We've always felt annoyed by cheesecloth. All those gauzy layers and then the stuff isn't even really reusable. And then we found flour sacks. They're not really thick enough to be dish towels...but they're definitely not cheesecloth. They're perfect.
Flour sacks are not really sacks at all, but sheets of fabric made of very thin cotton threads. The weave is tighter than cheesecloth, but loose enough that you can see through the cloth. They're not really intended to be used as dish towels, except for maybe polishing streaks.
What they are perfect for is straining. One layer is great for straining stock. A double layer does well for making thicker yogurts and cheeses. More layers help you filter a cleaner, clearer liquid, as we did for our milk liqueur the other day.
Beyond straining, flour sacks can be used to cover bowls to protect contents from summer insects and curious animals. We also rub one with flour and use it to line a basket for rounds of rising bread. A clean flour sack also makes a pretty lining for a bowl of hot dinner rolls or a plate of cookies.
And when we're done, we can rinse the towels out in the sink and throw them in the wash. The weave is tight enough that it can hold up to a heavy wash cycle, and the towels come out as good as new.
We ordered our flour sacks off Amazon, but we also often see them in the kitchen supply section of gourmet groceries and kitchen stores.
• Find Them! Gourmet Classics Organic Flour Sacks, $12.99 from Amazon.com
(Image: Emma Christensen)