My initial encounter with a vegetable steamer was fraught with confusion. The first cookware set I purchased for my new apartment came with a few extra accessories, one of which was a food steamer in the shape of a metal basket.
I must admit that I was unaware of what a food steamer was. When I discovered the small UFO-shaped metal device, I had no idea what a game-changer it could be.
I gave away the saucer-shaped device because I was going through a minimalist phase (and I had never figured out how to use the steamer). When I discovered a recipe video online using the very tool I had donated, I was overcome with regret and resolved to make amends. I bought a new vegetable steamer and haven’t looked back since. Since then, I have enjoyed, to name a few, steamed potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus.
When you have a food steamer, you are significantly more likely to prepare foods with less added fat, such as oil. Whether you prefer an electric model that can be set and forgotten or a stovetop option that takes up less space, I have compiled the best options. We sent them to our editors’ homes for testing to ensure their excellence. They evaluated them by steaming broccoli and cooking eggs to hard-boiling consistency. After testing, they informed us of the outcome and how easy or difficult it was to clean and store the steamer.
Are steamers suitable for cooking?
Steaming food is the healthiest cooking method, and steamers are versatile and straightforward. Here are five of the most significant health benefits of using a food steamer:
Using a steamer reduces cholesterol because no oil is required. As a result of the absence of oil, you do not consume added fats, particularly saturated fats, which contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Despite the lack of oil, steam prevents food from drying out.
Locks in vitamin and mineral content
The most significant advantage of steamed food is that it preserves all nutrients. Vitamins are naturally abundant in food, but most of them are lost during cooking due to the interaction of heat. Cooking with a steamer preserves all the fiber, potassium, zinc, vitamins, and other essential nutrients, allowing you to obtain them.
Maintains food’s structure and color
In addition to preserving the food’s nutrients, a steamer holds its natural colors and structure. Cooking on a stovetop or in an oven can cause food (mainly vegetables) to lose its vibrant hues, turning them brown, charred, and dull. In contrast, food steamers preserve the food’s structure, color, and texture.
Time and money saved
If you have previously used an air fryer, you know the time and money it saves you in the kitchen. Similarly, a food steamer works by placing various foods inside, setting a timer, and returning once everything is cooked. Also, you’ll save electricity because you’ll only use one appliance for cooking your food. In addition, steamers cook food extremely quickly, sometimes in minutes, making meal preparation a breeze.
Cleanup is a breeze.
Additionally, using a food steamer results in less kitchen mess. You need not worry about oil splatters on your splash back, sticky trays, and messy pans; nowadays, most steamers are dishwasher-safe, or you can always hand-wash the appliance.
What are the benefits of using a vegetable steamer?
Steaming vegetables is one of the healthiest methods of preparation. Steaming vegetables preserve the most nutrients compared to other cooking methods. Also, steaming does not require the use of oils, butter, or margarine, so no additional calories are added to the dish.
Steaming is a simple method for cooking vegetables. Additionally, microwaveable vegetable steamers make it simple to prepare vegetables at home or the office.
Types Of Vegetable Steamers
The traditional method for steaming food is on a stovetop. Purchasing a steamer basket is easy to steam food if you already have a pot and lid.
Steamer baskets may be made from either metal or silicone. Metal steamer baskets are durable and great for steaming heavier or larger vegetables. Silicone baskets will not scratch pots; many are microwave and stovetop safe. They are also easily adaptable to various pot sizes.
A bamboo steamer that fits on top of a stockpot is ideal for steaming large quantities of vegetables, fish, and dumplings. They are available in various sizes and have multiple tiers. A bamboo steamer liner prevents bamboo from absorbing food flavors during cooking.
Electric Food Steamers
If you plan to steam many vegetables or other foods and have some counter space to spare, an electric food steamer may be ideal. Most food steamers can prepare rice and hard-boiled eggs in addition to vegetables.
Vegetable steamers have a large capacity, making them ideal for families and large gatherings. Most are programmable and have a “warm” function that keeps food hot for 60 to 90 minutes.
How to choose the best vegetable steamers
Electric vs. Stovetop
Electric and stovetop food steamers are the two most common types. Stovetop steamers are typically paired with a pot, saucepan, or wok, whereas electric steamers are standalone appliances. Both electric and stovetop steamers cook food thoroughly while reducing fat content. Whether you prefer a dedicated device for steaming food or a steaming tool that is compatible with your existing cookware will determine which option is best for you.
While some appliances, such as pressure cookers and rice cookers, may have steam functions, electric steamers with multiple tiers typically allow you to steam various foods simultaneously. Some electric steamers feature a digital interface for user-friendliness and can hold up to 9.5 quarts of food. However, electric steamers are more expensive and require more space than their stovetop counterparts.
Bamboo- or stainless-steel-made cookware is supported in a pot, pan, or wok filled with simmering water. Food is placed in the steamer, and the food is heated by steam rising from the bottom of the pot. This is a more space- and cost-efficient option than electric steamers with built-in timers or automatic shutoffs. However, it has fewer features.
Insert vs. Separate Appliance
A dedicated steaming appliance may be your best option if you steam food frequently or cook large quantities of food at once. They have a larger capacity than inserts but take up more space on your countertop or in your cabinet. Some inserts fold up to take up less space, making them ideal for small kitchens or cooking in small quantities. This is also the more economical option.
Capacity is one of the most critical factors when selecting a cooking-related kitchen appliance or tool. Mini steamers can hold as little as 2 cups of food, while multi-tiered electric steamers can hold up to 9.5 quarts. The sweet spot depends on the number of people you will be cooking for or the amount of food you intend to cook at once.
Count of tiers
Consider how much and how many types of food you intend to steam simultaneously. Multiple-tiered steamers allow you to keep certain foods separate from others. In addition, they will enable you to add and remove foods at different times if one is ready before the others.
When shopping for a steamer, you may not be as concerned with unique features; however, depending on your cooking preferences, these extras may enhance the product’s value in your kitchen. Whether it’s something as simple as a timer or as complex as the ability to dry food, it’s essential to consider what else your steamer can do.
How long does cooking vegetables in a steamer take?
Cooking times will vary based on the thickness of your chopped vegetables, the vegetable’s maturity, and the type of steamer (it is best to consult the steamer’s user manual, which should outline general cooking times).
Below are approximate cooking times for various vegetables:
- Asparagus (whole): 7-13 minutes
- Whole green beans: 6 to 10 minutes
- Broccoli and cauliflower: 9 to 11 minutes
- Depending on their thickness, the cooking time for carrots, beetroot, potatoes, turnips, and other root vegetables ranges from 10 to 15 minutes.
- Spinach: 3-5 minutes
- Zucchini (3cm chunks): 5-8 minutes
Use the tip of a paring knife or a cake tester to pierce the food at several locations to determine whether it is cooked. The point should easily slide in and out, indicating that the meat is perfectly tender. If there is excessive resistance, the food is undercooked and should be steamed for another minute. Testing for doneness is overcooked if the food in question collapses or is destroyed. However, if you accidentally overcook vegetables, you can puree them into soup or mash them. Yum!
Steamers are typically used to prepare vegetables, meat, and fish. You can include vegetables such as potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, spinach, green beans, and artichokes that have been prepared. Tender proteins, such as chicken breasts and fish fillets without bones, are more suitable for steamers than stricter cuts of meat, such as steak.
Numerous electric steamers include dishwasher-safe components. The steamer’s base and electrical cord should never be submerged in water. The unit’s exterior can be cleaned with a damp cloth and thoroughly dried. The inner steaming bowls are detachable and can be cleaned by hand or in the dishwasher.
If you decide to purchase a single dish vegetable steamer, it is best to purchase one made of stainless steel. It should be expandable so it can fit inside any pot you wish to use to prepare your steamed vegetables. It is also best to purchase an appliance with flattened feat so it does not scratch your pot.
For most home cooks, a 10-inch steamer is sufficient for cooking most foods. Still, steamers come in all sizes—from 6 inches wide all the way to 36 inches in diameter (though any steamer larger than 12 inches isn’t ideal for home use, since it wouldn’t easily fit in a wok with a 14-inch diameter)
Steaming is widely acknowledged as one of the healthiest ways to cook your vegetables. It keeps in many more nutrients than boiling, and is just as simple to do – especially if you invest in a purpose-made electric steamer. And these days, buying a steamer doesn’t have to break the bank either.
- Peas, including frozen peas: 2-3 mins.
- Broccoli and cauliflower: 8-10 mins.
- Leafy greens like kale, collard greens, Swiss chard: 5-7 mins.
- Spinach: 3 mins.
- Asparagus: 3-5 mins.
- Green beans: 3-5 mins.
- Root vegetables like beets, carrots, turnips, potatoes: 10-15 mins.
Although the steamer used less energy than cooking on the hob since this was electricity it generated more carbon emissions and cost more.
In the case of carrots, it’s may be better to BOIL your carrots than to steam them, as boiling actually INCREASES some of their nutrients, compared to steaming or sauteing them, which can cause a DECREASE
Bamboo steamers have a tightly woven lid that keeps steam from escaping. The process is sometimes slower than using a metal basket, but it’s also more effective; bamboo absorbs some of the excess moisture while cooking, rather than allowing the steam to re-condense into water and drip back onto your food.
A vegetable steamer is a kitchen appliance designed to steam vegetables and other foods. Using this appliance, you can preserve your food’s natural flavor and nutritional value.
Before purchasing a vegetable steamer, you should consider how much food you intend to cook using steam at once. If you only want to steam one dish, such as steamed vegetables, as a side dish, you may only need to purchase a single steamer that fits inside a saucepan or pot. A single-dish vegetable steamer is the most affordable option.
Stainless steel is your best option if you decide to purchase a single-dish vegetable steamer. It should be expandable to fit inside any pot used to steam vegetables. Additionally, buying an appliance with a flattened face is best to avoid scratching your pot. To make cleanup easier, be sure to purchase a dishwasher-safe steamer.
Consider a double- or triple-decker vegetable steamer if you wish to steam more vegetables or other foods simultaneously. This unit consists of two or three baskets stacked on top of the base. You can place different foods in each of these baskets so they can all be steamed simultaneously.
It is preferable to choose a double or triple-decker vegetable steamer that allows you to remove each dish individually during the steaming process. This is essential, as various foods require varying amounts of steaming time. With a bit of practice, you can perfectly time the cooking of your foods so that they are already at roughly the same time. To accomplish this, place the food that requires the longest cooking time on the bottom and add the next dish(es) a few minutes later.
Purchasing a programmable vegetable steamer with a timer may be advisable if you need assistance monitoring the steaming process. Ensure the timer display is legible from multiple angles.
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