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Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) promotes local food knowledge, production and market opportunities for farmers and community members throughout our region.

The Dirt on Salad Spinners

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The Dirt on Salad Spinners

Steve Peters

Greens in water

I have a very small kitchen and no room to waste on unnecessary appliances and gadgets - not even a toaster. So there are only a select few items that I consider worthy of taking up my precious kitchen space. A salad spinner is one of them. Deemed unnecessary or extravagant by some, if you grow your own greens, or buy them from a farm, it is well worth the investment. I actually enjoy finding dirt, and sometimes even insects, clinging to my greens. It reminds me of where they came from – real soil and real people. Nevertheless, I want my greens clean before eating. The best way to make that happen is to immediately submerge the freshly picked or purchased greens in a bowl of cold water. Then, give them a shake to release any particles to the bottom of the bowl. Cold water is important here because it helps the greens maintain their crispness.

After rinsing is when the salad spinner comes into play. If need be, I tear the greens into smaller pieces. This is certainly required with head lettuces, like Romaine, which are not going to fit into a spinner while intact. Tearing greens by hand is the ideal method, as chopping with a knife can cause bruising. Once the greens are in the spinner, put the lid on and spin. Sometimes this is achieved by turning a crank and other times it requires pulling a string. Either way, I find it kind of fun. Several spins are probably going to be necessary to get the greens sufficiently dry. In some cases, you might find you need to repeat the rinse and spin process a couple of times.

What I also like about a spinner is that when I’m done drying my greens, I empty out the water, place a paper towel right inside, and store the whole container in the fridge until using. Of course, a plastic bag with a paper towel inside also works. But if you’re still not sold on a spinner, here’s one additional use: perfectly dressing a salad. Adding the dressing right to the spinner (after drying) makes it easy to get the greens coated and prevents a pool of dressing in the bottom of your salad bowl. Or, you could evenly coat pieces of kale with olive oil when making kale chips.

The bottom line is that if greens are properly rinsed, dried, and stored, they will remain at their prime for as long as possible – giving you the most for your money. Sure, this could all be completed without a spinner. You could shake the greens dry in between paper towels or clean kitchen cloths, but I find that leads to unnecessary waste or laundry and simply does not do as good of a job. I don’t know about you, but I eat greens all summer long and know that the spinner will be in use throughout the season - much more than that dust accumulating slow cooker. A decent spinner can be found for about fifteen dollars. I actually found one for just a dollar at a yard sale a few weeks ago. By no means should you consider this a luxury item, but rather, the most useful kitchen tool of the summer.