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Since the beginning of the pandemic we have really taken note of the things that we appreciate having around the home and garden. When you start doing a lot of things at home like cooking, gardening, knitting, sewing, etc, you will inevitably notice some hold ups to achieving and acceptable level of efficiency. Lack of the right tool for the job can be a real time waster.
While we were good on bowls, we barely had anything good to gather eggs or harvest vegetables with. Washing my Vollrath mixing box in the sink today made me start thinking about just how useful that inexpensive mixing bowl has been over the years. I had it well before I invested in a Kitchenaid mixer.
Eggs are one of those items that really require some proper transport when your coop is a long way from the kitchen. Carrying eggs 100 feet is one thing, going halfway across 11 acres is another.
Egg Baskets are also useful for foraging and organizing things like yarn and knitting needles.
Of course, there are many different types of baskets for various purposes. For general household use, I really prefer the wire baskets because they are very durable and long-lasting. If I broke some of the thinner wires I could fix it much easier than trying to save a weaved basket. You can also rinse off eggs and produce while they are still in the basket which is very helpful.
A lot of baskets that call themselves mushroom baskets are really pretty but they are usually made of materials that just cannot compare to metal. If you want something pretty for regular times then by all means do it if you can afford it but at the same time consider putting back some tough baskets for rough duty. Something that doesn’t make you feel like you have to be really careful is what you need for long emergencies and SHTF situations.
Mixing Bowls and Baskets Are Homestead Essentials
When you start cooking a lot at home, you might start to notice that bowls for food prep are something you lack. If it had not been for my Mother-In-Law giving me some over the years and the dishes we were bought when we got married, I would have had to buy quite a few more than I have over the years. I bought a really big glass bowl fr $5 at a kitchen supply store a few years ago. That was a really good bowl until it got slightly chipped and I did not notice it and it cut me. Glass bowls are nice and they are sometimes really cheap. That bowl gave me years of service but after that, I don’t think I will buy plain glass bowls again. My cast iron sink is not kind to glass like that.
I have to say that ceramic is pretty and it is nice for mixing bread in but it is a lot more fragile than good stainless steel. For everyday bowls, Fiesta Ware seems to be very tough for ceramic. I have a Kohler cast iron sink that can be a real glass breaker. In 10 years of using Fiesta Ware, the only breakage we have had is the handle of a coffee cup regardless of how clumsy I can be when washing dishes. Ceramic mixing bowls are quite expensive if you buy quality ones. If you don’t buy quality then they are going to be even more fragile.
My advice is to have a few good ones but stick to stainless for your everyday mixing needs when possible, especially during times like we are facing now when purchasing a replacement may not be possible even if you have the money.
On the other hand, ceramic bowls can last a long time if taken care of. My mother in law has one that is close to 200 years old that she uses for special family dinners on occasion. It lives on the highest up shelf too. I have always been scared I will drop it.
You have to be somewhat careful about cheap ceramic bowls that are glazed or painted, especially those that are made in places like China. The paint on some older bowls or bright cheap bowls may have some nasty things in it including lead or Kobalt.
If I had to pick a ceramic mixing bowl set to buy, this would be my first commercially produced choice. I at the same time I am not a big fan of the bright colors they are currently offering these bowls in. I just have a lot of trust in Homer Laughlin products because they make Fiesta Ware and it doesn’t just shatter if dropped in the sink a little bit hard.
You get a 6 qt, 4 qt, and 3 qt bowl each glazed with a restaurant-grade vitrified finish. These sizes make an excellent addition to a kitchen and allow for those baking days where you really need to get a lot done. All Home Laughlin products are made in the USA too. I am always glad to see quality goods that support decent-paying American jobs.
Ohio Stoneware makes some great old fashioned bowls for your kitchen. These are great bowls for a rustic or country kitchen. The classic clay with a blue stripe was used a lot over the years. You can get this design in many different sizes to meet your needs.
Look for locally produced ceramic mixing bowls.
Where I live there are a lot of potters. Western NC just seems to attract a lot of people that enjoy practicing old skills. You may be able to get a local potter to make you some mixing bowls. One advantage of this is that you can ask for whatever color scheme you want.
If you want to get really fancy you can even get a design painted on a bowl or other artistic features. The more complicated the more you can expect to pay. A large ceramic bowl takes considerable work and materials but unless it is broken it will last for decades or more.
Remember that the current supply chain is fragile at best due to the pandemic and civil unrest in this country. You may need to know where to get everyday items within the area you live. The closer the better if you are in a real SHTF situation.
A lot of Vollrath is made in the USA. Items with Economy in the name are generally their foreign-produced items. All the Heavy Duty mixing bowls offered by Vollrath are made in Wisconsin. I have to say that the price has gone up a lot in the three years since I bought this bowl. Maybe I just caught a good deal at the time. Even at the current price of just over $20, this bowl is worth it. I have used mine so much. I plan on buying some larger sizes of this same bowl at some point.
These are made in India. I actually have a lot of good things to say about the stainless steel products that I own that are made in India. The mixing bowl that came with my pro-grade Kitchenaid mixer is made in India and it is really strong, stain-free, and made to last. They also make stainless steel kegs for making soda and beer. This mixing bowl set offers a variety of sizes at one low price. All the bowls can nest inside the larger one if space is tight.
I don’t own a lot of plastic kitchen prep gear but I do think that Nordic Ware deserves mentioning. My Dad lives by himself and due to his war injuries and health issues he can be a little unsteady. For safety reasons he likes to have some things that are not breakable if it slips out of his hand or if his rambunctious cat, Jules, hops up on his walker to take a ride. We bought a set of Nordic Ware cereal bowls and so far we have been impressed with their durability. They are very thick and they don’t stain even if you use them in the microwave to heat up tomato-based soups and stews.
Nordic Ware is actually made in the USA too and it is BPA free. If you want an affordable set of mixing bowls, this brand is about as good as it gets. There are plenty out there that cost more that don’t come close to Nordic Ware.
Oxo seems to have a loyal following and gets consistently high reviews. While their products are made of plastic in many cases, the quality is high and items are durable. This set of 3 bowls features handy handles and pour spouts that help reduce messes in the kitchen. You have a few color choices too if you don’t want standard white bowls. The set nests so storage is space-efficient and convenient. Each bowl features a non-skid bottom and is BPA free. These are not microwave safe.
Some people make some really beautiful wood bowls. With the right tools so can you but it does take some practice and you need access to some blocks of wood. In a SHTF situation you could probably carve one out with a knife and other basic tools if you had the time. Wood bowls must be treated with food grade oils in order to be waterproof and not crack.
There are many wood bowls out there that are not carved from a single piece. If many small pieces are glue together and finished, the bowl is weaker. If a deal seems too good to be true then you are probably getting a composite bowl.
I am pretty happy that set of metal baskets that we got has a really big basket that will be ideal for those use Shiitake mushroom flushes we get sometimes when conditions are right. It is really too large for anything but major harvesting in gardens or from the mushroom logs but since we got three different sizes we are covered for other needs.
That is the beauty of getting a set.
They also can be stored all in the bigger basket if you find that you don’t need to use them for a while. A strong bale also means you could hang the big basket up with all of the others in it or just hang up some of the baskets for quick retrieval when needed.
A lot of people like this style of basket for gathering eggs. My biggest concern is that it is a little top-heavy if you fill it all the way up. These are among the more affordable options for egg baskets if you just want to buy one. Coated metal protects eggs from breakage. You can wash eggs off in the basket easily before bringing them in.
For those that have ducks, this is particularly nice since it is pretty hard to get ducks to lay eggs that stay clean until you get them. Geese are a little better but they still tend to have eggs that are dirtier than a chicken. As long as you give chickens nesting material you can usually manage to get fairly clean eggs.
In a real SHTF situation, you can make baskets but it is incredibly time-consuming. Baskets can be very beautiful but you have to consider how to best use your time. A variety of dried plants and bark have been traditionally used over the years. Basketmaking is a dying skill due to the ease of machine manufacturing and the availability of more durable materials than what one can get from plants or animals.
The material that straps are often made of would be good for making a rot proof basket. I think that if I had to make a basket during a major SHTF situation I would find strapping that was made of synthetic materials and use that before I got into making cordage or stripping bark.
A basket similar to the one above would be much more durable than a plant-based basket. This makes me think that maybe I should have some of this type of webbing on hand. There are all kinds of things that strong webbing could be useful for.
For those that are interested in basket making, here are a few Youtube videos to get you started.
Tips for Making Baskets Last Longer
- Avoid overloading baskets. If you overload a basket it will weaken it and failure could happen sooner rather than later.
- Store in a cool and dry place. If a basket gets wet then you need to dry it out as soon as possible. Metal baskets can benefit from this rule as well. I have bought plenty of things that claimed to be stainless that would still rust if left in a moist environment.
- Avoid storing sharp or abrasive objects in baskets. If you do need to store such items in a basket, choose the toughest ones you have. A metal basket would be better than a cloth one for example.
- Repair any holes or damage as soon as it is noticeable. You may want to just occasionally look over baskets to spot little problems that could become bigger ones.
What types of bowls and baskets do you keep around? Are there any particular brands you recommend?