A colander is one kitchen tool that is often overlooked by many people – until you want to drain some steamed vegetables or pasta. At that point, it suddenly strikes your mind how valuable a good colander can be. Or perhaps, when you find yourself in the middle of preparing a big spaghetti meal for the whole family, when you drain the noodles, you realize how difficult it is to drain the excess liquid. Trying to drain the noodles with a cutting board
held against your cooking pot can make a mess all over your kitchen or even ruin your dinner plans.
Having said that, there are lots of options when it comes to colanders! You could go with different materials like plastic, metal, porcelain enamel, or stainless steel. Again, you can choose between over-the-sink or collapsible models. Luckily for you, we’ve covered the various materials available on the market and the best models for draining particular foods, so making a decision shouldn’t be a problem.
A good colander comes with hundreds of tiny holes – just like a water filter
– that strain your food of any liquid in it. Depending on what you need, you can use a colander in several ways. When cooking vegetables, pasta, or similar foods, you can use a colander to drain off the excess water after boiling your food. In most instances, you’ll pour the food into the colander and allow the water to drain into the kitchen sink
and leave only the food behind.
Other people use colanders to strain juices. If you’re preparing certain fruits, you may want to save the juice after separating the solid fruits. In such cases, you’ll set up the colander inside a clean bowl to collect the juice that drains through. Additionally, you can line the colander with cheesecloth to help strain your yogurt or stock.
Now, if it’s your first time shopping for a colander, you’ll be amazed by the different features and options available out there. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you out. So, read on for more insights on what to look for in a colander, and then you’ll be ready to jump straight to our top picks.
The price range for colanders varies by model, material, size, and the brand as well. Whatever model you choose, colanders are among the most affordable kitchen tools, and you won’t have to break the bank to get one. Good-quality colanders are available from as little as $13 to about $30. Although you’ll still find cheaper colanders on the market, we don’t encourage our readers to purchase such models, due to quality concerns. You don’t want a colander that will quickly gather dirt and become impossible to clean. Some options are even made from low-quality metals that quickly rust away and pose health concerns.
Apart from size, design, and aesthetics, the material the colander is made of plays in a critical role when choosing one for a particular application. Let’s look at them in more detail:
- Stainless Steel – This is the most durable and heavy-duty material, and it will last for several years to come. These colanders are great for draining dense foods like meat, pasta, and vegetables. They are useful for the most common cooking tasks, but may not help you much with smaller items like rice or quinoa, since they’re made with larger holes.
- Stainless Steel Mesh – These colanders are slightly less strong and the mesh can bend under the weight of heavy food. However, they can be great for rinsing vegetables, grains, about two cups of beans, and other light-duty applications. Such colanders are lightweight and can be easy on your arms.
- Silicone – If you have limited space in your kitchen, you can opt for these collapsible models. They are made with large holes, making them great for draining noodles, meat, and vegetables, but not for grains and tiny foods. You can also use them to blanch vegetables or as steamer baskets.
- BPA-Free Plastic – These models are not designed for long-term use and may not be appropriate for home use. There are a few exceptions, though.
- Porcelain and Steel – If you’re keen on aesthetics, some models come with porcelain enamel over a steel structure. Just be careful when using the colander, since porcelain can easily crack when subjected to bending.
Construction and Design
Colanders are designed differently, and each construction suits certain applications. We’ve already discussed how the material a colander is made of affects the kind of jobs you can do with it. Let’s now look at other design parameters that will influence your choices.
Decorative colanders use holes to bring out different decorative patterns or shapes. Chances are, these decorations can make the colander drain slowly, due to fewer holes. If you find yourself frustrated by the slow draining of your colander, it’s probably designed with fewer holes.
Another parameter is the size of holes a colander is made with. A model with a fine mesh is great for draining small foods like rice. However, cleaning the mesh can be a tedious task if the small food particles get stuck in the mesh. Colander holes come in varying sizes, from a pinhead to a pencil eraser.
A colander should have a supporting base or tiny feet that raise the bottom of the strainer off the base of your kitchen sink. This ensures that the drained water doesn’t back up and touch the food within the colander. Some models have expandable handles to support the colander against the edges of the sink and allow you to easily drain the liquid through to another bowl, especially when draining juices.
Performance and Ease of Use
Colanders are great tools for washing various kinds of foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and other small foods like rice, and for keeping them from falling through to the sink. So, you need a tool that will efficiently serve its purpose without hassle, while at the same time maintaining high levels of hygiene.
The first consideration to make is the size of the foods you’ll want to drain. For instance, if you like making large pots of pasta on a regular basis, consider larger colanders that match the size of your pot. Again, you may have more than one colander, in different sizes to handle different sizes of food, say, one for rice and another for larger foods like noodles.
In terms of storage space, if you have limited space in your kitchen cabinets, you may consider foldable models, mostly made of silicone.
The size of the holes will affect the performance of the colander. Larger holes means faster drain time, while smaller holes means you’ll have to wait a few minutes for the water to completely drain off. All in all, consider the size of the food you’re planning to drain and go for an appropriate size, without fear of your food passing through to the sink.
Finally, consider models with sturdy handles to make it easy to hold the colander over the sink. Also, look for materials that are easy to clean and dishwasher friendly. Generally, colanders with larger holes are easier to clean than models with tiny holes that trap food particles.
For the chef who runs a restaurant and that home-loving person who just loves to cook, tools that make your culinary activities convenient are a must-have. The best colanders are indispensable in the kitchen. Check out the brands and models we featured below and compare them to your list of requirements to help you choose your next favorite kitchen tool. Note that these brands have other models if the featured ones are NOT exactly what you are looking for.
All right! You have done your part by reading our reviews. We hope you have all the information you need to make a purchase. Our job is only done when we have been able to help you choose a product that fills your needs. Now, go with confidence and buy a great colander for your kitchen.