These star strainers do a fine job of sifting dry ingredients, smoothing out sauces and more.

1) Vollrath Fine Wire 8-inch Mesh Strainer
(The budget chef)
UPSIDE Inexpensive; lightweight yet sturdy, with reinforced wire rims for added strength; two pan hooks for stability.
DOWNSIDE Uncomfortable wooden handle; not dishwasher-safe.

2) Norpro Stainless Steel 8-inch Mesh Strainer
(The sauce fanatic)
UPSIDE Superfine straining; comfortable rounded handle with finger grooves; dishwasher-safe.
DOWNSIDE Expensive.

3) Sur la Table Stainless Steel Wire-Handled Sieve
(The minimalist) $23, UPSIDE Long, flat handle provides stability over large pots and wide bowls. DOWNSIDE Expensive; shallow bowl; extra-long handle requires large storage space.

4) OXO Good Grips 8-inch Strainer
(The heavy-duty user)
UPSIDE Sturdy mesh; durable construction; long, flat handle provides stability over large pots and wide bowls; dishwasher-safe.
DOWNSIDE Expensive; heavy; weight causes handle to dig into hands.

5) KitchenAid 7-inch Strainer
(The new cook)
UPSIDE Lightweight yet sturdy; comfortable handle; wide pan hook provides stability; dishwasher-safe.
DOWNSIDE Small capacity; flimsy mesh; round handle makes it unstable set over a wide bowl or large pot; shallow bowl.


Make an Omelet
Whisk eggs in it and they'll slide through into your skillet -- without those pesky bits of shell.

VIDEO: How to Make an Easy Omelet

Dust Desserts with Confectioners' Sugar
Fill your sieve and lightly tap the side with your palm.

Try Funnel Cakes

Steam Veggies and Grains

Try Hearty Winter Veggie Pilaf

*Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in February 2010.