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SALAD SPINNERS: Please help me save my friendship!

Was at my friend's house and we got into an argument over her salad spinner.

She yelled at me as I hand washed the greens in her spinner basket. "The purpose of a salad spinner," she said, "is to wash the greens. So why on earth would you spend time doing it by hand?"

"Absurd," I said. "The primary purpose of a salad spinner is to dry the greens, so after washing the leaves will dry sufficient so that the oil from the dressing will stick to the leaves."

I've looked at some salad spinner web pages (see links below) and the argument goes both ways. Who is right? Is there a definitive "Joy of Cooking" purpose listed for salad spinners?

Thanks 'hounds!

Mr Taster

Pro drying description:

Pro washing description:

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  1. I believe the purpose is to DRY the greens !!
    Like a spin dryer is for clothes !

    1. You're both right. It can be used to wash greens first in the bowl, then spun dry in the basket.

      Win-win. Be friends. Make salad together. Where do I send my invoice?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Professor Salt

        Seriously, as long as you're cooking together, who cares what some websites say? Wear it on your head while you give the greens a milk bath if it makes you happy.

        (I wash and dry in the spinner)

        1. re: Professor Salt

          Professor Salt, Rent the movie "Intimate Strangers". Trust me, it's your kind of film.

        2. I concur with the Professor: you put the greens in the basket, the basket in the spinner, and fill the whole thing with water, shaking the basket a few times to dislodge the stickier bits of dirt. Then you lift out the basket, pour the water out of the spinner, put it all together and spin away. Washed and dried greens in one utensil. One of my favorite utensils ever, actually.

          1. According to Gordon Ramsey salad spinners are the work of the devil as they tend to bruise the greens. This doesn't stop me from using mine though. I tend to put the salad into the basket, wash it under running water and then use the spinner to dry.

            I had no idea people were using it any other way, but now that you've told me I can see the logic in it.

            1. Food safety dictates washing the greens in a good amount of water and lifting them out, which leaves any dirt or sediment in the water, rather than pouring the wash water and greens into the spinner, which can serve to put the dirt/sediment right back into the greens. What I do is to remove the spinner from the basket, completely fill the basket with water and wash the greens in that. Then lift the greens from the water and place in the basket, pour the water out of the spinner and rinse once, put the greens-filled basket back in and then spin.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Deenso

                Sediment yes, bacteria no (looking below). Rinsing won't get rid of bacteria. But so long as you're not immunocompromised, a little bacteria is inevitable and will not hurt you.

              2. I wash greens in a big sink filled with water so I can get good circulation around everything. If the greens are gritty I'll wash, drain the sink and do it a second time. I can't imagine washing greens in the spinner which is way too small to get greens really clean.

                4 Replies
                1. re: cheryl_h

                  I read somewhere that there is no higher concentration of bacteria anywhere else in your home than on the surface of your kitchen sink. There's clean as in free of dirt and there's clean as in free of bacteria. A little dirt won't hurt you vs. all the bacteria that you can't see. I'd go with the salad spinner, personally.

                  1. re: Mandymac

                    I disinfect my sink regularly with bleach. If you think the sink is a bacteria cesspool, why bother to wash anything at all?

                    1. re: cheryl_h

                      Have you considered a mixture of water, vinegar (30/70) and baking soda? Better for the environment and better for you. I would never use bleach on any food preparation surface. Yes, I know it's common practice, but I try and keep the kitchen as chemical free as I possibly can.

                      1. re: andreas

                        Sorry but bleach is the most effective disinfectant I know. I use it regularly for all household cleaning. Vinegar/baking soda inhibit growth of some kinds of bacteria and fungi but I don't believe it would be effective at killing the nasty stuff that can harm you.

                2. I wash in the basket of my spinner doing several rinses and then spin dry. I have a large capacity Copco spinner there is plenty of room for the greens and I have never seen bruised greens, ever.

                  1. (I never seem to be really satisfied with the drying job my spinner does-maybe I need a new one.)

                    Still I always wash in a big bowl. Grit settles. I scoop the greens out and dry. At times, in the spinner.

                    At times, I still revert back to my old, old method of throwing all the greens in a large piece of linen, twisting is closed gently, and going outside to swing it around to dry the greens, through both centrifugal force and the absorbency of the linen. Works better than a spinner, but I'm not always so ambitious, sadly.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cayjohan

                      Along the same lines, I've found a plastic bag salad spinner for sale in the produce section of my local supermarket. They come two to a pack, and can be reused. You place the greens in the bag (already washed or use the bag for that), then twist tie the bag closed, and swing. There's a channel along one side (open at the top of the bag) and the bottom that collects the water, which then drains easily out. You're left with dry greens, ready to use or bagged to keep for later.

                      1. re: CynD

                        I use an old pillow case set aside and dedicated to swinging the greens (outside, of course).

                    2. I think you were more right. The purpose of a salad spinner, the reason it's designed as it is, and that it has the parts that it does, it to dry greens. If it didn't have that purpose, it would just be a colander. As others have pointed out, it can also be used to assist in the cleaning of the greens (I use mine that way as well), but it exists for drying greens.

                      Another way to put it: the greens should be thoroughly cleaned (using the spinner parts or any other tools) *before* they are spun. I would not put greens that might still be dirty into the basket and then start spinning, as I highly doubt that the spinning would remove all dirt. I think the instructions in your second link are wrong.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nja

                        Well put, Nick. I use the method described above, where you put the greens in the basket, rinse them under running water, and then spin them. But then, I'm only talking lettuce, not other greens like spinach or chard that need more thorough washing.

                      2. I use it for washing and drying, and I do it as the first step in making the salad. Basket in the spinner, greens in the basket, several changes of water, and don't overfill with greens so there is enough room for dirt and debris to move out. After the last change of water, spin GENTLY to get the greens mostly dry, then remove the basket, loosen up the greens, and let them sit and drain in the basket while I make the rest of the salad. Voila: Clean, dry greens, no bruising.

                        It's easy to bruise tender greens if you really crank the spinner, but it's just not necessary. Do it gently and it's no worse than using cheesecloth, a dish towel or any other method.

                        1. I guess it depends how dry you want your greens. I don't like a lot of water in my salad so I spin dry them pretty thoroughly after rinsing them in a more porous collander. Air drying doesn't cut it for me.

                          (And I really hope you were joking about "saving a friendship" over this!!)

                          1. i use it for both washing/soaking and drying. i've also found that it's pretty good at storing greens and keeps them fresh for almost a week. just put the whole thing in the refridgerator.

                            1. Agree to call it a multi-tasker and both of you can declare victory. Then you can move on to more important topics...like, which is the correct way to hang toilet paper!

                              1. I use mine both to wash and dry my greens, but mine has holes in the bottom and a large hole in the top, to place under running water. I think it acts as a washing machine for the greens---it agitates the greens and cleans them very well. It also has a pull-cord, rather than a crank, to spin the basket, and it can go very fast---it's possible to get over-enthusiastic and bruise fragile leaves, e.g. basil.

                                1. You would not put dirty laundry in your dryer. It is for drying.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                    If my dryer's design allowed me to wash AND dry in it, I would.

                                    1. re: ricepad

                                      Actually, there are such machines.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        Yeah, I know. Mine is not one of them, tho.