An Appraisal of a Vintage Colander

Vintage colanders: If only they could talk...



Thank you for sending me an image of your enameled colander. I was touched knowing that it is something that you inherited. I have a number of vintage kitchenware items that I inherited from my Sicilian grandmother, Mary Campanella Gold, known to me as "Nana Gold." Nana truly never read a recipe; she taught me her cooking style, starting with always welcoming me into her kitchen to roll up my sleeves and pour some olive oil into the pan. Many decades later, I still love to cook.

Colanders are an essential tool in the kitchen for anything from straining pasta to washing broccoli (actually, Nana would admonish me to never strain cooked vegetables because the water can be used for pasta, a soup base or drinking straight "for extra health"!).

The word colander is derived from the Latin word for sieve, cribrum, an item that was traditionally used for sifting dry ingredients like flour and sand. Colanders were first created to clean and strain food. Thousands of years ago they were fashioned from rocks, wood and grasses. Later colanders and other cookware such as cauldrons, pots and pans were produced from clay, ceramics and metals. Iron, steel and copper were the optimal choices for cookware because of their heat-retention properties.

However, because iron cookware can rust and change the taste of food, manufacturers began to experiment and enamelware was invented. The process of coating iron cookware with enamel (glass/porcelain) became popular in 18th century Germany. Cookware manufacturers there started to powder-coat metal with porcelain and then fired it to be sealed, vitreous and nonporous. This started a new wave of popular metal cookware that was now not only impermeable to rust, easy to clean, but also was colorful. From saucepans and candlesticks to bathtubs and colanders (and, of course, classic porcelain advertising signs), a new product genre had begun.

Now, ironically (no pun intended!), we want a little more iron in our diet, so cast iron pans are back in vogue, although the porcelain-lined easy-to-clean enamelwares are still extremely popular.

I think your colander is terrific. It is a great example of ingenuity, practicality and love of food. Your colander surely has many great stories and we can only wish it could talk about the kitchens it has been in. I would value your colander at $20.

 

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