Meet your kitchen’s secret weapon
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How are you making your coffee at home these days? Coffee machine? Pour-over? If so, you’ve got a nice big box of paper filters kicking around in the pantry. If you’ve gone reusable gold filter or opted for a filter-free method like a French press, I’m going to wager there are still some old filters somewhere in storage in your kitchen.

Which is a good thing, because you’re about to have your eyes opened to how useful these little circles of paper are! Meet your kitchen’s new secret weapon.

4 Creative Uses for Coffee Filters

1. Make an easy bouquet garnis

When adding certain herbs and spices to things like soups and sauces, you can often find yourself fishing endlessly around for that last bay leaf, thyme stem, or hard ball of allspice; or worried that you will accidentally serve it to someone. Coffee filters are an easy way to get all the benefit of these aromatics without the fuss. In other words, use it to make your own bouquet garnis: Put your whole, crushed fresh, or dried herbs and spices into a coffee filter; then close it into a pouch and tie with a piece of kitchen twine or secure with these handy silicone cooking bands. And toss it in—the filter will allow all the flavor to escape—and just pluck it out when finished.

2. Turn any colander into a fine strainer

Nothing catches bits like a coffee filter. Take any colander or sieve, line with a coffee filter, strain your stock or juice to perfect clarity, then bundle up the bits and discard. Not only will the filter catch smaller particles than your sieve would alone, anyone who has ever tried to clean a fine mesh strainer of teeny bits of stock scum will be grateful for the much easier clean up!

3. Perfect your poached eggs

This is a genius hack for folks who don’t do a lot of egg poaching or are about to do a batch for the family and really want it all to go well. Here’s how filters can perfect your poach:

1. Put one filter for each egg in small glass or ramekin to hold it upright and open (cone-shaped filters work best).

2. Crack the eggs into the filters.

3. Use a toothpick, paperclip, or small piece of cooking twine to close the top of the filter enough to keep it from gaping wide (it doesn’t have to be completely sealed, in other words).

4. When your simmering water is ready, grasp the filters by the top and gently lower them into the water.

5. Let cook for your desired time, then remove—the eggs should slide neatly out of the filters.

4. Infuse anything from simple syrup to liquor

If you are making a flavored booze or simple syrup infusion that involves steeping citrus zest, spices, fruit, or herbs, use the bouquet garnis method above to get maximum flavor with minimal cleanup. Your infusions will be less cloudy right off that bat: No further straining needed!

And now, let’s celebrate all this brilliant use with a really good cup of coffee!