Essential Gear: Flour Sack Towels

There are some things that you buy and immediately find a thousand uses for. I first picked up a few white cotton flour sacks when I was making Mark Bittman’s [now famous] No-Knead bread. The recipe called for a “lint-free towel”, and my first attempts with a dishcloth left me with a thoroughly unusable piece of fabric covered with sticky dough. Not even a wash could take out the remnants of my foray into breadmaking, since all the fibers grabbed onto the sticky flour and didn’t let go.


The flour sack worked much better. With a tight weave and no lint (and a healthy coating of cornmeal), my dough didn’t stand a chance. But I soon found myself reaching for the flour sacks for more than just breadmaking — they were remarkably good strainers, dish towels, cast-iron cleaners, vegetable wringers and more. I made Greek yogurt by rigging up a towel rubber-banded over a plastic container and draining off the whey, dried spinach by squeezing the water out, and cleaned my frying pan without leaving bits of lint all over the place. They’re soft and durable, and take many washes (and bleaches if you like) without coming apart.

A lot of kitchen equipment is single, infrequent use, and expensive. At $1 or less apiece, Ibuy them a dozen at a time from Amazon, and always have clean ones at hand.

Originally posted April 12th, 2010

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