I keep two separate baskets of towels in my kitchen: one for flour sack towels and one for small dish cloths. The dish cloths are for washing things, cleaning up messes, and wiping down counters. The flour sack towels are for everything else—and they're the real MVP of towels. Why do I love these humble towels so much you ask? Oh, let me count the ways:
1. They're bigger
Flour sack towels are anywhere from 20 by 30 inches to 36 by 36 inches in size, which is significantly larger than a standard kitchen towel. And more towel is always a good thing. They're big enough to drape inside a half sheet pan when I want to air-dry some lettuce or blanched veggies, or over a the top of a half sheet pan when I'm proofing dough on it. They're also long enough that when I tuck one over the the handle of my oven door it hangs down as an appealing toy for my two kitties—it gets batted down and dragged across the apartment like a hunted prize. (I've started folding them in half if I want to avoid that, but you don't have to do that if you don't live with two little towel-hunters.)
2. They're thinner
Flour sack dish towels are called "flour sack" because they're modeled after the thin woven cotton bags that flour and grains used to be packed in, which were re-used as towels. That thin cotton yarn and the looser weave make for a towel that's extra absorbent. Did I mention I like to air-dry my salad greens? Yes, I did, and I'll never shut up about it—sorry. (If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen it many times before.) Anyway, the super absorbent nature of flour sack towels makes them great for drying delicate greens.
I also use them in place of paper towels to preserve freshness in my herbs: Simply wrap the towels, slightly dampened, around prepped greens and/or herbs before tucking them into a reusable bag. The moisture from the towels will keep the herbs happy for longer.
These towels also double as a kind of strainer or cheese cloth: The fine weave means you can strain sauces and broths through a flour sack towel to clarify them.
And, last but not least, it means they're great for drying wet hands on. Which, honestly, is what they get used for most often every day.
3. They're lint free
That thin cotton weave also means no lint. Which means no weird fuzzies on my wine glasses when I wipe them dry. And yes, I always wipe my wine glasses dry after washing and drip-drying them for a moment because my towel-hunter kitties are also wine-glass-knocking-over kitties. The things those boys make me to do! But I also do it because a hand-dried wine glass is always streak free, while a drip-dried wine glass can have drip streaks on it.
4. They're softer
Brand new, flour sack towels won't seem very soft. You have to wash them before you use them to get rid of some stiffness, and the more you use and wash them, the softer they'll get. The ones pictured above are ones that I've had for almost ten years and they're so, so soft.
5. They're cute
I like the way flour sack towels look. They drape and rumple charmingly. And, while most people probably think of flour sack towels as being plain and white, I love how many colors these Now Designs towels come in. I'm all about color in my kitchen. You can stick with all white if you like, but my thinking is that stains show less on a colored towel, and since I want to keep my favorite towels around for a long time, the more color the better.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious