HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Flour sifter

Does anyone still use one of these? I remember using them with my Grandmother when I was a little girl.....recently saw Paula Deen using one on her show.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Must have used it half a dozen times in the run-up to the holiday. Although flour measurements in many cookbooks these days, at least those that don't provide weights, use the dip and scoop method of measuring, there are still a number of modern recipes that call for sifting either to ensure the thorough mixing of various dry ingredients or the lack of lumps.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      Sifting doesn't thoroughly mix the dry ingredients. Rose Levy Beranbaum did her Masters thesis on the very subject, and found that the most effective way of mixing dry ingredients was in a food processor. If you want to see the effect, take a tablespoon of colored sugar and sift it with a cup of flour.

      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        I thought I knew her books by heart but I didn't realize that. And now that you mention it, every time I used the sifter in the past few weeks there was something that could be lumpy in the flour such as baking powder, light brown sugar, or confectioners sugar.

        I guess you *can* teach an old dog new tricks. And since my sifter takes up valuable cabinet space . . . . Hmmm.

        1. re: JoanN

          If you'd like to read the story behind it, it's in the introduction of The Cake Bible.

    2. i just use a whisk to evenly mix dry ingredients. chances are i'll also use it for eggs or something else in the same recipe -- one less thing to clean.

      1. I got rid of mine. It was too uncomfortable to use, all of that squeezing the handle thing repetitively. Now I just use a mesh strainer when I need to sift something and it is not often

        1. Yeah, I never use mine. My understanding is that sifting dry ingredients used to be more important under older processing techniques and standards that left a lot more foreign objects in flour.

          1. Have to admit I own three.(Blush) Mine, plus I inherited Mama's and my grandmother's. I use a sifter when recipes call for them. A lot of older recipes do, and some newer ones that are more precise.
            There is a difference between "1 cup flour, sifted" and "1 cup sifted flour" - in the first, you measure and then sift; in the second you sift first. There's a volume difference between the two, however small. Picky, picky, picky, I know - but I was taught by picky cooks.

            1. I use it rarely to sift flour but I do use it to top something with powdered sugar. Did it last week for a chocolate chip pound cake.

              1. I got rid of mine.

                I do sift when a recipe specifically calls for it. And I use my medium sized sieve.

                1. I haven't given kitchen space to a sifter in many years. I use a sieve to remove lumps/aerate flour, and a whisk to combine dry ingredients. Both work just fine.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pikawicca

                    And I was so pleased with myself when I came up with this solution to the sifter problem! Should have known everyone else did it too!

                  2. I use mine, but got rid of the one that you had to squeeze the handle. I now use my gradmother's old one with the monkey grinder handle.

                    1. I just bought one, and I already messed it up. I was sifting ground almonds w/powdered sugar, and now there's so much junk stuck between the two layers of mesh that after one use barely anything gets through. After a second attempt with it yesterday, my biceps are completely sore! If i need to sift in the future, I'm using a sieve.

                      i guess that's what I get for being overzealous in purchasing kitchen equipment.

                      1. We use a sifter that you just jiggle side to side.

                        1. I've always used one for sifting flour before measuring it and then for sifting together the dry ingredients (which I also mix together more with a spoon). I use the kind with a handle that you crank on the side. Have used one all my life for baking! I'm surprised how unpopular it is here! I also have a manual nut grinder that I couldn't bake without! :)

                          1. I generally use a fine-gauge strainer, which is easy to use by sifting from side to side, but I also have both a squeeze-handle sifter and a hand-crank model. The latter I keep for nostalgia--it's decorated with red apples and looks like it belongs in a '50s kitchen. I don't like the squeeze model, as it engenders nightmares of carpal tunnel syndrome and routinely sticks. I do think sifting still has its place--especially for dusting confectioner's sugar. Yum!

                            1. I bought a small tami out on Clement in SF and I love it for sifting. It is small enough that it takes up little space and totally adequate for making one or two cakes at a time.
                              Thinking about investing in a larger one with a ring at the end so I can hang it on my pot rack for easy/no space storage.