Depending on what kind of food storage you want to do, you’ll need a different set of supplies. But if you’re going to go all-out on storing the best foods possible for your family, then you’re going to need the right tools for the job.
The five types of food storage tools or equipment that every backyard homesteader needs are:
- This dehydrator from Excalibur (also available on Amazon). Having a top-quality dehydrator makes the difference between being able to store food for a long period of time – and having kind-of-dried foods that really need to be put in the fridge or eaten right away.
- This freeze dryer from Harvest Right. It’s the hands-down best freeze dryer on the market – for price, functionality, and ease of use. It’s the one we use and love. If you can splurge for the oil-less pump, I hear great things about them. You’ll also want to grab Harvest Right’s recommended impact sealer and mylar bags.
- This strainer from Amazon. Seriously – it’s the most reliable one out there and even my kids can manage to run it.
- This Kitchenaid mixer (also available on Amazon). You could use any other mixer, but this one has the best power and options for extras, meaning you can use it for pretty much anything you need – including juicing.
- Other supplies (like jars, canning supplies, a vacuum sealer, and grain mills) – from either Amazon or your local store. There’s a little bit more leeway with these, though I’ll share which brands we prefer in just a moment.
There are a ton of dehydrator options out there – but of all of the options, the Excalibur brand has my vote. They’re durable, easy to use, and so simple to use.
Plus, they hold a ton of food and do a far better, more thorough job of dehydrating foods. And we’ve tried everything – from jerkies to fruit leathers to fruit slices and vegetables. The Excalibur can handle anything we throw at it.
We have the 3900 series with the dial. It’s kind of old school compared to their newer model with the digital display, but the digital display sticks up enough it wouldn’t have fit on our counter tops without getting stuck on the upper cabinets.
So whether you opt for the dial or the digital display, make sure you’re measuring your available space before you buy. We do wish we had the clear viewing door, but it’s really not hard to just move the black plastic lid and take a quick peek at the how the food’s progressing.
If you’re wanting a freeze dryer, technically you’ve got a lot of options. However, if you’re wanting a quality freeze dryer that will last for years – and is the best-priced option available, then the Harvest Right freeze dryer is your best choice.
We’ve had a medium-sized model for several years now – and we love it. I love having our home-grown food freeze-dried so we can store it for years. We’ve freeze-dried so many things – and love trying to see what else we can freeze dry.
We got the medium-sized option because it’s the biggest one that doesn’t need a special outlet. If you’ve got the extra 20-amp outlet (like for a washer/dryer), then you may want the large model. Otherwise, you’ll want to look at the small or medium-sized models.
Most of their freeze-dryer packages also come with some vital accessories – get the accessories! You’re going to want a second set of trays and at least the first set of oxygen absorbers, mylar bags, and the impact sealer. Their impact sealer (for sealing the mylar bags) is a must – and it works great.
They also sell mylar bags and oxygen absorbers for a fair price for smaller quantities. You can definitely find better prices if you’re willing to buy them in bulk online. The LDS distribution center sells oxygen absorbers at the best price – but you do have to buy them in large quantities.
Strainer and Accessories
Making applesauce (for eating right away or canning it for later in the year) has always been an exhausting (though immensely rewarding) activity. And in order to make the best applesauce, purees for jams, or whatever else you want to strain, you’re going to want the Victorio strainer.
It’s durable, it’s nigh impossible to break, and it’s a great price. And they’re also making electric motor attachments now – so you don’t have to use the hand crank if you don’t want to. However, those hand cranks are still included anyway – so that you can keep making delicious sauces and purees even if the power goes out for a few hours.
Mixer and Accessories
While I used to only recommend the Bosch mixers, I’ve since become a huge KitchenAid fan. Bosch’s older mixer lines lasted forever – but the newer models just aren’t the same quality or as heavy-duty. And they just don’t compare to or offer the same kind of quality and power that the KitchenAid professional series does.
So if you’re in the market for a new mixer, let me save you hours and hours of research: get the KitchenAid professional line. And go ahead and spring for the 7-quart bowl – it’s perfect for making bigger batches of bread.
If you aren’t going to make more than a small loaf of bread at a time, you may do fine with the less-expensive Artisan series. And if you don’t have small kids? Then the glass bowl may be a fantastic option so you can see what you’re mixing. But if you want durability, power, and the ability to survive (even with small kids “helping”), then you’ll want the professional series.
There are a few other supplies that you’re going to want or need, depending on what kind of home food storage you’re using. Here are what we use and recommend.
- Jars and lids for canning – I get whatever’s currently on sale at my local store. It rarely makes sense to buy these online – shipping costs usually make them too expensive for my taste. Ball and Kerr are both great brands, so it’s hard to go wrong with either one of them. I do prefer the wide mouth jars, though, because they’re easier to use – especially if you’re canning as many peaches as we do.
- General canning supplies – you’re going to need a few utensils, a canning bath, and maybe even a pressure canner. Get what you’re comfortable with and go with that. Again, check your local stores before buying online. While I’d love the commission, it’s more worth it to me to send you to a reliable store – and get you a better price.
- A vacuum sealer – There are a lot of options – we got a no-name brand one that’s compatible with pretty much any plastic bag. We didn’t want to get a name-brand because they require the related, name-brand plastic bags – and those get really expensive fast. Even so, ours isn’t super easy to operate – and it’s frequently needing to be tweaked. As such, I don’t know that I’d recommend that particular one. However, you may still want one for saving leftovers or for deep-freezing foods. Just be sure to weigh the original sale pricing with the added-in factor of the price of refill bags.
- Grain mill – We opted to get several grain mills. We’ve got this hand-crank one from Amazon (in case of a power outage), an electric mill (for when I’m making loads of homemade bread), and this oat roller (click here to see pricing on Amazon) for making rolled oats.
As far as storing all of this wonderful gear? Most of it should fit into your cabinets – or if not, store it in a cold storage room or a closet. We’ve got a kinda-cold storage room – it’s colder than the rest of the house, but it doesn’t freeze. That’s where we store most of our food storing supplies – if we aren’t actively using them anyway.