8 Best Flour Sifters | March 2017
- lids seal the top and bottom
- top rack dishwasher safe
- works rather slowly
- retro-inspired design
- works well for sugar and cocoa powder
- stylish cake boss logo etched on side
- lightweight and durable
- plastic body with steel screen
- modest 2.5 cup capacity
- features non-skid base
- measuring cup nests for compact storage
- smooth rotary sifting action
- durable wire agitator
- large enough for commercial kitchens
- great reviews from users
|Brand||Cook N Home|
Choosing and Using a Flour Sifter
Flour is the foundational ingredient of countless foods, including some of both most basic and beloved things we eat, from loaves of bread to birthday cakes to pastries to sweet and savory pies and beyond. The kitchen without a ready supply of flour on hand is never truly complete, and the long, stable shelf-life of this ancient staple paired with its low price makes such an omission a flagrant violation in the eyes of any serious chef.
However, merely having flour on hand is not always enough; you also need to know what to do with it, and you need to be ready to properly measure, handle, and store flour, as well. We'll discuss flour storage (and how to know if it is safe for use) in detail later. For now, assuming you have a decent array of measuring cups and a fine set of measuring spoons, it's on the often-overlooked flour sifter that we'll focus. Before we talk about how to choose the right unit for your kitchen, let's first deal with the common questions of when, why, and how do you use a flour sifter, anyway?
Sifted flour is, as the name suggests, passed through a sifting mechanism that helps to remove all the clumps and chunks that are commonly found flour, especially if it is older or has been exposed to moisture. Thoroughly sifted flour is light and airy and can be more easily mixed into doughs and batters. The process removes the likelihood of powdery lumps turning up in a loaf of bread or of a cake collapsing due to an uneven interior structure.
Flour sifters are excellent tools for the baker, therefore, and are especially useful not only for processing flour but also for blending in other dry ingredients, such as the salt, garlic powder, or other herbs and spices mixed into a bread recipe, or the sugar, cocoa, or cinnamon used in cookies, pastries, and more. Sifting flour is also quite important when a new bag of flour is being opened or when you are using flour that has been sitting in storage for some time. This is true both to help aerate the product, and to help remove any unwanted items lurking within, such as insects or bits of other foodstuffs from a past cooking session.
Now, as for the flour sifter that is right for you, that depends on how frequently you will use the device and how much flour you are likely to process at a time, as well as on which type of operative mechanism you prefer. For indeed even the finest flour sifters designed for standard household use are pleasantly low-priced, so your budget is hardly a concern. Some sifters use grip-operated levers to shift their grates as they sift flour, and these options allow for precise control of the volume passed through. However their use might be uncomfortable for those with compromised grip strength such as can be caused by age, injury, or medical condition.
Rotary-style flour sifters are a good choice for the cook who needs to distribute large amounts of the foodstuff at a time, and they are easy to operate continuously. They are, however, slightly harder to control with precision. Finally the simplest design of sifter might be the best for some chefs: many sifters resemble nothing more than a broad, shallow bowl with a fine mesh at the bottom. They are operated by being tapped or shaken from side to side, and are ideal for scattering flour of a large area at once, such as the cook might need for breading cutlets of meat or dusting a cake or loaf of bread with flour that will enhance the character of the crust.
Flour Storage 101: Keeping a Staple Food Safe
Checking the sell by or best by date on the bag of flour you are purchasing is a good way to tell how long the foodstuff might last, but in fact for reasons of legal protection, most brands use a date range that is much shorter than the actual safe "lifespan" of this versatile staple. All-purpose flour that is stored in a cool, dry place and that is properly sealed will keep for at least a year if not longer. In the fridge, that same flour can last for two years with ease. In a freezer -- especially a deep freezer -- flour will often remain safe for cooking for half a decade. (If your flour becomes infested with bugs, or if you even suspect it might be, placing it in the freezer for several days can kill insects, larva, and most eggs. But of course replacement might be the better idea.)
Most people store flour in a kitchen cabinet, and this is a perfectly acceptable practice. However note that flour us unique in being one of the few products not necessarily kept at its freshest when left in its original unopened package. If you buy a bag of flour you are unlikely to use for a while, wrap an airtight plastic bag around the sealed paper packaging, or else slide the unopened bag into a container that can seal. If neither of those are options, consider debating the foodstuff into a large jar or canister that seals securely.
If you regularly cook with flour but tend to use smaller amounts (e.g. the bag will last for many weeks or even months), it's a good idea to distribute some flour into a moderately sized container indented for regular use while leaving the bulk of the food in a container that can generally be left sealed and undisturbed. And for the record, if your flour looks or smells odd, it has probably turned rancid and should be discarded. Fortunately, replacing it is an easily affordable proposition.
The Many Modern Types of Flour
When most people speak of flour, they are talking about the product created by the milling of wheat. However, as the gluten-free movement has gained strength (largely inexplicably, due to the fact that this protein is harmless if not outright beneficial for most people), many people have looked for alternatives to flours made from wheat.
Many people agree that brown rice flour is the best stand-in for traditional wheat flour when you are preparing classic foods like breads, biscuits, muffins, and so forth. Rice flour has little-to-no taste and readily takes on the flavor profile of the other ingredients you use. It is an ideal choice for homemade pastas as well.
For pastries, cakes, and cookies, some people prefer a flour substitute that does add a bit of flavor, with both coconut flour and almond flour both delivering a bit of sweetness and, as expected in the case of the latter, nuttiness.
Finally, if you wish to add protein to a food you are baking, consider using chickpea flour or a flour sourced from seeds, such as the pumpkin seed or the protein-packed sunflower seed. Just note that cooking times often have to be adjusted when flour alternatives are used.