Steaming is a moist-heat cooking method that cooks food by surrounding it with hot vapor in an enclosed environment. It’s a particularly healthy and effective cooking technique because foods like vegetables retain their nutrients, as opposed to when they’re simmered in water and the nutrients can leach out. What's more, no fat or oil is needed for this cooking method. Try it with green beans or other vegetables, stuffed chard leaves, Asian dumplings and more.
There are a number of different types of stovetop and electric steamers. This guide should give you some options to choose the right version for your needs.
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OXO Good Grips Pop-Up Steamer
A vast improvement of the classic flower-style steamer, in which perforated "petals" unfold in the bottom of a pot to create the elevated steaming surface, OXO's version has a handle that extends with a push of a button, to make it easier to reach in and lift the basket out of the pan. The entire handle can be removed for steaming larger foods. The OXO Good Grips Pop-Up Steamer has feet that elevate it 1 3/4 inches to allow for plenty of water in the bottom of the pan; the feet fold for storage. The steamer will fit in pots that are 8 inches or wider.
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Made from silicone, the Chef'n VeggieSteam fits inside of a pot for stovetop steaming or can be used inside a lidded glass container for use in the microwave. It fits 7- to 10-inch pans and the flexible sides easily conform to different container shapes and sizes. The VeggieSteam is heat resistant up to 400˚F, will not scratch nonstick surfaces, and is top-rack dishwasher safe.
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Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen Bamboo Steamer
Use this classic Asian-style bamboo steamer in a wok for easy, elegant steaming, or use steaming rings (sold separately) so that it can fit over a stockpot. The 10-inch steamer has 2 tiers, so you can either steam two different parts of your meal at once, or you can use the two tiers to steam a large quantity of dumplings or other delicate foods. Made of all bamboo (even assembled with bamboo pegs and bamboo lacing), and the bamboo serves to absorb condensation so that food won't get soggy.
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Circulon Universal Steamer
Made of stainless steel, Circulon's steamer has a cleverly designed base that fits on top of any pot between 2 and 4-quart capacities, or 6 and 8 inches in diameter (including brands other than Circulon), and will work with pots that have straight sides as well as those with slightly flared sides. Riveted loop handles make it easy and safe to lift and carry the steamer, and the tempered glass lid fits tightly to prevent any steam and heat from escaping.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Oster Electronic Food Steamer
If you steam food frequently and serve a crowd, an electric steamer can be a more convenient option than a stovetop steamer. The Electronic Food Steamer from Oster (model 5712) has a 6-quart capacity in 2 tiers, and the transparent sides of the container allow you to check on the food's progress without removing the lid and letting heat escape. The digital display has a delay option of up to 12 hours (make sure not to let meat and other bacteria-prone foods sit out at room temperature for an extended period), and there's a 95-minute timer as well as a keep warm setting. The water reservoir can be filled and replenished externally, and a window lets you monitor when the water is getting low. The steamer comes with a 10-cup capacity bowl for cooking rice or other foods in liquid, and n 8-egg capacity egg holder to make hard- or soft-cooked eggs.