Ina Garten's Trick For Crisp Lettuce Without A Salad Spinner

Crisp, crunchy lettuce is what's going to transform a salad from ordinary to extraordinary. Since summer weather can make slaving over a hot stove unbearable, whipping up a cold and refreshing salad is the perfect way to solve meal conundrums and keep cool. All you need are fresh greens, dressing, and a salad spinner. But don't worry if you don't have one — Ina Garten's got a trick for that. 

Like all produce, lettuce needs to be washed. Properly rinsing leaves will reduce the risk of illnesses like E. coli since leafy greens can become contaminated with bacteria from tainted irrigation water or manure, as explained by the American Society of Microbiology. While lettuce can be particularly hard to wash as its many leaves can harbor dirt and bacteria, salad spinners simplify the process. Invented in the early 1970s, the salad spinner is a kitchen tool that was created to wash and dry lettuce more easily by a centrifugal force that separates water from the leaves (via The Kitchn). Along with preventing limp leaves, drying is also important because dressing sticks to drier lettuce

But what do you do if you don't have a salad spinner?

Ina Garten's DIY manual spinner

Spinning will ensure maximum crispiness in your salads, but so will choosing the proper greens. While lettuce is available year-round, states Epicurious, these salad greens peak in spring and early summer when the conditions are just right. Make sure to choose bright-looking leaves that don't have dry or wilted edges. Then, get ready for a crazy kitchen hack. 

If your kitchen is already cluttered with all sorts of gadgets, save the space and ditch the salad spinner for a towel and a bit of arm power. During an appearance on the Today Show, Ina Garten recommended placing wet lettuce leaves on a dish towel, pulling in the corners to create a bag, and twirling the bundle a few times. Fast, effective and a bit of an upper body workout, this is definitely a trick that you'll want to remember.

Offering up the crispest and moisture-free leaves, you can trust that your salads won't go soggy with a DIY spin. All that's left is choosing the right dressing. As a general rule, Cook's Illustrated shares that tender greens like arugula or frisée pair best with a vinaigrette, whereas sturdier greens like looseleaf or romaine are the perfect match for thicker dressings. 

What are you waiting for? Get spinning!