Sieves are devices that make it possible to separate different elements from one another. They may be used in the preparation of food, the sorting of grains, and even in the filtering of different types of building materials. The type of sifting that takes place helps to define the size and general configuration of the device.
One of the most common examples of a kitchen sieve is the everyday colander. Colanders have a body that is perforated with a series of uniform holes. It is possible to use the colander to separate solid foods from liquids with relative ease. The device is also used to wash raw fruits and vegetables by placing the food in the colander, then running water over the food. As the water washes over the food, it picks up tiny contaminants and carries them away from the raw foods by expelling the water and the contaminants through the perforations.
The flour sifter is another example of a sieve used routinely in the kitchen. It makes it possible to sift flour so that only the finest flour particles are used in baking. Most flour sifters are equipped with some type of beaters that help to pulverize the larger particles, making them usable in the baking process.
Sieves are also used outside the kitchen. Industrial-sized versions are used in water treatment plants to remove larger objects from the water before it is run through a filtration process. Many factories use large sieves to sort products by size, making it much easier to grade and package the finished goods. Farmers make use of them as well during the process of harvesting different types of grains, effectively separating the grain itself from an chaff or other undesirable elements that may have also been captured during the harvesting process.
A sieve may be created using just about any type of material. Some are composed of stainless steel bodies that are perforated with a series of holes to allow sifting to take place. Others are composed with the use of mesh, an approach that is often used when there is a need to finely sift different products. Today, many simple ones are constructed with different types of plastic, or a combination of lightweight metals and plastic to create a sieve that is easy to clean as well as to use.
Most types of kitchen sieves can be purchased at discount retail stores as well as kitchen shops. Industrial versions are available directly from manufacturers as well as from building and industry supply vendors.