Sieve

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A kitchen utensil that is used to strain liquids such as boiling water or to sift dry ingredients, such as flour or powdered sugar. Also referred to as a "stainer" a Sieve has perforated holes or mesh and is available in many different shapes and sizes. Some Sieves are made as baskets to fit in sinks or pots and pans. Other Sieves are flat utensils for use in pouring off hot liquids such as removing water from a pan containing cooked pasta. Sieves are made from a variety of materials including stainless steel, tinned steel, aluminum, nylon, and cloth. Some have strong, heat-resistant handles and frames containing hooks, which allow the Sieve to rest easily on top of pots or bowls while other may have formed handles for use in holding up to the edges of pots and pans.

When selecting a Sieve, consider the different sized mesh screens or perforated surfaces and the shape of the Sieve that is necessary for the intended preparation process. The mesh screens or perforated holes range from medium to fine and superfine in the width of the holes woven in the mesh. Sieves with a medium mesh contain a coarse screen with a hole that is approximately 1/16 inch in size. This mesh works well for straining liquids away from pasta, vegetables, hearty sauces, and all types of larger sized foods. Sieves with a fine mesh have a mesh hole that is approximately 1/32 inch in size. This Sieve works well for draining lighter fluids and retaining particles such as fruit seeds that may be able to run through larger sized mesh Sieves. The finest of screens is the superfine Sieve that almost appears to have no holes, due to their tiny size. This Sieve works best for very fine particles or very clear liquids such as straining tea or dusting powders on baked goods.

Several similar kitchen tools that may be used as a Sieve are a Chinois or a Colander. The Chinois is a cone shaped strainer that can be placed in a Chinois stand to hold it while food ingredients are filtered through its mesh or steel holed strainer. The Chinois is typically used to make very clear sauces, stocks and vegetable juices. A Colander typically is formed as an oval or round shaped utensil with two handles and may also contain a base with legs. Most often used for draining water off of boiled foods such as larger pasta shapes and potatoes, Colanders are also useful for cleaning bunches of fruits and vegetables, allowing water to be drained as it is washed over the food.

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