The use of the pasta strainer, also known as a sieve or colander, is so widespread throughout history that it is impossible to pinpoint any one inventor or point in time when it was invented. References to the sieve can be found in ancient Roman texts and the Bible.
Today, pasta strainers are used primarily to drain water from grain foods, such as pasta and rice. Although the word colander is used interchangeably with pasta strainer, colanders are always large and bowl-shaped, whereas pasta strainers can sometimes be flat or pan-shaped. The functions of each are nearly identical, and either suffices in most situations.