A colander is a bowl with perforations in the bottom, and often sides as well. It is used for draining liquid off from food items.
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 seem to 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 23 to 25 cm wide at the top (about 9 to 10 inches), you can get ones smaller and far larger than that. Larger ones may be used by professional cooks and home canners.
Some colanders have feet right underneath of them coming out of the bottom of the bowl. Some instead have legs attached to the side, 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 on each side at the top. Some though are like very large flour scoops, with one large handle off to one side that you use to hold it with.
Some are designed to be propped up over a sink. They are more like mesh 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 as well.
Not all colanders are dishwasher-safe; check to make sure before purchasing if this is important to you.
Uses for colanders
- drain liquid off cooked items such as pasta, boiled potatoes, vegetables, etc.;
- drain water off raw items such as washed salad greens;
- drain fat off cooked ground beef;
- drain brine off salted produce that will be pickled;
- 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.