Pros: Easy to use and delivers clean, delicious, dry salad greens!
Cons: Cumbersome to store in the refrigerator. Not a "multitasking" tool.
I've been buying salad out of a bag for years. It's not that I particularly like salad out of a bag, but as a single gal, I usually planned my meals on my drive home from work. Leftovers were things that padded my refrigerator until they became fuzzy and unidentifiable and actually prepping or buying food for more than one meal at a time was foreign to me.
Most of that changed when I got married. (The leftovers sometimes still become fuzzy and unidentifiable.) My husband and I began eating at home more often and we started planning meals weekly. Suddenly we were buying two or three bags of salad on a Sunday and eating limpid, stale greens during the week.
Enter the Oxo Good Grips Salad Spinner.
I had heard good things about salad spinners, but doubted what one could do for me. I also had a hard time rationalizing the purchase of a gadget that wasn't a multitasker. I have limited kitchen space and most of the things I buy for my kitchen are good for more than just one thing. The Salad Spinner is pretty much good for only one thing, spinning salad greens, as its name implies.
Then I joined WW to shed 20 pounds before my wedding. Suddenly salads were a nightly phenomenon. I caved. I figured I had to try one.
We got ours home and opened it up, eager to take some lettuce out for a spin. I broke up some iceberg lettuce, filled the ample salad spinner basket and rinsed it before spinning. Sure enough, we had almost a third of a cup of water in the bowl when we were done spinning.
How it Works
The salad spinner works under the simple premise of centrifugal force, which is the force that "impels" (nice dictionary word, huh?) an object outward from the center when it spins. Yes, it's your old Physics class in action, right on your kitchen counter.
You rinse your greens, place them in the inner basket of the spinner and then place the basket in the bowl, putting the lid on the top. A few pumps on the big black button on the lid and your greens are spinning around faster than a carnival ride. This model spinner also has a nice "brake button" so you can slow your spinning lettuce down before removing it from the basket.
Why It's Great
How many times have you fixed salad at home and tried desperately to dry off the lettuce before putting it in the bowl? How often have you suffered from "Watery Dressing Syndrome"? How many paper towels have you wasted patting dry your lettuce? How long have you left lettuce sitting in a colander desperately hoping it'll dry before your spaghetti is done?
The Salad Spinner takes care of all of that! You wash your greens, spin them dry, and you can even serve your salad in the Salad Spinner bowl! Or, if you choose you can leave the lettuce in the basket, pop the top on (the big spinning button locks down) and store your lettuce in the fridge for several days.
Alternative Spinning Methods (aka My Method)
After using the Salad Spinner for a few months I've decided I like to do my salad a little different than other people. I'm a vegetable cleanliness nut. Nothing bothers me more than gritty, dirty veggies. So I take my lettuce cleaning to the next level with the salad spinner.
First, I buy romaine lettuce almost exclusively now. Since buying this product I've become a bit of a lettuce snob. Romaine is sturdy, yet delicate and it's very simple to clean individual leaves.
I pull the leaves off the lettuce head, individually rinsing them under water and placing them in the salad spinner basket. Then I gather up the leaves, roll several together and, using a lettuce knife (plastic, instead of metal) I "chiffonade" the leaves into very small shreds. I place the leaves in the spinner basket when I'm done.
When I've done this to all of the lettuce I rinse the lettuce again under water. Then I place the basket in the salad spinner bowl and fill with water, letting the lettuce soak for about five minutes. (Alton Brown recommended soaking lettuce on "Good Eats" several years ago and I've done it ever since. No, I don't know exactly what it does, but it makes for some delicious lettuce.)
I then leave the lettuce in water on the counter until just before dinner. Then I take the basket out of the bowl, dump the water from the bowl into the sink, and spin the lettuce, dumping out the excess water when I'm done spinning.
Then it's time to assemble the salad. (Greek salad, anyone? It's my favorite!) If I'm feeling lazy, I will store the lettuce in the spinner in the refrigerator. However, the spinner does take up a lot of shelf space in our small fridge, so more often than not I leave it on the counter until after dinner. After dinner I give it another spin to get off any possible remaining moisture, and then put it in a large Ziploc bag to store in the crisper. (Those Ziploc bags that stand up by themselves are perfect for lettuce!)
The lettuce stays fresh for up to five days. I never got this kind of shelf life from lettuce prepped using the paper towel or colander-drying methods. We'll get three or four great salad nights out of one head of lettuce thanks to our salad spinner. And if the lettuce ever starts to look wilted, back into the spinner it goes for another water soak, followed by a spin!
Spinning is fun, educational and healthy! How many other kitchen gadgets can teach youngsters a main principle of physics, make your dinner taste great, and give you a giggle at the same time?
If you have the storage room for the bowl, a desire for great salads, and twenty bucks to spare, you should definitely make it a priority to own one of these gadgets! You'll soon find yourself wondering how you ever fixed salad without it.