Steaming is a popular way to prepare food, as it cooks vegetables and lean meats in a healthy manner. The problem is that steaming food and the microwave requires using plastic wrap, while steaming on the stove uses a lot of energy. For that reason, silicone steamers have become popular. You can choose the best silicone steamer by looking for a disk shape, an appropriate size, a certain thickness, and vent holes.
Traditional metal steamers usually have a basket shape, with the central post in the middle to help lift the steamer out of a pot of boiling water. Though the basket-type design works well for metal, the sides of a basket-style silicone steamer are too floppy to hold onto to heavy vegetables and meats. This puts you at risk for spills. You might even get burned should you happen to drop hot food on yourself. Instead, go with a disk shape designed for use on top of plates or bowls.
Another consideration is size. The best size for you depends on how much food you tend to cook at a time. Those who live alone, couples, and those who prepare only one meal’s worth of food at a time may be best served with a small silicone steamer. Larger families, or those who prefer to cook ahead, will probably need a larger steamer. Whatever size you choose, make sure that the steamer is not too large to fit in your microwave.
Another consideration when choosing a silicone steamer is thickness. As a general rule, silicon can withstand 400° F (about 204° C). Overly thin or flimsy silicon steamers, however, may warp, especially with repeated usage. If a steamer feels like you can easily put a finger through it, it is too thin. Go with a steamer at least one 16th of an inch (about two mm) thick, or about the thickness of a floppy drain stopper.
A final feature to look for in a good silicone steamer is vent holes. Without vents to allow steam to escape, the edge of your steamer can seal itself to a plate a bowl. This makes a steamer difficult to remove and puts you at risk for steam burns. Choose a steamer with two large or several small vent holes. Some effective steamers incorporate vent holes into whimsical designs, such as a pig snout, which can add a touch of fun to making dinner.