Steam Ovens – a must have for a healthy kitchen
Cooking healthily is one of today’s growing trends, and steaming is one of the best ways to preserve tastes, texture, and nutritional values of food. Professional chefs have used steam ovens for years, but they’ve also become available for home kitchens, with better and improved built-in versions providing easy and healthy cooking for any modern kitchen.
Home cooks who favour built-in steam ovens say they like the way they can lock in fresh flavours and create healthy dishes with ease. The moist air within the steam cavity means food is succulent and juicy once cooked, plus, the food cooked in a built-in steam oven is said to retain more vitamins than they would if cooked in a conventional oven. Steam ovens can be easier to keep clean too as food spillages do not get baked onto the inside of the oven.
So, what is a steam oven?
Unlike traditional ovens which use hot air created by heating elements to cook, steam ovens simply use hot, pressurised steam. The boiling water turns into steam and circulates around the food to heat it up, whilst retaining the moisture. And it cooks the food quickly too. The majority of steam ovens have a removable water tank, and when the oven is turned on the water is fed into the reservoir and boiled into a cloud of hot steam. Valves release the steam pressure, and different ovens will have different temperature ranges. There are two different types of steam oven available – standard steam ovens which only use steam, and steam ovens with convection that have an additional fan.
|Steam Oven ̶ Pros||
Steam Oven ̶ Cons
|+ Steam ovens work well for delicate foods such as croissants, and they’re also really good for cooking meats, fish, and vegetables;||– Can be more expensive than conventional ovens;
|+ Using moist heat also lessens the risk of burning, and warms food without drying it out;
|– Ovens need to be descaled on a regular basis;
|+ You can cook family size portions easily;
|– Wiping all the condensation out after using the oven is time-consuming and often inconvenient;
|+ Cooks food healthily in a low-fat way without destroying nutrients;
|– This type of cooking is not suitable for all foods, especially those that need browning or crisping (unless you have a combination steam oven);|
|+ Even heat distribution ensures there aren’t any hot spots;
|+ You can use metal dishes and cutlery in the oven;
Here are a few more reasons why built in steam ovens are becoming extremely popular and why we think they are so great.
- Better flavour, texture and colour.
Steam cooking keeps the food vibrant and colourful, especially noticeable when cooking vegetables. Often dry heat cooking and boiling of vegetables can create a plateful of rather dull looking food that can often be over-cooked and mushy. Steam cooking locks in flavour and retains it texture. Although steaming involves water, food is rapidly cooked using only steam without any actual contact with the water.
According to a scientific points system on appearance, taste, aroma and texture, cooking with a steam oven was both the tastiest and the healthiest method of cooking vegetables, irrespective of whether the produce was fresh or frozen. And fish retained its texture and unique flavour as it was enveloped in steam and gently cooked.
- Food Stays Moist.
Cooking with steam heat means that food doesn’t dry out due to the moisture content in the oven during the cooking process. With the use of a built-in steam oven you are guaranteed to be serving up beautiful, tasty meals of perfectly steamed meat, fish, vegetables and much more. However, in order to roast to perfection with a built-in steam oven, you need a combination steam oven in order to have succulent, steam cooked meat with a crispy, golden outer skin (next feature will focus on these amazing combination steam ovens).
- Super Healthy Cooking.
Steam your way to a healthier you! When boiling vegetables in water many vitamins seep out into the water and often this water is then thrown away. Steam cooking ensures the vitamins, minerals and nutrients stay inside your food, which means a healthier plate of food for you. For example:
-Broccoli from the steam oven contains 50% more vitamin C than cooked broccoli.
-Steamed peppers have over 25% more vitamin C than boiled peppers
-Red peppers cooked in a steam oven contain as many minerals as raw peppers.
There is also no need to cook with oil which is another bonus too. If you really love a little butter on your potatoes then don’t worry you can always add a little when serving.
Is it worth buying a steam oven?
After you’ve weighed up the pros and cons you’ll be able to make an informed decision if this type of oven is right for you. Using steam is one of the healthiest ways to cook food as the loss of vitamins and minerals is minimal, and cooking with steam is also quick and easy, and can reduce cooking times. As you don’t need to add oil or butter you can cook food with a lower fat content.
Steam ovens were more expensive than conventional ovens, but as they became more popular, prices have been reduced. If you like to steam regularly and in large quantities investing in a steam oven may be a great choice for you. However, if you want the versatility and benefits of both a steam oven and of a conventional oven, then a combination steam oven may be the best way to go (see next month’s feature for more information).