A sieve, or sifter, is used in cooking to separate and break up clumps in dry ingredients such as flour. It also helps to aerate and combine them. A sieve is a utensil that consists of a wire or plastic mesh held within a frame. It helps in separating coarser from fine particles, in separating wanted elements from unwanted material.

A strainer is a form of sieve used to separate solids from liquid.


Sieving is a simple technique for separating particles of different sizes. A sieve used for sifting flour has very small holes. Coarse particles are separated or broken up by grinding against one-another and screen openings. Depending upon the types of particles to be separated, sieves with different types of holes are used.

Other types of Sieves:



A medium fine chinois

A Chinois is a French word that means Chinese. It is a conical sieve which has an extremely fine mesh. It is mainly used to strain custards, purees, soups, and sauces. The end result is a very smooth texture. The Chinois is also used to dust food with a fine layer of powdered ingredient.



A typical household colander

A colander (or cullender) comes from the Latin word colum which means sieve. It is a kitchen utensil made of a light metal like aluminium or thin rolled steel. It is a bowl-shaped sieve which is used as a strainer in cooking. It is used for draining food like rice or pasta. It is sometimes also used to rinse vegetables.


Colanders are also made of plastic, silicone, ceramic, and enamelware.




A spider, a type of skimmer preferably made entirely of stainless steel is the best option for kitchen purposes. It is mainly used in Asian and Dutch cooking. It is used for removing hot food from a liquid or for skimming foam off when making broths. The wide shallow wire- mesh basket and the long handle of the spider makes it perfect for such kitchen uses. The wire pattern on this kitchen utensil which looks like a spider’s web gives it the name.

The utensil is a small round spoon like shaped in the form of an open basket. They are also referred as spoon sieves, spoon skimmers or basket skimmers.

The Spider is used as a strainer for larger pieces of food. It is used for lifting and draining food from soups, boiling water, stocks or hot oil. It is also used for skimming stocks, deep frying foods or blanching vegetables.

It can be used to inspect the food while cooking by dipping the spider into steaming hot water or oil and straining out just the pieces or for removing it for cooling it off prior serving.



A tamis is a kitchen utensil that is also known by the name drum sieve or  Chalni ( Indian cooking). The tamis has a cylindrical edge which is usually made of metal or wood. This supports a disc that is made from either fine metal or nylon. The tamis acts as a strainer, grtaer or food mill.

The tamis has to be placed above a bowl and the ingredients that have to be strained has to be placed in the center of the mesh. A scraper or pestle is then used to push the food through the tamis. The tamis sift and grate ingredients much finer than any other utensil. The end result of the material is also evenly consistent.

Tamises are available in different ranges in size. It is available from 6 to 16 inches (15 to 41 cm) and the mesh is available in different gauges. The nylon mesh is stronger than wire and keeps its shape better. It is the best mesh to use for fruit purées. A wire mesh is sharper than nylon, but is prone to rust if not dried carefully after each use.

Tea Strainer


A tea strainer is used to filter the tea leaves after the tea is brewed in the traditional manner in a teapot.  The tea strainer is placed over or in a teacup to catch the loose tea leaves that are freely suspended in the tea.

Tea strainers are usually either made in sterling silver, stainless steel, or china.

They are also used for separating milk solids from ghee. It is also used to separate the liquid from the solid when preparing Béarnaise sauce.



A zaru is made from bamboo and is used as a draining basket. It is used in the preparation and presentation of Japanese cuisine. It can be used in a similar fashion to a sieve or colander. Zaru are dried and stored after use to extend the lifespan of the tool and to prevent growth of bacteria and fungi on the mat. It is advised not to dry them in harsh sunlight as it can cause the bamboo to crack.


A well-designed zaru are used to present food directly, as for example zarusoba, which are thin noodles made from buckwheat flour.




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