Kitchen Tip: Why I use 3 Strainers at the same time

We’ve all had the same experience – some form of liquid (like a just-cooked stock) into a strainer and the first bit works like a charm before getting bogged down by ‘little bits’ of stuff which clog the strainer.  It’s frustrating.

My solution?  I use 3 strainers in succession:

  1. My first ‘straining’ uses a spaghetti Colander.  It’s big enough to hold a lot of ‘stuff’ and sturdy enough that you can press down on that stuff to release all the goodness locked inside.  Most of the liquid pours right through.
  2. The next level of straining is a medium-fine sieve.  It captures larger items but generally doesn’t clog as easily as something fine – and, when it does, it’s easy to do a quick sweep of a spoon to re-open the mesh and let the finer sediment strain through.  Mine is slightly larger than a rice strainer.
  3. The final stage is a fine sieve (almost like you’d use for tea or straining yogurt but not quite as tight).  Although it can clog up, the removal of larger sediment in stage 2 really helps avoid clogging.

I’ve learned that if stage 3 continues to clog, you can repeat stage 2 and remove items multiple times with minimal clogging.

I always pour stage 3 from a spoon after reading a tip by Chef Thomas Keller.  Dumping it from the bowl can cause such force that the sentiment is pushed through the sieve (or clogs it) compared to spooning a ladle at a time into the sieve.

What are your tricks for straining?

Thanks to Joel S for inspiring this post through twitter. Kitchen Tip: Why I use 3 Strainers at the same time January


  1. [...] Strain the liquid from the solids.  You can do this overnight with a fine sieve (or cheesecloth) but I speed things up with my multiple sieve approach. [...]

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