10 Uses for a Colander
Kitchen stainless steel colander
Everyone uses their colander, right? I've never heard anyone complain about having to keep a colander around and never using it.
What do you use it for?
To drain pasta?
If you're restricting your colander 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 your colander is plastic, you will definitely want to keep it away from the heat of the stove.
Whether your colander 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 and pour hot stuff through it at the same time.
Try some of these ideas to get more use from your colander:
Wash stuff. Fruit, vegetables, silverware, whatever. You can throw it in the colander and rinse with water.
Drain canned foods. We don't use canned veggies, but we do use canned beans 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 the colander a shake or two, and rinse (if desired). If you need the juice – think canned fruit – set a small colander in a slightly larger bowl and pour the can in. Again, shake the colander to move the food around and drain any extra juice. Use the broth and food 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. They won't get moldy, so they'll 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 colander will allow the water vapor and heat to escape, but it will contain most of the fat spray.
Steam vegetables. In a pinch, a metal colander can substitute for a steamer basket. Simply set it in a slightly larger pan with water in the bottom. 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 the colander over and set it on top. (This is more important 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.)
Strain yogurt or soft cheese. Line the colander with cheesecloth, set it over a bowl, and fill it with yogurt or soft cheese. 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 colander 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. Eleanor from Stylish Crafts made cheap plastic colanders into lights for her patio, and they are really cool. (I was totally out of food uses, so I added this one for the wow factor.)