Baking is as much of a science as it is a culinary art. Sometimes you can toss the ingredients listed on the box in a bowl, stir them altogether and end up with, at the very least, something edible. But then there are recipes that call for what seems like unnecessary steps, such as sifting flour, which requires you to have an actual sifter. It sounds tedious (not to mention a potential waste of drawer space), but while you could technically sift flour with a fork or wire whisk, these are the tools our grandmothers swear by — and have you tasted grandma’s cake? There’s just no comparison.
So what actually is a sifter, and what does it do? Sifters are in the same family as strainers, only instead of handling liquids, sifters thin out, aerate and remove clumps from dry ingredients such as flour, baking soda and cocoa powder. The act of sifting breaks apart any chunks and makes the powder thinner, lighter and easier to combine with other ingredients. It can also help you measure more accurately, as some recipes do specifically call for sifted flour, like angel food and sponge cakes.
Though they all serve the same purpose, there are a few different kinds of sifters to, well, sift through before you find the right one for your kitchen. From stainless steel cups to mesh pans, these are the best sifters to add to your culinary tool kit.
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1. Epica Products Bellemain Stainless Steel Sifter
This Bellemain Stainless Steel Sifter from Epica Products is exactly what we envision when we think of the traditional tools our mothers and grandmothers used in their kitchens. Though marketed as “lightweight,” this handy product is mighty strong and durable. It can hold up to three full cups worth of any powdered ingredient, and measurements are conveniently stamped into the hardware. Plus, most bakers prefer crank sifters as they work on coarse powders like almond meal and oat bran. And compared to to squeeze sifters, hand sifters are much easier on your hands.
2. Cuisinart Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers
Whether your specialty is pastries or pasta, strainers and sifters always seem to come in handy in the kitchen. However, sifters are made specifically for dry ingredients, while strainers are typically associated with wet ingredients. Cuisinart’s Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers caters to both of these culinary needs. The set of three includes one 3 1/8-inch, one 5 1/2-inch and one 7 7/8-inch size strainer, all of which are made of stainless steel and are dishwasher safe. Use them interchangeably for sifting flour, draining pasta and rinsing fruit.
3. Norpro Stainless Steel Rotary Hand Crank Sifter
Norpro would like you to know that if you’re looking for a replica of your grandmother’s staple sifter, this is it. The three-cup stainless-steel appliance is as old-fashioned as it gets. With volume markers on the inside and outside the cup, plus an easy-to-understand design, the baking tool is simple to use and efficient as its two-wire agitator guarantees there will be no wasted flour in your kitchen.
4. Natizo Stainless Steel Flour Sifter
For anyone who can’t stand a messy kitchen, Natizo’s Stainless Steel Flour Sifter has you — and your appliance — covered. Natizo’s hand sifter takes things one step further by adding a lid and bottom cover to its version for not only extra storage if need be, but to prevent flour from flying around your kitchen countertops and walls when in use. The bottom cover also keeps your pantry shelves clean from leftover residue.
5. OXO Good Grips Baker’s Dusting Wand
When you think of a traditional sifter, clanky metal cups probably come to mind. OXO’s sifter is a miniature tool that’s perfect for tackling smaller tasks, like sprinkling flour into baking dishes or over a surface for rolling dough. It also comes in handy when you want to add spices into recipes: Just add the spice into the top of the wand, and the perforated head will prevent clumps, dumps and mess.
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