Using a vegetable steamer is a great way to cook your vegetable without using oils and fats. When done right, steamed vegetables taste great and retain a lot of the vitamins and minerals you are eating them for. Vegetable steamers are quick and easy to use.
Types of Vegetable Steamers
A vegetable steamer has an area for water that sits under a tray or basket where the vegetables are held. The tray is usually a mesh or colander-like tray that has holes which allow the water vapor to penetrate and cook the vegetables. There are three types of steamers: a steamer basket, a microwave steamer, and an electric steamer.
A steamer basket is a pot that holds a basket snugly inside. You place water in the pot and allow it to come to a boil, then place the basket of vegetables in the pot, making sure the vegetables aren't submerged. You can place a lid on the pot to keep the steam in and shorten the cook time. To effectively use a steamer basket, let the water come to a full boil before adding the vegetables. When you add the food, turn the temperature down to medium to keep the heat coming without overcooking the food. Small vegetables such as asparagus, spinach and carrots should only need four to six minutes in the steamer. Larger vegetables like potatoes and yams will need 12 to 18 minutes.
A microwave steamer is a round, plastic container with a channel that holds the water. The vegetables sit on a platform above the water and the entire unit is covered with a lid. As the microwave heats the water, it is circulated around the vegetables. As with the steamer basket, more delicate vegetables will cook quickly in a few minutes where larger, dense vegetables will take more time. The microwave is slightly faster than the steamer basket. Remember, it is better to undercook vegetables than to overcook them.
An electric steamer resembles a slow cooker and is a standalone system that heats the water and holds the vegetables. It requires the same cooking times as the steamer basket on the stove top. These are simple to use. Plug them in, add the water to the lower section, then add the vegetables to the top section and turn it on. Always make sure the vegetables are not in the water but above it.