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Volume III
December 9, 2011

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

The Marvels of Cheesecloth!

By Alice Osborne
Over a year ago, talked about cheesecloth. This humble fabric can do much more than strain cheese, yogurt, or sour cream. "It is the kitchen tool you didn't know you needed," says Christine Albano, Martha Stewart Living food editor. Professional chefs agree. They say that once you discover it, you can't believe how many uses it has.

Martha Stewart Living suggests a few:

Strain Meat and Vegetable Stocks: Line a colander with cheesecloth, place over a bowl, and pour liquid through.

Baste Your Turkey: Keep the breast moist by roasting it wrapped with wine-and-butter-drenched cheesecloth. I wish I'd have known this for our Thanksgiving meal preparations. But oh well, there's Christmas dinner coming up...

Add Texture to Goat Cheese: Roll balls of soft chevre (1 1/2 teaspoons each). Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Wrap in 3-by-4-inch pieces of cheesecloth; twist ends. Unwrap, and serve on toasts, garnished with chives. You might be thinking, "Are you kidding? Texture on a cheeseball? Who cares?" At least I was thinking that. But on second thought, hey, why not if we have a little time? Extra touches like this send a silent message that whomever we're cooking for is worth the extra time things take. So I'm considering it.

Dust Sugar: And this is my favorite idea! Fit a square over a canning jar filled with confectioners' sugar, pull taut, and screw on ring (no cap); dust cookies.

And I discovered a few more uses online at

Place all the filling you make for stuffing a whole turkey on a large square of cheesecloth and gather the ends to make a pouch. Secure the mouth with a piece of string and then shove it into the bird. Once the turkey's done, simply pull the pouch out of the bird. Not only will the bird get flavored with the necessary ingredients, all the tedious scooping out of any uneatable dressing ingredients later on, will be curtailed!

Make cheesecloth pouches for bouquet garni. Just place all your desirable herbs in this pouch and add it to whatever you are cooking! This is an efficient way to render all your condiments, soups, stews and broths with flavor. You can also make your own teabags in the same way.

Try this old bartender's trick: Use it to dry a wet glass articles - it doesn't streak glass, so the process goes quicker.

Take an unused umbrella and hack off the handle. Now sew cheesecloth on the wire chassis of the umbrella to make a dome-shaped net cover for food. You can keep all insects and fruit flies away from food during outdoor dining.

When vacuuming, cut out a neat patch of cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band over the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner hose. Now when you suck in the dust, no tiny tidbits will be gobbled up by the machine (which tend to ruin the motor, clog the hose, and even mar the vacuum cleaner belt).

Finally, use it as an emergency gauze piece in cases of sudden cuts and bruises (not for a long period of time, though, as it will not obviously be sterilized).

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