Cheesecloth is a versatile type of fabric, especially in the kitchen. The question is: can it be replaced? Short answer: yes! These cheesecloth alternatives will still get the job done, be it for draining curds, straining liquids, or some other use.
Cheesecloth is primarily used for draining curds to make cheese. Amazingly, we can use it to do other household stuff, too. But can cheesecloth be replaced with other material?
That would be a Y-E-S! There are cheesecloth alternatives that can have the same functionality. So, if you searched every nook and cranny and still couldn’t find any, don’t worry about it!
In this post, we’ll discuss how you can successfully replace cheesecloth. So, stay tuned!
What Is Cheesecloth?
Cheesecloth is a loosely woven, breathable cotton fabric that resembles gauze. It got its name from its use in the cheese-making process.
However, over the years, it’s become more popular in the kitchen for other purposes, such as wrapping herbs to steep in liquid, draping the cheesecloth over meats to keep in moisture during slow-roasting, and covering food to protect it.
Cheesecloth is classified into seven grades that are expressed in units of tens based on the number of threads per inch used in the cloth. The higher the thread count, the more durable and thicker the fabric.
Therefore, a grade 10 cheesecloth is the thinnest, while a grade 90 cheesecloth is the thickest.
All cheesecloths are sturdy and durable if used for their intended purposes. That’s why the grade you choose depends on what purpose you’re using it for.
Grades 10, 20, and 30 have an open weave, so they’re best used for applications that require good air and water flow, such as polishing and cleaning.
On the other hand, grades 60 up to 90 have tight to extra-fine weaves that are used for straining all kinds of food and making clothes.
Grades 40 and 50 aren’t quite as open as lower grades nor as fine as higher grades. As a result, they’re often used for applications across the board.
How Can You Use Cheesecloth For Straining?
Even though most of us have strainers and colanders in our kitchens, some recipes require a finer sieve.
So, to strain foods or liquids using a cheesecloth, simply follow these steps:
- Choose the grade of cheesecloth according to the degree of strain desired.
- Cut out a piece of cheesecloth with a serrated blade if you have a large cheesecloth. If the cheesecloth is too wrinkled, steam-iron it first to make cutting it easier.
- Rinse your cheesecloth well with cold water to remove any loose fibers and prevent the cloth from sliding inside your colander while pouring any liquid.
- Place the cheesecloth over a strainer set on top of a bowl.
- Ladle in the foods/liquids slowly to avoid splashing.
- Squeeze the cheesecloth to filter the liquid until the very last drop.
- Once done, quickly rinse the cheesecloth thoroughly and place it in the washing machine to prevent stubborn stains from forming.
I’d recommend using a grade 60 cheesecloth if you strain cheese. However, if you don’t have access to a high-grade cheesecloth, you can add several layers of cheesecloth for a finer strain.
Regardless of the cheesecloth grade, it’s crucial to use cheesecloth with hemmed edges. That way you don’t end up with those tiny threads messing up your recipe.
You should also keep in mind that regularly washing your cheesecloth with warm or hot water will make it shrink.
What Else Can You Use Cheesecloth For?
Apart from filtering foods and liquids, a cheesecloth can make our lives easier in many other ways. You can also use cheesecloth to:
- Dust bakery with powdered sugar or a fine layer of flavoring spices
- Bundle herbs or spices and tie them with a string to add flavor to your stew
- Wrap lemon halves to prevent the seeds from getting into food while squeezing
- Thicken yogurt by pouring it on cheesecloth and then storing it in the fridge overnight
- Strain steaming tofu
- Drain homemade ghee
- Sew garments using polyester or cotton threads
- Make affordable homemade curtains
- Make wedding arch draping and table runners
- Replace your worn-out kitchen towel
- Polish silverware and remove water stains
The best part about good-quality cheesecloth is that it’s reusable, so you don’t have to buy a new one every time you need a cheesecloth.
That said, if you’ve used cheesecloth for cleaning or other non-food purposes, it’s critical that you don’t use the same one with food.
No matter how many times you wash and disinfect a cheesecloth, there’s no guarantee that it’s free of any cleaning materials or contaminants.
Top 7 Cheesecloth Alternatives And How To Use Them
Each of these alternatives makes a viable option in case you’re out of cheesecloth:
You can definitely use paper towels to strain sauces and soups, but there’s a drawback here.
Paper towels can get saturated, which means they can waste a good portion of the liquid. They’re also more susceptible to breakage.
You can, however, use paper towels to soak up the fatty surface of the soup.
To strain food, place a paper towel on your mesh strainer. Then, ladle the liquid slowly to avoid overflowing from the strainer sides.
You can stir the liquid for faster straining and replace the paper towel when necessary.
You can use coffee filters to filter sauces or juice. Unlike paper towels, coffee filters won’t absorb much liquid because they’re made of paper, which also makes them less durable.
They’re also good for straining buttermilk when making homemade butter.
Place the coffee filter inside your strainer and pour whatever you’d like to filter. If the filtering process slows down, you can stir the liquid.
If the coffee filter stops straining, you can replace it with a fresh one.
Ideally, you should go for unbleached coffee filters as they make for a safer choice. If you want a reusable coffee filter, you can get a stainless steel basket coffee filter. Just make sure it doesn’t have a solid bottom.
You can use stainless steel coffee filters to strain almost anything, although it’s primarily used in basket-style coffee machines.
Just place it inside a bigger pot, pour in your soup or broth, and put it in the dishwasher afterward.
Although cotton fabric isn’t available in different grades like cheesecloth, its breathable texture will come in handy.
So, if you have a piece of clean cotton cloth, you can make good use of it in the kitchen.
Just don’t forget to wash it with a mild detergent before use to remove any fabric fuzz.
You can also use a pair of brand new cotton socks. Even if the material is blended with nylon or polyester, it still works.
A dishcloth made of pure linen can make a practical cheesecloth substitute, but first things first!
You should wash it with gentle, fragrance-free soap and cold water before use to get the lint off.
Because linen isn’t as absorbent as cotton, you shouldn’t worry about your soup going to waste. Still, I recommend you opt for undyed varieties.
Dyed linen colors fade over time, making dyed linen dishcloths unsuitable for contact with food.
Linen dishcloths dry faster than cotton, which makes them naturally anti-bacterial.
I believe this qualifies them as the most sanitary alternative to cheesecloth, don’t you think?
Fine Mesh Bags
Fine mesh bags make an excellent alternative for cheesecloth if you need to filter a large recipe without spilling any of it. They’re big enough for juicing fruit as well.
What’s more, a fine mesh bag has a drawstring with an adjustable lock to secure it.
In other words, the bag will neither touch the bottom of the hot kettle nor slip into the pot.
Being made of nylon makes it a more hard-wearing cheesecloth alternative, which you can use even with boiling water.
Just make sure to rinse it in warm water first, and it’ll be ready for use.
Though its fine mesh holds up fruit and veggie pulp perfectly well, it may not work well for brewing finer food particles, such as curds.
Flour Sack Towels
Since flour sack towels are made of pure cotton, they can be great cheesecloth alternatives.
They’re the magic wands in any kitchen because you can use them for countless purposes, from cleaning your windows or drying off your dishes to straining cheese.
These towels are highly absorbent. So, don’t use them for straining soup or stew unless you don’t mind giving up a significant portion of your cooking liquid.
If you need to strain some juice quickly, your French press will come to the rescue.
Pour the freshly-squeezed juice into the French press. Then, plunge it as usual, and voila! Your juice will be pulp-free in no time.
But here’s the best part: if you have a large French press, you can use it to wash and strain grains like barley and wild rice.
Throw your grains along with water and stir. Afterward, push the plunger down, and you’re done!
Even better, you can cook your flavorful soup in a large French press and strain it as soon as it’s ready. It can’t get any easier than this!
All of your substitutes needs all in one handy reference spot! Comprehensive list substitutes here or to print off for your own menu binder. You to find an ingredient option that will allow you to not run out to the store or you may find a flavor combination you love even better than the original. Garlic Powder Substitute, Cojita Cheese Substitute, Parsley Substitute, Green Chilis Substitute, Italian Seasoning Substitute, Mustard Seed Substitute, Cilantro Substitute, Sriracha Substitute, White Pepper Substitute, Onion Powder Substitute, Five Spice Substitute, Turmeric Substitutes, White Wine Vinegar, Cardamon Substitute, Parsley Substitute, Cremini Mushroom Substitute, Egg Yolk, Leeks, Egg Wash, Coconut Cream, Tomato, Stewed Tomatoes, Coconut Sugar, Palm Sugar, Hoisin, Adobo, Chili Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Escarole, Watercress, Rice Wine Vinegar, Ketchup, Tomato Puree, Tomato Paste, Lemongrass, Chervil, Cheesecloth, Worcestershire Sauce, Fennel, Dark Soy Sauce.
Considering the cheesecloth alternatives we’ve discussed, it won’t be tricky to find a replacement whenever you need one.
Paper towels, coffee filters, and cotton fabric are the handiest substitutes.
Linen dishcloths, fine mesh bags, and flour sack towels are among the less common alternatives, but they’ll take the hassle out of straining food and drinks.
You can also use your French press to flavor and filter your delicious soup.