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China cap or chinoise. If you have one, do you use it and for what?

In cleaning out late MIL's basement,I came across this. I'm aware that they're for pureeing which isn't something I do a lot of and usually use FP or immersion blender. I can see that this would keep seeds (I'm thinking tomatoes) and other detritus out but that doesn't knock my socks off. If you have one, do you actually use it and for what purpose? It kinda fascinates me and I think I associate them with REAL cooks :)

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  1. Wow, I envy you the stand and the wooden pushers! All I have is the chinois itself. I also have a fine strainer of the more typical shape and tend to use it more because it's easier to push the solids around with a rubber spatula. I didn't know about the pusher thingies and the spatula can't get to the bottom of the chinois. I use it for straining custardy liquids to remove any strands of egg. I don't really mind seeds in my berries but that would be the most common use, I think.

    1. Wow, That is a find! I do not think it is a true Chinoise, rather a type of food mill, based on the size of the holes. Tomatoes for a strained sauce is the first thing that comes to mind. The Chinoise I have, are in 3 different diameters but all have the same very fine mesh; used for straining stocks mostly.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ospreycove

        Yeah, when I did a little search they made a distinction that the China cap had larger wholes than the Chinoise.

        1. re: c oliver

          To the best of my knowledge, chinois and China cap are interchageable terms. Though the device is always shaped like a large empty ice cream cone, there are variations in the overall construction. Some have mesh attached to the collar and a protective metal strap that guards the pointed end. Some are made of sturdier stuff and come with or without a stand. Many are sold individually and you have to buy the pestle and stand seperately.

          In any case, your late MIL's looks very much like a twin of my mother's chinois, which came as part of a rather large collection of Wearever aluminum kitchenware she bought in the 1930s. It had everything from a very large lidded roasting pan, varied sizes of lidded pans, a Dutch oven, an orange juicer, the chinois, and a whole bunch of other cooking equipment. Mother would sometimes line the chinois with several layers of well rinsed cheesecloth when she wanted to sieve something with the least possible solids passing through.

          Look yours over and see if it says "Wearever" on it anywhere. If it does, then search for more vintage goodies! You've hit culinary pay dirt!

          1. re: Caroline1

            The stand and the sieve are marked Wear-Ever No. 8 which is this:


            The piece that's sitting on top is Wear-Ever 1044 1/2 which, on first research, I'm not finding but it doesn't appear to be part of it. And the piece lying down on the left has no mark. These were all together in a box with a large Warner CI DO-type thing which I need to look into also.

            MIL was born in 1920 and married in 1943. Could have been her older sister's or even her mother's. Because it was in the garage totally separate from other things that were in her kitchen and basement, I'm thinking it came from her sister. Not a lot of other treasure though I did keep a piece of Guardian cookware and a tray.

            Thanks, C1. I'll definitely beholding on to these.

        2. re: ospreycove

          chinoises can have different size mesh. http://www.creativecookware.com/chini...
          this example of the OP (like the one i have) is a chinoise -- a strainer/ sieve -- not a "mill."

          i also have proper food mills with different size sieves -- three in fact, each with different size holes than the others.

        3. I don't know whether mine got lost in a move or was "borrowed" without permission, but I want it back! Yes, they're good for anything you would use a food mill for, but generally they make the work a lot easier. They also work great as a strainer for stocks and such, not to mention doubling as a colander for draining pasta or veggies. Oh, and they make GREAT mashed potatoes! Well, more like "riced" potatoes. It's like using a potato ricer, but again the chinois is a lot easier to use. And the potatoes come out absolutely lump free. I keep looking at the prices on them and praying mine will show up. <sigh> Fat chance.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Caroline1

            You hit it! The best in the world mashed oh so creamy potatoes - dreamy silk like. I wish I had a bowl right now! Beautiful sauces,soups, and I lost mine in a move too. : (

          2. Plus one for the mashed potatoes......add Cream of Corn Chowder.....with Fresh Crabmeat, of course.

            1. My. I have never seen those wooden pushers. I have a china cap. For some unknown reason my husband kept it when we sold our restaurant sooo many years ago. Apparently he thought he would be making stock every day. ~laughs. It sits on the garage broom cabinet along with other giant kitchen things like steamer pots and other things I do not use. But in fact they are handy dandy things if you are inclined towards grand projects. AND you can buy filters for it. Why filters? - you can drain fryer fat thru it and reuse the oil. China caps are good for draining stock. That one you have there looks like you could handle a 12 gal stockpot - if you wanted to. You know what else you could use it for - if the holes are big enough you could make a boat load of spaetzle. Super easy with that dandy stand you have and those cutesy pushers. Goulash and spaetzle for an army! And, dare I mention this? - hmmm... you can also can also strain egg shells from eggs you have dumped into a giant blender (whole - with the shell). That is what restaurants do. Should I have mentioned that?

              Myself - I would push berries thru it to ditch the seeds. Maybe I will pull down that old thing after all.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                hey sal! two intriguing bits of your info stood out to me:
                1. i can get a filter (YAY!), because cleaning this after making stock is a real PITA; and
                2. eggs -- shells and all -- in a giant blender? wow.

                looking for a source for the filters, i came across this interesting discussion: http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/...

                1. re: alkapal

                  Great site. Never heard of it before.

              2. I'm sure they have other purposes but I had always heard of them being used to filter stock and the pushers are to press all the liquid out that you just spent 5-6 hours creating.

                1. I could have really used one of these the last time I made posole rojo. I had to toast and soak dried pasilla, ancho and guajillo peppers, blend them and strain them. I tried doing it with just a sieve and a rubber spatula, but it took forever so I ended up just blending them as finely as possible and dumping it in the stew. Boy was I sorry. The posole was delicious, but I was picking pepper peels out of my teeth all night.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: soypower

                    Now isn't that a nontraditional way to use it! And something that I could very well use it for. Thanks.

                    1. re: soypower

                      I used if for my red sauce for tamales, chile colorado, and red sauce where dried peppers are used. It works beautifully to remove the little ity bitty pepper pieces or membrane that slip through a regular strainer.

                    2. I am not sure how fine the strainer is, so forgive me if this would not work... Would it be possible to strain your own yogurt to make your own Greek stuff?

                      1. Applesauce - cook the apples with the skins on, run thru strainer.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: myaco

                          Yes. What's pictured is an applesauce maker and stand, not a Chinois. I have the exact same thing, and also a Chinois.
                          The applesauce maker has small perforated holes through the cone. The wooden tools are to push the cooked apples through the holes, saucing them. Of course, the applesauce maker can be used to puree other things. I'd say tomatoes but food mills were commonly used to do that in the era in which this applesauce maker was made.
                          In contrast, the Chinois has a very fine metal mesh as the "cone." See the pictures at Wikipedia (a dubious resource, generally), and read how Wikipedia distinguishes between a Chinois and a China cap.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            chinoise can have different sieve mesh sizes, maria. some are medium, some fine, some are extra fine.

                            and one self-described "professional chef" on the link i posted above says china cap differs from a chinoise in that it has drilled holes in metal (SS, typically), versus the chinoise's mesh, typically with a reinforcing band underneath and around the top.

                            china cap, chinoise, "applesauce maker" -- all are glorified sieves, and the "chinese" aspect in the names derives (obviously) from the shape. (so, that's why i don't buy the "china cap/chinoise" "distinction" made by some sources).

                            ps, maria, i think wiki is typically a very good resource on the many topics i've researched.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              From my experience, that "china cap/chinoise" distinction is restaurant terminology, for identificaton and clarity; if you ask another employee to hand you the chinois, he/she will know you mean the fine mesh, whereas a China cap request means the one with the larger colander-like holes.

                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                That's how I interpreted it also. So I would definitely call this a China cap.

                                BTW, I don't think the term is any more derogatory than "Cowboy hat." And I'm one of those NoCal, tree-hugging, take no prisoners uber-liberals :)

                              2. re: alkapal

                                <<and one self-described "professional chef" on the link i posted above says china cap differs from a chinoise in that it has drilled holes in metal (SS, typically)>>

                                Yes, this is my working knowledge as well. As mentioned earlier, Wikipedia has pics showing the Chinois fine mesh differentiated from the China Cap perf holes.
                                The China Cap resembles the applesauce maker, but there are subtle differences.

                                Since Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, it's open to slant, spin, and strategic skewing. It is fine for some topics, but strong opinion and bias render other topics inaccurate, especially controversial topics. Examples of this are; corporate PR agents re-writing entries to make a company look better; interested parties deleting pertinent history to whitewash a negative incident; and health food companies using inaccurate and dated "medical" info to bolster a health claim.

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  yes, one has to be judicious in evaluating the propensity for bias in certain wiki subjects.

                            2. re: myaco

                              My mother, who did a lot of canning, used hers mainly for making applesauce. Then the skins and seeds got fed to the chickens or pigs.

                            3. Just a passing thought... Would the terms "china cap" and "chinoise" be considered non-PC these days? I'm guessing that the term comes from the stereotypical conical hats the Chinese rice farmers wore in the paddies, probably used first in French and then later in the English translation. I've always been curious if anyone's taking offense out there...not that I don't still use the terms myself.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: sabroso

                                That reminds me of the (paraphrasing) "should we still refer to Indian Pudding as..." thread. You are most likely correct in your suggestion of how a chinois and a China cap came to be named, but as for it not being PC, chinois is just a term for an object based on the shape of another familiar object worn historically by a segment of a culture, and has nothing to do with the actual people who wore the object.

                                Attitudes and stereotypes are devices of the mind. Kitchen equipment or desserts, however named, are not.

                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                  <<That reminds me of the (paraphrasing) "should we still refer to Indian Pudding as..." thread.>>

                                  Exactly what I thought of as well.

                              2. I have a stainless-steel chinois which I use mostly when I need to quickly strain a stock/broth. I wish mine had come with a pusher-pestle, though. Usually I can make do with wooden spoons, etc., when I want to mash out the last bits of juice from veggies and met chunks, but a fitted pestle would be really nice.

                                My big food mill is a better tool for purees that need to keep out seeds and skins, but sometimes I'll use the chinois for small jobs like that, because it's easier to clean (just one part and dishwasher safe).

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                  Bada, those conical wooden chinois pushers are available at amazon. They are better than a wooden spoon as they rotate inside the chinois, getting every bit at a faster rate:


                                  If you have a food mill with interchangeable blades, really the only chinois you need is the fine mesh. But then there's the want factor...

                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                    Thanks for the pointer to a pestle/pusher! That would work much better than my spoons, etc.

                                2. I have a fine mesh chinois and it is great for filtering stock. It is also hauled out every now and then to save a lumpy or messed up sauce, but that happens rarely. BTW, to dray it, I just put it in a slow oven for a few minutes. Tinned steel can become a rusty mess quickly if not dried adequately. The stand is invaluable, but I often myself using a spoon in lieu of the pusher.

                                  1. I have a Chinois from Nella that I use for straining sauces to get a smooth consistency. French sauce's are often strained at multiple stages. It looks like yours except it has a several fine mesh inter-weaved instead. My understanding is Chinois is the fine mesh and chinese cap is the one with the holes. As with all things in the kitchen the names of things changed based on where you grew up. I think yours has the small holes. you could get a really smooth Veloute buy running the sauce through cheese cloth lined within the cap.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Quails

                                      "My understanding is Chinois is the fine mesh and chinese cap is the one with the holes"

                                      Correct, Chinois has very fine mesh, the China cap has varying degrees of hole sizes.

                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                        And a China cap makes great mashed potatoes but it's tough going with a Chinoise. '-)

                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          Oh yes, totally a upper arm and wrist workout that would be...;-)

                                    2. Hi everyone...

                                      If you want to filter just a cup or so of stock or other liquid, you can put a coffee filter into that gold *supposedly* permanent filter that comes with some coffeemakers which likely isn't ever used in the coffeemaker. Use a wooden spoon handle to suspend it over a big Pyrex measure.

                                      Works for me!


                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                                        I used to: For a final filter stage for clear stocks, I actually use one of those all-SS, fine-aperture tea filters.

                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                          Hi Kaleokahu,

                                          I just looked up the tea filter on Amazon. That mesh sure does look like my coffee thing, which is also 24K gold plated. I wonder if it's the same...

                                          Seems there are a few different mesh sizes available. Which would be important in making tea but probably not so much for filtering stock. I use the paper filter mostly because I don't like having to rinse out the filter.


                                          1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                                            Hi, there, Lucy: I have some gold cones, and the "sieve size" looks about the same. The difference is that the tea gizzy is thicker and all-SS so you just knock it upside down between ladle-fulls of stock. And then into the DW.

                                            I haven't had much luck with paper coffee filters--they tend to clog fast even if I've coarsely strained before, and are slooooooooow. I'm also not enamored of running anything--even coffee--through chemically-bleached white paper.

                                            This was a stumble find for me. My DW had (and never uses) the tea gizzy. I just grabbed it one day, and so it's now my "go to" finest strainer.


                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              Hi Kaleo,

                                              "...knock it upside down between ladle-fulls of stock."

                                              I like that. Will give it a shot!

                                              You think it will be less messy if I put a paper towel under it? (hee hee)



                                              1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                                                Hi Again, Lucy:

                                                This is nice--salutations and everything!

                                                I just bang the rim of the tea gizzy on my sink divider so the solids go into the Disposal.


                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Gosh Kaleo, I better stick with the paper towel! (Don't have a disposal...)

                                                  Aloha to you as well,


                                      2. Can't make a good lobster bisque without one.