If you’re looking to eat more healthily, a steamer could be the perfect appliance to get you started. Steaming a whole range of ingredients is a really simple way to keep all that goodness locked in. We’ll tell you everything you need to know and explore the key features to look out for when you’re shopping for a new food steamer.
Steaming your food is one of the healthiest ways to cook. The biggest benefit of cooking with steam is its ability to retain all those vital nutrients and vitamins. Whereas boiling your vegetables filters away all that good stuff into the water. A steamer is also a really handy alternative to frying as there’s no need to add extra oils or fats – ideal if you’re counting the calories.
You may think that you’re just restricted to cooking vegetables in a steamer. Not true. Believe it or not, you can cook fish, chicken, pasta, hard-boiled eggs and even fruit. That’s all three courses sorted! Some come with a rice bowl that sits inside one of the compartments and lets you steam rice for that authentic taste and texture. If you’re new to the world of food steaming, keep an eye out for models that come with recipe books. Packed full of inspiration, you’ll have plenty of ideas to get you started.
Steamers generally have a tiered design that allows each compartment to be stacked. Equal size compartments are stackable in any order but variable size baskets stack inside each other, meaning you’ll have to plan the cooking sequence in advance. There are holes in the base that allow the steam to move through and cook the food separately in each basket. The magic of the steamer prevents flavours transferring between compartments. So, you can cook salmon in one and fruit in the other with both retaining their unique flavours and aromas – great if you’re cooking up a feast for the whole house.
Some steamers come with an auto shut-off function that stops cooking when all your food is ready, even when you’ve loaded every compartment. This is a useful feature if you’re preparing a bunch of other ingredients and haven’t got the time to stand around to keep an eye on things. A keep-warm setting is pretty self-explanatory. It keeps your food warm in the steamer for around an hour or two, allowing you to get your homemade treats prepared nice and early without everything going cold.