Any baker out there will tell you how important well-sifted flour is for ensuring a smooth consistent texture in anything you bake. It may be appealing for those of us without a sifter to simply accept our fate of pancakes with little uncooked clumps as a token of sift-less existence, but it doesn’t have to be. Yes, buying a sifter is somewhat cheap, but why would you go out of your way to spend that money when you most likely have a great alternative sitting in your kitchen right now?
There are many ways you can sift, you can use:
- Food processor
- Fork or whisk
- Tea strainer
- Large wire mesh strainer
How To Sift Flour Without A Flour Sifter
Measure Your Flour
It’s important to remember when you are sifting, you need to measure how much flour you need first. Once you have your required amount of flour, you can start to consider your best avenue for sifting the flour.
Option 1: Food processor
Step 1: Fill the Food Processor
After your flour is measured, place it into your food processor, making sure to fill no more than ¾ of the capacity.
Step 2: Blitz Your Flour
Flour isn’t hard so you won’t need to use a high setting, if you use too high a setting you risk blowing the flour out the top of the food processor. For 20 seconds at a time, blitz on a low setting.
Option 2: Colander With Cheesecloth
Step 1: Place Your Cheesecloth
Measuring out 10cm of excess over the edges of your colander, cut out an appropriate amount of cheesecloth to place over the colander.
Step 2: Pour Your Flour
Make sure you are not overfilling your colander more than half of it’s capacity.
Step 3: Whip Your Flour Lightly
Using a kitchen utensil such as a whisk or fork, lightly whip your flour, pushing through the colander whilst whipping. If you don’t have a utensil you can also lightly shake the colander over a bowl, using your finger to prod the flour through the colander.
How To Sift Powdered Sugar Without a Sifter
While sifting flour is a well-known practice due to being used frequently in the baking world, what about the all-important icing? This is where powdered sugar comes in handy, and once again sifting this ingredient is very important for ensuring the best quality end product. Moreso than flour, powdered sugar tends to clump together and be especially tough to separate if simply added to wet ingredients.
Option 1: Tea Strainer
Depending on the amount of powdered sugar required for a recipe and the size of your utensil, the humble tea strainer can be a terrific tool for sifting powdered sugar over a separate bowl.
Step 1: Fill The Strainer
Simply place the required amount of powdered sugar in the tea strainer, making sure not to overfill.
Step 2: Lightly Shake
Shake the strainer over a mixing bowl, making sure not to be too rapid whilst shaking to ensure no spills.
Option 2: Large Wire Mesh Strainer
If you are conscious of time or require large quantities to be sifted, a large wire mesh strainer is a perfect option. These can be used for dusting a nice layer of cinnamon or sugar on top of your finish product, but are also of great use in the creation process.
Simply employ the same process used for the ‘cheesecloth over colander’ technique utilised for the flour, shaking lightly and prodding when necessary.
Why is It Important To Sift Flour?
As mentioned previously, the best way to ensure a smooth consistency across all of your flour-inclusive foods is to sift the flour. This is because sifting makes the materials thinner and more welcoming of wet ingredients to mix. Without a sift, store-bought flour can often clump, leaving you with uncooked powdery clumps through your food.
Most of us keep our flour hidden away in the deepest depths of our cupboard or fridge, who knows what could be going on in the weeks and months between reaching into the bag. There is often little bits of debris that can be found in some store-bought flours. Considering how many thousands of bags of flour are produced in factories every day, accidents happen. By sifting you can separate out any small rocks or other discrepancies to make sure your health isn’t in danger.
Bugs in Your Flour?
The most common reason for sifting is the presence of flour-mites or weevils. The awful realisation that under the surface of your flour bag is a bunch of these bugs is one no one wants to suffer. Ignorantly pouring unsifted flour into your mixing bowl puts you at risk of these bugs ruining your recipe.
What To Do if You Find Bugs in Your Flour
If you find these bugs in your flour, it’s most likely best to throw away the flour. But if you can’t afford to buy another bag of flour immediately, you can sift these bugs out of the mix and freeze your flour. Freezing for three days will get rid of bad bacteria left by these bugs and make your flour suitable for use again, just sift it again after defrosting.
Avoiding The Problem
To avoid this problem, we recommend storing your flour in airtight locked bags, as well as freezing flour if it won’t be used for a long period of time. Keep in mind, if you have been storing your flour in your pantry and discover these bugs or their eggs in your flour there is a good chance they have also got a presence in other food in your pantry. It’s important to clean out your pantry and wipe down all surfaces, inspecting all your pantry food for similar bugs when you discover any in your flour.