The salad spinner is the unsung hero of the kitchen. While some argue they're a waste of space, everyone from The Kitchn to Bon Appetit to professional chefs say they’re essential, and they’re right: Not only can you use a salad spinner to clean and quickly dry your greens and herbs (add water first, then put the greens in the basket; agitate the greens a bit, then let soak; drain the dirty water, and spin and dump until the leaves stop throwing off water) but there are myriads of other uses for a salad spinner, too. Here are a few of them.
1. Removing Seeds From Tomatoes
To remove seeds from whole canned tomatoes, Chowhound member Eric Higgins recommends first draining the juice, then breaking the tomatoes up a bit and placing them in your salad spinner. A few quick spins will throw the seeds away from the tomatoes. All that’s left is to strain the juice with a sieve so it’s seed-free for your sauce.
With fresh tomatoes, you can remove seeds and extra juice by quartering and salting the tomatoes and giving them a spin, which separates excess juice and seeds from the tomato flesh without sacrificing flavor. Now extra tomato juice won’t water down your recipe, and you won’t have to worry about seeds, either. And if you want, you can dry the seeds and plant them!
2. and 3. Get Rid of Moisture in Veggies and Meats
Taste of Home notes that you can also salt vegetables like zucchini and eggplant and give them a spin in your salad spinner to get rid of the very last bit of extra moisture.
You can also use a salad spinner to dry chicken or fish before applying breading so the coating doesn’t fall off, according to Taste of Home. Just make sure to thoroughly clean your salad spinner afterward so it’s not contaminated with bacteria from the meat.
4. Defrosting Frozen Shrimp
The website Chatelaine recommends using your salad spinner to speed up dinner prep—at least, when your dinner involves frozen shrimp. Simply place the shrimp in room temperature water in your salad spinner, and spin to thaw. Then, toss the water and give the shrimp another spin to dry.
5. Cleaning Broccoli
Broccoli can have plenty of dirt hiding in its florets. To get rid of that grime, cut the broccoli (or cauliflower, bok choy, or many other veggies) into equally sized pieces and soak, then spin them dry in your salad spinner.
6. Removing Excess Water From Pasta
There can be a lot of water hidden in the tubes and folds of pasta—which can make for a watery pasta salad where the dressing pools at the bottom rather than sticking to the macaroni. Take the pasta from the colander (don't drain it using the salad spinner's plastic basket; the boiling water could melt it!), toss it in the salad spinner, and give it a whirl until the pasta is dry.
7. and 8. A Cake Dome and Bread Proofer
Good Housekeeping recommends using the bowl of your salad spinner as a cake dome to protect the desserts from everything from bugs to kids—and, as a bonus, a covered treat is a treat that stays moist longer.
You can also use your salad spinner to proof dough. Remove the basket, pop your dough inside, and cover with the lid. The fact that your salad spinner is clear will let you get a glimpse of your dough’s rise, and the lid will keep the dough from drying out.
9. Clean and Drain Beans
If you’re cleaning canned beans, put aside the bowl of the salad spinner at first and dump the beans into the basket. Rinse the beans until the water is clear, then put them into the salad spinner and spin gently until the legumes are dry.
10. Cleaning Berries
Berries, like greens, are delicate and bruise easily. But not when you clean them in your salad spinner! As you would with greens, fill the salad spinner with water, then immerse the berries in the basket. Let them soak for a bit, then remove and drain the water. Raspberries should be dried on a paper towel, but if you’re cleaning blueberries or strawberries, feel free to give them a gentle spin.
11. Make Crispy Seasoned French Fries
Taste of Home recommends using your salad spinner twice in the French fry making process—once after you’ve soaked the potatoes, to get the extra moisture out, and once after frying, to remove excess oil. One commenter on Chowhound said they also use the salad spinner to season their fries. “I chop parsley or rosemary real fine … throw it in the spinner with the fries … a few slow turns distributes it evenly on the fries,” 9lives wrote. “A few fast turns generates centrifugal force and takes most of the excess [oil] off the fries. I find this gets the oil off better than putting them on a paper towel or bag.”
12. Getting Water Out of Swimsuits
It’s probably not a bad idea to pick up a second salad spinner for non-food uses, too. A sodden swimsuit drips everywhere and takes forever to dry. Cut down on drying time by giving your swimsuit a few spins in the salad spinner. According to Taste of Home, you can also dry small kids toys in the spinner.
13. Cleaning Delicate Clothing
Here’s a quick hack that will get you out of hand washing your delicates, whether they’re bras or kitchen linens: Use a salad spinner, instead. Put the delicates in the spinner with enough water to cover them, add a gentle soap, and spin to wash. Dump the water, add some more, and repeat until all the suds are gone; then spin again to get them almost dry before hanging to dry fully.