Baking with Flour...Flour Sifters

Myrna's sifter on top; Sue's sifter at bottom    

When I think of baking, the first ingredient is usually flour of some kind.  One tool I don’t want to do without is a flour sifter.  I have watched all the food channels, and it appears that using a fine wire strainer to sift flour is the trendy thing to do.  NOT!  Do I want to waste time and energy and get the flour all over, or do I want to do like Mom and Grandma and use a flour sifter to make this job efficient?
Both Myrna and I use flour sifters…the 3-screen sifter is the one I use; I only have a one-cup one because I only sift the dry ingredients together for cakes and muffins, and that is large enough.  It has the advantage of being able to sift right into a cup or bowl (although I often use a cheap paper plate to sift on).  They also make these in a 3-cup size.  Myrna gave me this one after my old one finally gave out after some 40 years!.  She finds that having to squeeze the handle on this style is a little hard for folks with arthritic hands.
Myrna has the flour sifter with the bail inside turned by the knob, about a 3-cup size.  It is easier to use; however, you need to check one if you buy it to make sure the bail inside actually comes in contact with the screen.  I purchased an expensive stainless steel sifter like hers and it was useless because it didn’t get out any lumps of baking powder or salt that I wanted to blend with my flour.  Myrna’s old one works just fine.
Both of our sifters are OLD!...they just don’t make them like they used to!  I never wash my sifter; and I don’t let it come in contact with anything wet.  My husband made a cover for the top and bottom so I can keep it clean on the shelf.  Our mom always kept hers right in the flour bin.
I often set my sifter on a paper plate right on my scale and weigh my flour, then add the other dry ingredients I want to blend into the flour and then sift it.  I just like getting out any flour lumps.
Read your recipe to see if you should sift your flour before or after measuring. 
  • Cookbooks before the 1940’s usually sift the flour, then lightly spoon it into a measuring cup…the result is usually 4 ounces of flour per cup. 
  • Cookbooks from the 60’s through the 80’s use the stir, spoon lightly into the cup and then level method…resulting in about 4 ½ ounces of flour per cup.
  • Recipes from the 1990’s on often just scoop the flour with the measuring cup and then level it…flour for those recipes usually weighs 5 ounces per cup. 
Often the cookbook will give you their flour measuring method and weight per cup in the introductory section of the book.  When in doubt, start with the smaller amount of flour…you can always add some if the mixture doesn’t look right to you.


  1. Most of time, the old ones of anything are the best.

  2. As a new bride, I made the mistake of washing my sifter. It didn't work out well.
    I'm with you, Myrna. I prefer the knob version over the squeeze handle.
    I love your informative posts. Thank you!

    1. OH, dear, but you could buy better sifters then.


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