Nearly every chef gets his or her start working the salad station. Some cooks consider it the lowliest place in the kitchen, but with great greens costing as much per pound as some meats, that’s a huge misconception.
And now some of the finest produce that was once available only to restaurants can be delivered straight to your doorstep, thanks to farmers’ markets and CSAs—Community Supported Agriculture—in the form of weekly harvest baskets. You’ll want to treat it preciously.
Washing your greens and drying them well will keep them fresher longer, and able to hold the lightest coating of dressing without repellent beads of water. Spinners dry greens faster and more easily than any other method. Paper towels are a huge, unnecessary waste. Kitchen towels can’t handle a large volume of greens, and you just end up with wet towels hanging everywhere. The pillowcase trick—sticking your greens into a pillowcase, then spinning it around to dry by centrifugal force—only works outside, unless you like water droplets spattered all over your kitchen.
Don’t get salad spinners with little pull-strings or flimsy crank handles. Instead, buy these.
By Argee, $11.75 (pack of 12 reusable bags)
Spin’nStor bags look just like plastic grocery-store produce bags—the kind you tear off a roll and can never seem to open. But they’re a little thicker, comparable to Ziploc bags. They can take the place of your pillowcase, especially if you live in a fifth-floor walk-up and don’t want to run downstairs to spin your salad on a busy city sidewalk.
Just put your freshly washed greens into the bag, hold the top closed, spin it around overhead in a big arc for maximum force (Argee suggests about a dozen times), and the water drains out through little slots at the end of the bag into a reservoir. Tip the bag to pour the water out through the grandly named “Turbo drain” that runs along one side. While this all sounds a little goofy, it actually works.
The bags are reusable—hand-wash and air-dry—and recyclable. The number of times you can reuse them will vary according to use and care.
They’re available in a pack of 12 directly from the manufacturer with free shipping—just enter the coupon code SNSFREESHIP—or in some local grocery and gourmet stores in packs of 4.
The OXO salad spinner has long been a home-kitchen favorite, with its pop-up pump that starts it spinning with a push, and a simple button to brake it to a stop.
This SteeL model has an outer stainless-steel bowl that doubles as a stylish and durable serving bowl.
A big advantage of a conventional salad spinner is that you can also use the bowl and basket to conveniently wash your greens. Just fill the bowl with water, swish your greens around, and then lift everything out while still in the basket. Empty the dirty water in the bowl, then replace the basket to spin dry. A clear lid lets you easily keep an eye on your progress, and a nonslip base stops the spinner from sliding around.
The lid comes apart for washing, and all parts are dishwasher safe.
If you really want this spinner but storage space is an issue, OXO will be releasing a smaller version in July.
While I agree with some of my CHOW colleagues that paying over $100 for a fancy salad spinner just for looks is inexcusable, this pro spinner is well worth the bucks, because it spins your greens better than a Vegas casino.
It holds 2.5 gallons—about four heads of lettuce or roughly as much as that box of mesclun mix from Costco. Rather than slowly eating only half of your greens and throwing the rest away, wash up the entire case to serve at your next party.
The sturdy crank handle on top operates the gears housed within the lid. Once it’s going, especially if you crank it up to a fearsome speed, don’t attempt to stop the action by grabbing the handle—it can catch your fingers, resulting in a nasty sprain. Let the spinner slow down, then to stop it just lift the cover off.
It’s not dishwasher safe—hand-wash and -dry.
If you and your family and friends—neighbors, acquaintances, people you want to be your friends—are hard-core salad eaters, check out Dynamic’s Electric Salad Spinner. It has double the capacity—5 gallons, about six heads of lettuce—and retails for around $500. That, my friends, is some serious green.