Cheesecloth can prove to be one of the most useful tools you can add to your kitchen. While it was originally meant for storing cheese, thanks to its unique texture and properties, its use soon spread to several other recipes.
Whether you want to keep the meat moist, use a fine sieve, make fruitcake, or make pouches for seasoning, you might want to get a cheesecloth first.
It’s true that you can do all these tasks with other tools as well; however, the results may not be the same as they are with a cheesecloth.
But unfortunately, cheesecloths are a rarity in most kitchens. In fact, they are also scarce in the market. So, it’s quite challenging to get your hands on an effective cheesecloth.
However, there’s nothing to worry about, as there are plenty of alternatives for cheesecloths that are just as good and provide the same delicious results.
The Top 10 Alternatives to Cheesecloth
If you’re wondering what to use if you don’t have a cheesecloth, here are ten of the top substitutes for cheesecloths.
Cheesecloth is woven with cotton fibres. So, it’s safe to say that any cloth made from cotton will match the texture and properties of a cheesecloth.
Anything from a bandana and a kitchen towel to a pillowcase will work perfectly fine instead of a cheesecloth, as long as it’s made of cotton. So, the next time you need a cheesecloth, start looking for spare cotton cloth.
You can use cotton cloth in the same way cheesecloth is meant to be used. Tie up the ends of the cotton cloth with a rubber band and simply pour in the liquids you need to filter or store. You can easily make cheese curds with this alternative.
However, it’s essential to get rid of the cloth after use for safety purposes. Don’t make the mistake of cleaning the cloth for reuse, as it can lead to bacterial infections and other issues.
Furthermore, you must also make sure there are no dyes used on the cotton cloth you use. It’s quite likely the dyes used on the cotton cloth are not food grade and contain harmful chemicals.
Additionally, the cotton cloth must be made with durable cotton fibres that do not get torn apart easily and mix up with the food, increasing the risk of swallowing harmful materials.
Lastly, make sure to clean the cotton cloth thoroughly before use, as it might not be clean enough for use with food items.
Fine mesh bag
Fine mesh bags are available in almost every household due to their use in laundry. They are made from a microporous material which allows water inside the bag but also protects the clothes within from deformation.
But what’s best is that the same properties of fine mesh bags also make them suitable alternatives for cheesecloths.
It’s quite simple to use a fine mesh bag in place of a cheesecloth. All you need to do is place the bag inside a strainer and pour the liquid inside it. Doing so will separate the solids from the liquids and allow you to filter any liquid.
A fine mesh bag is one of the best substitutes for making sheep cheese if you don’t have a cheesecloth available.
You can also place foods inside the fine mesh bag to keep them warm and moist if it is needed.
Compared to the cheesecloth, the fine mesh bag will not only provide the same outcomes but will also last much longer than it. This is because a fine mesh bag is made from more durable materials.
What makes the material of a fine mesh bag even better is that it is much easier to clean as well. In contrast, cleaning cheesecloth can be a daunting task.
Fine wire sieve
Another great substitute for cheesecloths is the fine wire sieve. Unlike cheesecloth, a fine wire sieve is easily available in every household, making it accessible to everyone.
Compared to the cheesecloth, the fine wire sieve has similar gaps between its wires. However, you should not confuse it with a colander which has larger holes, making it an unsuitable alternative for a cheesecloth.
Thanks to its tiny gaps, the fine wire sieve is able to effectively filter liquids just like a cheesecloth. But what’s best is that a fine wire sieve is incredibly easy to clean as it is made from metal wires.
The most you’ll need to do is rinse it a few times with water and detergent to effectively clean the fine wire sieve.
Additionally, the fine wire sieve will outlast the cheesecloth by several years, as metal doesn’t degrade as cotton cloth. Where a cheesecloth might last a few weeks, a fine wire sieve will last at least 2 years.
Thanks to being reusable and durable, a fine wire sieve is much more eco-friendly than a cheesecloth.
However, you will need to get a large fine wire sieve to allow it to serve its purpose as a cheesecloth alternative.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you will only be able to use a sieve instead of a cheesecloth when you need to filter liquids and store food. You will not be able to keep foods moist in a fine wire sieve.
If you frequently craft things at home, you might have some muslin lying around at home, which will serve as the perfect substitute for cheesecloth. In fact, it may be better than cheesecloth in some aspects.
Just like cheesecloth, muslin is a thin and lightweight fabric made from cotton to give it a fine texture with tiny holes.
However, to use it instead of cheesecloth, you will need to first tie up the ends and then pour the liquids you want to filter.
What’s best about using muslin instead of cheesecloth is that it’s quite cheap in comparison. Therefore, you can buy enough muslin to last you a long time all at once.
Moreover, muslin has a finer texture than cheesecloth. This allows it to serve as a better filter than cheesecloth, as it stops any particles from escaping. For the same reason, it will also be able to keep food moist during storage.
Another great aspect of muslin is that it can be reused several times. It may appear to be a thin and delicate fabric; however, it can last through many uses.
Even the tiniest coffee particles remain held inside a coffee filter, proving them as excellent strainers. As a result, it’s safe to conclude that the straining properties of coffee filters not only work with coffee but with any liquid of your choice.
Therefore, coffee filters are yet another great substitute for cheesecloth. In comparison to cheesecloth, coffee filters have a similar weave. In fact, it’s tighter than that cheesecloth, allowing for more effective filtering.
However, while having a tighter weave enables coffee filters to be better strainers, it also means that using a coffee filter will be more time-consuming than a cheesecloth.
But it’s possible to speed up the process by lightly shaking the coffee filter as you pour the liquid through it.
What’s best about coffee filters is that they are readily available. You won’t have to search entire markets to find an effective coffee filter, unlike cheesecloths.
You can even pull out the coffee filter located inside your coffee machine. This filter is not only effective but is also reusable, giving you an eco-friendlier option.
However, it’s essential to clean the reusable coffee filter before and after use. Otherwise, you may increase food hazards and make your coffee machine dirty.
Another readily available alternative for cheesecloth is the paper towel. Thanks to its fine texture and tiny gaps, it makes up for a perfect filter that will be able to hold even the smallest particles.
To use the paper towel instead of cheesecloth, you simply need to line a strainer with it and pour in the liquid you want to filter. You can also wrap food items in paper towels for warmth and moisture retention.
However, there are a few things to consider when using a paper towel as a cheesecloth substitute. In comparison to cheesecloths, paper towels are quite delicate. So, they can easily start to tear apart once you pour in liquids.
To avoid such a situation, you will need to use multiple layers of paper towels at once. Additionally, you can also purchase thicker and more durable paper towels to avoid disintegration during use as a strainer.
Moreover, paper towels are known to be quite absorbent. Therefore, some of the liquid your pour through the towels will get absorbed into them. So, whenever you use paper towels, make sure to account for the absorbed liquid.
However, paper towels have several benefits as well. For instance, they are easily available and at an incredibly cheap rate in comparison to cheesecloths.
Not to mention, you don’t have to worry about cleaning paper towels, as you can just pull out a new one the next time. In contrast, you will need to clean a cheesecloth, which can be an exhausting task.
Medical gauze and cheesecloth appear to be almost identical. Both are made of thin cotton with a fine texture that allows them to act as filters and retain moisture. So, it’s safe to conclude that medical gauze would work as a perfect substitute for cheesecloth.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that medical gauze is typically thinner than cheesecloth. The weave of cheesecloth also tends to be tighter than that of medical gauze.
Therefore, you will need to use several layers of medical gauze at once to use it as an alternative for cheesecloth. This will make sure food particles stay in while the liquid passes through.
Furthermore, you should know that you can’t use medical gauze again after use. However, this shouldn’t be an issue as medical gauze is easily accessible and affordable.
How many times can you use cheesecloth?
Cheesecloths come in several varieties. Some are meant for reuse, while others are not. You may be able to wash a simple cheesecloth once after use and reuse it again. However, after using it twice, it will break down.
On the other hand, if you use a durable and high-quality cheesecloth, it will last through several times of use with ease. All you need to do is wash the cheesecloth and use it again.
Highly durable cheesecloths never wear out, and you can continue to use them for years.
What to use as a substitute for cheesecloth for straining yoghurt?
Every alternative to cheesecloth mentioned above can be used as a substitute for cheesecloth for straining yoghurt. However, not all of them will produce the same results.
Out of all the alternatives above, a fine mesh bag will be most suited for this purpose. It will easily be able to hold the yoghurt tightly inside the bag as the yoghurt gets filtered through its tiny holes.
However, if a fine mesh bag isn’t available, you can use cotton alternatives. For example, you can use a cotton handkerchief or a towel instead of a cheesecloth for straining yoghurt.
Additionally, you can also use medical gauze, as it is also made of cotton as is known to be an excellent strainer when used in several layers.
Are there different types of cheesecloth?
There are several different types of cheesecloth. To be more specific, there are at least seven types of cheesecloth which range from a loose weave to a finely knit weave with tiny holes.
What distinguishes the seven different types of cheesecloth is the number of threads per inch knit in each direction. For example, the finest weave cheesecloth has 44 vertical by 36 horizontal threads per inch.
You can use this information to find the most suitable type of cheesecloth. For instance, if you are looking to make hard cheese at home, a cheesecloth with the most threads per inch will be suitable.
Are all cheesecloth alternatives food safe?
No, not all cheesecloth substitutes can be considered safe. For example, if you use a dyed cotton cloth as an alternative to cheesecloth, it may contaminate your food with harmful chemicals.
So, whenever you use some other fabric instead of cheesecloth, remember to make sure it isn’t dyed. Additionally, you must also clean the fabric before use to avoid further contamination.
In fact, some types of cheesecloth are also not safe for use with food. It’s best to use bleached and cleaned cheesecloth; otherwise, it may contain seeds and other unwanted particles.
Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.
This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!