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Sieves and Strainers

Using sieves and strainers

These bowl-shaped mesh strainers come in various sizes, the largest of which is often called a colander. Sieves are used for everything from draining pasta and straining stock to dusting desserts with cocoa or confectioners' sugar.

If buying a colander, choose a metal one with strong handles. Plastic ones are more likely to break. When buying a mesh sieve, look for a sturdy frame and handle. Dishwasher-safe sieves can save on cleaning time.

Wash sieves as soon as you are finished with using them. Otherwise, food dries up in the holes, making cleaning even more difficult. To clean a clogged sieve, soak it in hot, soapy water, then scrub it with a vegetable brush. To use a large-holed colander as a fine sieve, just line the colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth.

If you need to quickly remove liquid from a pot of solids and liquids, insert a sieve into the pot (a cone shaped sieve works best). The solids will remain on the outside of the sieve so that the liquid can be quickly removed with a ladle. This technique is useful for removing stock from a pot without straining the whole pot, or for removing excess water from an ice-water bath in which the ice has melted too much.

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