Colanders: The Surprise Kitchen Essential

It is hard to imagine a colander outside the context of straining steamed vegetables or the noodles you intend to use for your spaghetti. More likely than not these are the only two times that you even pull out your colander from the depths of your kitchen cupboards.

So it will probably be shocking for most to learn that the colander is much more than it appears to be. From the variations of style to the usability in many different recipes, you will soon learn that a colander just might be a more essential kitchen tool than you first thought.

The Best Colander Design

Different colored colanders with vegetables

As unbelievable as it may seem there are quite a few design options to pick from when it comes to purchasing a colander for your kitchen. Selecting the right one can really boil down to what you intend to use it for, but even within those parameters, you are still bound to run into a bunch of different choices.

(1) It is always a good idea to buy a colander that is roughly the same size as your pot.

The bottom line is that no matter what additional uses you may find for your colander it will always primarily be used to strain any ingredient you have cooked in a pot. So in order to best do this, it is a good idea to make sure that whatever fits in the pot can also fit in the colander.

Knowing the size of the colander that you need beforehand will help prevent any potential messes or accidents during the cooking process.

(2) Find a colander that can stand on its feet.

This may sound ridiculous, but finding a colander with feet will provide better results than a colander without. The feet on the bottom of the colander helps keep it elevated above any surface you plan to place it on.

So if you are straining water in a sink there is no fear of the water being blocked by the bottom of the colander. The feet are there to help with that.

Once you have this baseline of a design for your colander in mind you can begin to look at the many varied options at your disposal.

(3) Selecting the right material for use in your kitchen.

When it comes to what material colanders are made of there are three common options.

  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Silicone

Each has its advantages and it really depends on your preference which you decide to add to your kitchen.

Metal calendars are great for standard straining of vegetables or pasta. They are able to withstand heat and are fairly easy to clean. It is also easy to find metal colanders that have the right amount of holes as well as feet at the base, checking off the basics of your colander needs.

Plastic colanders are similar in a few functional ways to the metal colander. They can come with the right amount of spacially distant holes, but some can have a slower strain. They can also come with feet at their base but are less great around heat as plastic tends to melt easily. The one benefit of a plastic colander tends to be its price. If you aren’t wanting to spend much on a colander then this just might be the option for you.

Silicone colanders are also a great option. Much like a metal colander, they have well-placed holes and can handle being near heat if need be. And of course, there is the added benefit of them being able to be stored in small spaces with its collapsible feature.

Using Your Colander for Straining

Straining Yogurt to make Greek Yogurt with colander 

Despite this being what a colander is mostly used for you might be surprised by how underutilized it is outside of pasta noodles. While you would use a larger colander to handle straining your noodles or vegetables a smaller fine mesh colander can be used to strain small berries.

It can also be useful in draining out liquids inside canned goods. If you need the food inside but not the juice or broth that comes along with it, using a colander to drain the liquid is an easy and effective option.

If you place your colander into a bowl full of water and place leaves of lettuce in there, you have created a simple salad spinner. Simple wash your lettuce and then when you are done lift the colander to strain the water away from the lettuce.

This same technique can also be used to make Greek yogurt. This is done by applying a layer of cheesecloth to the bottom of the colander as it sits inside a bowl. Once you scoop the plain yogurt onto the cheesecloth you will let it drain for about 30 minutes until it is at the consistency you like.

In fact, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that you can easily drain using this method.

Other Miscellaneous Kitchen Hacks

Desteming herbs with colander

Now it is time for the kitchen tasks you would never expect a colander to do, but surprisingly it can.

There are many herbs that have leaves and when it comes time to remove those leaves we dread it. The task is tedious, to say the least, but a holed colander can make all the difference. By running the stems of the herbs through the holes you can easily strip the leaves away.

This little known kitchen hack with your colander can save you time and frustration of having to remove the leaves one by one. It also helps keep your counter space clean of any mess from the leaves. They will be gathered together within the colander for ease of use in your cooking once you are done.

Another handy hack that can be done with a colander is as a vegetable steamer. You will want to place fresh vegetables inside a colander and then use the colander to cover a pot of boiling water. The rising steam will cook your vegetables and when they are finished you can pull the colander away without any muss or fuss.

Truly the colander can be used as a versatile tool in the kitchen and sometimes even out of the kitchen.

Using a Colander Outside Your Kitchen

Using colander as a planter for indoor herb garden

In addition to its uses inside your kitchen, you can also consider using your colander in a lot of other ways. Even though these hacks aren’t necessarily part of any cooking process they can still manage to improve your kitchen.

If you plan on eating a meal outside a colander can be a great way to prevent bugs from getting to your food. You would just need to make sure that the colander is big enough to cover the platter the food is on. Then simply turn it over to keep the bugs away.

Another great way to use your colander to its very end is to use it to grow your own herbs. If you already own a colander that you would like to replace one of the best things you can do is actually reuse it. A good way to do this is to line the inside of the colander with some moss then soil and then plant whatever herb you choose.

It is a great way to start your own herb garden with a bit of style, just don’t forget to water your plants regularly to get the full benefits.

Colanders may not be the first kitchen tool you think of when you need something essential to cook with. However, the things that the colander can do it does well and you would be hard-pressed to find its equal in another kitchen tool or gadget.

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