How to use Colander | Helpful Colander Instructions & Directions

Using a colander

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Using a colander involves the following steps – cooking food until it's soft by absorbing the water, placing the colander in the kitchen sink, using the ladle to reserve food water for cooking, pouring the food along with the remaining food water into the colander, placing the drained food back to the point and finally preparing the food for serving.

When it comes to the uses of a colander, people often think about the traditional use. There is a common misconception that colanders are just used for draining food and fluid, but there is so much more to this seemingly simple kitchen gadget. A colander can be used as a diffuser, stream, and even a planter. 

The process of using a colander involves cooking the food until its soft by absorbing the water, next placing the air fryer in your kitchen sink, then using a ladle to reserve some of the pasta water for your sauce, followed by pouring the pasta and remaining pasta water into the air fryer, and finally transfering the drained pasta back to the pot and add your sauce.

Here are the steps to use a colander.

1. Cook food until it’s soft by absorbing the water

To use a colander, heat it until the temperature is at least 75 degrees celsius. Use a thermometer to check the exact temperature of the food. To make the food absorb the water, the food must become slightly soft.

If the food being cooked is pasta, cook until the temperature is 80 degrees celsius and wait no more than 20 minutes before putting it in the colander. 

If cooking vegetables, ensure that the temperature is at least 75 degrees before switching off your stove. You should not let your vegetables sit in your pot for more than 15 minutes before moving to the next step.

If you overcook your food, the nutritional value will decrease. As a result, the person eating will lose out on the positive benefits of the food.

The following are nutritional items that will decrease the longer food is left cooking:

  • minerals: primarily potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium
  • water-soluble vitamins: vitamin C and the B vitamins — thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12)
  • fat-soluble vitamins: vitamins A, D, E, and K

2. Place the colander into the kitchen sink

Putting the colander into the sink is the next step when using a colander. Place the colander into the sink, ensuring that its base is at least 4 inches from the edge of the sink.

This will ensure that the colander does not fall into the sink when you use it.

3. Use the ladle to reserve food water for cooking

Reserving food water for cooking using a ladle means that your food (such as pasta) will become saucy and full of flavor after cooking with the reserved water.

Failure to keep food water for cooking will result in the food being dry and tasteless after it has been cooked. After this stage, you will pour the food and food water into the colander. Ensure that your colander is still in its place in the sink before proceeding. This is necessary when using a colander because the process becomes difficult if you have to walk back and forth between the stove and the sink.

4. Pour the food along with remaining food water into the colander

The size of the colander will determine how much water you should reserve. If your colander is large enough, you can pour all the food and leftover food water into it. 

However, if your colander is small, you will need to pour half of the food into the colander, empty it, and then pour the rest. Pouring the reserved water is used to give the food a nice flavor.

5. Place the drained food back to the pot

By placing the drained food back into the pot, you are avoiding dirtying additional kitchen utensils since you won’t need to use extra bowls or plates to mix the food.  Precautions to take at this stage are making sure that your pot is still correctly placed on the stove before placing the food back into it.

colander uses guide

6. Prepare the food for serving

Serving the food requires you to take the food out of the pot and onto your dining table.

Be careful when removing the colander from over the pot as it is now full of hot food. The hot food may drip and cause a mess if you are not careful.

Also, ensure that the pot is on a hot plate or burner to keep your food hot. You should also have tongs or pinchers ready so that you can hold the pot without burning yourself.

Remember to set your table in advance to serve your food in an orderly fashion.

What should I know before using a colander?

A colander is a bowl-shaped kitchen utensil used to drain food such as pasta, rice, and vegetables. It is made of plastic, metal, or fine mesh and has holes in the bottom.

The main advantages of using it as a kitchen tool for cooking are the following:

  • The weight of the colander is light which makes it easy to store and use.
  • A colander is more hygienic than pots because it has holes on the bottom which allow water to drain away.
  • A colander is versatile as it can be used to wash fruits and vegetables, drain canned food, and other kitchen utensils.
  • A colander is relatively cheap so it should not hurt your budget when buying it.

Close variations of a colander in the kitchen are sieves, strainers, and skimmers. A sieve is a kitchen utensil made of metal or plastic mesh used for separating food from liquids. It has a larger surface area than a colander but it cannot contain the food as well as a colander does.

A strainer is similar to a sieve but it is also used as a kitchen utensil to remove solid particles from food. It is made of metal or plastic and has a finer mesh than the sieve.

A skimmer is a wide and shallow kitchen utensil with holes on the bottom which allows liquids to drain out while keeping solids inside.

Based on the food being cooked, the type of colander to use is determined. For vegetables, you will need a colander with larger holes while for pasta, you should use a fine mesh colander or strainer.

Also, determining the size of a colander needed will depend on the cooking process. It’s always best to use a colander that is slightly larger than your pot or container so that you can easily put food in it without spilling the contents.

Understanding what is a colander means that you’ll know when a colander is outdated and needs to be changed. If water is not easily draining, it might be time to change the colander as the holes have been blocked.

If food keeps spilling from a colander, check for broken or bent pieces which might be causing the problem. Checking these parts as well as cleaning your colander regularly will help prevent problems in using it effectively.

The above problem usually starts showing after 3-4 years of using a colander and at that stage, it might be time for a new colander.

What are the stages of using a colander?

There are two main stages of using a colander. The first stage happens after the cooking process where you will use a colander to drain your food.

The second stage is optional and in this stage, you can use a colander to mix your food with any sauce (such as tomato sauce).

Do the colander types affect the usage stages?

Yes, the type of colander affects its usage style. A metal colander can be used to cook pasta and to drain food as well as mix foods with different sauces. A plastic colander can be used for draining purposes only because it cannot withstand higher temperatures.

The best colanders are able to do everything you’d expect from a kitchen utensil that is used frequently for preparing food.

Is using a colander for pasta better than using a strainer?

No, it is not better to use a colander for pasta rather than a strainer. When it comes to a colander vs strainer, they both serve the same purpose although they might look different because of their appearance.

However, if you are using a larger pot (when cooking more food), then you will need to use a colander to drain all of your pasta in it after cooking it.

Can you clean the colander in the dishwasher?

No, you cannot clean a colander in the dishwasher. After repeated washes, the material of the colander will start to wear out. A colander is an important part of the kitchen toolset and it is recommended to hand wash it to keep its material strong.

Is using a colander for vegetables better than using a sieve?

Yes, using a colander for vegetables is better than using a sieve. However, some people prefer using a sieve because of its finer mesh which might be more suitable for some vegetables such as carrots.

Using the right type of colander while cooking different types of food will help you save time, maintain your healthy lifestyle, and save money in the long run. 

Is a metal colander better than a plastic colander for draining the excess water of pasta?

A metal colander is usually a better choice for draining the excess water of pasta as it can easily drain every last drop. A plastic colander will require a bit more effort to do this task and you might have to use a spoon or fork to break down any remaining chunks of food after draining the water from your pasta.

Understanding the difference between a plastic colander vs metal colander is key to choosing the right material for your colander.

How to use a colander for other uses besides draining?

Besides draining, you can use a colander used in various other ways such as mixing your food with other foods. For example, you can mix the pasta with different sauces inside the colander.

You can also use a colander as a steamer if you do not want to spend extra money on buying a streamer. In addition, you can use a colander as a strainer for sifting away any unwanted debris from certain foods.

If you’d like to learn more about colanders, check out our article on the uses of colanders for more information

How to use a colander as a diffuser?

Using a colander as a diffuser is a great way to use your colander for different purposes. To use a colander as a diffuser follow these steps:

  1. Ensure the colander is clean
  2. Put the colander over your hair
  3. Grab a hairdryer
  4. Switch on the hairdryer
  5. Gently move the hairdryer over the different sides of the colander until the desired hair curl effect has been achieved

How to use a colander as a steamer?

To use a colander as a streamer, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure the colander is clean
  2. Fill a pot with water and set it to boil over high heat
  3. Put the colander on top of the pot and ensure it is stable and steady so that no steam will escape
  4. Switch off the heat once all of your food has been steamed

How to use a colander as a planter?

Use a colander as a planter as follows:

  1. Ensure the colander is clean
  2. Fill it with soil to a desired depth and level
  3. Place your seeds inside the colander
  4. Water as needed
  5. Ensure your plants in the colander are receiving enough sunlight and water

Different uses of colander


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