How To Choose The Best Food Steamer
Want to indulge your taste buds without cutting down on nutrients? Sounds difficult? Not anymore! Make the right choice and get your hands on the best food steamer in India. How? Read on to know more.
By Ashwin Dewan
“It is impossible” were the exact three words that Priyanka Purohit, a working mom, uttered when a friend told her of the incredible things a food steamer could do. All her doubt-riddled questions were met with a positive response. Can I use it to cook vegetables? Does it make idlis? What about dhoklas? The answer – yes, yes and yes!
Priyanka was thrilled. And, she is not the only one. Food steamers have come like a blessing in disguise for many working mothers and busy households. It not only saves precious time but can cook several food items within a single sitting.
The best part about food steamers is that they allow you to indulge in tasty and delicious foods without worrying about your health. More importantly, the taste of the prepared dish is not compromised for lack of oil. From steamed veggies to delicious idlis and soft dhoklas, food steamers are the ultimate solution for your kitchen and tummy needs.
What is a food steamer?
A food steamer is one of the most useful and practical kitchen appliances in the market. It is a sealed pot with a set of tiers stacked one on top of each other. It is designed to cook food in the heat of the steam. In a stovetop steamer, for example, the steamer contains an insert that fits either into or on the top of a saucepan that is filled with hot water. The food that one wishes to cook is placed in the insert. After this, the perforated base of the insert allows the steam to surround and heat the food.
While using a food steamer sounds simple, it does require patience and a few cooking hours under your belt before your master this healthy technique.
Ananya Subramanian, a communications expert at a leading MNC company says, “Food steamers are my go-to for my everyday needs when it comes to cooking. I can cook many food items without having to worry about the nutrient requirement of my family. What’s more, I have enough time to spare and am utilising this free time to do other stuff, just the way I have always wanted to do.”
The benefits of food steamers
A convenient way to cook food, food steamers provide the following benefits:
- Saves time. Cooks food in a quick period and is easy to use.
- Requires minimal supervision. Comes with a timer.
- Healthy way of cooking. Locks in most of the nutrients and retains the natural vitamins and minerals successfully
- Preserves the structure of the food. Veggies retain their structure and colour.
- Requires no oil to cook as it uses steam to cook the food.
- Considered by many to be the healthiest cooking method.
- Saves time, money and effort.
- Does not require much clean up and is less messy compared to other cooking methods.
Keen to learn some easy tips and tricks as you use your brand new steamer? Watch this video!
Different type of food steamers
1. Electric steamer: An electric steamer is a standalone cooking appliance that does the cooking for you without any hassles. All you got to do is simply add the water and the food you wish to cook, close and lock the lid. After this, you select the appropriate setting on the appliance and start the cooking process.
2. Steamer basket: A steamer basket is one of the simplest ways to steam vegetables. It is directly inserted into a pot or a pan and then used on the stove. It is a simple process – you just need to add a little water into the pot, place the food item that you want to cook in the basket and close the lid. As the water boils, the steam will stay contained and cook the food.
3. Combination oven/steamers: Combination steamers, also known as hot-air steamers, can produce both dry and moist heat. They can shift between these two modes automatically during the cooking process. For example, it can steam vegetables and roast meat at the same time. These types of steamers generate steam to cook the food.
4. Pressure steamer: One of the most useful food steamers available is a pressure steamer. It uses a combination of steam and pressure that allows for optimised heat transfer. This way, the cooking time is shortened by almost half, as compared to traditional cooking methods. Pressure steamers are useful for low temperature cooking, fast steam readiness and high nutrition retention of the food item.
5. Convection steamer: In a convection steamer, the steam circulates at a normal atmospheric pressure through convection. In many cases, this is done with the aid of a small fan. The high level of moisture and lower cooking temperature ensure that nutrients are retained as much as possible. Convection steamers may take longer time to cook certain foods because they often operate at a lower temperature.
Guide to buying the right food steamer for you
There are many food steamers available in the market. Keeping certain points in mind like the one mentioned below can help you choose one that is apt for you.
- Brand: Go for a tried and tested brand. There are many brands floating in the market. Steamers produced by lesser-known manufacturers may lead you to face issues with quality and after-sales service.
- Storage and mobility: Food steamers are available in capacities of mostly 3, 7, 9 and 10 litres. Choose one that fits the size of your family and that which can cook a variety of food items. Although, most steamers are used to cook a variety of food, some steamers are capable of cooking more food items than others.
- Eco-friendly material: In most cases, the material of steamers is either plastic or stainless steel. Between these two, go for stainless steel for better stability and service life. Plus, stainless steel is eco-friendly as well.
- Timers: Most of the electric steamers come with a timer that you can use to set the cooking time. Choose one that you find easy to use.
- Steaming bowl: Check the quality of the steaming bowl. A food steamer generally comes with two to three tiers of a steaming bowl. Check whether it has a drip tray and if it is easy to handle.
- Water level: Try to look for an electric steamer that has a visible water gauge on the outside.
- Easy to clean and maintain: Choose a steamer that is easy to clean and maintain. Most steamers come with parts that can be taken out and cleaned. Once done, it can be fitted back again.
Decide beforehand which features you are looking for and zero in on one such steamer.
Best food steamers to buy on Amazon
Note: Please keep in mind that prices may change as per availability and certain sale days.
1. Euro Cuisine FS3200 Electric Food Steamer, Black/Stainless Steel with 90 Minute Timer
Quick and easy to operate, the Euro Cuisine FS3200 Electric Food Steamer ensures fresh and nutrient-filled meals for the whole family. The removable stainless steel tray ensures enough space for food items such as meat, vegetables, rice and more. Features like an inbuilt 90-minute mechanical timer with power indicator light removes constant monitoring.
- Auto shut-off function when food is cooked.
- No oil, no mess and no smoke – cleaning up is a breeze.
- Most of the material of the steamer is made of stainless steel.
- Some parts may be ill fitting.
- The drip tray is not deep enough for the size. Putting two pieces of meat or any food item that gives out juice while cooking, spills into the water reservoir making it difficult to clean.
- Additional stackable steaming trays have to be purchased separately.
Buy it from Amazon for Rs 22,561
2. Shark Ninja Cs960 Cooking System with Auto-Iq Multi-Cooker, Silver
Simple to operate, the Shark Ninja Cs960 cooking system comes with a digital timer and an auto-stay warm feature and pre-programmed recipes. The steamer cooks food from the side as well as the bottom.
- Comes equipped with four programmable cooking functions such as slow cook, saute, steam and bake.
- Triple fusion heat function ensures cooking from the side as well as the bottom.
- The lightweight design ensures it is easy to carry along.
- Slightly bigger in size than the average food steamer. Takes up storage space.
- When used as a slow cooker, the heat does not distribute evenly. Sometimes, the bottom part of the meat gets burnt.
- Can get complicated at times as it lacks multiple cooking levels.
Buy it from Amazon for Rs 30,161
3. Instant Pot Smart WiFi 6 Quart Multi-use Electric Pressure
Want an appliance that can do the work of multiple kitchen appliances? Then, the Instant Pot Smart WiFi 6 Quart Multi-use Electric Pressure is just the right appliance for you. Use it as a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. Prepare a wide variety of food items and keep it warm.
- Wi-Fi enabled that gives you access to a massive 1,000 pre-programmed recipes. Connect it with your smartphone to receive alerts.
- Very energy-efficient. Constantly monitors the pressure, temperature and accordingly adjusts the intensity of heat and cooking time.
- It comes with a stainless steel rack with handles, rice paddles, soup spoon, measuring cup and condensation collector.
- Adding Wi-Fi does not integrate with other smart home products. There is difficulty in changing a cooking mode in the app once cooking starts. Wi-Fi is limited to app recipes.
- Accessories for making eggs, cakes and yogurt have to be brought to the side.
Buy it from Amazon for Rs 38,899
4. Gourmia GFS300 SteamTower300 Electronic Digital 3 Tier Vegetable and Food Steamer
Steam an entire meal for the entire family in one sitting with the three stackable compartments that this steamer comes with. The flavour lock steam system ensures superior taste retention and preservation of nutrients. The heat and impact-resistant materials ensure quality and durability of the steamer.
- Once food is cooked, the steamer will beep, put the food in a warming cycle and send off steam every few minutes to ensure food does not get cold.
- Separated water tank from the cooking area makes it easier to clean up.
- The steaming bowls are made from one solid piece of plastic that makes it safer and easier to remove hot food.
- Cookbook comes with only three to four recipes.
- Digital display can have issues. Control panel buttons may stop working after a few months.
- Cooking rice may be a problem. Although, a rice bowl is included but package instructions say 20 minutes, which is not enough to cook the rice. Cooking for 40 minutes dissolves the rice completely.
Buy it from Amazon for Rs 9,160
5. Ovente 3-Tier Electric Steamer for Vegetables and Food with Timer, 7.5-Quart, 400-Watts, Auto Shut-Off Feature, White (FS53W)
The Ovente 3-Tier Electric Steamer for Vegetables and Food with Timer cooks all your desired food items in a short period. You do not have to constantly monitor the food as the timer on the steamer comes with 15 minute intervals that lets you know the status of the food being cooked.
- The three tiers of stackable containers ensure that different foods can be cooked in a single go. Saves time and energy.
- It is easy to clean and wash. All you have to do is place the containers in the dishwasher as normal.
- Low maintenance and versatile. Can cook many food items for a medium family.
- Using curry powder on some vegetables might stain the plastic.
- When the timer goes off, there is no buzzer sound only a small click. Have to pay close attention.
- The heat plate at the base might start rusting or corroding away with every use.
Buy it from Amazon for Rs 5,879
6. Aroma Housewares 20-Cup (Cooked) (10-Cup UNCOOKED) Cool Touch Rice Cooker and Food Steamer, Stainless Steel Exterior (ARC-900SB)
With a huge capacity, the Aroma Housewares 20-Cup (Cooked) (10-Cup UNCOOKED) Cool Touch Rice Cooker and Food Steamer is your ideal appliance to cook food for the entire family. It can be used as a food steamer, a slow cooker and even a rice cooker. You can also use this steamer to make delicious soup and stews.
- Non-stick inner cooking pot removes easily for easy cooking.
- One-touch operation switches to keep-warm mode automatically when it finishes cooking.
- Stainless steel finish ensures the steamer’s durability and good quality.
- Product states 20 cups of cooked rice. May not be accurate.
- Some models of this steamer may start turning itself off numerous times during cooking.
- The measure markings inside the removable rice pot could be more visible.
Buy it from Amazon for Rs 10,469
7. Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer - 5.5 Quart (37530A)
A versatile and stackable, 2-tiered steamer, the Hamilton Beach Digital Steamer is a no-hassle and easy-to-cook food steamer. Each tier has its own use. You can use tier 1 for small amounts of food and tier 2 for a whole meal for the entire family. What's more? You can cook eggs upright from soft to hard-cooked.
- The steamer switches to warm automatically when the food is cooked and ready to be eaten. Alerts you with a beep.
- Comes with a digital touchpad that makes setting the countdown timer and other functions easy.
- Food containers can be hand-washed in soapy water but dishwasher is not to be used.
- The centre piece of the bottom part where you fill in water can get very moldy.
- Not dishwasher friendly. Requires effort to keep it clean.
Buy it from Amazon for Rs 6904
8. BELLA 13576 2.5QT Triple Slow Cooker with Lid Rests, Stainless Steel
The Bella 13576 2.5QT Triple Slow Cooker is ideal for cooking different types of food. It is an ideal combination of quality and storage space. Comes with individual temperature controls that allows the user to select settings such as off, low, high and warm.
- Non-skid feet, compact space-saving design and a stainless steel finish.
- Works great to keep the food warm once it is cooked. The lid holders make sure any water condensation falls back into the pot.
- Bowls are small in size. Might need to cook multiple times for a large gathering.
- The design is somewhat awkward and difficult. With lid hooks in place, you cannot easily take out bowl out with pot holder or towel.
Buy it from Amazon for Rs 16,864
9. Tefal VC145140 Steam Cooker Convenient Series Stainless Steel and Timer
Enjoy the benefits of steam cooking with the Tefal VC145140 Steam Cooker that can create delicious and healthy recipes within a short period. Cook delicious food without the worry of having to keep on checking the 60-minutes timer with an automatic switch.
- Visible water level compartment ensures you won’t have to keep on checking the water for the purpose of refill.
- Compact storage and long-lasting stainless steel ensure that the product is a great buy.
- The steam baskets stack inside for neat storage.
- The steamer comes with a rice bowl but the rice can take quite some time to cook. One user reported a time of almost 35 minutes.
- Stainless steel steamer baskets can get very hot.
- The mechanical timer may not be as accurate as a digital one.
Buy it from Amazon for Rs 7500
Stuffed veggie dumplings are easy to make with a food steamer!
- 1 cup (250 ml) whole wheat flour (atta)
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1/3 cup finely chopped cabbage
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp oil
- 6 cups water for steaming purpose
How to make:
- Add the water in parts. The dough should start taking shape.
- Mix and knead to a soft dough.
- Cover the finished dough and keep aside for 30 minutes.
- Take all the ingredients and mix it into a bowl. Season with salt and keep aside.
- Grease the steamer pan with oil and keep inside.
Shaping the momos:
- Divide the dough into small balls.
- Sprinkle flour into each ball.
- Now, roll each ball into a thin circle of about 4 to 5 inches in diameter.
- Place the stuffing into the center of the bowl,
- Next, lift one side of the edge and start to pleat.
- Start folding simultaneously and form the pleats one by one.
- Once done, finish by joining the pleats in the center.
Steaming the momos
- Fill the steamer with water and steam the momos for a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes or whenever the momos are cooked.
- Check the momos at regular intervals.
- The dough of the momos should not feel sticky when cooked.
- Serve it with spicy sauce or chutney.
Food steamers are a versatile and useful tool for every household. This kitchen appliance saves you a lot of time and is a healthy way to cook food. With a variety of food steamers in the market, you are spoilt for choice. Make the right choice today towards a healthy you. Go through the above list of food steamers and select one that best suits your budget and wants.
Also read: Clipbook On Food Steamers
About the author:
Written by Ashwin Dewan on 27 September 2019.
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