Salad spinners can save you money by allowing you to buy loose greens, rather than pre-cut, pre-bagged greens. Experts say the bagging process causes greens to lose flavor and nutrients. With proper care, loose salad greens will stay fresh longer than bagged salad.

There are two primary types of salad spinners: pump or pull-cord, both manual. Pump styles are either similar to a plunger or operated with a lever, but both use the same principle, operating a spinning mechanism that builds momentum and centrifugal force to literally spin the water off salad lettuce, berries or other vegetables. Pull-cord styles tend to spin faster and therefore dry greens better, although they're not as durable: Owners repeatedly complain that pull cords will break over time.

Here's what the experts have to say about choosing a salad spinner:

  • You don't need a salad spinner. Although they are handy, you don't need a salad spinner. MarthaStewart.com recommends rinsing greens, rolling them gently in a kitchen towel and spinning them around outdoors, holding both ends of the towel in one hand. You can also use a mesh laundry bag designed for delicates.
  • You can use a spinner for more than just salad. The editors of Cook's Illustrated recommend rinsing fresh berries in a solution of one part white vinegar to three parts water, then spinning the berries in a paper-towel-lined salad spinner. Many salad spinners can do double duty as colanders or serving bowls.
  • Don't overstuff your spinner. It's best to wash lettuce in batches of 4 to 5 cups, rather than filling your spinner to capacity. A full spinner is heavier, harder to spin and less effective at drying greens than one that's half full.
  • Distribute greens evenly in your spinner. More produce in one side of the unit can throw your salad spinner off balance and make it less effective at drying greens.
  • Spin greens gently. Although rotating the basket at a high rate of speed may dry greens faster, bruised greens deteriorate more quickly than unblemished leaves.
  • Use a spinner to distribute dressing. Place freshly washed and dried greens in a clean spinner, add dressing and spin lightly. The centrifugal force helps ensure an even coating of dressing.
  • Store greens the right way. If you're going to store greens in a salad spinner, set them in the refrigerator and gently cover them with a damp paper towel. The humidity will help them stay crisp.

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