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How To Sift Flour

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Chef Dianne Rossomando of The Culinary Institute of America explains that the purpose of sifting flour is to aerate it and make it lighter. This makes it easier to incorporate into a mixture. Sifting also filters out any lumps or impurities. She says you don't need a sifter, since a fine-mesh strainer works just as well. She pours about a cup of flour into the strainer, then shakes it over a bowl, tapping it lightly with the heel of her hand. This technique also works for cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Rossomando from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to sift flour.

The reason you sift flour is actually to aerate or lighten your flour, so it's easier to incorporate into your mixture, and also to sift out any impurities or particles.

You don't have to go out and buy a really expensive flour sifter; a strainer will work just fine. I have about a cup of all-purpose flour in here, and we're just going to shake the sifter over the bowl. I'm using the back of my hand just to tap it. What you see here inside the strainer is basically lumped together or clumped together flour, and what you see in the bottom of your bowl is flour that, after sifting, is a much lighter product.

In baking, you don't only sift flour - you also sift powdered sugar, cocoa, and other items that need to be aerated before going into your mix. What you see in your bowl now is a much lighter form of the flour we started off with; it's aerated, it doesn't have any impurities in it - this is much easier to incorporate into your mixture.

So that's how you sift flour.