When selecting a food steamer, you have a number of options available, each with unique advantages and limitations. In choosing one, you will most likely wish to consider the quantity of food being steamed, how frequently you expect to use the steamer, and available kitchen space. Ease of use, dishwasher safe parts, and cost will likely be important factors as well.
The simplest type of food steamer is a circular bamboo or metal basket placed in a pot of shallow water and topped with a lid. Boiling water under the basket produces steam that rises up and cooks the food. These stovetop steamers are available in a variety of shapes and sizes.
One of the most versatile in the stovetop variety is the collapsible basket, perfect for smaller jobs such as a steamed vegetable side dish. If you are looking for something with a higher capacity, two or three tray steamers are available. This allows you to cook an entire meal on a single burner.
Many cooks prefer the ease of cooking provided by kitchen appliances, so the electric food steamer may be more appealing. A number of designs and models are available, so you will have to look carefully to find the best food steamer for your kitchen. Price varies widely and may be an important factor, but simply choosing the least expensive will not always lead you to the best machine, nor will choosing the most expensive. For the best value, you may wish to look for the machine that simply matches your specific needs.
It's recommended to choose the size of the food steamer appropriate to your kitchen and your lifestyle. A small, single tray steamer is perfect for steaming carrots or broccoli, but to make a dinner for four, you will need a machine with a much higher capacity. Don’t simply reach for the big steamer on the off chance that you may someday want to do a meal, however. Large steamers generally consume more power and take up more counter space.
Parts and clean-up may also affect your decision. Most steamer trays are dishwasher safe, but it's advisable to check this detail before buying. Steamer trays are available in plastic and stainless steel varieties.
Gadgets and special features may initially sound appealing, but do stop to consider how useful these extras are likely to be. They may also add significant cost to the steamer. Some features may make a significant difference in the way you cook and eat, but most often cooks rely on the machine’s basic functions.