Salad spinners don’t just make crisp lettuce salads. The spinning action also flings dirt from vegetables. Here’s how to choose a good spinner.
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What is a Salad Spinner?
Salad spinners are used to dry lettuce without the waste and bother of paper napkins. Salad dressing mixes better and unused lettuce stays crisp longer in the refrigerator.
Salad spinners can also be used to:
- Clean home-grown or organically farmed vegetables
- De-hull sprouts
A colander (basket or strainer) is spun inside a bowl and this flings water and grit out of the vegetables.
You manually turn a mechanism in the cover of the salad spinner. The mechanism latches on to the top of the colander and spins it. A spike at the bottom of the bowl supports the colander, allowing it to spin freely.
Prices average 30 dollars, with stainless steel models costing more. Popular brands include Oxo Good Grips, Zyliss (Easy Spin), Kitchenaid, Cuisinart and SoftWorks.
Electric spinners are available but don’t necessarily perform better than manual spinners. This article only covers manual spinners.
Hand Crank Salad Spinners
Hand crank spinners are the simplest, most straightforward design. Budget models are normally hand cranks but not all hand cranks are budget models.
A handle is mechanically linked to gears that turn the colander. Turning the handle turns the colander. The handle can be at the top of the bowl cover or at the side.
Pump Action Salad Spinners
Pump salad spinners spin when a plunger on the cover is pushed down. This allows people with arthritis or weak hands to spin the salad. Gears convert the downward motion into a spinning motion.
The pushing force is directed downwards into the bowl, so the bowl isn’t pushed sideways. It is possible to spin the salad using only one hand. Some models allow the plunger to be locked in the down position, for easy storage. This allows other containers to be stacked on top.
One variation uses a lever instead of a plunger. These work, but are less stable and need two hands to use.
Cord-pull Salad Spinners
Using a cord-pull salad spinner is like starting a gas lawn mower. A cord is yanked and this spins the colander like a top. A spring pulls the cord back in.
Salad Spinner Features
The spinning mechanism should be easy to uncover for cleaning. Spinners get wet and mold will build up in the mechanism if it is not opened and cleaned.
Bowls range from 3 to 6 quarts. Some bowls have holes at the bottom for water to drain out. Other bowls don’t, allowing them to serve double duty as normal bowls.
Most bowls are made out of clear see-through plastic. The plastic should be hard, for low-friction contact with the colander. Cheap spinners have soft bowls so the colander doesn’t spin well. Stainless steel bowls are also popular but cost more. Rubber feet help stop the bowl from sliding.
Spinners with flat tops are easier to store, allowing other items to be stacked on top of them.
Colanders are usually white plastic. Some have removable dividers or an accessory berry bowl to protect delicate food such as berries.
A stop or brake button is useful for quickly stopping the colander.
The Best Salad Spinner
A good spinner has low friction (spins easily) and opens for easy cleaning.
The various mechanical designs all theoretically work well. The difference comes in the implementation, with some models being unable to develop enough speed or breaking down after a few uses.
More important than the type of mechanism is the build quality and reputation of each specific model. The difference in performance between different models can be significant.