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A sieve, or sifter, is a device for separating wanted elements from unwanted material or for characterizing the particle size distribution of a sample, typically using a woven screen such as a mesh or net. The word "sift" derives from 'sieve'. In cooking, a sifter is used to separate and break up clumps in dry ingredients such as flour, as well as to aerate and combine them. A strainer is a form of sieve used to separate solids from liquid.
Hand sieving is a simple technique for separating particles of different sizes. A small sieve such as used for sifting flour has very small holes. Coarse particles are separated or broken up by grinding against one-another and screen openings. Depending upon the types of particles to be separated, sieves with different types of holes are used. Sieves are also used to separate stones from sand.
A wooden mesh in which the withes were one eighth of an inch wide and set the same distance apart. This would be used on an English farm of the Victorian era to sift grain, removing dust and soil.
A wooden sieve is a sieve made of wood. The mesh might be made from wood or wicker. Use of wood to avoid contamination is important when the sieve is used for sampling. Henry Stephens, in his Book of the Farm, advised that the withes of a wooden riddle or sieve would be made from fir, willow with American elm being best. The rims would be made of fir, oak or, especially, beech.
Other types of sieves
- Chinoise, or conical sieve used as a strainer, also sometimes used like a food mill
- Cocktail strainer, a bar accessory
- Colander, a (typically) bowl-shaped sieve used as a strainer in cooking
- Flour sifter or bolter, used in flour production and baking.
- Graduated sieves, used to separate varying small sizes of material, often soil, rock or minerals
- Mesh strainer, or just "strainer", usually consisting of a fine metal mesh screen on a metal frame
- Spider, used in Chinese cooking
- Tamis, also known as a drum sieve
- Tea strainer, specifically intended for use when making tea
- Zaru, or bamboo sieve, used in Japanese cooking
- ^ Ruhlman, Michael; Bourdain, Anthony (2007). The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen. Simon and Schuster. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-4391-7252-0.
- ^ "Sampling equipment", Environmental Geochemistry, Elsevier, 2008, p. 84, ISBN 9780080558950
- ^ Henry Stephens (1852), The Book of the Farm 1, W. Blackwood, pp. 414–416