My French press is one of the most important tools in my kitchen. It's indispensable, and it's no small exaggeration when I say that I use it on a daily basis thanks to my coffee addiction. However, it gets used for a lot more than just my morning cuppa (and my second morning cuppa, and my late morning cuppa, and my... well, you get the picture).
Among the many surprising uses, a French press can help you infuse beers, make whipping cream, and even create more flavorful broths. But out of all the wonderful things a French press can do in the kitchen, these are my personal favorites for my handy little coffee maker:
Some lightly infused milk is the perfect way to elevate tea time or your morning coffee (not to mention a great way to impress your friends).
Just put your favorite spices—my favorites are cinnamon sticks, star anise, and vanilla beans—in your French press, then pour in hot milk and let it steep for a few minutes. Once the milk has finished steeping, bring the French press to the table as a perfect compliment to the tea and coffee for your guests.
If you'd like, you can also pump the top of the French press a few times to lightly froth the milk.
As most home cooks know, it's important to wash rice and other similar grains before cooking. This may sound simple, but it can be a hassle because it often requires dirtying a large strainer or colander and uses more water than necessary. A better, neater solution is to use a French press.
Pour the grain you're going to use into the French press, fill it with water, then swirl the container a few times. Press the plunger down and pour out the dirty water. Voilà: your grains are washed with little effort on your part.
If you'd like to learn more about a specific grain and whether or not it requires more than one rinse, you may find this grain preparation guide helpful.
Tea and coffee are pretty similar in my book: they're both hot, delicious, caffeinated beverages that I'm completely addicted to. Oh, and they also both brew perfectly in a French press!
A lot of people don't bother with loose leaf-tea because they don't have a teapot, but a French press works just as well for tea as it does for coffee. Just be sure to check the recommended steeping time for your leaves, which can be found on most packaging.
Many internet commenters are wary of using French presses for non-coffee applications because the flavors may mix. And as much as I love coffee, I don't like enjoy coffee-flavored tea, no matter how subtle the flavor may be.
Similarly, nothing ruins a good cup of coffee like the stale flavor of whatever last occupied your French press. But don't let this stop you: just wash your French press thoroughly every time you use it, and you'll never notice the difference. In fact, it's a good idea to make sure you thoroughly clean anything you use for coffee, period.
Do you have any more great uses for French presses?