What is a Tammy Cloth?
A tammy cloth is a fabric kitchen tool that is used to strain sauces and stocks. In most cases, the cloth is made out of a woolen material that has a rough texture. In addition to being used to strain sauces, it is also sometimes used to strain soups. Many cooks and chefs prefer to use strainers that are made of metal or even durable plastic because they are easier to clean. These kinds of strainers, however, usually cannot do the same sort of job that a tammy cloth can. This is because a tammy cloth has a knit that is much tighter than the mesh of most metal and plastic strainers.
In most cases, a tammy cloth will strain sauces, stocks, and soups more slowly than strainers made of metal or plastic. This is because the cloth has a naturally absorbent property that is not found in these harder materials. This creates a different kind of straining effect that is sometimes desired by chefs.
In addition to being made from a woolen material, the cloth might also be made from cotton or linen. It is also sometimes made of a blend of a few kinds of fibers. It can also be substituted with a muslin cloth or a cloth made of gauze. Tammy cloth is similar to cheesecloth in its uses and appearance. Cheesecloth, however, might be a bit thinner than tammy cloth and is likely to have a slightly looser weave. In a pinch, a tammy cloth might be used in place of a cheese cloth to do things like strain yogurt or creamy cheeses.
Tammy cloths are not very common, even in kitchen stores. For this reason, people who are dedicated to using this kind of cooking tool in their kitchens may have to special order the cloth, search for a specialty cooking store that carries the cloths, or even make their own. Making a tammy cloth is quite easy as long as a piece of fabric with the right weight and the right tightness of weave can be found. It is important, before using a tammy cloth in cooking, to make sure that the cloth is laundered, just as a new pot or pan would be washed before being used to cook a meal. It is also best to use a cloth or piece of fabric that has not been dyed so that there is not a risk of the dyes and related chemicals leeching into the food.
I have run across old recipes that call for using a tammy cloth and always wondered for sure what it was. I had a pretty good idea that is was used for straining, but it is interesting to read about how it is used.
I don't know how hard it is to find tammy cloth in the store, but can always find some cheese cloth in the craft section of retail stores.
We raise honeybees and will often use cheese cloth to strain our honey to make sure it is clean and pure.
It takes awhile for thick liquids to pass through any type of fabric strainer like a tammy cloth, but they do a really good job of straining and not letting anything pass through that you don't want.
Even though I have never heard of a tammy cloth being used in the kitchen, I am aware of how they work.
I always keeps some cheesecloth on hand to strain things and this would be very similar to a tammy cloth.
There are times when cheesecloth works much better than a metal or plastic strainer, and I never know when I might need to use some.
I have used it when I am making grape jam or jelly. The cheesecloth works great to strain the juice. One disadvantage with cheesecloth is that I only use it one time and then throw it away.
If you have a strainer, you can use it over and over again. There would be times it would be OK to wash the cheesecloth and reuse, but if I am straining grape juice with it, the stains are too hard to get out.
@ddljohn-- Why don't you use a thin linen/cotton pillow case that you have at home?
That's what we actually use all the time in the Middle East instead of a tammy cloth. That's what I use when I want to strain yogurt to make labna. I have a thin pillow case that I've separated from the rest for this purpose, I only use it in the kitchen.
If the pillow case is kind of thick, it might take longer than usual to strain the cucumbers but if it's thin, it works just as well as a tammy cloth. Wash and dry the pillow case first if you think there is dust on it. Then, turn it inside out, place the grated cucumbers in it and then tie the pillow case on the faucet so that it is hanging on it. Leave it like that for a couple of hours so that the water can strain through and into the sink.
@turquoise-- That's a really great idea! I generally use a tammy cloth to squeeze out the excess water from sauces and dips. It also works great with really watery vegetables like cucumber. There is a cucumber dip that I love to make but the problem is that grated cucumber has a lot of water in it that makes the dip almost like soup. So I have to use a tammy cloth with the cucumber first to get rid of that excess water.
I actually want to make the dip for a house-warming party I'm having this weekend but I can't find my tammy cloth. It's probably in one of the unopened boxes or maybe it got misplaced while moving. I don't think a plastic strainer would work, so I guess I have to skip the dip this time.
We have a linen tammy cloth at home and my mom uses it to make paneer which is Indian homemade cheese. It is so easy to make! She just boils milk and then puts some yogurt or vinegar into it to make the milk and water separate. When it has, she pours it through the tammy cloth in the sink. The water runs through the tammy cloth and the milk mixture remains behind.
All that's left then is rolling up that mixture into a ball while still in the cloth and putting it under something heavy. After half an hour, she takes the tammy cloth off and ta da! It's homemade cheese!
It's really cool that making cheese is so easy. Doing it without a tammy cloth would be impossible though. Any other strainer would allow the milk mixture to run through. So you can imagine how tight the gaps are in the tammy cloth. It's really awesome and the paneer tastes really good with spinach or in sandwiches when it's fried in oil.
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