Food Steamers

In simple words a Food Steamer is a kitchen sealed pot which is made of a few tiers sitting tight upon one another. They are designed to cook different kinds of foods all at the same time by steam heat.

Steaming is the most recommended, healthy  and easy cooking way compared to others. There are so many various foods you can make such as steamed vegetables, poultry, seafood, rice, dumplings and even delicious steamed meat roll. Some food steamers have egg holders to cook eggs from soft to hard boiled. During the steaming process food does not contact water, oil or any other liquids, meaning all the vitamins stay inside. Place desired vegetables or meats in a steamer with water, set the cooking time and let the steamer do it’s job, while you enjoy your time.

Food steamer guide

The following guide Food steamer guide has been created to help you to determine what type and size of food steamer will work best for you.
Your choice will depend on all these factors:

  1. Food Steamer type
  2. Dimensions
  3. Material
  4. Brand

The most important two factors are: food steamer type and dimensions. You will start your selection according to your preferred way of steaming and amount of food you are willing to make.

Food Steamer Types

  1. Metal Steamers (stainless steel and aluminum)
  2. Plastic steamers
  3. Bamboo Steamers
  4. Microwave Steamers

Stainless steel and aluminum food steamers

KitchenAid heavy gauge aluminum pot with stainless steel steamer insert

KitchenAid oven safe heavy gauge aluminum pot for even heating with stainless steel steamer insert

Steamer size depends on tier diameter and number of tiers. Most metal steamers have 2 or 3 tiers. Lids are often made from the same metal as entire steamer or from glass. The glass lid has more chances to be damaged, but it allows you to monitor cooking process without lifting it. The aluminum or stainless steel lid is more protected from damage, but it doesn’t allow you to see anything through it. Opening the lid will cause escape of steam which will lead to a longer cooking process.

Plastic and metal electric (digital or electronic) steamers

T-fal 2-tier electric plastic food steamer for vegetables chicken fish

T-fal 2-tier electric plastic food steamer

An electric steamer is stand alone kitchen appliance which can prepare all the foods like metal steamer but gives you more freedom .
All of them have integrated heating systems. Manufacturers always add new smart advanced options to electric steamers. Clear plastic steamers allow you to watch cooking process. Compact electric food steamers are suitable for travelling.

Bamboo food steamers and how to use them

Norpro 3-piece bamboo food steamer set

Bamboo food steamer

The original historical roots of food steaming comes from Asia. It’s very old traditional way of cooking dumplings. Most bamboo food steamers consist of 2 or 3 equal size baskets sitting on the top of each other.

Bamboo steamers cannot be used directly on stove or any other heating equipment. It requires a cooking pot bigger size than the bamboo steamer or wok.  Add enough water in the bottom of the pot to provide steaming. Make sure that water is not reaching the food. To avoid that leave at least 2 inches between water and first bottom steaming basket. Place filled bamboo steamer with vegetables or dumplings inside.
Close the lid and let it steam for required time. To protect steamer from stains and contact with food place parchment liners, lettuce or banana leaves on each basket before loading.
As with metal and electric steamers place items which are require longer cooking time on the first bottom basket, so you can remove upper baskets with vegetables when they are cooked.

Microwave steamers

microwave silicone vegetable steamer

Microwave silicone vegetable steamer

For those who love to use microwaves, a microwave steamer is small  kitchen appliance that is made for use in a microwave. Microwave steamers are inexpensive and available at retail stores and online. They can be made of different microwave safe materials. Microwave steamers are produced from microwave safe materials such as silicone, plastic, polycarbonate, ceramic and other materials. Microwave steamers offer 2 types of cooking processes at the same time: steaming and cooking by microwaves.

All these steamers are kitchen appliances which are made for house use. There are also bigger steamers available with more tiers which are used by restaurants to cook food for crowd.