Salad Spinner — Lots of Uses!

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 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.  But the one shown at the top of this article is what I’d buy, and it actually has some better features than mine.  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.

Whether you're washing greens and other veggies, or want to thoroughly drain canned or cooked veggies or even pasta, or need a strainer or bowl, a salad spinner can be a great multi-use tool in the galley!The spinner pictured is the 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.

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31 Comments
  • Paul via Facebook
    Posted at 04 November 2011 Reply

    Bet it would work for some light laundry duty as well.

  • via Facebook
    Posted at 04 November 2011 Reply

    Great idea — stuff like dish rags, undies . . . maybe a t-shirt. I’ll try it in a bit and see how it goes, then report back.

  • Waterwoman
    Posted at 04 November 2011 Reply

    Now, THAT’s thinking outside the box! I was given one as a Christmas gift several years ago (with the stainless bowl) and it is a prized kitchen gadget. Next time we go cruising, I will remove the colander and put this in its place.

    Thank you for the idea!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 04 November 2011 Reply

      Glad you like it!

      -Carolyn

  • Carolyn via Facebook
    Posted at 04 November 2011 Reply

    I was surprised at how dry the dish rags and bathroom towels got — definitely better than what I did hand wringing. I could do one lightweight t-shirt with good results; haven’t yet tried a heavy t-shirt. Nylon shorts did REALLY well!

  • Paul via Facebook
    Posted at 04 November 2011 Reply

    You’re welcome, a lazy man will always find a better way.

  • Carolyn via Facebook
    Posted at 04 November 2011 Reply

    You just reminded me of a quote from my grandmother, who said that a lazy man was the best inventor!

  • Paul via Facebook
    Posted at 04 November 2011 Reply

    “Necessity is a mother.”

  • Candy on Facebook
    Posted at 04 November 2011 Reply

    I never would have gotten one…now I am going to go out and get us one. Thanks again.

  • on Facebook
    Posted at 05 November 2011 Reply

    Join the club of those of us who never would have bought one!

  • Candy on Facebook
    Posted at 05 November 2011 Reply

    🙂

  • Donna of Lighthouse Dreams
    Posted at 14 November 2011 Reply

    Carolyn….a friend highly recommends the salad spinner from Pampered Chef. She raves about it’s multi-purpose uses…..Dori says it’s the best item she’s purchased from PC. Since my daughter Kerri recently became a consultant for PC, I will have to buy one and check it out for the many uses suggested and tried. I promise to report back to all!

  • Kerby Robert
    Posted at 26 March 2013 Reply

    This is also one of my favorite kitchen gadget because I always prepare salad for my family and we all love salad.

  • S/V Dos Libras on Facebook
    Posted at 27 April 2013 Reply

    I have a stainless salad spinner that I double as a salad bowl. I wouldn’t leave home without it, although I hear there isn’t much salad in the islands… Is this true?

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 27 April 2013 Reply

    I’ve heard from friends (we cruised Pacific Mexico primarily, so don’t have first-hand experience except for a few charters) that they got it occasionally, generally in the larger towns. The bigger problem is that lettuce bruises very easily with the motion of the boat, so we used cabbage a lot (it lasts forever) and also canned green beans as a salad base (I spun these to get all the water out — makes the salad much better)

  • Nicola
    Posted at 27 April 2013 Reply

    After reading this today, I went to the grocery store, where they had salad spinners on sale! Needless to say, I had to buy, so now have one for our boat. The outside is a solid bowl, with a pour spout, and not in hard plastic so I hope it does not break. Now I have a colander, salad bowl, mix & pour bowl, fruit & veggie dryer, and laundry aid. THANK YOU!!!

  • Kelley - Sailing Chance
    Posted at 27 April 2013 Reply

    I’ve used a salad spinner to wash small loads of “hand wash” laundry as well. Soak everything in the bowl, wash as normal, then pour it out when you are ready and spin dry. Works great, but you can only do really small loads. I am not determined it would be a good solution for laundry now that I live aboard.

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 02 January 2014 Reply

    Love the multiple uses.. always been reluctant to get one.. now I have had my thinking challenged.. love multipurpose tools.

  • Sailing with Totem
    Posted at 02 January 2014 Reply

    Seriously! It’s amazing. And, thank goodness, or we’d never rationalize the space otherwise.

  • Robin Aitken Hardy
    Posted at 03 January 2014 Reply

    Hola Carolyn! I too thought a spinner would take up too much room, but it is such a good thing to have onboard, it is worth it.

  • Cindy Patrinellis
    Posted at 09 January 2014 Reply

    My boat is only 31 feet so I REALLY don’t have room for such luxuries. My bowls and colander collapse to flat; that is the only way I even have room for those. But there is another old-fashioned way to spin that still works fine: put your lettuce (or whatever) in the center of a towel, grab all four corners of the towel, step into the cockpit and swing your arm around fast several times in a complete circle behind and in front of you like you were swimming. It spins off all the water.

  • Michele
    Posted at 27 June 2014 Reply

    What do you think of the collapssable salad spinners?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 28 June 2014 Reply

      I haven’t used one but just took a look at the Prepworks one on Amazon. I like the features, particularly that it has a solid outer bowl that you can use for serving and it collapses to half the size for storage. My only concern is that some people (a minority) had problems with the handle breaking.

      I’m not as wild on this pull-string model from Prepworks — so many pull-string ones have a problem with the string breaking.

  • Heather
    Posted at 14 March 2015 Reply

    I have a Progressive collapsible salad spinner and I love it. It does not have the pull string handle….just the type that folds down for storage. I use the ‘bowl’ part as a bowl, and the strainer part for straining large things (the holes are too big for spaghetti) and the spinner almost every night for salad fixin’s.

    Love it and couldn’t imagine being without it. We’re not actually living onboard yet, so I haven’t had to take advantage of the collapsible part, but I will, hopefully sooner rather than later!

  • D and Don
    Posted at 28 April 2015 Reply

    Carolyn – thanks so much for giving me more reasons to like my salad spinner. I used mine last night to spin dry some freshly washed herbs.

    D

  • cheryl bular
    Posted at 16 July 2016 Reply

    Love love love your website,. Another excellent suggestion! Fair Winds

  • Patty Thompson
    Posted at 16 July 2016 Reply

    Thank you. You justified my bringing our salad spinner.

  • Morris Jensen
    Posted at 16 July 2016 Reply

    Stick your salad in an old sock, twirl it around your head and… ‘hey presto’ dry salad. (smelling of old socks)

  • Lyn Baily Hewson
    Posted at 16 July 2016 Reply

    Mine folds up – both bowl & basket. Easy storage. Yes keep greens in it with lining of paper towel – helps keep fresher.

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