Over the years of adding more skills, recipes, preservation methods, etc to my arsenal, I’ve begun to accumulate some incredibly helpful tools to make things so much easier and faster.
Today, I wanted to share some of my favorites with you and give you an idea of what I use them for!
If you were a part of my Greens Powder Challenge, you’ll know that a dehydrator can be used for SO many different things.
While there are many options out there, two of the most popular brands are Excalibur and Cabella’s.
We watched for a sale and ended up scooping up a Cabella’s 80L commercial dehydrator, and it’s fantastic! It’s definitely a lot of dehydrator, haha, and it took me a little while to actually understand how much I could do at once in bulk! But having got the hang of it (and with a crazy garden expansion this year), I sort of wish we had the 160L now!
One really important tip when considering which dehydrator you may purchase is how much plastic there is inside of it. The unfortunate part is that a lot of the cheaper options do indeed have plastic in them, and it would be worth it in my opinion, to wait a little longer and save up for a higher quality dehydrator that doesn’t have any plastic components inside of it (like the commercial sized Cabella’s one I have!). No one wants plastic fumes wafting around their dehydrating food.
You definitely can use an oven for dehydrating things (and this is a great place to start out when you’re saving up for a dehydrator), but it’s way more hit and miss and especially hard to get low temperature dehydrating done in an oven. My best tip for this is to set your oven at the lowest temperature it’ll turn on at, then leave it open a crack the entire time you’re dehydrating things (and watch your food closely!). It’s not super efficient or temperature specific, but it will get the job done until you can get yourself a real dehydrator.
I made a concerted effort this year to grow more herbs and in an amount that I could dry and grind them up to use all winter! With this in mind, it’s been incredibly handy to have a separate grinder that I only use for herbs (and other veggies). I tried my best at the beginning to clean out our coffee bean grinder and use that, but it’s just got too much coffee scent leftover in it to want to use it with herbs.
I’ve also used it to make carrot powder after dehydrating left over carrot pulp from juicing and it came out beautifully.
Definitely worth it to have a separate grinder for your herbs, fruits and veggies! They’re really cheap (I think we got ours for maybe $12-15) and super easy to use! If I was going to buy one again, I would get one that’s a little on the larger size, as I do end up having to do a few batches when trying to powder or grind things.
A food saver is basically a machine that helps you get air out while you’re sealing a package so that you limit the amount of freezer burn that happens when you freeze things!
We got ours at Costco and it’s been so fantastic. It hugely increases the freezer storage life of everything we use it with.
It does however use plastic bags to seal the foods into. To get around this, what I do is fold a piece of parchment (or you could use wax) paper into the plastic bag before adding my food, THEN seal it and have the food saver suck out all the air. This way the food isn’t actually touching any of the plastic!
We also aim to re-use the plastic bags as much as possible to limit waste. DEFINITELY worth saving up for a food saver to help save all your frozen foods!
Water Bath Canning Set
This is sort of a two-part suggestion. With topics like food security, food safety and self-sufficiency at an all time peak in terms of interest levels, I think that learning to can your own foods at home is a fantastic idea.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a huge garden and grow all your own food to can (but if you’re able to do this, then 2 gold stars for you!). With all of the canning I did this year, it’s about half and half for what I grew and what I purchased in bulk.
Canning opens up food storage options beyond dehydrating and freezing, which is really nice when you run out of freezer room!
The things you need to start aren’t overly expensive at all to get set up. We bought most of our equipment in a little kit that one of the companies had to put together that included the pot, canning rack, magnet wand, jar handler, beginner recipe guide and measurement stick.
THEN, once you’re well into water-bath canning, you may also want to consider getting into pressure canning! Pressure canning is used when you’re canning low acid foods (think carrots, beans, and meat vs water bath canning which is safe for things like jams, pickles, etc). Pressure canning really opens up your options to what you can store outside of a freezer.
Do you have any of this equipment already?! I’d love to hear your favorite kitchen gadgets!