The steamer is the ideal appliance for cooking healthy dishes in a few minutes. Steam cooking helps keep the nutrients of all foods intact and does not alter the flavors.
In order to obtain maximum results, it is good to choose a model with the right technical characteristics. Here are the details that can make the difference and the most popular models at the moment.
Right below we had selected some of the best models of food steamers.
Food Steamers Buyer Guide
A steamer is an appliance that allows you to cook healthy and light dishes, without altering its nutritional properties, smells, and flavors. In short, it can make a difference in the kitchen, because, you know, eating well is important.
Thanks to the steamer, in fact, it is possible to say goodbye to oil and fatty foods. All types of food can be cooked: fish, meat, and vegetables.
The electric steamer is certainly more technological and allows you to have more control during the preparation phase, but even with a gas steamer, the result will be optimal.
Regardless of the type of steamer that is used, in fact, steam cooking remains the best, because steam allows the nutrients of the food to remain intact. It is important to specify that, with steam cooking, food never comes into direct contact with water.
How Do You Use the Food Steamers?
Using a steamer is very simple, whether you have an electric steamer or a gas steamer at hand. The main element of this type of cooking is water. Without water, in fact, it would be impossible to produce steam.
To operate an electric steamer or a gas steamer, just a few steps are enough. The first thing to do is to fill the tank or one of the baskets with water.
Then, you have to place the food in the baskets or in the pots, taking into account the space available. At this point, all that remains is to operate the steamer and proceed with cooking.
A steamer is also easy to clean; in fact, every part of it is usually removable and washable both by hand and in the dishwasher, facilitating work.
The bamboo steamer is the most delicate and one that requires more attention because this plant retains odors more. A good strategy is to wash all the baskets after using them, to prevent odours and residues from stagnating.
How to Choose Food Steamers?
We have seen which are the best steamers currently on the market, now let’s see how to choose the one that best suits your needs.
The first factor to consider is capacity, which must be suitable for the number of people for whom you need to cook and the number of dishes to be prepared at the same time.
Cooking programs and other functions are very important, such as keeping food warm or warming it quickly. Some steamers, then, have extra accessories that improve their performance, but which also increase the price.
Other factors not to be forgotten are the materials used, the necessary maintenance and the methods of cleaning. Finally, it is important to evaluate the value for money as a whole. Let’s see everything in detail.
Here we also shared a guide about that so have a look on that also.
As we have anticipated, the first element to be evaluated in the choice of the steamer is the capacity, which must be assessed on the basis of the number of foods that you intend to prepare simultaneously and the number of people for whom you need to cook.
Not only does the number of baskets vary, ranging from a minimum of one to a maximum of three, but also their size. In general, small steamers have two baskets, for a total capacity of 3-5 litres.
The medium steamers have three baskets and a total capacity of 6-9 litres; the larger steamers always have three baskets, but with a total capacity of 10-11 litres.
Some steamers allow you to remove the bottom of the containers, in order to obtain a single large container once stacked, to cook bulky food.
To choose the right capacity, you can adjust yourself like this:
- Small Steamers (from 3 to 5 litres) for 1-3 people;
- Medium Steamers (from 6 to 9 litres) for 3-6 people;
- Large Steamers (10 to 11 litres) for 6-8 people.
The capacity does not necessarily affect the price of the steamer. In fact, there are mid-range steamers with a capacity of 10-11 litres and smaller but also more expensive steamers. This is because other factors also affect the final price, which we will see shortly.
Programs and Functions
Even if the basic operation of the steamers is always the same, some have pre-set cooking programs, which help to choose the right combination of time and temperature, to cook all the food in the baskets evenly.
The most technological steamers have a timer and a series of programs to prepare several different foods at the same time, avoiding that those in the lower basket are more cooked than those in the upper basket.
In some cases the timer is automatic, i.e. it automatically chooses the best cooking temperature and time-based on the type of food, in other cases it must be set manually. The best steamers, of course, are those with automatic programs, which guarantee perfect cooking without efforts.
Do not forget, then, to check for extra functions, not essential but undoubtedly useful. For example, some models have the “keep warm” function, to keep food warm after cooking.
Another very useful function is fast heating, which allows the steamer to reach the right temperature in a few minutes, thus avoiding overcooking food.
Other additional functions widespread in the medium-high range appliances are the spice and flavour infuser, to add seasonings to flavor the dishes in the tank from which the steam is emanated, and automatic shutdown, which avoids overcooking and wasting power.
Finally, check that the steamer allows you to add water during cooking, without having to turn off the appliance.
Accessories are not indispensable in a steamer, but they can certainly be an added value and influence the choice. In addition to the basic baskets to be stacked, some appliances have special baskets, such as the one for cooking eggs, the glass for the preparation of sweets, the basket for rice and the one for soups (or more generally for all dishes liquid).
In some cases these extra baskets are included in the package, more often they must be purchased separately, as well as the trays to put in the baskets to cook more foods in a single basket.
Other accessories often included are the recipe books, which, in addition to the actual recipes, provide instructions on how to cook the various types of food correctly.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Before buying the steamer, make sure it is easy to clean and use, especially if you plan to use it every day and, perhaps, even several times a day.
First, check that the water level in the tank is visible without having to disassemble the appliance or that there is an acoustic or luminous signal that warns when the level has gone too low.
Check that the steamer is easy to disassemble, that the baskets can be stacked for storage and, above all, that they are dishwasher safe.
Materials are very important in a steamer because its components come into contact with steam at high temperatures. Above all, food baskets must, therefore, be produced with materials resistant to high temperatures and free of toxic substances, such as Bisphenol A, which is released from some plastics in contact with heat.
As for the baskets, the glass ones would be preferred, even if those in resistant and non-toxic plastic are also very good. The base, however, can be in plastic or stainless steel and, obviously, the latter option is the best.