True confessions of a colander girl

August 4, 2010

How many colanders is too many? I think I’m starting to develop a problem.

When I think of the scant array of battered utensils my mother used to prepare  decades’ worth of  three meals a day for a family of seven, I am rather ashamed of my kitchenware excess. But I do love a simple, well-made and cheaply produced invention – and you can’t go past a colander for that thrill of pure practicality.

At last count – excluding two tea-strainers and one of those wide flat spatter-reducing-things  – I have four holey rollers that could be variously described as colanders or sieves:

  • the Big Bertha conical colander thing bequeathed to us by a former cafe-owning friend, which is excellent for draining gargantuan quantities of pasta, but that’s about it;
  • a large, traditionally shaped stainless steel colander with feet pictured at the rear of this photo – again, good for pasta or large vegetables, but its holes are too large for rice or smaller grains and not plentiful enough for really fast draining;
  • a medium-sized, open-meshed sieve with a wooden handle (no burns!) and hooks for sitting over pot edges;
  • and a 12cm diameter, fine-meshed sieve that’s very useful for draining small quantities of anything and for scooping bobbing things from pots.

Along with tongs, I find a good sieve among the most useful tools of the kitchen. Not a day goes by without my using either one of these colanders, or the large flat spoon with holes also in the picture (why don’t I know the proper names of these things?).  If I had to choose one, I’d go with the medium-sized, wooden handled baby that can be used for anything from noodles to couscous to rice to quinoa to lentils.

Then there’s the whole slotted-spoon arena …. what about you? Do you sieve, or no? And if you were to choose just one holey mother of utensils, which would it be?


  1. Is that all? Pffft!

  2. I’m with Jamie. You’re way off having a problem. They’re all quite different and all quite necessary. In fact I’d like to add a fab little thing I bought a while ago at an Asian supermarket in Ashfield – it’s a very fine meshed (like chiffon, but metal) shallow scoop which clears the scum off simmering stock and the solidified fat the next day in a trice. It cost about $1.80.

  3. I have one colander, and I force it into all sorts of tasks for which it is not really appropriate, but it is undoubtedly one of the most constantly used kitchen aids in the arsenal.

    If I had to choose ONE (shudder) utensil? Probably a wooden spoon. No, make that a knife. At a pinch I can stir with a knife, and peel, and strain, and even mash, not to mention chop, dice and slice. Yep. The humble knife wins my desert island award.

  4. Charlotte, I thought of you while shopping on Sunday, although I probably shouldn’t tell you why, given your overload of gadgets and equipment. This harks back to an old, old posting of yours…. oh, what the hell, if you insist…

    In David Jones kitchenware department, they have ‘onion choppers’. Here’s how they work: you put the whole peeled onion on top of the dicing grid of sharp blades, press down with a wide lever thingy which completely and safely covers the onion, and all the chopped onion passes through the grid of blades and collects in a plastic tray underneath. Probably a bugger to clean, so don’t even consider one.

    Meanwhile, back on topic – you don’t have too many colanders. You have a normal number of colanders. I have to tell you this because I have more than you, and I am desperately hoping that I am still normal, although I do have my suspicions.

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