Colanders & Strainers

What are Colanders and Strainers?

Colanders and strainers are two essential kitchen utensils that are quite similar yet also very different. The main function of both is to “strain”, but then why are they two entirely different utensils and why is one called a stainer while the other isn’t? Strainers have much smaller holes, which means they have several hundred, if not thousands, more than a colander. Strainers are more commonly used to strain chunks and bits of cooked food or spices from liquids or sauces. Straining the meat bits from a broth is one example.

While a colander is bowl-shaped and more commonly made of stainless steel with far fewer holes all around it. The purpose of the colander is again related to straining, but it is also quite frequently used for cleaning produce. The large holes provide any residue, dirt, or earthy substances such as bugs to fall directly through. A colander is more helpful in draining water from the pasta. It’s best to own one of each even if you are just cooking at home. You’ll certainly acquire a need for one or the other at some point in the cooking process, more often than you’d think. This is especially true if you enjoy making homemade cheese, soups, and broths, or steamed food.

The Advantages Of Having One

Strainers and colanders are possibly utensils you won’t use every waking day in the kitchen, especially when cooking at home, but it doesn’t negate the importance they hold. When making pasta, broths, sauces, and soups you’ll surely need either one or the other to separate the liquid from the food. Strainers, especially ones made of cloth, are essentials in the cheese-making process, for example. Separating bay leaves and black pepper pieces from a broth are made easy with a strainer instead of fishing it out by hand. A strainer also doubles as a sifter for flour and other dry ingredients in baking. A stainless steel colander is optimal for draining steamed vegetables and other boiled food. It also doubles as a handy tool to rinse fruit and vegetables with. Overall, the advantages of owning both a strainer and a colander outweigh the reasons for not having one in your kitchen drawers.

Easily Drain Water And Sauces

A strainer makes straining sauces a breeze compared to a colander. The tiny, delicate openings in a strainer are perfect for squeezing sauces through to rid it of bits of vegetables or spices even further. A stainless steel colander, in comparison, has much larger holes and is only capable of capturing significantly larger pieces of food. This is why a colander has much better use for draining pasta from water instead. A strainer can drain water as well, but many cooks find a colander much easier to use in this case since strainers are also typically smaller in size. Overall, it is best to assess what you are trying to separate from the liquid. If you want a more refined drain, then opt for a strainer, if not, then a colander is handier.

Perfect For Pasta

So should you opt for a colander or a strainer for pasta? Many will agree that a stainless steel colander is a task for this. Even so, many people simply refer to a colander as a pasta strainer. There are two ways to strain pasta with a colander that sparks controversy in the cooking world. The first approach is setting up the colander in the sink and then pour the entire pasta along with its water into it. The pasta does not spill thanks to the bowl shape of the colander, and the water drains through the holes in the bottom. However, chefs are remarking that the right use of using a colander to strain pasta is by holding it against the pot, as you would do with a strainer that latches onto pots, and drains the liquid out over the sink. Once you are done, the pasta remains in the pot it was cooked in but now it is drained from the water completely. You be the judge of which method works best for you!

Available In Different Sizes

Both colanders and strainers are available in an array of shapes and sizes. Strainers are more varied and can come in the size of a bowl for example, which is the main reason people have difficulty differentiating between colanders and strainers. But it is important to remember that most, if not all, colanders are bowl-shaped while strainers can be bowl-shaped but they take on other forms as well. Strainers can come in much smaller sizes and resemble a spoon. This is quite handheld and useful for straining mostly liquid where there aren’t any chunks of food you’re worried about passing through. Some strainers latch onto the edge of a pot or bowl, allowing for easy accessibility. Stainless steel colanders, on the other hand, usually only come in a variety of circumference sizes. This means the structure is primarily the same and they merely vary in size. The key thing to remember is that despite either their shapes or sizes, the types of holes they have are consistent. Colanders have a slight exception since depending on the brand, the holes may vary in number and design, but they do not have as many openings as a strainer.

Stainless Steel Easy To Clean

Colanders can be made of anything from stainless steel, to plastic, or even made collapsable. While strainers typically have more shapes and sizes, they are mostly made of aluminium, stainless steel, and nylon. For both cases, stainless steel is the go-to choice for professional chefs and home cooks alike. Why? It is the most durable and efficient material available for either product. A stainless steel strainer is capable of holding more weight in its mesh than its aluminium or nylon alternatives which are prone to break much easier. In the case of colanders, plastic ones are considered handy for households with children since they are less prone to making noise or accidents along with being lightweight. However, a stainless steel colander will provide much longer longevity and quality of use.