Tool of the Trade: Salad Spinner
Take your salads from soggy to spectacular with this must-have kitchen tool.
Whether you're a crafter or a home cook, it often feels like there are so many tools you can purchase to help you get a job done. Which ones are really worth investing in? Our editors are here to help. From everyday essentials to more obscure must-haves that will take your practice to the next level, we're breaking it all down. Each week Tool of the Trade will highlight one must-have crafting or cooking item you need to know about.
How did cooks manage before the advent of the salad spinner? While we aren't often fans of tools that do only one task, the salad spinner does just one thing, but it does it so well—and for any type of leafy green, salad leaves, or herb.
What Is It?
The salad spinner is a simple but clever contraption used to wash and dry fresh greens. The inner basket allows water to drain off of the greens; the outer bowl catches the water and supports the basket; and the lid contains a handle that, when spun, employs centrifugal force to gently but powerfully fling the water off the greens. It may seem silly to send your lettuce on a carousel ride, but there's a method to the madness!
How Is It Used?
Fresh greens, herbs, and other leafy treats that grow close to the ground can end up with dirt, sand, bugs and other kinds of grit nestled into their folds. Of course, the greens must be washed before you can eat them—because nobody likes that kind of crunch in their salad. And then, the greens need to be completely dry before you toss them into a salad, or the dressing won't cling to the leaves and you'll end up with a sad, soggy mess in your salad bowl.
The tricky part is, lettuces and herbs are very delicate and can easily get bruised and smashed when handled. The salad spinner is specially designed to give the white-glove treatment to your greens. First you add place the greens in the basket that's nestled in the bowl, and then fill the bowl with water. By soaking the greens in a few changes of water, the grit can settle to the bottom of the bowl without any rubbing or jostling from the cook. After the greens rinse clean, you can put the lid of the bowl and spin, spin, spin until no more water comes off of the leaves—no towel-drying necessary. The end result is clean, perky greens ready to show off in your favorite salad.
Why We Love It
For anyone who makes salad at home, a salad spinner is a must-have. Even though it does take up some cabinet space, there is simply no other method of washing and drying greens that's as effective or as efficient.
The salad spinner is equally as effective for robust greens like kale, collards, chard, and escarole; tender lettuces like Boston (aka Bibb or butter lettuce), and romaine; and all kinds of herbs including basil, dill, parsley, and cilantro.
Our Editor's Pick
We love the OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner for its easy-to-use plunger and its very effective push-button brake. The bowl is also attractive enough to place on the dinner table as a salad bowl. Ready to take your greens for a spin? Pick your salad spinner while the time is ripe!