Food strainers are much more versatile kitchen gadgets than you might think. They come in many different forms, and each has its own specific uses. The key to getting the most from your strainer is to know what it can do. This article will explain many of the different types and what they’re designed for.
The regular food strainer is the colander. These are generally made from metal and rest in the bottom of your sink to drain water from pasta, blanched veggies, and boiled potatoes. Almost every kitchen will have this style of strainer, but there are some other types that are even more useful.
Metal strainers are generally conical with very small perforations. These will do the same thing that colanders will, but they also work for smashing fruits and veggies inside to get their pulp separated from the juice. Small batches of tomato sauce work great in this style, as well as working berries for jam.
Food mills are another style of strainer. These have a geared mechanism on the top that grinds up soft food to get the pulp and juice out of the fruit. They are very awkward to use, but are indispensable for medium sized batches of sauces and jams. Most food mills will run about $40 or $50 online or in your local kitchen supply store.
If the food mill is John Henry, the electric food strainer is the locomotive. These are way too much for most home kitchens, but are regularly used in restaurants. They do the same job as food mills, but use a motor to process everything that you put in them.
Generally, there is some sort of wooden plunger that keeps your fingers out of the mill, while getting everything down inside. Large batches of sauce, salsa, and jam are best for this. If you aren’t making a lot of any of these, stick to the manual mill to save time cleaning up. Food strainers are one of the most versatile kitchen gadgets. Use the one that suits your needs to make sure that you actually use it!