Food Steamers Buying Guide
Steaming food is a healthy and nutritious way to cook and a food steamer can be a useful addition to any kitchen. But with so many different models available it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Our guide to food steamers will tell you everything you need to know about these convenient cooking devices so you can pick the perfect one for your needs.
You can find steamers available from as little as £12 to hundreds of pounds, but bear in mind that in the case of food steamers it’s better to go for a mid-priced or more expensive model if you want it to work as effectively as possible.
The pros and cons of steamers
Steamed food can be fantastic but using this method to cook does have its drawbacks. Take a look at the pros and cons of food steamers:Pros
- Nutrition – most nutritionists agree that steaming food helps it retain more of its vitamins and minerals than any other method and swapping baking and frying for steaming will reduce your calorie intake.
- Convenience – steaming food is a very quick and convenient way to cook. Many steamers allow food to be stacked so several things can be cooked at once which is useful for special occasions or everyday family dinners.
- Appearance and taste – some people aren’t keen on the taste of steamed food, but using a steamer effectively takes practise and you can add herbs and other flavourings to give your food more punch.
- Cleaning – some steamers can be difficult to clean but newer models have been designed to make the cleaning process much easier.
When choosing a food steamer, look out for the following features:
Capacity – this refers to the amount of food that can be cooked in the steamer at any one time as well as the amount of water the machine can hold. In general, steamers have two to three baskets, with oval steamers having a larger capacity than round steamers. Some steamers have special rice baskets included as an extra so you can cook rice without it spilling. If you have a rice basket it is a good idea to check the capacity before you use it.
Steam – it’s a good idea to choose a steamer with a water gauge so you can tell when the water is close to running out and refill it. A water spout makes replacing the water an easier task and a turbo steam feature will allow for steam to be produced very quickly for especially fast cooking.
Timers – when choosing a steamer make sure the timer system is easy to understand. The timer will usually ring a bell when the cooking is finished with some models able to be programmed in advance. Other models will have a basic turn dial to set the time. Look for a model that turns off automatically when the cooking time is finished to avoid the machine boiling dry.Additional features – some additional features that you may want to include are:
- Removable bowls that are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning
- Separating disks so that different foods can be cooked in the same large bowl
- A rice bowl with smaller slots for steaming rice, noodles etc
- A ‘keep warm’ function so cooked food can be kept warm until you are ready for it.
Glass or plastic?
It is possible to find food steamers with both glass and plastic containers which hold the food. There has been some controversy over whether it’s safe to reheat food in plastic food steamers but there’s no evidence to prove that there is any danger. However, it’s generally agreed that glass steamers produce better results.
Most steamers are designed to be kept on a worktop but if you don’t have a lot of space in your kitchen then it’s more likely you’ll want to store it and take it out as and when you need it. look for a steamer that’s light and easy to move, as well as being easy to store so it doesn’t take up too much space in your kitchen.
Steamers can use quite a lot of power to do their job. Using a steamer can be like boiling a kettle for thirty minutes at a time, which could prove expensive if you use your steamer regularly. There are low energy steamers available which use less energy to run, making them more economical and environmentally friendly to use.