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We use these words (ok, maybe not chinois so much) interchangeably to describe something, usually metal, that holds solid ingredients while liquid passes through it. It`s a strainer, a colander, a mesh thingy, whatever. In reality, there are differences, especially when it comes to that chinois...  
A strainer is really a catchall name for any type of, well, strainer. It is usually fine mesh and bowl-shaped, good for rinsing a pint of berries or draining pasta.  
A colander is typically a larger bowl-shaped strainer, often with bigger holes (although that`s not always the case). We think of colorful plastic or metal strainers that sit on their own base rather than need to be held by a handle. Our thoughts are this: The little mesh thing we use to catch seeds while we squeeze lemons? Strainer. The footed bowl that holds up to a big dumping of pasta or five pounds of nectarines? Colander.  
And then there`s the chinois. These can get expensive, and the best ones come with a wooden pestle for mashing ingredients against the sides. They are cone-shaped, which allows for more straining surface area, and they are used mostly for making sauces, soups, and custards that need to be super smooth and silky. The holes are extremely fine, and you can use the pestle to pulverize every last drop of liquid out of the solid ingredients without mashing through any grit.  
I have absolutely found my new favorite colander: The Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-quart Colander! Maybe my opinion is a bit bias because for the past several years I`ve had the same colander - a boring plastic one with the handles breaking off. So I guess anything is really better at this point! Even before moving out on my own I remember an aluminum colander my parents had with that rough feeling to it. Well the Bellemain is nothing like that. Not only does it look stunning in the stainless steal, but it`s well made and durable! The holes are small enough that I could actually wash rice in it without losing any grains - something I couldn`t do with my previous (plastic) or my parents colander! It`s easy to grip and when all is said and done it`s easy to clean as well; particularly since it is dishwasher safe. Like I said, maybe I`m overly excited because I`ve never owned a real quality colander before now, but hey, let me indulge. To really try it out I made some pasta in the general way of making it, used my colander to drain the water from the pasta and I could just feel the difference. There`s no other way to describe it. No bending. No breaking. Just a solid and stable product that functions as it`s supposed to. I know it`s nothing fancy, but coming from a plastic, flimsy colander this is beyond exciting. If you want a quality colander that won`t break or melt on top of a hot stove - this one is perfect!  
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
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