Tool Tip: Chinois

I inherited this chinois (sheen-WAH) from my mother but didn't know what it was called or even, truly, what to do with it.

And I'm so glad I did! It makes the smoothest of sauces and soups with very little effort. I wouldn't give up the food processor. But I'm happy this came home with me.

I see that they're still for sale, as here on Amazon though I suspect they'd be available less expensively at yard sales and even on E-Bay.

For the record, as you'll see from the comments below, whether this is a chinois or a China cap is up for debate. As of July 2006, there's a Wikpedia definition, which says that the two are often confused but that:
  • While both are conical sieves
  • The China cap is made of perforated metal (like mine) where the chinois is made of fine wire mesh
  • The chinois often has a dowel (as mine does) to push foods through the holes, like the blade of a food mill
Since mine has characteristics of each, I'm not sure what to call it! But I'll tell you this: it's one of the most useful utensils / appliances in my kitchen and I'm surprised how often I turn to it for soups and drinks, especially. If you've got access to one, grab it!

9 comments:

I wouldn't really call this a chinois. A chinois is usually really, really fine mesh screen

What would you call it? I looked at food mills, that wasn't it. The cone shape got me, I guess, and the wooden pestle.

AK

This is a "china cap" strainer. FYI. :)

my husbands (he's72) grandmother gave me hers many,many years ago.she called it a ricer.

Hi Anonymous ~ Thanks so much for writing! And how interesting, the ricer idea. I'm familiar with my own mother's ricer (the same generation as your husband), it made gorgeous fluffy mashed potatoes, among other things. I suspect that the holes in what's pictured here are much smaller than that.

Good morning,

I have the identical one shown in the picture that I got from my grandmother. She called it a ricer as well.

Lee Biggers

Good morning,

I have the identical one shown in the picture that I got from my grandmother. She called it a ricer as well.

dbygres

Actually, according to SAUCES by James Peterson (THE authority on sauces), china cap is another name for the chinois. Both being discussed here are chinois. One is a course chinois, the other a fine chinois.

My parents call it a Foley Mill.

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