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The Heirloom Tupperware Jifi Sift

Updated on April 2, 2016

The Powdered Sugar Mill

My mother always called this the powdered sugar mill, and it wasn't until my own adulthood that I notice the brand-name, in white-on-white, right on the device.
My mother always called this the powdered sugar mill, and it wasn't until my own adulthood that I notice the brand-name, in white-on-white, right on the device. | Source

Three Generations and Counting...

I know... I know... You've barely started reading this lens and I just know you're thinking to yourself, "Heirloom Tupperware?.... Are you kidding?"

No, no I'm not. One of the wonderful things about families is that they are all different and they develop different values and traditions that get passed on from generation to generation. For some it might be something that was handmade, or something that was bought in an exotic location. Of course, my family has things that fit both those descriptions that get passed down but to me and probably a few other people in the family, the one that seems the funniest is the Jifi-Sift.

What the hell am I talking about?... I'm glad you asked! Please, keep reading...

Jifi-sift screen
Jifi-sift screen

The Powdered Sugar Mill

For all my life, my mom had this thing in the kitchen. It got used from time to time, as special kitchen tools do, definitely not an everyday item. But part of what made this one unique was that I have never known anyone else in either my childhood or adulthood who owned one. And it works better at doing it's special thing better than any other tool I've used for that same task.

My mom called it the powdered sugar mill. You know, sort of like a pepper mill but this one made sugar snow instead of grinding. It's all white plastic, shaped like other cooking tools called mills and you crank a little handle at the top and the powdered sugar snows down gently from the bottom.

I find the distribution of the powdered sugar is more fine and more even than using other types of sifters.

Jifi-Sift Use

The Jifi-Sift was made for powdered sugar, but you will find people who use them for sifting flour. I find that using a larger flour sifter works better for that purpose, and save the Jifi-Sift for topping baked goods.

The Anatomy of a Jifi Sift - all the parts that are fit to break or lose

Jifi-Sift parts
Jifi-Sift parts

A Jifi Sift isn't a complicated item. But if the auctions online are any indication, it does have one weakness that you have to watch out for. The different parts consist of the overall body of the sift are:

  1. The sift body which holds all the powdered sugar.

  2. The handle. This is actually two tiny parts: a small shaft that snaps onto the top of the mill and the actual handle bit.

  3. The crankshaft which runs down the center inside the mill body.

  4. The propeller

  5. The screen

  6. The end cap. This seals the mill and keeps powdered sugar from coming out when you aren't using it.

The "weakness" of the Jifi Sift is the handle. People either lose the teeny bit or the entire handle itself. Most often when you find an auction offering spare parts, this is the part that's missing from the collection.

Lost/Broken Handle Help

This can be tricky, as it's most often the piece you can't find in a parts auction. I personally recommend rebuilding the handle (in matching white no less) using a silicone repair material called Sugru. This can be shaped by hand, air-dries in 24 hours and can be hand-washed along with the rest of the plastic parts.

How I Got My Jifi Sift

thank the Internets!

For many years, the powdered sugar mill was just this thing in Mom's kitchen. I would always have her make German pancakes when I came home from college because they were a favorite and they can be topped with powdered sugar so I would get to use it then. I also happen to prefer my French toast topped with powdered sugar and not syrup.

When my grandmother passed away, I learned she had one too, and my mom swapped out her really decrepit one for the more pristine one that was found in grandma's kitchen. Mom loves it too, and often used to say that she hoped it wouldn't break or wear out so that she could hand it down to me when she passed.

And then one day it dawned on me that since I make my living online and am always helping people look things up I should able to find this thing somewhere else in the world. Lo and behold! About forty-eight hours later, I had hit the jackpot. Not only that, but I finally learned this powdered sugar mill had a real name. It was a Jifi Sift and it had been made by Tupperware. The next time I saw my Mom, I told her and we looked at the very top of the mill. There, in white-on-white embossed letters, right next to the handle was the name "Jifi Sift." And I had also learned there was a pretty brisk trade in these things on eBay.

It would seem that the most prolific "stash" of Jifi Sifts is in the US Midwest. Apparently not only do you find people who really devoted themselves to collecting every sort of special thing Tupperware ever made there but from time to time you find a barn, attic or basement of a lady who used to sell the stuff and sometimes someone comes up with multiples of these in a forgotten batch of sales stock.

Tidbits and Comments - Do you bake things that get topped with powdered sugar? How do you like to sift?

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    • Euryale Sinclair profile image

      Euryale Sinclair 5 years ago from The Left Coast

      @anonymous: If you read over the lens, you'll find that you can buy complete sifts and spare parts from eBay. I also have a fix-it for the handle recommended.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My story is very similar. My mom had one and we used it all the time for putting powdered sugar on pancakes and waffles. It's great cause it doesn't make a puffy cloud of sugar smoke all over like the kind you bang on the bottom. Ours used to have the little handle, until one day it broke and then eventually disappeared. She still has it and uses it, you just have to spin the bottom between your fingers, but I need one of my own now. Can they still be bought anywhere?