Colander vs. Strainer | Appliance Comparison Guide

Strainer vs Colander

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A colander is a kitchenware utensil shaped as a large bowl with high, open sides. The colander is used to drain liquid from cooked foods. Also it can be used as a serving utensil for dishes such as pasta. A colander can be made from multiple materials such as stainless steel or plastic.

A strainer typically has a handle and a mesh-like cage that fits over the top of a pot or pan. The cage has holes that let liquid through but trap larger food particles. The mesh holds the liquid even when it's turned upside down so you can pour it out easily without having to shake it first.

The colander and strainer are both used to drain liquids and they both separate food particles from the liquid. Many people confuse the two because they have somewhat similar functions. 

What Are The Main Differences Between A Colander And Strainer?

A strainer is taller than a colander and captures food particles in the mesh when turned upside down. Strainers are typically made of plastic so they are cheaper than colanders, but can't be used with hot liquids. The colander's mesh covers the sides so it doesn't get full of food when it's turned upside down. If you need to strain foods often, then you should use the strainer instead of a colander because it will save time and money.

A colander should be used for larger, more difficult to strain items such as pasta and rice. If you need something that will quickly handle liquids with smaller particles, then a strainer is a better option.

What are the advantages of a Colander when compared to a Strainer?

When compared to a strainer, a colander is more versatile. A colander can be used on its own, while a strainer needs to be placed on top of another utensil (like a pot). A colander has round holes at its base while a strainer usually has smaller “holes” in its mesh which are suitable for catching small particles.

The diameter of the holes is an important factor that differentiates both the colander and the strainer. While a colander has bigger holes, a strainer has smaller holes – which are not suitable for all types of food. The pros of a colander are that it can be used to drain pasta and rinse vegetables more effectively. 

Another colander advantage is that it can be used to drain hot food. A strainer can be suitable for this, but if you have a metal strainer, then it may pose a potential hazard due to the metal heating and becoming hot to hold. Learn more about the advantages of a colander here: What is a colander? (insert link to what is colander article)

What are the advantages of a Strainer when compared to a Colander?

The advantage of a strainer, when compared to a colander, is that it is generally cheaper than a colander. Another advantage of a strainer over a colander is that it can be used in conjunction with other utensils.

Another strainer advantage is that it’s more versatile because the strainer can be placed on top of a pot or bowl or inside the sink when rinsing vegetables.

When you consider a colander vs. a strainer, it’s important to consider how the item will be used and what food you'll be processing. 

Related reading: What is a strainer? (insert link to what is colander article)

Which One Is More Usable In The Kitchen Among A Colander And A Strainer?

Kitchen usability refers to the ability of the colander or strainer to be used in various kitchen settings and under various kitchen cooking circumstances. A colander can usually do everything that a strainer can do, but a strainer cannot do everything that a colander can do. 

A colander is more useful in the kitchen than a strainer because it can also be used to wash or rinse vegetables. The colander has wide sides that allow ample room to place your veggies inside and then take them out when finished rinsing. A strainer would work just fine to perform the same task, but what makes a colander special is that it has a sturdy steel ring at its base. That makes it possible to place the colander securely for easier draining.

What foods can be used with a colander?

Foods that can be used with a colander are typically products such as vegetables and fruits.

Colanders are usually made of metal, plastic, or porcelain and come in a variety of sizes which means that the type of food and the amount of liquid you're washing and draining will have an effect on which colander you will want to use.

Foods that can be used with a colander are the following:

  • Pasta Water: This is used in the process of cooking pasta; when cooking, the pasta absorbs into the water itself. When you drain pasta in a colander, you are catching all of the water released by this process so that you separate it from the food.
  • Draining boiled eggs: For boiled eggs, you’ll want to drain them after they are cooked so that the eggshells can be removed. To do this, you will need to use a colander.
  • Cleaning fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables can be difficult to clean with just your hands because of their small shapes and sizes. For example, it would be difficult to clean blueberries individually, so using a colander is an efficient way to get the job done.
  • Washing lettuce: Lettuce can be difficult to wash with just your hands because it tends to fall apart when you handle it too much. However, if you use a colander while washing it, then you will not have this issue.

Other kitchen tools might be necessary to use alongside colanders. If you plan to wash produce that has rinds, then it might be helpful to invest in such kitchen tools such as a cutting board, knives, and a peeler.

What foods can be used with a strainer?

Foods that can be used with a strainer include the following:

  • Pasta, rice, and vegetables: These foods will typically be used with a colander or strainer basket, which is often made out of metal or plastic and sits inside the top of your sink.
  • Greens: Greens like spinach and collards can be easily drained in a colander, but if you're looking to separate the greens from the watery liquid that it was washed in, you will want to use a strainer.
  • Cheese: When you're draining foods like cheese, ricotta, or yogurt that release liquid while they sit, it's important to use a strainer that can get the job done. 

As mentioned above, other kitchen tools might be necessary to use with a strainer. These other kitchen tools include the following: 

  • Grater: A grater with a fine mesh will be needed to grate foods like ginger and garlic, and is needed for making bread crumbs out of dry bread.
  • Food mill: A food mill is used to finely puree or sieve fruits or vegetables.
  • Juicer: Used for extracting juice from fruits by forcing the juice out through a strainer.
  • Sieve: A sieve is used for sifting, draining, or catching small particles from foods that are being prepared.

Strainer and Colander Comparison

Can a colander and a strainer be paired together? 

Yes, a colander and a strainer can be paired together to form what is known as a “colander strainer”. A colander-strainer has the same function as both a colander and a strainer but also features holes on the bottom of the bowl that drain liquids. Additionally, many people use their colanders for this purpose as well.

Some colanders come with perforations on the bottom — some do not. The colander material will determine if it has these holes. If you are unsure, check to see if there are drainage holes in the bottom of your colander. If there are none, this means a strainer is required drain your liquids.

What are instances where Colander and Strainer should be used together?

The instances where a colander and strainer should be used together are to strain noodles or to drain oils.

In these situations, the colander would be used to drain water from a pot of boiled noodles and a strainer would be placed over a bowl for oil after frying.

What are instances where Colander and Strainer should never be used together?

The instances where a colander and strainer should never be used together are when there is a meal being prepared that contains large chunks of food such as beef stew. If the stew were to be poured into both a colander and strainer, it would go through both pieces of equipment very easily without removing the chunks. This defeats the purpose of using either kitchen utensil in the first place.

What to consider before buying a colander or strainer?

Before buying a colander or strainer, consider the following questions:

  • Who will be using the colander? Consider if it is for a household or commercial establishment. If you are buying a commercial-grade product, consider if it will withstand regular use and high temperatures.
  • How often do you plan on using the colander? For those who cook daily, investing in a quality colander may be worth considering.
  • How many gallons capacity does the colander need to be? For those cooking big batches, consider a larger-sized colander with a higher gallon capacity.
  • Is there a space constraint? If space is limited, consider purchasing an over-the-sink or countertop model that is easily stored when not in use. Some colanders can be mounted to the wall and some models collapse for compact storage.
  • How important is the design? Colanders and strainers come in a variety of designs and colors. Some may find it aesthetically pleasing to have a choice of designs, while others might only want the functionality without worrying about looks.

What are the Best Brands for Colanders?

The 5 best colander brands are:

  • OXO 
  • Tiawundi
  • Priority Chef Store
  • LiveFresh
  • Chef Craft

What are the Best Brands for Strainers?

The 5 best strainer brands are:

  • Cuisinart 
  • Bellemain
  • Winco
  • Kitchen Gizmo

comaprison between colander and strainer

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