Why Everyone Needs Cheesecloth in Their Kitchen (Even If You Never Make Cheese)

updated Sep 17, 2020
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soft cheese on cheese cloth
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I like to think of myself as a pretty scrappy home cook. I’ve practically memorized every baking substitution there is, I successfully once opened a can of tomatoes with a metal spoon (although I wouldn’t recommend it), and I’ve never even used real pie weights before.

But there are certain kitchen items where only the real deal will do, no matter how inventive you are. Cheesecloth tops that list. It’s not ideal to start a project, only to realize you’re out of cheesecloth and have to stop midway through. Much better to just always have some around.

Now, if you’re wondering if I spend all day separating curds and whey, the answer is … of course not! There are so many other uses for cheesecloth beyond cheese. Here are a few of my favorites.

The 5 Major Ways I Use Cheesecloth in My Kitchen

  1. Straining cold brew: In the summertime, I pull out my cheesecloth to make homemade cold brew. No, a fine mesh strainer won’t do, unless you want gritty pieces of coffee bean in your iced cuppa.
  2. Flavoring soup: In the fall, I use cheesecloth to wrap Parmesan rinds for soup. I add a cheesecloth-wrapped rind to pretty much any soup I make — it adds loads of savory flavor, and the cloth keeps the rind from melting into stringy bits. Cheesecloth is also useful for straining homemade stock (it’s the secret to my crystal-clear vegetable stock for matzo ball soup), and also for wrapping up a bouquet garni.
  3. Thickening yogurt: Sometimes I need Greek yogurt but only have regular yogurt on hand. Thanks to my handy cheesecloth, I can easily strain it into thick and creamy goodness — perfect for tzatziki sauce or folding into frittatas. Strain it even further, and you get labneh!
  4. Dusting powdered sugar: Forget frosting or fondant. The easiest way to decorate a cake is with a dusting of powdered sugar (or cocoa powder). If you don’t have a sifter, fill a cup with powdered sugar, secure cheesecloth on top with a rubber band, and get to dusting.
  5. Cleaning: Cheesecloth is lint-free, which means it’s great for cleaning dirty windows, streaky mirrors, and fingerprint-y stainless steel appliances.

Now it’s your turn: How do you use cheesecloth in your kitchen?