When we are asked to sift flour in a recipe, it's usually for two reasons: to break up the natural clumps in the flour and to mix and integrate the dry ingredients. A manual sifter usually looks like a coffee can and has either a back-and-forth agitator or a spinning-handle agitator. They are generally easy to find in most cooking and department stores.
The absence of a sifter in your kitchen, however, is no problem! You can use a standard mesh sieve (usually on a handle) or a whisk. A lot of times, using a whisk is preferrable because you have more control over how thoroughly the dry ingredients get mixed.
There are very few items in the kitchen that only serve one purpose, and there are no hard-and-fast rules about what utensil can be used for what purpose. Cooking should be a creative endeavor! Use your imagination, improvise, and overcome!
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