Plastic Colander vs. Metal Colander | Material Comparison Guide

Plastic Colander vs. Metal Colander

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There are many types of colanders on the market. You’ll need to know which colanders will best serve your needs.  The first colander consideration is the material. Plastic is the most common material for colanders because it's the most affordable. Metal colanders are an available option and they're more expensive than plastic.

Other colander materials are silicone and glass. These type of colanders have unique features that set them apart from plastic and metal ones. Glass colanders are transparent and make it see through. And silicone colanders are more rubber than plastic. The most common types of colanders in the kitchen are plastic and metal colanders.

What material options are available for a colander?

Colander materials are available in the following options:

  • Plastic Colander
  • Metal Colander
  • Silicone Colander
  • Glass Colander

Since the material is the only part of the colander that touches your food, choosing the right material is important.

What are the different ways to use a colander?

There are different use cases of a colander such as straining cooked food, rinsing vegetables and fruits, placing a lid over it to keep food submerged, and using a colander as a strainer.

The following are 4 uses of a colander in more detail:

  • Strain cooked food with a colander – If you like to make pasta or rice dishes, the colander comes in handy when it's time to strain your food. Colanders can handle hot liquids without melting.
  • Rinse vegetables and fruits with a colander – Most people use their colanders for washing fresh produce because it's natural to think that fruit and vegetables should be washed before being eaten. You can also rinse beans, rice, or pasta in a colander.
  • Place a lid over the top of a strainer to keep food submerged in water – This is a common way to marinate food.
  • Use a colander as a strainer for soups – The perforated bottom of the colanders can be used with or without a lid. 

Do plastic and metal colanders come in similar sizes?

Yes, plastic and metal colanders come in similar sizes. Colander sizes are based on the number of quarts they hold.

  • 1 Quart Colander – Medium size will hold 4 cups of food
  • 2 Quart Colander – Large size will hold 8 cups of food
  • 3 Quart Colander – Extra Large size will hold 12 cups of food
  • 4 Quart Colander – Extra Large & Sturdy will hold 16 cups of food

What dishes can I prepare with a plastic colander?

Example dishes that can be prepared with a plastic colander are listed below:

  • Cold Pasta
  • Salads
  • Rice
  • Wheat Cereal
  • Beans

A plastic colander is better to use for foods that are wont reach extremely high temperatures that might melt the plastic such as the food examples above.

Plastic Colander

What dishes can I prepare with a metal colander?

Dish examples that can be prepared with a metal colander are listed below:

  • Hot pasta
  • Curries
  • Soup
  • Potatoes
  • Roasted Vegetables

A metal colander is better for foods that are hot and need to be drained quickly such as the food examples listed above.

What determines the best colander material? 

The best colander material is determined by what you would like to use your colander for.

If you want to strain hot liquids, metal colanders are ideal since they can handle higher temperatures. If you would like to use it for cold dishes, plastic colanders are ideal because they don't rust or react with acidic foods.

If you plan on cooking mainly Indian food, it's best to get a stainless steel colander that won't rust or corrode. If you cook Mexican food, metal colanders are the best because they won't melt from hot liquids and can resist high temperatures.

Are plastic colanders safe?

Yes, plastic colanders are safe. Plastic is made from polymers or long chains of molecules that repeat in the same pattern. As long as these polymers or long chain molecules that make up the plastic colander do not get exposed to temperatures hot enough to melt plastic, the plastic colander will be a safe choice. Specifically, common plastic colanders are safe to use in temperatures below 100 Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit. 

Plastic is not porous which also causes food particles to slip off easily. This feature helps plastic colanders from developing any mold or bacteria issues. Also plastic colanders are microwave safe, making them perfect for reheating food in the microwave.

Are metal colanders safe?

Yes, metal colanders are safe. Metal is a good conductor of heat which makes it great for cooking. Metal has a low thermal conductivity, making it perfect for suspending foods above water to steam them. However, metal is not inert and can corrode or rust with extended use in damp or acidic conditions. When compared to plastic colanders, metal colanders are more durable, will last longer, and  will not melt as easily as plastic. 

What is the average price for a plastic colander?

The average price of a plastic colander starts from $5 and goes up to $20 based on the brand. Compared to metal colanders, plastic colanders are more affordable.

What is the average price for a metal colander? 

The average price of a plastic colander starts from $10 and goes up to $100 based on the brand. Compared to plastic colanders, metal colanders are more expensive but they also last longer.

What is the lifespan of different colander materials? 

Metal colanders typically last for 5 – 10 years while plastic colanders typically last for 2 – 4 years.

Plastic colanders do not last as long as metal colanders because the polymers and chemical bonds holding plastic together are not as strong and durable as those of metal.  Moreover, prolonged sunlight can cause plastics to degrade and break down. Sunlight or UV ray exposure causes chemical bonds to weaken or break at a molecule level. 

How does colander material affect cooking? 

The colander material affects cooking because it affects how the colander functions. For example, metal colanders are good for cooking but they can corrode or rust with extended use.

Plastic colanders are not as good at holding onto heat compared to metal colanders, making it harder to prepare food as effectively.

What effect does colander material have on taste? 

The final taste of the food can be affected by the colander material. Since metal is a good conductor of heat, a metal colander heats up easily and allows the flavors to infuse very fast with other ingredients. This quick heating cooks food faster so less time is spent preparing food.

On the other hand, when using a plastic colander, the final taste of food tends to be less rich and can be felt as a loss of flavor if you are used to a metal colander. Plastics are also porous, causing the food particles to cling together and segregate.

Is it better to use metal or plastic in the kitchen?

The type of materials used in your kitchen, metal or plastic, defines the usability of your kitchen tools. Utensile usability is directly linked to how many utensils you have and what type they are.

Some materials might not be suitable for all types of cooking. For example, plastic colanders are perfect if you're making pasta but cannot handle curries as well. Metal colanders are great for curries and can also handle pasta. A metal drain colander is better than a plastic drain colander because metal is more durable with greater longevity. 

If price is not a concern, then purchasing metal for your kitchen might prove to be more beneficial. Metal kitchen tools are often more durable with greater longevity and less likely to melt or decompose into your food as compared to plastic kitchen tools or kitchen utensils. 

Metal Colander

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