two secret uses of the salad spinner

I own a Moulinex salad spinner that has served me for approximately 25 years. It holds vast amounts of goods, has a turning crank and the habit of getting unbalanced.

One turns to get rid of the worst of the moisture, and then the spinner begins to spin and wobble out of control. So one stops, opens the lid and very carefully re-distributes the content until the internal spinner-colander almost balances on the pivot. Then one closes the whole machine very carefully again and the spinning becomes a feast.

Robin has a “good grips” spinner that has no such problems of balance. But it turns slightly slower, so the drying takes more time. So we have two spinners, a slow and safe one, and a battered Ferrari.

I don’t want to write about dry lettuce. We all know that it’s better. There is a nice restaurant in the Gothenburg Brew House in Gårda, called bEAT (yES1) that offers very fine, fancy, hand-hewn salad dressings (in line with their other food, which is most of the time very good). But at lunchtime, they serve their lettuce literally floating in its rinsing water. Quite disgusting really. Matter of one hand of the cook not knowing what the other does. Hope he doesn’t cut himself one of these days.

I want to advertise two alternative uses of the salad spinner.

1. Preparing French Fries. Wherever we look, we are advised to very thoroughly rinse the starch off the potato sticks before deep-frying them. Then, one of my cookbooks states laconically: let them dry.

There’s no way one has the patience to let prepared French Fries dry.

I distribute them evenly in my battered Ferrari and slowly start spinning. Hopefully they don’t shift uneasily – the prospect of a hot bath in oil would explain anything – otherwise I would have to stop and proceed as described above. With a little practice, is my point, the potatoes are ready for deep-frying in less than a minute.

2. The Much-Discussed Pre-Salted Eggplant. Snazzy modern cookbook-writing cooks seem to collectively moan when it comes to discussing the preparation of eggplant slices or cubes. Why do all the traditional recipes always ask for pre-salting eggplant? It makes little difference to the eggplant’s greedy affinity to fats and oils, it makes no difference to the bitterness, what difference does it make?

Agreed. For a long time now, eggplant bitterness has ceased to be an issue of concern. I suppose that this is the same development that caused tomatoes to not-taste-like-anything-any-more, but I haven’t asked anyone. Agreed, too, eggplant always soaks up all its cooking fat, no matter what you have done to it. What else could be the benefit of eggplant salting? Get rid of wateriness perhaps?

Exactly! And: no amount of salting and waiting will convince the cook-à-la-mode, who afterwards neglects to pat the slices or cubes dry, of the benefits of this method. One-hour-long pre-salted and thoroughly dried bits of fresh eggplant slow-sauté very much nicer than any other kind: they develop a subtle brown crust while getting all soft and juicy from the inside; yet they resist decomposing into a nasty mush halfway between these states. Now, patting dry a bowlful of eggplant cubes, I mean really dry, is not for the faint of heart: it is time-consuming, requires miles of kitchen tissue and is highly ineffective nevertheless. Again, I use my old salad spinner. You pitch the whole heap of eggplant cubes right inside, push them evenly against the sides of the colander, close the lid and start spinning. Depending on freshness, one can extract up to a half cup of liquid from one eggplant. Ought to be proof enough that this is the way to go.


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5 Responses to “two secret uses of the salad spinner”

  1. Matt Hanson Says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Matt Hanson

  2. Rita Says:

    Who would believe that I could type in the phrase DRYING FRENCH FRIES IN A SALAD SPINNER in the Google search box and come up with a hit?

    I was thinking of getting a salad spinner with a gift card I received and wondered if it would do this job. The worst part of home made fries is trying to get them dry without leaving behind soppy, discolored towels.

    I may also try it with grated potatoes for potato pancakes.

    Thanks for your tip. I’m going to give this a try!

  3. skowroneck Says:

    I wonder about the grated potatoes – some of the spinners have too large holes for this. Depends on your grater, obviously. Good luck!

  4. Michaelc Says:

    I also found this site with a Google search because I was wondering if you could use a salad spinner after the frying to remove excess oil from the fries. I have not seen any evidence of it in Google, so I guess I will have to give it a try anyway.

  5. skowroneck Says:

    I wouldn’t, to be honest. The fat is likely to be too hot for the spinner’s plastic and otherwise it would anyway be a pain to clean the spinner. Good ol’ kitchen paper should do the trick. Also, “excess” is relative, of course…

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