This article was written by Homestead Survival Site.and first appeared on
Kitchens are the hub of the home. They’re nearly always busy and so much of the daily chores are done there. From cleaning vegetables and eggs, to butchering, baking, and preserving, there’s tons of work happening there.
To make homestead life easier, it’s important to have your kitchen properly equipped with the right tools. Unfortunately, many modern kitchen appliances and gadgets use a lot of electricity. Thankfully for the off-grid homesteader or those looking to save on their electric bill, there are some awesome powerless options.
1. Percolator – Want the best coffee? Make it like your grandparents did.They’re super easy to use, can be used without a filter, and are good for making coffee on a stovetop, wood stove, or even on an open fire.
2. Hand Crank Coffee Grinder – On the subject of delicious coffee, freshly ground is always best. Hand crank coffee grinders are pretty lovely to look at too!
3. Hand Crank Flour Mill – If you make bread you’ll want a flour mill. Freshly milled flour is delicious and many flour mills are made to be hand cranked with off grid folks in mind. Plus many of the hand crank versions can even handle nuts, making creating your own delicious nut butters simple.
4. Solar Oven – Solar ovens can be used to bake anything you would in a regular oven but they don’t use electricity! They’re perfect for summertime when you don’t want to be baking in the house with a modern oven or wood stove. They’re affordable to purchase or there are some excellent DIY plans available, like this one here: how to make your own solar stove.
5. Hand Crank Mixer – While mixers may not be an absolute essential, they sure do make life a lot easier. There are hand crank versions available of simple dough mixers, or some people choose to convert modern stand mixers into hand crank mixers.
6. Manual Food Processor – If you preserve a lot of your own food, a quality hand crank food processor can save you tons of time. Especially chopping many different ingredients when canning or preserving large batches.
7. Solar Dehydrator – There’s nothing like a dehydrator for putting up the harvest. They’re great for vegetables, herbs, jerky, and even mushrooms! Traditional dehydrators do take quite a bit of electricity though. If you have limited electricity or want to save money solar dehydrators can be a great option.
8. Pasta Maker – While homemade pasta is delicious, hand rolling and cutting noodles takes forever. With a pasta maker, it’s easy to make large batches of pasta so you can even dry some for later.
9. Meat Grinder – If you hunt,`raise your own livestock, or purchase meat in bulk, a meat grinder is an essential tool for your kitchen. Hand crank versions are easy to operate.
10. Stovetop Waffle Iron – Waffles are awesome and just because you’re off the grid doesn’t mean you can’t have them. Check out cast iron waffle irons for delicious, electricity free waffles.
11. Butter Churn – If you’d like to make homemade butter, a churn can be a great investment. While it is possible to make butter just by shaking a jar, a butter churn is less tiring to use. Plus butter churns really give that old fashioned touch to your homestead kitchen.
12. Hand Crank Blender – Hand crank blenders may sound weird but they do work! If you’re a fan of hummus, smoothies, or pesto you’ll need a hand crank blender to go electricity-free.
13. Kitchen Scale – While they may not see a lot of use in your average person’s home, homesteaders often require scales in their kitchen. They’re great for super precise food preservation recipes or projects like soap making. Digital scales are nice but you’ll need a lot of batteries or an electricity source. Opt for an old fashioned scale to save money.
14. Rocket Stove – While they’re not ideal for indoor use unless you build one into your home, they can be awesome for a summertime outdoor kitchen. They’re super fuel efficient and easy to cook on. Here’s how you can make a cool rocket stove for free.
15. Popcorn Popper – Even if you still have a microwave, popping your own popcorn rather than buying the microwaveable bags can save you tons of money. Poppers are cheap and are fun to use especially over a campfire.
16. Tea Kettle – Tea kettles are important for more than just tea drinkers. They’re much easier to pour from than a pot and can be used to fill hot water bottles on chilly nights, heat water for washing dishes, or heat water for hot chocolate and instant meals.
17. Stovetop Toaster – Toast is a breakfast staple for many families. Thankfully, stovetop toasters are super cheap and can be used on campfires, stovetops, or wood stoves without needing an outlet.
18. Dutch Oven – Almost anything is great cooked in a dutch oven. The heavy lids and thick sides heat evenly and seal in flavor perfect for soups, stews, breads, pies, and more. They can also be used right in an open fire.
19. Egg Beater – Egg beaters are good for much more than eggs! They’re the go-to appliance for whipping homemade dressings, sauces, mayonnaise, and whipped cream.
20. Can Opener – Electric can openers seem to have found their way into everyone’s kitchen. Purchase a hand operated one, save electricity, and get a little arm workout.
21. Water Filter – A quality water filter can help ensure your family is getting clean drinking water even if you’re sourcing water from a pond, stream, or well on your property.
22. Timer – Everyone is used to having a timer easily available on their oven or microwave, but when you’re working with powerless appliances it’s handy to have a small wind-up timer.
23. Mortar & Pestle – They’re beautiful and great for anything that needs to be crushed or ground. You can use them to smash up herbs or sauces/dips like guacamole.
24. Apple/Potato Peeler – If you do a lot of food preservation these peelers make work a lot faster.
25. Salad Spinner – For anyone who eats and grows a lot of greens, salad spinners are indispensable. When your greens are spun out well after washing, they’ll last longer when stored and dressings will stick better to leaves that aren’t too damp.
Who needs electric kitchen appliances when you’re a homesteader? These 25 power-free gadgets will help you cook from scratch, put up your harvest, and put awesome meals on the table without spending extra money on an electric bill.
This article was written by Homestead Survival Site.and first appeared on
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A wooden bowl with a “chopper” works great. You can easily chop things fine or course.
LEHMAN HARDWARE sells a hand clothes washer. Its like a toilet plunger but has this complex thingie on the end. It is really a time saver. Using a 9000 btu Mimi Split hvac run on solar, 110v, 800 watts, you can heat/cool your shelter and dry your clothes at same time on a wooden fold up ‘tree’.
Do those plungers really work well? I have both styles but haven’t used them yet. They’ve just been hanging on the wall along with a couple of scrub boards and a clothes drying rack that all came from Lehman’s. They’re just waiting for the day when they’ll be needed. My brother has the hand washer (the one you rock back and forth to wash). He says that does a really good job on clothes.
I use mine to wash rags that I don’t want to put in the washing machine. It works fine. It give you a workout. I use a 5-gallon bucket. The secret is not to try to do too much wash at a time. I use it in the bath tub on a bath mat so it won’t move around as I am plunging. I have access to hot and cold water and can simple pour the water down the tub drain, although I use the toilet for the drain water.
You can also use a standard plumber’s plunger. The simple one with just a plain rubber cup on the end works best. I had one with kind of a bell shape to it. Didn’t work as well as the plain old fashioned rubber cup.
If you get the Lehman’s plunger, you will need to fasten the plunger to the handle as the friction fit leaves something to be desire. Some folks have drilled a hole and used a screw to hold the handle on. I used a stainless steel hose clamp.
I have a Wash board, the “Plunger type ” of Rapid washer and the “Best Washer and Wringer”, the two later items came from Lehman’s. I love there store. I have used all three items and can do them very well now, I have used them for the past two years. I use the Scrub board for the clothing that have stains, the Rapid Washer for cloths and the washer /wringer for towels and heavier items. Doing anything the old fashion way is a work out, but worth it in my opinion.
My wife found a hand crank laundry wringer in a thrift shop a few years back. It’s heavy, and built to last. ….It’s probably older than I am! Those old hand crank appliances are a work out, as Dawna said, but they’re labor savers compared to doing the work without them.
To wring out clothes you can always use a mop bucket with one of the compression lever type squeezers. Dual purpose item,just remember to wash it down after mopping. For hot water you can use a two quart enamelware water pitcher. Just heat it on the stove. They han help humidify a place when you use a wood stove.
I had seen an article that said to drill two dozen quarter size holes in a 5 gallon bucket. I did and used it, but I like the plunger better. However, I must admit that putting the wet clothes in the drilled bucket and then pushing down with another bucket works for wringing them out.
Claude, thank you for this article! I have a French Press for my coffee. Pour grounds in bottom, add hot water, wait 5min then ‘press’ down lid to force grounds back to the bottom. No hand crank coffee grinder but I have a hand crank flour mill. I built my own solar oven but want to build another extending off a south-facing window to bake inside in the winter. I’m going down your list and see more you’ve shared that I don’t have, so I better get to that as soon as possible. 🙂
I also use a French Press for coffee; during 5 minute ‘brew’, periodically stir mixture using a butter knife or wooden kitchen tool.
Nigh any kind of _adjustable_ hand grinder may be used to grind toasted/roasted coffee beans; something specialized then unnecessary.
I agree. A percolator boils coffee. Ugh.
Properly boiled coffee is outstanding… it is better than any coffee maker/ pot I’ve ever used.
Does anyone know of a reliable hand-cranked blender? I’ve not heard anything good about the Vortex blender, the only one I can find. I’ve heard that it would break after only a use or two. I’ve even talked to a couple of dealers at self-reliant shows who said that they only sold them but that they wouldn’t recommend them.
How about some recommendations on a good quality hand meat grinder? My mother had one when I was a small child and I don’t ever remember her having trouble with it. It weighed a ton, made of tin plated cast iron.
All of the non-electric meat grinders I have reviewed all had bad reviews due to poor construction/design.
If you have recently purchased a hand meat grinder and have found it satisfactory, I would appreciate recommendations with regard to brand name and place of purchase if available on line.
The PDRK passed a law last year that says once meat has come out of the back room it can’t go back in to be ground up. They can only cut meat that is still in the back room. That means you can’t pick out a nice cut of meat from the meat case and have the butcher grind it up for you. You have to ask him to cut off a piece that you can’t see and grind it up for you.
On a political note, Calyforniya has been on a downward spiral ever since the legislature went full time back in the late 60s. If your legislature is part time and is making sounds to go full time, resist it with all your might. The job isn’t that complicated. You will realize it if you look at the caliber of folk who get elected. They don’t need a whole year in the capitol. It gives them too much time to dream up stupid legislation.
Chop Rite 2 is the only way to go. It’s American made and is head and shoulders above the foreign made grinders. They will re-sharpen blades sent to them, and they come in various sizes and styles (clamp on or footed). Also the plates come in varying sizes depending on the degree of grind you want and there are a number of accessories. I purchased the #22, and then the optional v-wheel to motorize it. I also got the sausage stuffer and another accessories. I LOVE it for the smoothness of operation, hand cranked or motorized.
Thanks for the tip. Already checked it out. Looks just like my Mom’s except it is powder coated instead of tin plated. I see they are mfr’d. in PA, so it must probably is the same mfr. that she had.
I had never heard of the brand and wouldn’t have looked for it. Thanks for the model number too. That also pointed me in the right direction.
If you were in the UK, I would say to go to the charity shops. I found one in the last charity shop there was to go to in the area of Southampton, England where I used to live. In the US try Goodwill. Maybe they could help you. Or maybe see if anyone wants to sell one on eBay.
Here in Texas I have purchased 2. one at an estate sale and the other at a garage sale.
Sometimes, it’s not so much the construction, as it is dull cutting blades. Sharp blades make a huge difference. To keep them sharp, take a piece of the finest emery cloth you can get, lay it on a hard flat surface (I like to use glass) and run the cutter blade on it in a figure 8 motion. Use light pressure; in no time your cutting blades will be factory sharp.
I think that might very likely be the key! It’s certainly worth trying if all you have is one of the foreign made grinders! If it works for someone, then a ton of money is saved. In fact, it would do the trick for me in lieu of sending the blades off to have sharpened. Thanks so much for the tip!
Another thing I should add to this: if you have multiple blades and plates, make it a point to keep the same blade with the same plate. I have a coarse, medium and fine grind plates and blades for each one. If kept together, they “marry up” to one another ….at least that’s what my dad told me years ago, and it makes sense.
Also, make sure you tighten the ring that holds the blade and plates good and snug. But don’t get to tight either.
Hey Left Coast, The PDRK is a great place to leave! I lived in the Bay Area for 33 years. I loved most of my time there. The political environment there was, well, pretty bad at best. I had B. Boxer as a city councilman first. Then I moved! Yep, a great place to leave.
Chop Rite etc.: Whenever seeking hand-operated appliances, Mennonite and Amish folk are the people with whom to speak.
If you can get them to spend time with you. Old-style Mormons are also big on self-reliance.
Where can these hand crank and natural items be purchased? I would be very interested in buying some.
You can google the name of the item (non electric blender). As regards the meat grinder,just look up the manufacturer (Chop Rite 2)
I get a lot of hand usable items at a local second hand shop and our once a week open thrift store. Good stuff at a reasonable price
Thanks for the informative and valuable summary. I have only one disagreement. The percolator. This method of making coffee has been objectively verified as the worst possible process. Anytime coffee is reheated, the flavor deteriorates. The design of the percolator makes it impossible to do anything but continuously lower the quality of the brew. The french press is a far better power-free alternative if consistently great taste is the goal.
You can also use your drip coffee maker to make coffee. Just get it set up with the filter and the coffee grounds as you normally would. Instead of putting water in the coffee maker, just slowly pour hot water into the coffee grounds in the basket and let it filter through just like the coffee maker does. Of course you will have to use an outside heat source to make the hot water, but we bought a basket set up years ago to use while camping. It had a lip on the bottom to fit on a cup. We used it for years when we went camping to make drip coffee. Use your regular drip coffee maker the same way. No need to buy a new coffee maker unless that’s what you really want to do anyway.
Good suggestion Left Coaster
Sorry spell check changed it to coaster meant to be coast
In the worst of times, you won’t care that the coffee wasn’t made in a fancy French press.
French press not ‘fancy’. _Very_ simple device, which is why rural / country French folk prefer it.
How would you make coffee on a camping/hunting trip. I do not understand how coffee is reheated in a percolator. Please explain.
For my money, the best coffee is made with a Melita pour over coffee pot. Simply heat your water to boiling, then pour it over the grounds in the cone shaped basket. Let it drip through, add more boiling water until you get the amount you want. You can use the cone with any glass coffee pot that it fits on top of, and reusable filters are available, or you can buy single use paper ones.
A warning to all those who have a pasta maker and young children; when my daughters were little, they spent a lot of time in the kitchen with their mother. Not long after seeing how the pasta maker worked, they decided to make pom-poms with newspapers… The pom-poms were great, but the blade rollers on the pasta maker were never the same. So keep an eye on your kids! 🙂
You can search for all sizes of grinders on eBay. I won my bid on a perfectly new condition large meat grinder. I already had a smaller one that was my great grandmother’s. I’m surprised a Foley food mill didn’t make the list.
A flat coarse cheese grater would be a good tool for grating up potatoes for hash browns, apples for fritters, or one type of tuber, or another, or vegetable, for different uses. Also another one that does fine grating with a slicer between the two. The flat ones store more easily than others do.
Not to rain on everybody’s parade, but a lot of these items are yuppified. Let’s start from the bottom: A salad spinner? Come on. There has been an EMP/CME event. You seriously think you are going to be fixing salad with iceberg lettuce, grated carrots, spinach, etc?
Eggbeater???? Mayonaise? Salad dressing? Whipped cream? Hello, time for a reality check.
Hand cranked mixer; food processor. Sorry, Martha, the gourmet kitchen is closed.
A timer??? You will do it the old fashioned way, you will stick a fork in it or a dried piece of grass. If the dough sticks to the piece of straw, the bread isn’t done. You won’t be cooking in the gas oven or the electric oven. You will be cooking over an open fire and you will tell your meat is done like our great grandparents did.
Stove top toaster? You will be lucky if your are making kabobs on a stick over a fire. Toaster???
Popcorn popper?? Just what grocery store are you going to find popcorn in? Sorry, the Winn-Dixie has been looted of its complete stock of popcorn and we are not expecting another shipment in the foreseeable future.
Kitchen scale??? You won’t have enough food to weigh. You will scarf down anything you get and your caloric intake worries will be getting enough to survive. You won’t have to worry about those love handles any more. What you will have to worry about is beri-beri, rickets, pellagra, scurvy and just plain old starving to death.
Anyway, you get the idea. Now the reason I asked about a meat grinder is that it has an immediate use. If I want a choice cut of meat from the display case ground into hamburger, thanks to our legislators who have nothing better to do, I have to grind it up myself. There are way more electric grinders available but guess what? EOTW no juice in the socket in the kitchen. The meat grinder is still useful for mixing up all those little bits of meat into sausage and the manual grinder will work.
In summary, I counted 13 items on the list that will have zero use at the EOTW. If your great grandmother would have said, “What in tarnation is that contraption?” you know you won’t need it when the lights go out.
And let’s face it, even in a localized emergency situation, four feet of snow and all the power lines are down and you are hanging blankets around the living room where the gas fireplace is; flood waters are lapping at the foot of your driveway and you are busy filling sandbags; a tornado just blew through town and you are busy picking up debris in your yard and nailing blue tarps on your roof; an out-of-control fire is raging in the brush 500 yards from your house and you are busy shuttling stuff to your car — you are not going to be preparing whipped cream to put on your strawberry shortcake that you whipped up with your hand mixer.
Some of the items have validity. A Dutch oven, a solar oven, a tea pot — speaking of tea pots, be sure to read the reviews if you buy a large size tea pot. Some of them are not sturdy enough to handle the weight of the water the pot can hold.
LCC – A lot of the things on the list make a lot of sense. For me, I already have most of what is on that list simply because I prefer manual to electric appliances. Even with my arthritis, I still prefer using manual appliances.
A salad spinner can be used for more than just salads. We have one that is used to dry herbs after washing. They dry quicker in the dehydrator and we don’t have to worry about mold when we use the non-electric air-drying racks.
The food processor will make preparing vegetables for drying easier and quicker, not to mention they will dry faster and better if not cut too thick, or use a thicker cut blade for canning.
I don’t know of any kitchen without a wind-up timer already in use, including mine. The same goes for the kitchen scale. If you do a lot of food preserving, a scale really comes in handy. Also, we buy in bulk and then repackage to usable sizes. A scale is indispensable for that.
If you’ve stored popcorn to grind into cornmeal, why not have a popper to make a treat once in a while. After all, since grocery stores are likely to be empty after an SHTF event, there will be nothing like potato chips or other snacks available. There will be some down time. No one will be working 24/7. Why not make it a little more enjoyable?
Each person has to look at that list and decide for themselves what is important. What you see as useless, may be something I find indispensable. Each situation is different.
True, Homesteader, reasonable minds can differ.
Do you use popcorn for cornmeal or do you use dried sweet corn? That is an area that I have no knowledge of, making cornmeal from kernel corn. I assumed from lack of knowledge that one used whatever dry corn one had on hand. Is it that one can make cornmeal from popcorn or that popcorn is the correct kernel corn to use to make cornmeal? Are there other corns that can make cornmeal? How about feedlot corn? Do you have to treat the corn with lye before you grind it? How do you treat the kernels to release the niacin and other vitamins that are locked in without being treated to release them for our consumption? I would appreciate adding that bit of knowledge to my memory banks.
I just didn’t want people running out to buy things like waffle makers or hand mixers without thinking through how they were going to use those items when obtaining food to eat is going to be the overriding almost total obsession of most of us in the kind of scenario that we are preparing for but like the fire extinguisher hope we never have to use.
When we have a CME event, and we will have one. We have had them in the past and they will occur again in the future, and if they have the dramatic effect on our electricity producing capability that people smarter than I predict it will have, and if the CME is worldwide as it was in the 1850s, every country will be affected. There will be no freighters bringing in food products from China. No trains hauling wheat down from Canada. We will be on our own.
In the event of an EMP attack, we might get assistance from our “allies” and then with retaliation and opportunistic attacks and counter attacks, the world may well be worse off than with a CME event.
Folks who claim to know assert that the land that can be cultivated without electricity for irrigation in the U.S. will only feed 30 million people. That means that 300 million of us are going to be mighty hungry. Vast areas that now supply huge quantities of food will revert to the semi arid lands they were before electricity. Most of SoCal will not produce vegetables and fruit that it now produces without irrigation. The entire Coachella Valley is desert. Now with irrigation it is a major citrus, date and truck farm vegetable producing area. The farm land around El Centro is a major food production area. Without water it is nothing but desert. Just taking the Imperial Valley (El Centro area) out of production would have a major impact on food supply in the U.S.
I just finished reading a book about the great dust bowl. Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska wouldn’t be the great grain growing region that it is today without deep well irrigation and at the rate the Ogallala aquifer is being drawn down, we may well see that region go back to its grassland state in some of our lifetimes even without a catastrophic electrical event.
I have several solar dehydrators that I use for drying fruit. In the event of the catastrophes I have described I will consider myself lucky if I can find enough fruit to have some to dry in just one of the dehydrators. I think any fruit I might be lucky enough to get hold of will be gobbled down just as quickly as possible before someone bigger, stronger, better armed or sneakier get it and eats it.
Even the emigrants crossing the plains in most cases were better equipped for their ordeal than even the most dedicated prepper is in my opinion. They had home making skills and livestock handling skills that few of us today have. How many readers of this post know how to hitch up a team of oxen. Without looking it up do you even know the difference between an ox and a steer? Even though it is slower than a horse, why is a team of oxen better for plowing than a team of horses? Any 12 year old 150 years ago could answer those questions easily.
I have some lady friends on the Acoma Reservation in New Mexico who make their own tortillas. They use straight field corn, and grind it to their tastes. Can’t tell you about the nutritional values, but theirs sure taste good!
Tjjessie1: Thanks for the info. I am going to have to add learning how to make tortillas to my store of information. I hope it won’t take me more than 60 semester hours to achieve that skill
You Might be able to learn that in less time … with practice! 🙂
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons lard (my friends use vegetable oil, but I
suspect that lard might make these better)
1 1/2 cups water
Prep: 15 min Cook: 45 min Ready: 1 hr
Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Mix in the lard with your fingers until the flour resembles cornmeal. Add the water and mix until the dough comes together; place on a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Use a well-floured rolling pin to roll a dough ball into a thin, round tortilla. Place into the hot skillet, and cook until bubbly and golden; flip and continue cooking until golden on the other side. Place the cooked tortilla in a tortilla warmer; continue rolling and cooking the remaining dough. Can use foil to keep tortilla’s moist.
Thankyou my family loves eating meals with tortillas fresh cooked will be even better
it would certainly be an unusual tortilla made without treating corn with lime! that would be the process (nixtamalization) which makes the niacin et al available. also, generally, dent corn is used to make cornmeal. flour corn, a sub set of dent corn, makes (duh!) corn flour. you can make cornmeal by grinding popcorn, but it will taste different than what you typically eat. it will also have hard bits that never quite soften up. you can make corn flour from any dent corn, but the best, soft, finely ground corn flour has a high percentage of endosperm which allows for best flour qualities. try magic manna or maybe painted mountain for flour.
LCC – To answer your questions about popcorn/cornmeal – while the starchy dent corn is normally used for cornmeal, popcorn can be ground into meal. No treating with lye. Two pounds of popcorn will yield about 5 to 5 1/2 cups of cornmeal. Dent corn will probably yield about the same. When grinding the corn, if you’re using a blender or other food processor, it’s best to work in small batches. I, personally, have a grain mill that makes short work of grinding nearly any grain. As for other types of corn, probably any corn would work in a pinch but I wouldn’t want to use feedlot corn, unless I was starving and that was all I had.
One good thing about popcorn is that it hasn’t been GMO’d. When they tried to create GMO popcorn, it wouldn’t pop. Some people don’t care if their food is genetically modified. Others do. That’s a matter of choice and a discussion for another time.
I’ve got some fruit available. I have a few apples trees, fig bushes, Chinese jujube, blueberries and prickly pears. Until last year when I put in a bed of shasta daisies, if I planted something in my yard, it had to be edible or useful in some way, not just for decoration. Even the prickly pear cactus pads can be cut up into thin strips and cooked like green beans. The bonus is the vitamin C-rich prickly pear itself.
Having grown up on a farm, yes, I do know the difference between oxen and steers, but, you’re right about most readers not knowing. While they’re all bovines, oxen are usually the larger breeds. There are a lot more differences, too many to list here. A cow, that is a female bovine that has had a calf, can be trained as an ox. While she can pull loads or plows, she can also provide milk and calves. Sort of a one-stop bovine shop. Ever tried to milk a horse? It annoys the horse and will probably get you stomped in the process!
Homesteader: I was asking about oxen and steers to our general readership. I assume anyone who grew up around farm animals would know the difference.
The reason I asked about lye on corn is because I have read the following:
“Pellagra can be common in people who obtain most of their food energy from maize, notably rural South America, where maize is a staple food. If maize is not nixtamalized, it is a poor source of tryptophan, as well as niacin. Nixtamalization corrects the niacin deficiency, and is a common practice in Native American cultures that grow corn. Following the corn cycle, the symptoms usually appear during spring, increase in the summer due to greater sun exposure, and return the following spring. Indeed, pellagra was once endemic in the poorer states of the U.S. South, such as Mississippi and Alabama, where its cyclical appearance in the spring after meal-heavy winter diets led to it being known as “spring sickness” (particularly when it appeared among more vulnerable children), as well as among the residents of jails and orphanages as studied by Dr. Joseph Goldberger.
“Nixtamalization typically refers to a process for the preparation of maize (corn), or other grain, in which the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater (but sometimes wood ash lye washed, and then hulled. This process is known to remove up to 97–100% of aflatoxins from mycotoxin-contaminated corn.The term can also refer to the removal via an alkali process of the pericarp from other grains such as sorghum. Nixtamalized maize has several benefits over unprocessed grain: it is more easily ground; its nutritional value is increased; flavor and aroma are improved; and mycotoxins are reduced. Lime and ash are highly alkaline: the alkalinity helps the dissolution of hemicellulose, the major glue-like component of the maize cell walls, and loosens the hulls from the kernels and softens the maize. Some of the corn oil is broken down into emulsifying agents (monoglycerides and diglycerides), while bonding of the maize proteins to each other is also facilitated. The divalent calcium in lime acts as a cross-linking agent for protein and polysaccharide acidic side chains. As a result, while cornmeal made from untreated ground maize is unable by itself to form a dough on addition of water, the chemical changes in masa allow dough formation. These benefits make nixtamalization a crucial preliminary step for further processing of maize into food products, and the process is employed using both traditional and industrial methods, in the production of tortillas and tortilla chips (but not corn chips), tamales, hominy, and many other items.”
I have read in another resource that when corn or maize was first introduced into Europe, pellagra was not a common disease. Some time after corn became a staple in European diets the incidence of pellagra became more common because the Europeans did not know that the corn had to be treated with lye first before it could release the B12 vitamin.
In our current diet, getting sufficient vitamins and minerals generally is not a problem. If anything we suffer from too much of a good thing. However when food is scarce, balancing our diet will become significantly more important. I am not a dietician but I am trying to learn all I can about diet so that I can maintain a healthful diet for my family in a time of crisis. Corn is easy to grow and its bulk is satisfying, however, if corn is lacking in certain required food elements, I think that is an important fact to nail down. The land might be better suited to growing some other vegetable, especially if one is turning the soil with an adze or spading fork because one does not have a plow or the means to pull the plow. If I have to work the soil by hand I want to make sure I get maximum nutritional value from the arduous work I am performing. During my time in the Far East I watched farmers turning over their rice paddies in the spring with a heavy hoe and that is hard, hard work.
LCC – I see your point. When it does hit the fan, we’re going to see the rise of diseases that we either haven’t seen in a very long time or have ever seen before. And a lot of it will be caused from poor nutrition.
Even though I grew up on a farm, we didn’t store grains beyond that for the animals, so I had some learning to do. From what I was able to learn before I began to store grains, and which grains to store to suit our needs, nowhere was it stated that popcorn had to be treated before being ground in meal. I can see where a problem would arise eating untreated corn on a daily basis. If one requires cornbread every night at dinner, like my Dad did, then yes, I would say treat it before grinding it. However, for the occasional pan of cornbread or cornmeal coating on some fish, I don’t see it as being a problem.
Those able to ‘bug in’ or who have a pre-prepared site may find many of the listed appliances useful. Generally, better to have something and ultimately not need it rather than need it and not have it.
Yet some of those grinders are redundant. A couple of such, primary and backup, likely sufficient.
Time-pieces an interesting subject.
Your mileage may vary.
Put corn cornels in a 2-3 quart pot with a lid. Hold over fire, and shake constantly. Worked for us 70 years ago.
LCC: For a lot of us, manual operations are preferable to electric right now. And they can be used right up to the EOTW event, too. So, while maybe not at all ‘suitable’ for after the SHTF, they are, and can be, very useful right now if you want to reduce your reliance on the electric grid. Why wait? it has been mentioned many times to actually USE your preps before you NEED to use them. Save a bit on my electric bill…H3LL yeah!
Homesteader: Prickly pear fruit is quite tasty. Folks of Mexican nationality eat the pads. They are called nogales. I think they also candy them and make a sweet from them. That is one think that grows well here in SoCal without much assistance and I have numerous plants growing. They also make a nice barrier to unauthorized entry, although I like pyracantha better as a barrier plant.
LCC – Prickly pears and the cactus they’re on are a couple of those things that most people around here have no idea how good they are. I see houses with huge beds of the cactus, covered in pears, and they leave them to rot. I’m trying to find a better location for my cactus patch. Where it is now, it doesn’t get enough sun. The one place I really wanted to put it receives run-off from my neighbor’s yard. He works at a golf course and brings home the chemicals they use on the greens. Not something I want in my food supply.
I’ve heard of people using pyracantha. I’ll have to keep that in mind if I ever need some sort of barrier.
Whatever y’all do, don’t plant any trifoliate orange as a barrier plant. No natural antagonists in North America, exhibits 3″ – 4″ thorns, and grows as if bamboo.
Bramble roses (vinous wild kinds) a possibility.
I just love reading blogs like this. Your tips are so awesome and so helpful. My favorite tool is Apple/Potato Peeler. You just can save 1h of your time by using it. It’s so easy to use but also at the same time very efficiently. Do you use Apple/Potato Peeler too?
Hmmmm! You missed the most crucially important powerless appliance of all, a wife or female companion!
I have a washboard and tub. They do work…just requires some elbow grease.
Really enjoyed this article. I have many hand operated items in my kitchen. I was fortunate to acquire a small hand cranked meat slicer, like the electric ones you see in the deli’s from one of my co workers who found it tucked into the cupboard of the house she bought. I have a pretty decent manual coffee grinder and a percolator coffeepot. Have not been able to find a decent manual meat grinder second hand yet. The ones I find at the sales are either too expensive or so badly rusted they’re only good for decorations. But I keep haunting the estate and garage sales LOL.
A wooden bowl with a “chopper” works great. This work is very tough. There is a lot to know in order to do this kind of work. It is giving me a lot of benefits. I am very happy to get this kind of thing.
Thank you for our safety tips.
There’s a big difference between homesteading and a “kitchen” somewhere after SHTF. Probably half the items listed wouldn’t be of much use after TEOTWAWKI.
Bill, I agree, most of these items are still “convenience” items produced before electrically powered appliances became major marketable items. I must confess, we do have a lot of manual “appliances” stashed in storage, which would be great to have if we lost the Grid, but if it came down to only a few minutes to “grab and throw things in the truck” and evacuate, I’d grab the good quality stainless steel knife set, good quality stainless steel utensils, especially spatulas and spoons, the stainless steel and cast iron pans that can handle being used over a fire or rocket stove, a couple good quality cutting boards (bigger is better), sharpeners, flatware, can and bottle openers, and hot pads/mitts, as well as the cleaning supplies to maintain food preparation sanitation. There is more, but I’m sure the real Practical Preppers will get the idea.
Is there a way to download these comments? Cut and paste is not working, and I really need some of this information.
Hi all, I subscribe to this blog and receive emails daily and find that the information provided by all of you to be of substantial benefit, even if there is a little bit of gnashing going on between some of you lol my posting is to see if anybody has any information on what type of lye would be used to prepare the corn for regular consumption and may be a few more details on how that process is to be done, any information would be helpful and greatly appreciate it.
Thanks in advance for your help.