It might be a confused moment when your friend or lover need your help of passing her a colander but you misunderstand between it and a strainer.
Frequently, these two words are used interchangeably to describe a mesh thingy made of metal to hold cooking ingredients while water/soup/liquid passes through it.
In reality, there are some major differences, and to know which one is best for the task at hand, in this article, I will show you all to easily distinguish them.
Colander, strainer, chinois: what are they?
Typically, a strainer is a catchall name of something coming up with fine mesh and bowl-shaped figure. This kitchen tool is usually used for draining pasta or rinsing seeds, fruits, vegetables and other foods like that.
A colander, meanwhile, is larger than a usual strainer with bigger holes. They are usually utilized for containing huger foods like roots, big veggies or fruits.
I often define a little mesh thingy for catching seeds while I’m squeezing lemons is called strainer. And a footed bowl for keeping back big roots or 2 pounds of nectarines or a big dump of pasta is called colander.
Other than colander and strainer, there are chinoises.
They often come in more expensive price with cone-shaped figure for more straining area. Some are even made of wooden pestle to mask cooking ingredients against the sides.
For the purpose of use, chinois is mostly utilized for making soups, sauces and custards that require superb silkiness and smoothness.
In terms of their holes, they are extremely fine to pulverize to the last drop of water/liquid out of the ingredients that needn’t mashing through any grit.
What are the differences?
Colander, strainer and chinois, might their outer performance look quite similar to the others. But, when it comes to their usability, there is a huge difference.
Colander is a must-have item in any kitchen, no matter you are seriously into cooking or not. They are perfect to be used for blanching veggies or draining pasta. Moreover, rinsing ingredients under running water is also a good idea.
To choose a good colander, let’s opt for either an enamel or metal material as they are durable and sturdy. Besides, don’t forget to choose huge handles for more convenience and comfort.
Mostly, there is a lot of information to distinct between colander and strainer. But not many for colander and chinois. Due to an article posted by Chow, they point out some good suggestions. In that article, they also mentioned a special cooking tool called Superbag. It’s used for squeezing ingredients in a more flexible mesh bag to get the extracted liquid.
A chinois, on the other hand, is usually utilized for straining liquids. Some models even come in pestle to manage the amount of food you are straining (usually use ounce to measure). However, you can make use of a ladle back for this task.
This option is particularly suitable for those who want to invest seriously in cooking because of their expensive price.
Last up is mesh strainers, this cooking item is much suitable for smaller tasks than the colanders because of their tinier size and holes. For example, it’s best to washing a pint of cherry tomatoes or berries. Or, you can use it for sifting flour or sprinkle sugar over cakes.
Differ from colander, when it comes to choosing mesh strainers, I advise you to buy a set with different sizes for the best use.
How to choose the best strainer
Now, to help you get a general-simplified big picture of the best strainer for your ambitious kitchen projects, don’t miss out these 3 key elements while considering.
As strainers are in rounded-shaped figure, when sizing them, we usually talk about their diameter. For normal-used strainers, let’s pick those models that are at least 4 inches.
Remember that in strainer world, 4 is a magical number.
Some people might think this is an obvious statement, but truth to say, there are many novices picking the smaller size, like the 2-inch diameter strainers, especially when it comes to the sink strainers.
Don’t expect too much on such that tiny size for high protection to the sinkhole from food. In fact, kitchen sinks are created to handle much water draining through it, which means it will be larger than your expectation or at least, when compared to those small bathroom sinks, showers and baths.
Even with the smallest kitchen sink, a 4-inch diameter strainer is the minimum.
Next up is material!
I highly recommend to choosing a stainless-steel strainer because of its anti-rustic, melt resistant and no warp. Remember that only when a sink strainer fits for purpose, it can do its best jobs, like dealing with a huge amount of water or liquid running through it on a daily basis.
Don’t go for poor-quality metal sink strainers as sooner or later, their mesh is going to be rustic and those food particles can get chances to enter the drain.
The plastic, on the other hand, can be anti-rustic though, they are prone to get bad smell and odor. It’s even worse when warps appear, particularly when they are suffered under hot water for a long time.
This means the strainer doesn’t stay accurately on top of the sinkhole and it leads to the result of food entering through it.
Another option is silicone strainers. They are good in heat resistance and don’t cause bad odor or warps or corrode. However, once absorbing stains or odors, they look like a hot mess.
In terms of stainless steel, I’ve already found out some best material as well as products, which you can have a look at this article. No rust. No smelt. No flimsy.
Another thing to take into consideration when choosing a sink strainer is its weight and reinforced rim. Many experts advise to choose for the heavier models to anchor itself into the sinkhole. This is also a common issue when filtering with the newest strainers that food is easily entered through the drain because they move away from the sinkhole, following the running water.
With the heavy sink strainers, just feel free to say it goodbye as well as eliminate the cost of dealing with expensive drain blockages.
Besides, when it comes to choosing the filter, it’s essential to acknowledge some useful information about the size and type of particles filtered.
For instance, while pond and surface water contain hugely organic matter like leaves and algae, well water has sand – inorganic debris.
With inorganic matter, it’s necessary to pick a tinier screen to keep back the sediment and sand that those larger tools can’t handle them.
Remember that water is just one example for this. In fact, you can also filter paint, paper coatings, honey and other viscous products like that.
This feature determines the filter size you want.
For instance, a two-inch filter can contain 100 GPM flow won’t work for a system at 150 GPM. If you are in such situation, consider a larger size of strainer.
However, take notice that if you’re utilizing a backwashing strainer, consider not only the minimum flow rate, but also the maximum.
Besides, pay closer attention to the pressure as well.
As a matter of the fact, each type of filter is rated for the maximum flow operation pressure, which means you need to get an exact measurement of the maximum pressure while considering the best strainer.
Though the minimum pressure of operation isn’t as compulsory as the maximum, it’s essential to consider when you choose to use an automatic, self-cleaning strainer.
Okay, this is time for you to consider a good strainer to serve your kitchen projects. However, if you still have no idea of which particular product to make a purchase, don’t hesitate to continuously read my next article: