing more important than safe drinking water! We’ve been filtering all of our drinking water with this for more than a decade. A highly recommended purchase that will last a very long time.
I built my first solar oven many years ago. Actually, I built several (trying to improve the design). I also bought one which could actually get up to 375 degrees-F on a good day. Anyway, it beats having to use fuel to cook, assuming you’ve got a sunny day and it’s not the middle of winter (depending on where you live)…
[ Read: All American Sun Oven Solar Cooker 10+ Years Later ]
Okay you off-gridders, homesteaders, and preppers… What else would be food manual kitchen tools?
I have lived “off grid” for 20+ yrs…. Old style propane stove/oven, Propane fridge, propane lights,
propane on-demand water heater, wood fired water heater (home built) .propane TV…..WHAT? (Off Gen).
Now what everyone ALWAYS FORGETS…..Repair/replacement parts for all……
My favorite saying……. If you can’t fix it….YOU DON’T OWN IT.
BTW: hand ground coffee into stove top Espresso maker…. THE BEST COFFEE, No need for a second cup……
A percolator that sits on the stove what good coffee and a little bit more patience for waiting. I had a Corning Ware version. Been thinking of a stainless drip just in case.
I’ve had this particular percolator for years. It’s basically my backup in case of power outage (affecting my drip coffee maker). I keep it in the camper…
We’ve got a similar percolator I picked up from Cabela’s and it’s our go to when the powers out or we’re camping. Makes a great pot of coffee.
I have that same Farberware one. Works great.
A French Press is more energy efficient than any percolator. You only need to bring the water to a boil with the FP; you have to maintain a boil for however long it takes to get the strength of coffee you want with the percolator. I’ve got two household presses and 1 backpackable, plastic one. My vote is for the press – a better tasting cup and less fuel to brew it leaving more fuel for the food you’re going to cook. My coffee mill is a 100-year-old Arcade Favorite, zero electrons and some mild exercise to start the morning.
i love my coffee. i have always heard about the French Press but have never used one.
i have always been a peculator man, never, ever drip !
i’m just going to have to get one now and try it out.
A really good cast iron dutch oven may not be a tool per se but it is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you can own. From slow cooking a great beef stew to boiling dirty socks it is worth it’s weight in gold. JMHO, but Dutch ovens are a necessity and that’s why I have several different sizes.
An flat iron griddle too. May have to make do with flat breads.
Romeo Charlie, I use cast iron a lot now and a few years ago I found a Chainmail Scrubber for cleaning cast iron. It works very well and I don’t think it will ever wear out. In a grid down situation it would be good to have around.
With our power being out (now day 3), I used our Dutch oven to bake biscuits on top of our gas stove/fireplace. It took about 45 minutes but they were delicious. Also have made spaghetti and sauce, and chili. Love cooking with cast iron.
if no one has never checked out Cowboy Kent Rollins u-tube series on cooking with cast iron, you are missing out on a wealth of how-to info on the care and use of cast iron and campfire recipe’s . a lot of dutch oven cooking.
all of his videos are on campfire cooking and he has some really great S.W. Tex Mex recipe’s. it’s also good for some laughs.
the guy makes a living by cooking for roundups.
I’ve watched a bunch of his videos. Good stuff…
Kent Rollins Cowboy Cooking channel
Just watched his videos and found out why my new Lodge cast iron pan is so rough and my eggs turn out scrambled every time. Wish I would have seen this before I bought the pan. Looks like i have some work to do to make is a slick finish. Thanks for the tip
On the rare occasion I have a cup of coffee, I’ll use a Meleta coffee filter set-up. Quick & easy to use and minimal clean up.
Cast iron waffle maker.
Thumbs up on the cast Dutch oven! We also have a number of them.
Currently reading “MaryJane’s Cast Iron Kitchen” by MaryJane Butters. Lots of good recipes.
We took out the wood fired kitchen range, took up too much space. Been thinking of putting it back in service in an outdoor kitchen?
It might be partially the quality of some manual can openers and or the cans themselves? Often as not I’ll just use the Swiss Army knife can opener.
As Mindcrime mentioned we also rely on propane. We had to replace the on-demand water heater this past year. Which meant ordering and then waiting a couple months for it to arrive. When it finally did come… other things took priority, and it is still sitting in the box. After so many years — It’s easy enough to just heat water on the stove. But then we didn’t have a sink for many years either. Used dish pans instead. As it is, a 5 gallon bucket of water and a 12v pump supplies water to sink and heater.
Really like the quality of the OXO egg beater. We have one in town and another at the cabin. Say for example when making whipped cream, I like to think that the exercise from using this egg beater will help offset the calories of the whipped cream…?
Digital Kitchen scales fit into a non-electric kitchen — you don’t plug them in, or have to start the generator to use it. I like how you can weigh a bowl, zero the scale & then fill it, etc.
Digital timers use batteries as does a flashlight. They fit into an off-grid kitchen as well. However, the electronic sound of these timers is something else again.
Get an egg timer–otherwise known as an hourglass. Those little things they used to put in games to time the sets? The time was various, but if you have a two minute and five minute version it will help with a lot of things. They come larger, but not usually for those games.
DW and struggled for years with the wally world and dollar store can openers for years that would last six months at best and fail when you really needed them.
and then i came across the EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe Can Opener with Red Grips on amazon. 16.00. i bought three of them 3 or 4 yrs. ago thinking that i would get 6 months out of one and i would have some backups.
i’m still using the first one and it works great after about 4 yrs. large handles and easy to use.
be aware that they sell 2 kinds.
the red handles are made in the U.S.
the black handles are made in China
one dollar difference, i have the U.S. red handles
Coleman camping toaster – get it on Amazon with Ken’s link. Mine is 48 years old and it still works perfectly. Hold four slices of bread over the heat source. We keep it in the RV but have used it when power is out and we cook over propane. I am not a fan of the more cheaply made Couglans.
+1 on Ken’s mention of the Coleman oven. Both the toaster and the oven work REALLY WELL on my coleman stove that is also 48 years old that I have kept maintained.
In the middle of an off grid test Right now. Some of you may have heard about the storms hitting northern California.
I’ve gotten 4 ft of snow in the last few days. Power out for the last two and their talking about ten more days to get it back.
While I do have a generator to run the fridge and freezer along with the tv I use most of the rest of the tools mentioned. By the way Ken a swing away can opener is my go to. Don’t like electric ones even in good times. And a french press is my favorite though I do us a percolator at times
That’s a lot of snow. Glad you are set up to take care of important things. Stay safe!
My grandparents boiled their coffee, poured it into a cup, then from the cup into a saucer, and sipped it from the saucer. I’ve still got my granddad’s old cast aluminum (it was called “club aluminum”) coffee pot and lid.
When I say “boiled”, actually they would bring the water to a boil, cut the heat, dump the ground coffee in and let it brew for a few minutes, then throw just a little cold water in to “settle the grounds”.
I would drink it with them as a kid, and that’s where I got my love for coffee.
Love this article, Ken! I’ve had a fondness for low tech stuff for a long time, and use most of what you’ve listed. Though it’s not essential, I’d add an old fashioned stove top popcorn popper and a butter churn. We use our popper quite a bit. The churn is actually a more modern paddle version my mom found for me somewhere. We’ve used it a few times, to know it works. The other thing I’d add, depending on what part of the country you’re in, is a solar dehydrator. There are various plans on-line for these. We’ve got a good sized one that we have yet to use, but will try out next year. It was too humid where we lived before, but I’m thinking it will work well here.
Gets the mind going for sure! Need to add a few things, been wanting to build a bread oven
For all of those who have recently had success within the hunting fields this past fall: Might I suggest getting a commercial grade meat tenderizer that uses a set of spiked rollers that you drop a tough cut of meat into and roll out a tenderized cut. I learned about these when I learned how to make chicken-fried steak. Spend money on the model that you can dis-assemble and clean the rollers or place them in the dishwasher. I had one of these when I was eating lots of venison and feral pig hunting. (feral pigs can get pretty tough).
These tools are called meat tenderizers or meat cubers. If your freezer is packed with wild game, it might be a good investment to get yourself one.
Some thing to consider are your every day skillets, pots and pans. Amazing how many are not useful on a campfire which will be required as I want to use my propane to heat the house. Plastic handles and non stick coating do not fare well over hot coals.
Look up Lehman’s Hardware in Ohio. Every thing you need for off grid!
My brother gave me a nice pan set–I prefer the cast iron, but the non-stick coating is good for certain things. I now have several pieces of cast iron. A griddle, two dutch ovens (one without a lid) and three pans of various sizes.
A few weeks ago I was at a thrift store and they had a bunch of camping stuff including a whole set of cast iron–all with plastic handles! Even if they turned out to be silicon … um … no.
The fireplace also has a pull out handle to hang pots on, which will be convenient if it’s needed.
Couple of things, I can’t remember the last time we used them:
Coleman propane crockpot-slow cooker.
Hand cranked blender. Lehman’s still carries this.
Some handy items are:
A hand cranked food processor. Also called a salsa maker. Something like $15.00.
The hand cranked ice cream maker that uses ice and rock salt has been replaced by a model that is first placed in the freezer or set outside in the winter.
Long before we got a propane fridge, in the winter we would put perishables in a camp cooler/ice chest. Then set it outside until things were just short of freezing. Then bring it back inside until it started to warm up. Then back outside, etc. Actually, this is the same principle as a modern refrigerator.
Thought about egg timers, but I get doing a half dozen things at a time and need the timer(s) going off to remind me of what I’m doing. The older I get, the more important this is…
However, when baking bread I’ll just write down the time when I set it to rise.
Club aluminum cookware is making a comeback right now. It is very popular and considered extremely collectible, especially those sets from the 1970s that came in green, gold, and pale blue.