I never even remotely thought of taking a salad spinner on Que Tal. I’d never even thought of owning a salad spinner, period.
Then, a little over a year ago, a neighbor who was moving away asked me if I had one (no) and said she wanted to give me hers. I took it, but wondered if I’d really use it. After all, I’d done just fine for years without one.
I’ve found that I use it for lots of things besides just lettuce, and now I’ve got one on Barefoot Gal.
There are a couple of different styles of salad spinners. One has drain holes in the bottom; the other has a solid bowl. The ones with the drain holes are easier to find, but the ones with a solid bowl are my preference because they’re much better for soaking produce in a bleach solution and also take the place of another serving or mixing bowl (and so I can justify the space). The solid bowl type are what I’m discussing here.
Here’s just a few of the ways I use it:
- I put veggies from the farmer’s market (or any purchased outside the US or Canada) into the basket, then fill the bowl with a mild bleach solution and let them sit for a few minutes. After draining the bleach solution (if it’s not too dirty, I save it for use with another batch of veggies), I spin the veggies to remove the excess water. This has really decreased the drying time before I can put them in bags in the refrigerator. While this is a HUGE feature aboard a boat outside the US or Canada, the fact that I use it for several other things makes me willing to give it a bit of my precious space on a boat.
- I spin most canned veggies to thoroughly drain them before using in other recipes, resulting in less dilution and less watery salads.
- I soak then spin both canned and dried beans, which really helps eliminate the gas-producing carbohydrates by getting rid of more water than a typical draining.
- I use the basket as my colander and got rid of my larger one. Some items I just drain but I find that I give a quick spin to a lot of things that I never had thought of “drying out” such as pasta or spaghetti squash. The sauce doesn’t get nearly as watery when you put it on spun pasta!
- I also give a quick spin to many cooked vegetables, such as spinach and even broccoli and cauliflower. They’re just a lot nicer when they are thoroughly drained. With the solid bowl, I can save the water to use in other cooking for extra flavor.
- And I use the solid bowl as a bowl, both for mixing and serving.
The spinner I have is older and I can’t find an exact replica. Several things that I’d look for in buying one:
- Solid bowl makes it far more multi-use, both for soaking veggies and using it as a separate bowl.
- Basket that can be removed and used separately as a colander or strainer.
- Sized large enough to hold a reasonable amount of veggies, but not too large to store.
- Spinning mechanism that’s not likely to break. Some use a pull string that can break or become fouled, others are battery operated.
Today, I’d OXO Good Grips spinner (link is to it on Amazon). It’s about 10″ in diameter, and the pump handle on top locks down for storage, making it only about 7″ high. There isn’t any big “saucepan type” handle on it like many have, which make it hard to store. The basket openings are small enough that you can use it for pasta and veggies like cooked spinach. And there’s a non-slip ring on the bottom, which makes it great on a boat!
The one thing I’m not 100% wild on is that the bowl is made of hard plastic, which can crack or break if dropped. But with a little care, it should be okay — I had several hard plastic serving dishes and glasses on Que Tal and only ever cracked one glass.
OXO makes a similar-looking spinner with a stainless bowl, but it’s considerably more expensive and a number of people have complained that the spinning mechanism breaks easily.