The old crank-style flour sifter has evolved into a more streamlined and modern kitchen tool called a sieve. With it’s long handle and fine-mesh wire, it can tackle a variety of cooking tasks with ease. There will always be a place in my kitchen for my antique crank-style flour sifter, but right next to it is a spot for my other, must-have kitchen tools, three sizes of fine-meshed sieves that take me through everyday cooking chores and yearly baking extravaganzas.
Why You Need One (or three)
The fine-mesh screen traps the smallest of food particles, which if they were allowed to pass could render a recipe less-than-stellar. The sieve, also called a strainer, can be used for both liquids and solids, and is perfect for straining sauces, stocks and juices in addition to removing lumps from powdered sugar, cocoa and flour. When I need to use only a small amount of flour (like when making a rue), I reach for smaller-sized sieve instead of my full-sized flour sifter, less mess and easier clean-up. I find the large-sized sieve indispensable during canning season and the medium-sized one gets frequent use in my kitchen to ensure sauces and gravies come turn out lump-free and it enables me to rinse dry beans and grains without having any fall into the sink drain.
How to Buy
Plastic-rimmed sieves are cheaper, but if you intend on using a sieve to strain hot foods and liquids, buy the stainless steel variety. They can withstand the heat better and in general will last longer, so it’s worth a couple extra dollars in upfront expense.
Sieves come in all sizes, and a medium-sized one with a long sturdy handle will stand up to most kitchen tasks. Look for a sieve that has a curved hook on the side opposite the handle so it can rest of bowls or pots, freeing up both your hands while pouring hot liquids.
Fine-mesh sieves come in small, medium and large sizes and can be purchased at any store that carries kitchenware products.
How to Clean
A good quality, stainless steel sieve can be placed in the dishwasher for cleaning. If any debris becomes lodged in the fine-mesh or if you prefer to clean your sieve by hand, use an old toothbrush and dish-washing liquid to clean mesh and under the rim. A toothpick will easily remove a stuck piece of debris inside the wire.