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Alternatives to Salad Spinners?

  • d

I'm joining a CSA this summer so I'll be eating--and washing--lots of salad greens. Right now I use the blot with paper towlels approach, but I think I have to kick it up a notch. I'd prefer not to buy a salad spinner as my kitchen is already cluttered up with gadgets. Anything else that folks have used successfully? I reamember hearing about an absorbent bag that you sping over your head but I can't seem to find that online--and does it work?

If I do decide to buy a spinner seems that Oxo's is the favorite--anyone have a different suggestion?

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  1. "I remember hearing about an absorbent bag that you spin over your head but I can't seem to find that online--and does it work?"

    Is this what you're looking for?

    Link: http://www.shop.com/op/~Spin_146_nSto...

    12 Replies
    1. re: Deenso

      I put off getting a salad spinner for 5 years for the same reason - didn't want to clutter. I tried different methods (though, not this specific bag) and nothing really worked well. The benefit of the spinner is that you get a LOT more centrifical force than you could ever get by simply spinning in a bag overhead. You can get those spinners moving as fast the spin cycle in a washing machine... That translates into a lettuce that is a LOT drier than you could ever do by hand. So, I broke down, bought a spinner and love it to death. I stack other bowls inside to maximize space.

      And for your purpose, since you are joining a CSA... I'd doubly recommend it. I use it for all the greens I get at farmers markets every saturday. If you have a lot of greens, it makes pretty quick work of it all.

      Anyhow, my two cents...

      1. re: adamclyde

        oh... and the LA Times had an article last week on Oxo products. they talked about their latest version of the salad spinner, which, apparently, they were making so it could double as a salad bowl... so maybe you could justify the extra gadget since it can serve dual purposes??? :)

        The picture below is from the LA Times...

        Link: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

        Image: http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/20...

        1. re: adamclyde

          Actually, that looks like it would solve the big problem I have with oxo, the hard plastic bowl cracks.

          1. re: wally

            Yeah, my OXO has a hole in it as well. It is still usable for spinning, but for rinsing, I have to plug the hole with my finger. Only complaint I have.

            This new one looks intriguing.

            Once you have a spinner, it is hard to do without. We got so fed up with trying to make salad during our visits to my Mom's house that we finally bought her a spinner for Christmas. Much better, especially when cooking for a crowd. No wet towels or wasted paper.

          2. re: adamclyde

            That was going to be my suggestion too, as I saw the article in the LA Times and decided it was time to trade in my old Oxo salad spinner for the new one with the stainless steel bowl, because both my husband/lettuce washer and I like the idea of a multitasker. I love my plastic Oxo but we eat lots of salads.

            I haven't seen the new stainless one available for sale yet. Has anyone else?

            1. re: farmersdaughter

              I think the article said they were going to show it at some home goods tradeshow... so it's likely not out quite yet. don't know for sure though...

            2. re: adamclyde

              If you bake, the bowl works well for rising yeasted doughs, too. Most mixing bowls are too small for large batches of yeasted dough. Plus, when storing, you can put extra stuff inside the bowl - say, smaller bowls not often in use.

            3. re: adamclyde

              speaking of the washing machine...

              if you're cleaning lots of greens, especially hardier ones (collards, mustard, turnip, etc), the washing machine is exactly what we use. rinse cycle, agitator off, no soap. fill it, let 'em soak a bit, then spin.

              1. re: mark

                OMG! I would have *never* thought of doing that! Does it work for leeks? I guess it is too rough for spinach.

                1. re: mark

                  Yeah, when I was growing up, my mom worked at a resteraunt that tried that. They bought a used washing machine and loaded it up full of lettuce - the salads tasted like laundry soap! If you do use a washing machine either use a new one that is only used for this, or run it through lots of hot water rinses first to remove any residues.

                  1. re: JIRodriguez

                    LoL - I *knew* it sounded like a novel approach. Not unreasonable, just unusual. I've seen people mix large amounts of salad in plastic garbage bags too. Whatever.

                2. re: adamclyde

                  Another vote for the spinner here. You can use it to dry off delicate herbs as wella s other veggies. A great tool that is worth its somewhat awkward storage needs.

              2. Have an Oxo and wouldn't be without it. It's the best.

                1. many people love the oxo spinner. but I have to say the thick lid (it has a bump on the underside) poses storage issues for me. I prefer the Zyliss. it has a flat lid (and the newer models don't have the rip cord issue the older ones do).

                  I would invest the $20 in a spinner, especially with CSA lettuce. you can soak the lettuce and the spinner is gentle, and really dries the lettuce.


                  1. Here's what I do, but I'm not going to pretend that it's any easier or more effective than a salad spinner.

                    Drain washed lettuce in a collander. Toss until most of the water is gone. Put lettuce, along with a few sheets of paper towels, in a large bowl. Cover with another large bowl to form a big sphere. Holding the bowls tightly together, shake. Take the paper towels out, squeeze dry, and repeat until your salad's dry.

                    Over the course of several years, you might waste enough paper towels to have justified the purchase of a salad spinner to begin with. Or you could use cloth towels. I don't eat enough salad to mind doing things this way.

                    1. I know this will cause some uproar, but this method will keep your greens (esp. hardy ones) fresh for WEEKS!!!
                      Soak in ice cold water, in a big sink (laundry if possible) Let the greens dry thoroughly on towels (like an old bath towel), for a few hours. Then wrap tightly in a single layer in another clean, dry towel (old tea towels work well) and place in a plastic bag. This works especially well with romaine lettuce. It works less well the more delicate your greens, but it still works.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jill

                        I do pretty much the same thing and make salad to last the week. I do use my old reliable Copco salad spinner to wash and drain the lettuces. It is bulky but I have room in my pantry for it. Long long ago I had a collapsable French wire mesh drying basket. It folded up flat but could be a bit messy. You were supposed to put the washed greens in the basket and whirl it around over your head. It was best to do that outside.

                        1. re: jill

                          I saw this tip in an on-line cooking video somewhere - how the "crisp" lettuce. She rolled up the second towel with the lettuce in it so it didn't take up so much room.

                        2. Before I broke down and bought a salad spinner I used to roll washed lettuce leaves in single layers in large kitchen towels to dry them and then store them (single layer again) between dry kitchen towels or paper towels. Like jill's method, they keep well. My mother, who eats salad two meals a day, keeps a 12 by 18 inch covered square plastic tub in her fridge with her washed lettuce layered between towels.

                          Honestly, I think the towel method gets them dryer than the salad spinner. I may be obsessive, but after I wash and dry in the salad spinner, I still layer my lettuce with paper towels in the salad bowl until tossing the salad to get every last drop of water off. They hold dressing so much better when completely dry.

                          1. While I totally get not wanting more gadgets, the salad spinner isn't one to skip. We've been in a CSA for three years now, which means we eat -- and wash -- a lot of vegetables. Not every veg needs to be dried, but I use the salad spinner to wash pretty much every tender green: it's the perfect size to float lettuce, chard, kale, spinach, sliced leeks, etc. to get dirt off. Then, just lift the strainer basket out of the dirty water. Floating the leafy greens in a laundry tub is great, but requires planning ahead. On a weeknight, for two people, when I don't want to fill up the whole sink, that salad spinner is just right.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Millicent

                              "...it's the perfect size to float lettuce, chard, kale, spinach, sliced leeks, etc. to get dirt off. Then, just lift the strainer basket out of the dirty water."

                              I have just one suggestion. Fill the outer bowl with water and then float the greens in it *without* the strainer basket. Gently swish the greens around in the water so that any bits of dirt or grit or whatever fall to the bottom of the water in the bowl, then lift the greens out and place in the strainer. Pour the dirty water out and put the lettuce-filled strainer back into the bowl, then spin. I sometimes repeat the effort - particularly sandy greens, like leeks or spinach. I find it's a good way to go 'cause I can see if the rinse water from the second go-round is clear or not.

                            2. Ack! just use a clean pillow case, place the wet greens inside and spin over your head.

                              1. Ack! just use a clean pillow case, place the wet greens inside and spin over your head.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: theSauce

                                  that will ensure sweet dreams! (or at least healthy ones)

                                2. Roll 'em up loosely in a towel (kitchen towel, bath towel, whatever size appropriate.) Grab by the ends (but don't twist, obviously) and shake a few times firmly but not violently. If you use odoriferous detergent or fabric softener, I'd think twice about doing this though.

                                  1. Not necessarily a method I'd recommend, but one of my best friends used to put her greens in a pillow case and set the washing machine on "spin". Got her greens dry enough, but honestly, I just can't go there.

                                    If it's any indication, I'm usually the "Ethel" to her "Lucy".

                                    1. I'm very fond of my salad spinner - I think the Graham Kerr brand from TJ Maxx years ago - and I like the fact that the bowl has holes on the bottom so that the water comes right out into the sink.

                                      If you're looking for double duty, a salad spinner is also great for hand washables, like sweaters.

                                      1. I actually own 2 OXO salad spinners. One large, one small. I understand your need to reduce clutter, but I use both all the time.

                                        I owned a different brand years ago, and threw it away. OXO is the way to go. I like the fact that you can lock the top to make it more compact for storage. It's dishwasher safe and not flimsy like other brands. Plus, it really dries the greens well.

                                        You don't have to just use it for salad. You can spin dry other greens like kale and swiss chard. Or even to drain pasta/veggies or store your greens.

                                        1. OK, here's what I do in a pinch...like a rental house or campground. I don't like wet towels. Soak the lettuce in a bowl of water. Drain and place in a plastic supermarket bag. Cut or tear a small hole in the corner of the plastic bag. Go outside and swing the plastic bag around your head. Get some centrifugal motion going. Clean water will spin out through the hole in the bag. Enjoy the fresh air. Go back inside, remove the mostly dry lettuce and throw out the bag or save for later use.

                                          1. as to the spinner itself, i'm going to go against the crowd and say get a cheap one. i have three friends who have the really cheap ones that you buy in the supermarket or hardware store, and they get the leaves a lot drier than my oxo.

                                            i was conflicted about this for years, then bought the oxo. but now i prefer to store my clean lettuce in whole leaves--once you break them up they don't last as long--and you can't spin whole leaves very effectively. it's good for herbs and smaller bits, though.

                                            i soak romaine in cold water in the sink. then stand the whole bunch upright in a bowl and let it sit there. tip the water out every so often. when leaves are damp to dry, wrap gently in paper towel, place in plastic bag in fridge. just my $.02...

                                            1. I used to use one of those mesh bags that oranges or other citrus fruits come it. The bags are plastic so they don't absorb water and dry very quickly. I tried the pillowcase trick once but was not thrilled with the resulting damp pillowcase embedded with lettuce debris.

                                              1. Try using a blow dryer to dry each leaf off or you can just use a salad spinner and be done with it. Who's going to know anyway.OXO, baby!

                                                1. theSauce is right x 2: buy and wash a cotton pillow case. Swing around overhead, outside.

                                                  1. I belonged to my CSA for two years before I broke down and bought a salad spinner. I'd decided while still in my teens that they were useless kitchen clutterers. And I live in NY where kitchen space is a complete and total luxury item. That said I love my salad spinner and use it and recommend it. I have the OXO one and it's found a happy home with me.

                                                    1. I use the OXO then wrap in paper towels (VIVA the best) and place in special green plastic bags that keep all produce more than twice as long. They are hard to find, I think because grocery stores don't want your produce to last longer. Their website is: www.evertfresh.com, Tel: 979-885-0340; I can't live without them.

                                                      1. I just bought some of those reusable salad spinning bags at SLT. I haven't used them yet. Supposedly you can fill one with rinsed veggies, spin it around, and the veggies and excess water are diverted to separate channels. You can pour the dirty water out the bottom and store the veggies in the bag.

                                                        I have two questions:

                                                        If the bags are reusable, why do they come in packages of 4?

                                                        What is CSA?

                                                        Thank you.

                                                        1. Never did think of the pillowcase-
                                                          Sometimes I used a brown paper bag or two. Since I had heard a grocery sack being called an Alabama Suitcase I called it my Alabama Salad Spinner.
                                                          Now I am very glad we made room for the big plastic Zyliss spinner.

                                                          1. You can also put washed greens in a very clean dish towel, gather the edges of the towel up, and swing the bundle above your head.

                                                            But, the salad spinner is easier, and the space issue is mitigated somewhat by storing mixing bowls inside of it.

                                                            1. Is this what you were thinking of?

                                                              I have yet to try it but very curious. I am also thinking of breaking down and buying a salad spinner.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: kristyn

                                                                Yep those are what I bought. I still want to know why there are 4 of them per pack...

                                                              2. I love and regularly use my 12 year old Copco. Spins by hand on top--no string. Drains into its bowl, not the sink--which is very helpful if sink is not empty. Colander drainage is tight enough to dry smaller greens/herbs. too.

                                                                When visiting others without spinners (poor souls) and helping in the kitchen, I spin overhead with pillow case or dish towel as described above. Works better that patting dry, to my mind.

                                                                Storing clean lettuce--into a produce bag (from grocery store, clear plastic) with one or two (also Viva) towels--tie loosely, capturing lots of air, if possible (sounds wrong-but it works great! Lettuce lasts for days.

                                                                Good luck!