Ever heard of a pasta strainer or kitchen sieve? If you cook I’m guessing you have one in your house. A pasta strainer and kitchen sieve are two names for the colander.
According to Merriam-Webster a colander is a perforated utensil for washing or draining food. Colanders are almost always bowl shaped and have holes on the bottom or the bottom and sides to drain liquid without losing food. They can also be used for a variety of other things including making jellies, juices, and sauces and used for canning as well as for some crafty ideas. Colanders come in different shapes and sizes which help you determine how you are going to use it.
Colanders have been in use for thousands of years. Records have been found of a colanders use in the Middle East and Rome as well as many other places throughout history. The British Museum has a bronze colander that comes from the 1st Century, that they believe is from the Romans. One of the most famous American manufacturers of colanders is Jacob Bromwell who makes the colanders made of aluminum and has a star design for the holes. They have been making this particular colander since 1922.
Here at the High Plains Museum we have three colanders in our collection. The first is a black and white granite ware
colander found on the top left, the second is a colander from the 1930’s found on the bottom left, and the third is a colander with a pestle and stand. The third colander, on the right, was used for making applesauce and tomato sauce among other things. This particular design of colander comes from the late 1960’s or early 1970’s and the pestle was used for pounding, grinding or mashing down a food.
There are at least eight kinds of colanders; the traditional colander, over the sink colander, raised bottom colander, expandable or collapsible colander, the wok strainer colander, stainless steel colander, silicone colander and the plastic colander. To find out more about these eight types of colanders click here. There are several different materials used to produce colanders. These include aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, mesh, and silicone to name a few.
One of the fun things about colanders is that they do not just serve a purpose in the kitchen. Colanders can be used as hats, space helmets for imaginative space explorers, a lamp shade, a way to pot plants, center pieces, or a way to make wind chimes. These are just some of the possibilities for colanders, there are many more uses outside the kitchen!
Colanders are an object that have been used by almost everyone with a kitchen. Whether making pasta, boiling potatoes, or rinsing veggies we have all probably used one. Colanders have been around since the 1st Century helping people prepare food. Today their food use has not changed and with so many types of colanders out there it is easy to find one that you like. Colanders are also one object that can be re-purposed into a variety of different things.
Look for more posts in this series about our wonderful collection of Sherman County history.