The 10 Best Salad Makers
The Surprisingly Versatile Salad Maker
To be clear from the outset, you yourself will always remain the actual salad maker; no device can choose, clean, cut, slice, dice, and mix all of the ingredients you need to assemble a great salad. But with a great salad maker, you can accomplish many of those tasks with great ease and in relatively little time.
Most salad makers offer you the option to prepare a range of firm vegetables in a variety of ways. These usually include slicing, chopping, grating, and sometimes even spiralizing. In order to create all of these types of cuts without a salad maker, you would need, at the bare minimum, a good set of knives, a grater, and some specialty equipment as well. The purchase of all that hardware would likely surpass the cost of most midrange salad makers anyway, so for the household that frequently enjoys salads, a dedicated salad maker is a wise choice. And any kitchen gadget that encourages you to eat more healthily and enjoy more flavorful foods at the same time is always a good investment.
Any salad maker worth your consideration should be able to produce thickly chopped vegetables, thinly sliced veggies, and grated foods as well. As for the degree of finest of grating, the thinness of slices, and any other specialty cuts (spiral cuts, e.g.) you will have to consider for yourself what is most important.
As for the function of a salad maker, there are two basic options: the electric salad maker, and the hand-turned rotary option. Both types of unit create their cuts in much the same way, with the obvious difference that an electric motor provides the power in one case, while your own muscle power operates the second. Electric salad makers are a great idea for those with strength and/or joint issues such as can be caused by arthritis, injury, or illness, and can in fact empower someone to prepare foods they thought they could no longer handle. On the other hand, a hand-turned salad maker offers its user a higher degree of precision, so if appearance of prepared foods matters to you, a human-powered salad maker might be the best choice.
Salad Preservation Tips
Even when you have a great salad maker readily at your disposal, spending time chopping onions, slicing cucumbers, and grating carrots is not necessarily everyone's idea of a fun time. The more salad you prepare at one time, and the better your store it for later use, the more time you will ultimately save and the less energy you will expend. This is so because you will have to get out (and later clean and put away) your salad maker much less often if you prepare in bulk.
However, many vegetables are rather fragile and tender, spoiling quickly if they are not properly cared for and stored. And proper vegetable storage rarely if ever means storing blended vegetables; keep your veggies separated, and be ready to mix them together just before you enjoy a salad.
Let us begin with lettuce, the bedrock of many salads, and a vegetable that does require some careful handling if longevity is desired. In order for lettuce to be stored for more than a day or two, it must be as dry as possible before it is placed in the fridge, and it should be given ample opportunity to shed leftover moisture. Use a salad spinner after you wash lettuce, and/or let it sit out on paper towels in a clean, well-ventilated room. When putting lettuce in the fridge, either use bag or container with plenty of air holes, or else lightly seal the lettuce in a glass or plastic container that you have lined with paper towels. And unless it is expressly for use in soups or smoothies, don't bother freezing lettuce, it will come out soggy and unappealing.
Diced onions will survive well even in sealed containers, but when possible open the container daily for a few minutes at a time to let accumulated gas out and fresh air in. Look for at least a week of viable use. Chopped onions that will be used in cooking, such as in soups or atop pizza, can be frozen for months at a time and thawed as needed.
Fresh broccoli and cauliflower will survive well for a number of days even after being chopped, provided they are dry prior to storage and are placed in a roomy container. Do not pack either of these veggies firmly, and allow for plenty of airflow to preserve crispness and flavor.
Cut asparagus will lose its firmness quickly; this and a few other vegetables should actually not be prepared in advance. Slice the ends off of the bottoms of the spears, wrap them in a damp paper towel, and then refrigerate the bunch in an open bag, only chopping them right before cooking or serving raw.
Carrots are perhaps the most forgiving vegetable, and can be placed in a crisping drawer loose, left in a plastic bag provided there is at least minimal ventilation, and will last well even if chopped, coined, julienned, or grated.
The Story Behind A Storied Salad
Every famous, easily-identified salad has a story. Sadly, many of them have been forgotten or muddled by the years, but a few of our favorite salads can be traced right back to their roots, as it were.
The Caesar Salad is perhaps the best example of a famed salad dish that can be traced to the source and even to the very day and almost the very hour of its inception. It was created by an Italian chef named Caesar Cardini who emigrated from his homeland to America shortly after WWI. The Cardini family settled in San Diego, but opened a restaurant across the border in Mexico to circumvent the restrictions of prohibition.
The establishment became increasingly popular, so much so that on the fateful day of July 4th, 1924, when many Americans crossed the border to celebrate America's Independence Day by drinking in another country, Cardini's restaurant ran short of foodstuffs. The clever chef grabbed what few ingredients he had on hand and created a spectacle of the simple but flavorful new salad, preparing it right in front of his thrilled (and likely inebriated) diners.
The Caesar Salad was an instant hit, and remained a phenomenon local to Southern California and Northwestern Mexico for some years. In the year 1946, a food critic marked the arrived of this west coast sensation to a major New York steakhouse; the national sweep was not long behind.