With 17 first cousins, guess who ended up with this treasure that I am convinced, made my Grandmother one of the finest bakers in the world? Yep. Me. I can romanticize about how many times she produced biscuits for her family by cranking that little wooden handle during the Great Depression. When flour got easier to come by, she began making a lemon chess cake that could make you hurt yourself, and don't even get me started on her fried pies. But, I digress. That sifter was such a treasure to me that I continued to use it for years after I started baking until the weathered, dried and cracked little red wooden knob broke all the way off and I was still spinning the sharp end of a metal spoke. I sifted many a bag of powdered sugar, but when I did, I could never be in a hurry. That sifter took its sweet time rolling the bars against the tarnished screen wire in the bottom. From there, I graduated to one that would hold even less, but you had to squeeze it about a million times to sift 2 pounds of sugar and I didn't like it because it ended up being more of a workout than I bargained for .
Then one day, I was watching Food Network when one of my very favorite southern cooks who shares my devotion to butter began to shake sugar in what looked like something more appropriate for a fish fry. With her thick southern drawl, she affectionately called it a "sugah shaka." With a whip of her wrist, she was making it RAIN powdered sugar into a big bowl and before I knew it, I was green with envy. Nothing would do until I had said sugar shaker like that. I had seen things just like that in every kitchen section of every store. This shouldn't be hard. So my very next trip to Wal-Mart, I picked one up. I brought it home and attempted to make it rain powdered sugar in my own kitchen. No luck. I shook. I bounced. That sugar came through that strainer like snow flurries in Georgia. That was NOT faster than 'as seen on TV'. Convinced that I just had gotten the wrong model, I picked up another one at Williams Sonoma. Same thing. Then another. And another.
About a half dozen strainers later, I was accusing the Food Network of speeding up the video where I saw my favorite star shake her sugar. Then one day, it dawned on me that the screen wire was a different size in every one of the models I had purchased. If the holes were larger, the sugar would easily sift on through it. So I set out to find one with perfectly large screen wire. Then I found it! and I made it RAIN powdered sugar. I can now shake a 2 lb bag of sugar in 1/8 the time it used to take me to crank one of those simple machines. All I do is bounce the sugar and shake it into a large bowl!
I am thinking that this implement might have been created for another purpose and then someone discovered its usefulness for sifting but regardless, it is now one of my very favorite things because I can sift and shake and bounce sugar far more efficiently than my Granny did. If you use your sifter daily, you probably don't want to wash it daily. First, you are only using it for dry ingredients but mostly because Water likes to get into tight places and do what water and metal do every time they get together; rust. Now rust is the LAST thing you want falling into your bowl of freshly sifted sugar. When I do wash mine, I usually open the oven (that has been baking cookies but is now turned off) and slide it in. The heat will evaporate all the water from all the places you can't see it and it will not have time to create rust. Sifting fast, washing and drying fast. My Granny did not do things at the same speed that I do but to borrow an efficient phrase from Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that!"