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© Denzil Green

A Colander is a bowl that has perforations in the bottom (some models have their sides perforated as well as the bottom.) It is used for draining liquid off from food items.

Colanders are not very good to use as a sieve, as the holes are usually too big to catch everything. A Colander focuses on draining liquid off a solid, whereas a strainer (or sieve) focusses on getting solids out of liquid.

A Colander can be made of plastic, ceramic, enamelware, or a metal such as stainless steel or aluminum. Older ones were made of tin or graniteware.

Plastic Colanders can be damaged if set on a hot surface; some people also fear that some plastics might melt if too hot a boiling liquid such as oil is poured through them. Plastic ones can also stain.

Ceramic ones often only have holes in the bottom.

Metal ones will have a lip around the top rim. People who buy the stainless steel ones like them to remain shiny enough to act as a kitchen decoration on the wall or shelf.

Though there seems to be one standard size, about 9 to 10 inches (23 to 25 cm) wide at the top, you can get ones smaller and larger than that.

Some Colanders three feet right underneath of them coming out of the bottom of the bowl. Some have legs attached to the side instead, or a single pedestal foot. Some have no feet or resting device at all at the bottom. Ones with such a resting device allow you to place the Colander in the kitchen sink, not leaving you to worry about how sanitary your sink actually is at the moment while food in the colander is touching the bottom of the sink through the holes.

Most Colanders usually have a handle at the top on each side. Some more innovative ones are like very, very large flour scoops, with perforated holes in the bowl of the scoop and a handle on it that you use to hold it with.

Some are designed to be propped up over a sink. They are more like baskets, with long arms that come out to reach each side of the sink, and hold the colander suspended above the sink. These usually but not always have feet.

Not all Colanders are dishwasher-safe; check to make sure before purchasing if this is important to you.

Uses for Colanders

    • drain liquid off of cooked items such as pasta, boiled potatoes, vegetables, etc
    • drain water off of raw items such as washed salad greens;
    • drain fat off cooked ground beef;
    • use metal ones as a make-shift steamer;
    • use a Colander to hold items such as leafy vegetables or berries while you are washing them under running water;
    • allow boiled, mashed pumpkin or squash to rest and drain;
    • strain large bones out of stock.

      Strainers and Sieves

      Chinois Strainer; Colander; Dumpling Strainer; Spider Strainers; Straining; Tea Balls; Tea Strainers

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      Also called:

      Passoire (French); Colino (Italian); Colador (Spanish); Coador (Portuguese)


      Oulton, Randal. "Colander." CooksInfo.com. Published 05 February 2005; revised 15 October 2010. Web. Accessed 03/19/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/colander>.

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