Colander. Strainer. Sieve. Chinois. When it comes to kitchen tools that drain liquids there are many names out there. But how do you know which one is best for the task at hand?
If you are a serious cook then stocking up on good colanders and strainers is essential. Of course, your chosen straining equipment will depend on your culinary needs. Let's take a look at what makes each one of these devices different:
A must-have in any kitchen. Colanders are perfect for draining pastas and blanched vegetables, and rinsing produce under running water. Select a metal or enamel colander (the latter is a more expensive material) with large handles for comfort.
These are great for smaller tasks like washing a pint of berries or cherry tomatoes. You can also use them to sift flour and sprinkle powdered sugar over cakes. It's a good idea to have multiple stainless steel mesh strainers in different sizes.
A fine mesh strainer, also known as chinois, is used for straining liquids when a velvety texture is desired. These tend to be expensive, but are a must for any serious home cook. Some even come with a pestle to help you strain every ounce of food (but you could always use the back of a ladle). A chinois will yield lump-free custards, soups and sauces.