I recently read a comment from a viewer that made me smile. She was watching our canning beans video and simply wondered if I ever cook on the propane stove I have in my kitchen. Her question made me happy because it validated what I have been trying to do in learning to be self-sufficient. Propane is an excellent cooking fuel for off grid living because it is so easy to cook with and of course does not require any connection to the electrical grid! Because of this, I use my propane stove frequently. Its one drawback is that we have to purchase propane! For this reason, I try to cook with our homestead resources as much as possible. Self-sufficiency is one of our primary homesteading goals, so you will often find me cooking with many of our other cooking sources. I have a lot to choose from.
1. Hotpointe Propane Stove
We purchased this stove for the sole purpose that it requires no electricity to operate. Most gas stoves have additional electric parts like clocks, timers, and digital thermometers. This stove has no fancy stuff, but it does what you expect a stove to do: cook! The spark to ignite the burners and oven flame is provided by a 9-volt battery. It requires absolutely no electrical connection.
2. Wood Pizza Oven
My husband and father built this impressive structure last summer. As its name suggests, it is designed specifically for cooking pizza. If you have never tasted authentic wood fired pizza, you are missing out! It is the most delicious pizza you will ever eat. We have used the oven several times for pizza, but we also use it for baking other things. Recently, we roasted three of our homestead raised chickens. The drawback to using this oven is that it takes some planning ahead. The fire needs to be started about two hours before cooking time and fed periodically. Thankfully, my husband takes on this task while I’m doing the dinner prep work inside. He usually plants a camp chair next to it and uses his phone to research his latest homesteading interest. We featured our pizza oven in Season 1. You can watch the video here.
3. Wood Stove
This is my cooking method of choice during the colder months of the year. It is a heat stove and not a cookstove, but I am able to cook on it anyway. As long as I have a fire going to heat our home, I am cooking on and inside our wood stove. For more information and detailed tips, see “How to Cook on a Wood Stove.”
4. BBQ Grill
Most people have a backyard grill. Its an excellent way to start learning to cook with wood. We have a simple Weber grill and my husband is the grill master. I never knew how delicious steak could be until I tasted it from his grill. He uses a chimney to get the fire going and a natural charcoal and firewood mix to provide a delicious smokey flavor. When we have the grill going, I cook with it too. Cast iron is my cookware of choice because it transitions between all my cooking sources.
5. Outdoor Fire Pit
This is what you will see me using when I am canning. We designed it for that purpose and it gets used frequently during the summer and early fall. We built it using concrete block, re-bar, and a grate from a salvage yard. It has a very large cooking area, perfect for my huge All American canner which is much too big for my stove inside. For more information, see “10 Tips for Canning Over a Wood Fire” and “16 Tips for Pressure Canning Over a Wood Fire.”
6. Rocket Stove
Rocket stoves are becoming really popular today! You can find many design plans online. Most of them are very quick and easy to put together because they are made from concrete block. Ours is a two burner version and we built it on the back of our outdoor fire pit. The nice thing about rocket stoves is that they use wood, but can be started pretty easily because they don’t require lots of time to heat up. Most recently, we used ours to collect the juice from the gallons upon gallons of fruit we harvested from our persimmon trees in the fall.
7. Solar Dehydrator
My dad just completed our very own homestead solar dehydrator. It was his design, but he recycled the storm door from my house and let me choose the color. Isn’t it pretty?! Last summer, we dehydrated our garden produce using the dash of our car, but this summer our foods will dehydrate in style. Look for it in a future video. We plan to feature it in Season 2.
8. Solar Oven
We have a Sport Solar Oven. It has seen limited use because of all our other cooking methods, but I’m grateful to have it and plan to experiment more with it over the summer. I love that it came with it’s own enamelware pots! I’m interested in experimenting with this quintessential camping cookware. I also love that the entire unit is compact and very light, making it easy to move and set up.
9. Hay Box
In the summer, I use an old-fashioned concept called a hay box. I have also heard it referred to as a wonder oven. It is a great slow cooker! I place my food in a dutch oven (or other pot with a lid) and bring the contents to a full boil on the stove. I place the lid on and put it inside a cooler that is stuffed with insulation. I use old towels and blankets on the bottom, sides, and on top of the pot before I close the lid of the cooler. The insulation will retain the heat and the food will slow cook all day. It requires much less energy to heat the pot to boiling than it does to allow it to simmer all day. Not only can I save energy, but I’m not adding extra heat to my house in the summer.
We recently had a large propane tank installed behind our house. It holds 350 gallons. At our current rate of use, this will take us 2 1/2 years to use. That’s pretty good, considering that we also frequently use it for heating water to wash dishes and take showers! It makes me proud of my hard work in learning how to cook in other ways. And honestly, it does take more work and some practice. But it is so rewarding to know that the fuel I have used to cook my meal comes from a resource that is readily available and free.