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Food & Recipes

We’ve All Been Using Salad Spinners Wrong — Here’s How to Really Clean Your Lettuce


Salad spinners seem like a totally straightforward kitchen gadget, but sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that can be full of surprises. It turns out, most of us have been using them wrong this whole time. 

Even seasoned cooking pros like America’s Test Kitchen editor Mari Levine aren’t immune to the salad spinner’s sneaky ways. She recently described her usual technique, “I’d place my greens, herbs, or vegetables in the perforated basket; run it under water in the sink; return the insert to the salad spinner’s bowl; and then spin it dry.”

Sounds pretty standard, right? I’ve personally always used a similar method, but just held onto my greens while rinsing them with tap water and then placed them in the spinner to dry out. Levine admitted her veg never seemed to get totally clean, but that “figured it was the best it could do.” Then she stumbled upon an old article from Cook’s Illustrated that cleared things up. 

Instead of rinsing your leaves in the sink and putting them all wet in the spinner, it’s smarter to place our greens in the basket while it’s still in the outer container, then add enough water to submerge them, slosh them around with our hands a bit to dislodge any debris, lift the basket and dispose of the water, and then finally give them a spin to dry out. We might need to repeat the submerging and sloshing process a couple times to really get the greens clean, but it will work a lot better than just giving them a quick rinse and spin. 

The video below uses the same method, but also allows the greens to soak for a few minutes to really make sure all the gunk is getting washed away:

I tried the technique on a few collard greens I used for lettuce wraps recently. It worked great and despite submerging the leaves in more water, they still dried up fine while spinning at the end — so there’s no need to worry about soggy greens. 

Add this to the list of simple yet game-changing tweaks that make our kitchen tools work even better, like flipping things around while straining pasta or juicing a lemon!

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