A colander is indispensable for rinsing fruit and draining pasta and rice, but there are several ways to get even more use out of this simple kitchen tool.
French Fry Server
If you’re fond of making French fries or oven fries at home, a metal colander lets you enjoy them crisp and piping hot. Drain the fries in the colander, then set them in a large stainless steel bowl. The colander keeps the fries from going soggy, and the surrounding bowl keeps them warm.
Containers of delicate fruits like raspberries and blueberries can get mushy and moldy on the bottom. A better way to refrigerate them is in a colander, which allows air to circulate beneath them and prevents crushing. The same trick works for grapes, peaches, pears, strawberries, and other fruits that become bruised when stored on a flat surface.
When dining outdoors, invert a colander over a plate of food to keep insects from spoiling it. Plastic colanders work fine for this, and you might want to buy a stack of them to cover all your picnic dishes. When you’re frying food in a skillet, use a metal colander in the same way to prevent splatters.
Better Whipped Potatoes
The problem with whipped potatoes is that they are often lukewarm by the time you’ve got all the lumps out. Here’s a better method. Choose a cooking pot big enough to submerge the body of your metal colander, but make sure the colander’s handles extend beyond the rim of the pot, to keep the colander suspended in the water.
Next, choose a stainless steel bowl that fits inside the colander. Remove the colander and bowl from the pot, add water, potatoes, and salt, and boil as usual. When the potatoes are done, don’t empty the pot. Instead, dip the potatoes out of the water with a slotted spoon and place them in the stainless steel bowl. Turn the burner off under the pot. Set the colander in the pot, and then place the bowl in the colander. You may need to drain off some water first to make sure it’s a safe distance from the rim of the bowl. When everything is ready to go, whip potatoes as you ordinarily would with a hand-held mixer. The hot water surrounding the bowl will keep the potatoes hot. If you have to hold them a few minutes before serving, put a lid over them and set the burner on low.
The same method described above will work as a double boiler to melt chocolate or combine sensitive ingredients that require very low heat. The only difference is that you will work with the burner on, keeping the water at a low simmer. You may want to use a saucepan in place of a bowl, as the handle eliminates the need for a potholder.
Types of Colanders
There are different types of colanders such as stainless steel, metal, plastic, collapsible. My number one recommendation would be to get an easy cleaning colander that can go in the dishwasher.
America’s Test Kitchen’s Favorite Colander
America’s Test Kitchen recently tested a bunch of colanders and came up with a clear winner and some solid runner ups. Check out what they had to say here.