Do You Need a Chinois?

Chinois strainers are commonplace in restaurant kitchens. Do they have a place in the home kitchen as well?

A chinois, a large, conical strainer with extremely fine mesh, is a tool commonly used in restaurant kitchens to strain soups, stocks, sauces, and custards and to separate the fibrous bits from fruit and vegetable purees. if you love extra-smooth pureed soups or often make big batches of things that need to be strained, a chinois’s large capacity makes it worth clearing some space in your cabinet.

Most home cooks, however, can get by with a fine-mesh strainer instead of a chinois. Fine-mesh strainers are perfectly serviceable for straining puddings, sauces, and stocks (or broths) without the larger price tag and hard-to-store size and shape. Putting a coffee filter inside your fine-mesh strainer can help produce extra-clear stocks and juices.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Chinois sieves are used in restaurants for straining everything from stocks to ice cream bases. For most home cooks, a fine-mesh strainer is more than adequate.

RESTAURANT STAPLE: Winco Reinforced Extra Fine Mesh Bouillon Strainer ($34)

BEST FOR HOME COOKS: CIA Masters Collection Fine-Mesh Strainer ($28)

This is a members' feature.