Do You Use a Chinois?


I got mine long time ago, and l live in France. Maybe something like this?



Currently I use a muslin jelly strainer, which works pretty well. And I have a chinois. . A giant ball strainer would be an improvement. But two medium ball strainers would not.

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For my 2 Staub cast irons pots (6.2 round and 5.7 qt oval) , the 5.5" ball strainer reaches the height of the both pots if you still want to close the lid.



That’s a good point. I just measured, and I’m limited to the 5.5" size, too. Hmmm! I’ll see if I stumble across a cheap one at a restaurant supply store.


(Bonnie Zepeda) #26

Yes i often use chinois for soups and custards. Its a very important kitchen tool for me.



I’ve been making gazpacho, and noticed one recipe says fine mesh strainer, another says medium, and another says “push through a chinois”. So I’m thinking to push through is to go beyond straining; your actually making particles smaller; is that right?

I actually strained the latest batch through a medium strainer, didn’t think it was quite right, then strained through a fine mesh strainer, but “pushed it through”.


(equal opportunity eater in the NC Triangle) #28

A strainer removes particles which are larger than the strainers’ mesh/hole size. If you are pushing the strained material through then you are basically pulverizing the material. I see these as two different processes - not as though " to push through is to go beyond straining".

Using a strainer as a strainer will result in a clearer liquid - especially in the case of stocks. Using progressively smaller sized mesh strainers will result in a very smooth, silky consistency of cooked vegetables, pulses, etc. Maybe these details matter, maybe not - depends on the cook and the end result desired.

Pushing material through a strainer can create damage. If the mesh is quite fine it might rip. Mesh material may distort or pull out of its attachments. The finer the mesh the more difficult it can be to clean the residue of what was forced through.

If you want to pulverize the soft material AND remove the hard bits (seeds, bone bits) then a Foley or food mill works great. If there are no seeds or other very hard bits and the material is low starch then an immersion blender does a great job.

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I am not sure I understand this, and it comes closest to what I was attempting with the gazpacho. You mean progressively smaller but no pushing? Why is this different from just starting with the smallest size?


(equal opportunity eater in the NC Triangle) #30

Yes, no pushing.

Beginning with a large hole size will allow everything but the biggest bits to easily flow through with out creating clogging. Each successive reduction in hole size will do the same with the material that is left. If you began with the smallest hole size right off the bat it would (a) keep getting clogged, (b) take a longer time and ( c ) result in more waste and less end product.

But the multiple sieve process is really more of a professional thing for higher end/exacting processes. If thats your goal thats great. If you are just aiming to maximize your materials, have it be reasonably smooth and not invest tons of time and cleanup in the whole thing then it’s fine to streamline. Gordon Ramsay would probably ream you out but your dinner companions won’t blink an eye as long as it tastes good! Too me, its nice to know the “rules” and the reasons why. Then I can gauge each situation and decide what works for me in that particular situation.

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I see! Thanks.

Back to the chinois. Is the chinois designed to push things through, rather than strain?


(equal opportunity eater in the NC Triangle) #32

First off, I need to clarify. I grew up referring to sieves as strainers. So where I have written strainer it should have said sieve.

Sieves come in various shapes and I see them most frequently having a bowl-shaped base.

Chinois are conical so you can use a wooden pestle to push particles through. Chinois, in my experience, are built stronger than most sieves. The mesh might be double layered. Or there may be solid metal panels alternating with mesh panels.

We are at the point where so many people write about food and cooking. Their backgrounds are so varied. Which has caused much blurring of the meaning of terms that used to be clearly defined. I’m not professionally trained so I may have absorbed misinformation. But based on reading and the way my cooking professional friends referred/used the items I’ve come to understand them in this way.

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(Andrea) #33

Pushing food through a chinoise or strainer is breaking the cell walls and getting every last bit of juice out. Unless you’re making clarified tomato water, go ahead and get as much out of your produce as you can. What’s left should be fairly dry seeds and bits of skins and stems.

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(DeMarko) #34

I think meatn3 and Babette pretty well covered the functions of a chinois. For me I use them mainly for deseeding berries and also pushing tomatoes through to get seeds and skins off. In both cases I get as much pulp out as possible; when they start to get broken down I start using the pestle in a circular way, which is way efficient for getting all the pulp and liquids out. Have to dump the contents of the chinois regularly, and what is thrown away is just mainly seeds and tomato skins. Usually when I strain stocks or other things I will just use a sieve, sometimes lined with cheesecloth. The chinois live on the top shelf in the garage, so typically just get them down for canning season.



Thanks all!

I’m only ruminating about this because I’ve been making a lot of gazpacho, and am increasingly aware of how much difference putting it through a strainer makes.

I assume it is mostly about mouth feel. This got me to wondering about the size of the holes in the strainer, and how “pushing it through” might effect the final product.

Then I remembered this thread, and while I don’t have a chinois, what I know about it makes me think its designed for pushing things through, rather than just straining. I never really thought much about the difference between straining and pushing, except I know when I want a clear jelly, I use a jelly bag, and I don’t squeeze.

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(equal opportunity eater in the NC Triangle) #36

The jelly bag is acting as an extremely fine mesh! This is the perfect illustration of the benefit of a sieve. :slightly_smiling_face:

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(Paula Foltz) #37

I have an old Chinois. It came with a cloth bag that matched the shape of the chinois. I need to find a new bag, tired of sewing the blowouts! Does anyone know where I might find one?


(DeMarko) #38

Welcome to HO Paula!

Do you know the type of fabric the bag is made from? I use 2 different sizes of chinois, so depending on the berries I’m using and what I want to make, I will line one with cheesecloth if needed.

Or you might look for one online. Hope this helps.


(Gwenn) #39

Hi Paula - welcome to HO! Hope you enjoy it here!


(equal opportunity eater in the NC Triangle) #40

Fantes is a great store and carries many harder to find items. They have several options:

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(DeMarko) #41

I’ve never heard of them, but will have to check them out. Thanks meatn3!

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