For my younger readers who never experienced it, I can’t fully describe what it was like when the Sears-Roebuck Wishbook arrived each autumn. Let me just say it was a big, big deal. It was like Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday and December 26th clearance shopping all rolled into one thick, beautiful catalog. When it finally arrived at the end of October, you’d anxiously rip off that clear plastic covering and spend your Saturday morning pouring over the pages, hunting for the best new toy and avidly reading the colorful descriptions. Sigh.
I’m sorry you missed that experience, but as we’re quickly approaching the holiday season, I’d like to give you a Wishbook of sorts! Every heirloom skill and working homestead requires certain essential tools and I want to share a few of my favorites with you. Though I am an Amazon affiliate, I have no connection to any of these companies beyond the fact that I have used these particular products for many years and have found them useful, convenient and reliable….so when I say I love them it’s because I love them! I may do a Dirty Dozen list later on…of products I shipped back or threw in the dumpster, but not today! These are the keepers! Here we go!
L’Equip Food Dehydrator
–I’ve been using this dehydrator for 7 or 8 years and it’s still running like a champ. It comes with fine screens for small foods like herbs, adjustable heat settings, sized to fit in a standard cabinet, has a 10 year warranty and runs silently. You can also buy additional trays, screens and fruit leather inserts to expand the amount you can dry at once. It’s a real workhorse! L’EQUIP 528 6 Tray Food Dehydrator, 500-watt
Ball Enamel Water Bath Canner and Utensils
– When you begin preserving your own food, water bath canning is typically the first step. What I love about the enamel canner is that after 10 years, the finish is as beautiful as when it was new. No stains, marks or scratches unlike some of the models on the market. The wire rack and lifter tool prevents shattered jars and burned fingers and are absolute necessities. Ball Enamel Water Bath Canner, Including Chrome-Plated Rack and 4-Piece Utensil Set
Ball Blue Book
-There are a million canning books out there, but this has been the standard bearer for several generations. This book includes full-color pictures, step-by-step how-tos and hundreds of recipes that have been tested for safety and flavor. In my opinion, this should be required reading for all new home-canners Blue Book Guide to Preserving (by Jarden Home Brands).
-Though this is a fairly new (5 years) product on the market, I’ve used mine enough to excitedly recommend it to dozens of my close friends and family members! The Instant Pot cooks quick, nutritious food with little mess and replaces a dozen other small appliances like yogurt makers, rice cookers, egg cooker, crock pots, steamers. I love the set-it-and-forget-it programs and the automatic keep-warm setting. I’m serious when I say this product has revolutionized how I prepare food for my family Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer
White Wizard Stain Remover
– This may seem like a strange Wishbook recommendation, but let me tell you, homesteading is dirty, dirty work. Throw in a couple active kids and rambunctious dogs and you end up with stains that are total nightmares. White Wizard successfully removed chocolate syrup + ketchup + iced tea from Petunia’s white cotton Sunday dress, so I’m confident it will remove pretty much any stain from any fabric. And it smells nice too White Wizard WW010 All Purpose Stain Remover – 10 fl. oz.
Lodge Cast Iron
-Another homestead standard, my Lodge cast iron has given me many years of service with minimal work. Scrub with oil and salt to clean, dry and wipe with oil and you’ll have a reliable pan for decades to come. And the silicon handle is a lifesaver! Lodge Cast Iron Skillet with Red Silicone Hot Handle Holder, 12-inch
-We love heating with firewood, but hated the noise from the built-in fan in the woodstove, so this was a real find for us! It’s completely non-electric and requires no installation! You simply set the fan on the rear of the stove and as the base heats, it creates its own power and runs silently. It’s quite small but does it ever move air! We love it! Ecofan 810CAKBX UltrAir Mid-Size Heat Powered Wood Stove Fan, Made in Canada, Nickel
Victorio Food Mill
-Plainly put, no other food mill, strainer, blender, juicer or processor compares to a Victorio food mill. If you’re going to preserve your own sauces, salsas, butters and purees, you’re either going to HAVE a Victorio food mill or NEED a Victorio food mill. It’s a real workhorse, easily grinding through tomatoes, onions, grapes, apples and discharging the seeds, cores and peels. I cannot recommend this tool enough! Deluxe Food Strainer and Sauce Maker by VICTORIO VKP250
-This is perfect for breaking ground in small areas like raised beds and for loosening and aerating soil between close plantings. They also work well in tough, clay, packed soil…they’re so useful, we have 2! Garden Weasel 91316 Garden Claw
-This tool was a game-changer for us. Using this hoe, I can weed our entire garden (3000+ sf) in under an hour. And the real plus to this tool is the push/pull “mopping” motion is far more gentle on the arms and shoulders than the “hacking” movement of a traditional hoe. Push Pull Hoe
-I found this gadget at Lehman’s in Amish country many years ago and have thoroughly enjoyed using it. I like to incorporate lacto-fermented food into our diet as often as possible because of the health benefits but a) who has time to wait months for kraut and b) who wants a 5 gallon crock of kraut anyway?! The Perfect Pickler ferments small batches of veggies in under 10 days using only a Mason jar and salt. Perfect Pickler Fermentation Value PackageSo there’s the 2017 Legacy Wishbook! I have a few more products to recommend, but that will have to wait til next year, my friends! So what am I missing? What other useful products would you add to my Wishbook?