You probably might be reading this article because you already know what a steamer is and you plan in getting yourself a steamer for yourself. So, I am not planning on wasting any of your time with boring explanation and illustration on the working and definitions of a vegetable steamer. However, to your knowledge, most of the people have an assumption that both steamer and a pressure cooker is the same, no, they are wrong.
Steamer and pressure cooker are entirely different. Let me enlighten you with the major difference, in a pressure cooker boiling water comes in contact with the food, on the other hand, in a steamer the water does not come in contact with food in any way, it’s the steam that does all the cooking in a steamer.
A steamer is usually made of bamboo or a metal and comes with a lid that does not allow the steam/moisture is released to outside. This is also one of the major differences between a steamer and a pressure cooker. Steamers come in different shape, design, brand, and different material composition. This diversity makes it difficult to select the best vegetable steamer and purchase it, so, how to select the best product? It is not simple as that. Here are some of the factors that you should definitely consider if you prefer getting yourself the best products on the market today.
Before going in deep into the factors, you should know that most of the experts have commented that steamers are the most efficient way of cooking vegetable and it does not drain the nutrients as pressure cookers do.
- Frequency of use
- Building material
- Type of steaming
- Ease of cleaning
- Water gauge
Frequency of use – As I mentioned in the beginning steamers come in different price ranges, so what exactly is the difference. To my knowledge, the main difference is the quality of the product and features incorporated on the device. If you are considering cooking very little food, then it is wise to consider purchasing a steamer, which is not expensive. However, if you are planning to use the steamer frequently, then consider purchasing a expensive and durable steamer.
Size – Size is a major factor to consider while purchasing a steamer. Before purchasing the product ask yourself, how much food you need to cook? Will you be having frequent guests? Etc. steamers come in different size, if you consider purchasing a small steamer it might not serve your purpose well if the quantity of food to be cooked in bulk. Steamers are not only used for cooking food, they are sometimes used to sterilize materials like baby feeding bottles, spoons, plates etc. such functions demand a steamer with large capacity lid and compartments. So, before purchasing the device, have an idea of what all purposes the device would be used for and then purchase a suitable size device.
Storage – As the size of the steamers increases the storage space it occupies also increases. This simply means that you will need to have a reserve a space suitable enough to store the steamer safely. If you have only less space to store the steamer and the quantity of food that needs to be cooked is bulk, you cannot purchase a small steamer. This is where you can consider buying electric steamers; electric steamers can be broken down into smaller parts and stored easily in the space available. There is one more advantage to electric steamers, they are more cost-efficient and heat efficient.
Building material – As I have mentioned in the introduction part, steamers come in two material, bamboo and metals. However, purchasing a steamer made of bamboo is not recommended, as it cannot be used for more than 2 years. The cleaning gets complicated and the whole product might get unhygienic according to the frequency of use. On the other hand, stainless steel steamers can be cleaned easily and maintain the color and hygiene for over 5-6 years minimum. Apart from these two features, one other important thing to consider is the décor, currently, most of the people have a modern kitchen with attractive settings. You won’t appreciate having a steamer with an annoying look in your kitchen, so consider purchasing a steamer that suits your kitchen setting.
Type of steaming – For those people who have deep knowledge on using steamers will know exactly what this factor is all about. Steamers can be classified based on types of steam. The suspension is one of the easiest steaming methods that involve suspending the food over boiling water, another method involves sealing the food material with a wax paper or bamboo leaves. One of the popular methods is immersion, this method is commonly used to cook rice. So, while purchasing a steamer check the specifications to find out the purpose for which the product is designed and then purchase the product.
Ease of cleaning – Most of the steamers has complicated design and parts. Cleaning it won’t be an easy task. However, it is always recommended that you should consider purchasing a steamer that is easy to clean. PS: cleaning a steamer is very important and you cannot skip doing it.
Water gauge – Steam in a steamer is produced from water, this is a basic know fact. But, disassembling the product and checking the water level is annoying at times. Currently, there are steamers that come with external water gauge that tell you the water level in the device. Consider purchasing a device with such water gauge.
Timer – Over cooking and under cooking is one of the most common issue faced when it comes to cooking vegetables or any other food. However, with technology growing over the years, electric steamers today come with digital timers that enable the user to cook the food materials without over cooking or under cooking it.
Considering all the factors mentioned above, here is a list of 5 best steamers available on the market today.
Best Buy Vegetable Steamer Reviews For 2018
1. Oster Double Tiered Food Steamer, 5 Quart, White (CKSTSTMD5-W-015)
The Oster double CKSTSTMD5-W-015 is a food steamer from the brand Oster that can be used to cook vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish products. The device is designed in such a way that it can cook two types of food simultaneously and the transparent bowls incorporated in this device enable you to keep a watch on the progress. The product has 5-quart size and comes with two stackable compartments for cooking two different food materials at the same time. The product also has 60-minute timer incorporated into it.
- On/off indicator lights
- Auto shut off
- Dishwasher safe product parts
- Steam bowls are transparent
- The price is bit too expensive
2. Hamilton Beach Digital Food Steamer – 5.5 Quart (37530A)
This steamer from the brand Hamilton Beach comes with a 5.5-quart size and 2 level design. The product can simultaneously cook two different food products on two different tiers. The manufacturer has incorporated an automatic warm feature that automatically switches the device to warm if the food is ready. The product also has a timer incorporated on it. However, this product is not dishwasher safe and the parts have to be cleaned separately in soapy water.
- 2 different level for cooking two different food materials
- Automatic warm feature
- Digital touchpad controls
- Timer incorporated
- The product is not easy to clean
3. BELLA 7.4 Quart 2-Tier Stackable Baskets Healthy Food Steamer with Rice and Grains Tray
The BELLA 7.4 Quart 2-Tier steamer from the brand Bella comes with a 7.4-quart size and has 2-separate tier for cooking two different food materials at the same time. The product has water gauge and steaming chart incorporated into it. The whole product is dishwasher safe and comes with transparent lid and grain trays. This product is perfect for cooking different cuisines and for cooking rice and grains.
- Steaming within 30-seconds from switching on
- 2-tier cooking
- Auto shut-off feature
- Easy cleaning
- If the trays are handled carelessly, it could break.
4. Cuisinart STM-1000 CookFresh Digital Glass Steamer, Stainless Steel
The Cuisinart STM-1000 is a steamer that comes with a 1-liter reservoir and LCD control panel. The manufacturer has placed start/stop/, pause, and reheats buttons for the ease of using the device. The product also comes with options that allow the user to reprogram the food settings preset on the device. This product comes with a single tier and the trays are made of stainless steel.
- Powerful steamer
- Transparent glass lid
- 1-liter water tank
- Single tier allows you to cook only one type of food at a time
5. Gourmia GFS300 SteamTower300 Electronic Digital 3 Tier Vegetable and Food Steamer, 9.5 quart, BPA Free – Clear – Free Recipe Book Included
This steamer from the brand Gourmia comes with a 9.5-quart capacity and 3 stackable compartments that enables the user to cook 3 different food simultaneously. The control panels placed on the product is very easy to use and the whole product is made of temperature resistant and durable plastic. The manufacturer has incorporated a timer into this device that helps you to cook the food without undercooking or overcooking the food materials.
- 3-tier cooking
- Light-weight and durable plastic product
- Easy to clean
- 5-quart size
- Few customers reviewed the product to have a poor quality control panel that malfunction after frequent use.
How To Clean a Vegetable Steamer
- Always make sure that the steamer is empty after use
- Clean the trays, compartments, and lid with warm soap water
- If the product parts are dishwasher safe, clean it in a dishwasher
- Rinse thoroughly while cleaning
- The product once cleaned should be dry before reassembling.
- Once in every month, open the product central body and then clean the heating element. Check the manual for details on how to open the heating element compartment.
Many studies indicate that almost 40% of the nutrients in vegetables and other food materials are lost during the cooking process.
However, steamers are one of the only efficient cooking methods efficient enough not-to waste the nutrients in any food materials.
So, what are you waiting for, grab yourself a steamer and have a healthy food.