10 uses for a colander - 10 ideas for using yours more often in the kitchen. Don't buy new tools! Repurpose the ones you already have!
Everyone uses their colander, right? I've never heard anyone complain about having to keep one around and never using it.
What do you use it for?
To drain pasta?
If you're restricting yours to pasta duty, you are definitely not using it to its full potential.
I have metal colanders in a couple of different sizes. They stand up to heat better than plastic ones, making some of the following suggestions possible. If yours is plastic, you will definitely want to keep it away from the heat of the stove and consider getting a metal one. They're very handy.
Whether yours is metal or plastic, please please please set it in the sink when you pour something hot through it. Don't try to hold the colander by the handles and pour a pot of hot stuff through it at the same time. You'll burn yourself and end up with a big mess.
11 Uses for a Colander
- Wash stuff. Fruit, vegetables, silverware, whatever. You can throw it in and rinse with water.
- Drain canned foods. We don't use canned veggies, but we do use canned beans and canned fruit now and then. Regardless of the contents of the can, if you need the food but not the broth or juice, pour it into a small colander, give it a shake or two, and rinse (if desired). If you need the juice - think canned fruit - set a small strainer in a slightly larger bowl and pour the can in. Again, shake it gently to move the food around and drain any extra juice. Use the broth and solids separately, as desired.
- Keep fragile produce fresh. Berries, grapes, mushrooms, and other fragile, moisture-sensitive produce can be stored in a colander in the fridge. The moisture will dry more quickly, so they won't get moldy and will last longer.
- Prevent grease splatters. When you fry an egg or a burger that splatters a lot, invert a metal colander over the pan to prevent a mess on the stove top. The holes of the colander will allow the water vapor and heat to escape, but it will contain most of the fat spray (because those particles are so much bigger than water molecules).
- Steam vegetables. In a pinch, a stainless steel colander can substitute for a steamer basket. Simply set it in a slightly larger pot of water. Fill the colander a little more than halfway with fresh veggies and steam normally. Be careful that the pan doesn't cook dry; check the water level and add water as necessary.
- Keep bugs away. No matter what you're serving, keep the flies and other nuisances out by topping it with an appropriately sized colander. All you have to do is turn it over and set it on top. (This is more important for a picnic in warm weather, when eating outside, but it could be an issue now, too. Especially if you have fruit flies and can't get rid of them.)
- Sift flour. A sifter is one kitchen gadget that you do not need. Put your flour in a small colander and push any clumps through with a wooden spoon. Easy peasy, no sifter required.
- Strain yogurt or soft cheese. Line the colander with cheesecloth, set it over a bowl, and fill it with plain yogurt or soft cheese. Let the water drain out the colander's holes, leaving behind thicker Greek-style yogurt. You can easily drain (or even prepare) fresh ricotta this way or drain yogurt to thicken it.
- Grow sprouts. I think this is incredibly clever! You could get a cheap plastic colander, and use it to grow sprouts. You'd always have fresh ones to add to stir fry or salads. Full instructions at The Nourishing Gourmet.
- Hold bath accessories. Whether you're storing bath toys, rubber ducks, sponges, or something else, a colander will allow them to drain without sitting in water. A cheap plastic one would be great for this. I bet you could even find one at the dollar store.
- Make a lamp. File this in the "I would never, ever have thought of that" column. I have seen these light fixtures all over Pinterest, and thought they're really cool. (I was totally out of food uses, so I added this one for the wow factor.)
This post is one of many on getting more use out of kitchen tools you already have. Have you seen the rest of the series?
I've also compiled dozens of similar lists into a beautiful ebook called Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters: Creative Ways to Use Just About Everything. Take a look at that while you're here!