Whether you’re cooking or baking, straining is an inevitable part of most culinary adventures. Even though it is essential, it can get confusing to choose the most suitable straining solution, especially when you have plenty of options available in your kitchen, like a cheesecloth or a chinois.
Are you wondering what the difference between cheesecloth and chinois is and how to pick the right one? Keep reading our extensive guide on cheesecloth vs. chinois to get all the answers.
What Is A Cheesecloth?
Cheesecloth is a mesh-like cotton cloth used to make hung curds, yogurts, and cheeses. The cloth’s loose, open weave structure permits liquid drainage while keeping solids in. They have been an essential part of the cheesemaking process because they separate the solid cheese curd from the watery whey. Yum 😉
Not only does a cheesecloth help with various recipes, but you can also wash and reuse it, all of which make it a great choice. Cheesecloth can also work as a filter, a cover for roasting, and as a pouch for herbs and seasonings.
When shopping around for Cheesecloth, they can be categorized into classes depending on the number of strands or threads per inch, which then, in turn of course, relate to how easily liquids would strain. You will see them denoted as Grade #10 – #100. The higher the number, the finer the thread per inch.
What Are The Uses Of Cheesecloth?
Cheesecloth can help with various functions and create several types of cheese. Its highly breathable texture and construction of woven fabric make it a multipurpose tool to have on hand. We’ve put together a list of the many uses of cheesecloth in the kitchen:
- Straining or squeezing out water
- To capture solid particles
- To thicken yogurt
- To bundle herbs and spices
- Tofu and ghee preparation
- To wrap citrus fruits
- To dust baked items
What Are The Substitutes For Cheesecloth?
Various materials can qualify as substitutes if you don’t have access to a cheesecloth or want to look at other options. The cheesecloth substitute should be light and capable of separating solids from fluids. Consider the following alternatives:
Cotton is among the most widely available fabrics on the planet. Even though it isn’t woven like cheesecloth and doesn’t come in different grades, the light and breathable texture make it a good substitute in a pinch.
Muslin is a cotton fabric and is pretty lightweight. It is often used in garments and the kitchen. This is not as durable as cotton, but it is lighter.
Coffee filters are among the most popular cheesecloth alternatives, and you can find them in almost every kitchen. The primary distinction is that this filter consists of paper, whereas cheesecloth is usually cotton. Coffee filters, as a result, are usually more environment-friendly than cheesecloth.
Medical gauze is a thin and less durable alternative to cheesecloth. However, they are composed of similar elements. Therefore, you can easily use medical gauze as a replacement if numerous layers are used and you just happen to have medical gauze lying around.
Paper towels, like coffee filters, are much more likely to break than cheesecloth. On the other hand, paper towels are ideal for straining light meals or covering your food with a permeable material. I would just be careful as some paper towels include adhesive chemicals that ideal you probably don’t want infusing with your food.
What Is A Chinois?
A chinois is a metal strainer that is in the form of a cone with an extremely fine mesh. It is sometimes referred to as a china cap and is a strainer used to filter stocks, soups, sauces, and other things that demand a silky consistency.
Professional cooks use chinois sieves as an everyday tool. Chinois is a traditional French cooking utensil and is better at removing seeds and other solid matter from recipes, resulting in a flawless finish.
If you are curious about what’s the difference between a chinois and a strainer, it’s pretty simple. The strainer is round-shaped and ideal for straining flour or pasta. A chinois is conical with a finer mesh, and you can use it even to strain stocks, sauces, purees, etc.
What Are The Uses Of Chinois?
The conical chinois is better for filtering or extracting liquids from stocks, sauces, as well as meats, vegetables, or fruits. You can utilize a chinois in a variety of ways, including:
- To strain out the bones and vegetable fragments to make your stock clear and free of any fiber.
- Filter small particles from gravies, leaving a velvety, thick finishing sauce. Use this to impress your family next Thanksgiving!
- To produce a similar consistency, you can use it to remove the peel, seeds, and fiber from pureed fruit and jams.
- After blending soups and sauces into a puree, you can use it to remove even the tiniest fibrous particles.
- To remove any eggy pieces that might impair the generally smooth texture of custard bases before chilling or freezing them.
While we’re on the topic of Cheese — People are reading: Do You Cover Lasagna While Baking?
What Are The Substitutes For Chinois?
There are a handful of substitutes available for a chinois; here are some of our favorites:
Here we come full circle. A cheesecloth can suffice as long as you require anything that is conveniently accessible. You will need to have at least two or three layers of cheesecloth for this task to compare to a chinois. Additionally, you won’t be able to reuse it like a chinois.
These are not special strainers; however, if you can’t find the chinois sieve, standard mesh strainers will suffice. This is because even the chinois sieve has a tiny mesh. Mesh strainers are also widely accessible at the grocery store.
Paper Coffee Filter
Standard mesh strainers don’t provide very precise straining. Mesh strainers and chinois sieves generally produce comparable straining results. If you require a superior straining result, however, you should try using a paper coffee filter.
Remember that while paper coffee filters may provide finer strain, the process will be much slower.
Layering is essential for everything that requires better straining. If you can’t find your chinois sieve, you may start with the sackcloth. You’ll need multiple pairs of sackcloth for straining yogurt if you’re using it.
Colanders are excellent accessories to filter out vegetables, fruits, and larger legumes or beans. This is due to the pot’s varied areas and the stability provided by the stand. If you are looking for a super fine strain, a colander may not be a realistic alternative unless it is a finer colander.
Cheesecloth vs Chinois – A Detailed Comparison Guide
Both cheesecloth and chinois are beneficial tools in the kitchen. You can use them interchangeably if needed, but they differ in functions for the refined chef. To understand the difference more precisely, refer to the table below:
|Design and Material||Mesh-like cotton cloth. The degree of straining depends on the number of threads or the woven texture.||It is in the form of a conical metal strainer and comes with an extremely fine mesh.|
|Uses||You can use it as a strainer, a cover, and even a pouch to store things like seasonings and herbs. Cheesecloth is a versatile item.||Chinois serves the sole purpose of straining out fine solid matters.|
|Results||Cheesecloth can strain out liquid quite well. But compared to chinois, it is not as efficient. To achieve similar results as a chinois, one needs to use layers of cheesecloth.||Due to its fine mesh, it can separate the smallest bit of solids, leaving a clear and filtered liquid.|
|Cleaning||Cleaning cheesecloth is an annoying task.||Cleaning chinois is quick and easy.|
|Usability||One cannot reuse cheesecloth again and again.||Chinois is reusable.|
Our Final Thoughts
When it comes down to Cheesecloth vs chinois, they are quite a bit different in terms of their design and utility. Understanding this distinction can help you choose the perfect tool for your kitchen, depending on your requirements.
If you want to filter the liquids more finely and remove all the solid parts, go for the chinois. But, if you just want to strain things and have more versatile requirements like covering or storing food, you can use a cheesecloth.
Now that you’re clear about what precisely they are, it’s time to start using them the right way in your culinary adventures!
Ian Hoyt is a co-founder of Morsel – a family recipe cookbook software. When he isn’t working on building the best recipe app for your family Ian can be found hiking in the mountains of North Carolina, flying airplanes, or of course in the kitchen perfecting his beloved scone recipe.