A noodle strainer is a common utensil in kitchens throughout the world. The first strainers were probably developed in Asia, and featured long bamboo handles. You can still find bamboo-handled strainers on the market today, but plastic, metal, and other wooden handles are also common. Many find the noodle strainer much easier to use than a colander, usually a large metal or plastic bowl with holes than can be used to separate water from noodles, boiled potatoes or other vegetables.
Instead of having to pour out an entire pot of hot boiling water into a colander, the noodle strainer allows you to remove the noodles directly from the pot by straining them out. Since cooked noodles typically float to the top of the pot, the long-handled strainer with a fine mesh cup attached lets you skim the noodles from the top. You can then turn off your boiling water, and wait for it to cool before pouring it out. You won’t get steamed or risk burning yourself, as you do when you use a colander. The noodle strainer definitely gets a vote as being safer and more convenient to use.
From time to time, the occasional noodle strainer isn’t as easy to use as a colander. A few pieces of pasta can stick to the bottom of a pot, and even with the long handle, you may not be able to get them out completely with turning the noodles into a colander. You can still opt to use the strainer and forgo a few missed noodles at the bottom of the pot, or you may change tactics depending upon the type of noodles you’re cooking.
You can also use a noodle strainer to remove boiling vegetables, or for straining out meats from stock. It’s far easier to use a noodle strainer to lift pieces of chicken out of chicken stock than it is to position a colander over a bowl and hope you don’t lose any of your precious stock. Strainers can additionally help skim fat off the top of soups or stews.
Noodle strainers come in a variety of sizes. Choose one or more that will give you some maneuvering room inside the pots you usually use for boiling noodles or vegetables. Try to find those that are about an inch or two (2.54-5.08 cm) less in diameter than your favorite “boiling” pots. Price will vary depending upon materials used and size. Expect to pay anywhere from about $5 US Dollars (USD) to over $30 USD for fancier types with brand names. You’ll find tremendous variety of these in cooking supply stores, large department and big box stores, and on the Internet.