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Steam ovens                  

                                September 2010  

 

Steam ovens

steam ovenI have always been a fan of steaming, particularly vegetables. I have an old double decker steamer and pop in all sorts of things, from salmon and chicken wrapped in foil to potatoes and even frozen peas.

As with so many things, the idea of using steam as a method of cooking dates back to ancient China, where food was steamed in reed or bamboo baskets. Whether it was just a convenient development from equipment they were using at the time, or whether they really considered that steam is hotter than boiling water and might give food a fresher, tastier finish, is not known. But without doubt the Chinese were ahead of the game.

Today steam cooking has gone high tech, and with good reason. The major kitchen equipment companies noted that steam cooking offers not only faster cooking times compared with more traditional methods, but also provides optimum retention of vitamins, nutrients, flavour, colour and texture. Steam cooking provides the food with the moisture it requires to prevent it from drying out and even over cooking; plus of course you don’t need to add oil for the cooking process.

Initially there was some concern about whether people really would invest in a steam oven when it is perfectly feasible to cook with steam using more modern versions of the balancing contraption I use on my stove. But with the potential to make money from a new trend, the top kitchen companies got to work and soon came up with a variety of steam ovens that are already proving a hit with people across the world.

Basically, most things can be cooked in a steam oven. You can’t brown roast potatoes of course, or brown the top of a shepherd’s pie, but apart from those sort of things a steam over can be used for most items – pasta, rice, potatoes, meats and fish; even puddings, cakes, breads or soup. While initially people thought the taste might be bland and watery, in fact the reverse is true. Steam cooking preserves flavour and freshness and steam ovens are now developing a reputation for producing food of unique taste, colour and texture.

Now steam ovens are available in a choice of sizes, styles and combinations – pure steam ovens or multi-function combination ovens which also offer a conventional oven facility as well. Most of the steam ovens have refillable water tanks which generate the steam, but some models can be connected directly to the water supply so that they are automatically kept topped up.

Cleaning a steam oven is also easy. Bearing in mind that food in a steam over cannot burn or bake into the surfaces, all steam ovens need is a wipe over.

There are a number of manufacturers now making steam ovens including Smeg, AEG, Gaggenau, Miele, Neff, Bosch, Kleenmaid, and a number of less well known brands. Most good kitchen electrical suppliers will be able to advise you on steam ovens today and while they are generally still quite expensive, as they become more popular, expect the price to come down.

 

 


 

Nutricentre Discount for laterlife visitors If in any doubt about any of the information covered in health and nutrition related articles and it's relevance for you, consult your GP.

 

 



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