Many recipes call for the use of cheesecloth. However, if you’re not into caseiculture – the craft of cheese making – then you’re unlikely to have it in your kitchen.
So, what can you do if your recipe requires you to use cheesecloth?
Well, there are various cheesecloth substitutes that you can use to get the job done. These substitutes are accessible, and you probably have them in your house right now!
But what is cheesecloth, anyway? How do people use it, and what do you do when you are out of cheesecloth?
What is cheesecloth?
Cheesecloth is a loose-woven gauze that is primarily used in cheese making and cooking.
Typically, cheesecloth is available in seven different grades, based on the style of the weave. In other words, the grade of cheesecloth depends on the number of threads per inch in each direction.
It must be noted that while the grade may be significant for the cheesemaking process, most other recipes will work with any cheesecloth.
So, as long as you are not making cheese, you can use any cheesecloth or cheesecloth substitute!
How do people use cheesecloth
Cheesecloth is used in cheesemaking to remove whey from cheese curd. It is also used to hold the curds in place as cheese is formed.
Some types of Spanish and Mexican cheese are prepared from milk by using cheesecloth. However, cheesecloth can be used for straining almost anything.
For example, many people use cheesecloth to strain custard and stocks or get perfectly smooth fruit jelly.
Cheesecloth can also be used in baking, especially when making fruitcake. Some people wrap fruitcake with rum-infused cheesecloth. It helps ripen the cake, adding to the flavor.
Layered cheesecloth is also used to remove fine grounds from cold coffee. Some other uses include basting poultry, thickening yogurt, making ghee or tofu, and bundling herbs together.
Cheesecloth substitute – What to use instead of cheesecloth?
So, your recipe requires the use of cheesecloth, but you realized you’ve run out of it? No need to run down to the store! Simply use these cheesecloth substitutes instead!
1. Cotton fabric
Cheesecloth is mostly made of cotton fabric. So, when you’re out of cheesecloth, any other type of cotton fabric will work just fine. Depending on what’s available, you can use a pillowcase, handkerchief, bandana, cloth napkin, or even a flour sack towel. Keep in mind that whatever you choose instead of cheesecloth is likely to get stained and require washing afterward. So, choose wisely!
2. Coffee filter
Don’t want to deal with the aftermath of using cotton fabric as a cheesecloth substitute? Then bring out the coffee filter. Whether using a disposable coffee filter or a reusable one – it will get the job done beautifully. Coffee filters have a very fine weave to get rid of coffee grounds, which is why it will do a splendid job as a cheesecloth substitute, especially when used for straining purposes. However, keep in mind that paper coffee filters are prone to breakage. So, keep a close eye on them when using them as a cheesecloth alternative.
3. Bandage or medical gauze
Bandages and medical gauze are excellent cheesecloth substitutes. You probably have these in the first aid box at home. Still, keep in mind that the weave of medical gauze is wider and looser than that of cheesecloth. To get great results, make sure you use multiple layers of medical gauze to replace cheesecloth. Three to four layers of medical gauze should be enough to replace cheesecloth seamlessly.
4. Fine-mesh bag
Fine-mesh bags are often used to strain nut milk. However, you can use them to strain just about anything when you are out of cheesecloth. While fine-mesh bags are not made of cotton, they work well as a cheesecloth replacement. Plus, they retain their shape, and you won’t have to worry about staining either. Fine-mesh bags are also machine-washable, which means you can use them many times.
5. Paper towel
You can use paper towels instead of cheesecloth to strain soups and stews. It’ll get the job done, but be prepared to lose some of your soup or stew as paper towels will absorb the liquids. Moreover, just like paper coffee filters, they are also prone to breakage. So, use them carefully.
The bottom line
Cheesecloth is definitely one of the more versatile tools in your home. It can be used when basting or stuffing poultry, when making soft cheeses that need a mesh wrap, or when straining stocks. And as flexible as it already is, cheesecloth also has a lot of substitutes!
Now that you know all about cheesecloth substitutes, you don’t need cheesecloth to prepare your favorite dishes. Simply use one of these substitutes when you are out of cheesecloth, and you are good to go!