Country Kitchen: Steaming Foods for Nutrition

Country Kitchen: Steaming Foods for Nutrition




By Mary Emma Allen

Steaming is considered one of the nutritious methods of preparing foods. This method of cooking has been used for ages by the Chinese and other Far Eastern peoples, especially for vegetables.

If done properly, steaming also results in vegetables that are brighter in color and much more crisp than when boiled or fried. (Stir frying is another way to cook vegetables quickly and retain the nutrients.) Meats, seafoods, and poultry are delicious when cooked in a steamer, too.

Types of Steamers

There are various types of steamers you can purchase. However, you also can use a casserole dish or saucepan with tightly fitting lid and a rack inside to lift the foods above the water level.

The pan should be fairly heavy. If the pan is too lightweight, the water will boil away too quickly.

*Vegetable Steamers are collapsible steel baskets that are fairly inexpensive. Overlapping panels, with holes in them, form the sides of the basket. These panels can be adjusted to fit the size of any round pan that measures about 4 inches to 9 inches across.

This steamer has a post in the center you can grab to take it from the pan of water when the vegetables are cooked.

*A Double Boiler is another type of steamer and is used also for puddings and sauces.

*Rice Steamers are round steel balls with many small holes in them. They are suspended into a saucepan above boiling water for cooking. There also are electric rice cookers or steamers available nowadays.

*Bamboo Steamers come stacked inside a wok that contains boiling water. Then you cover the wok to steam your food.

*Fish Poachers are of stainless steel and have a tight lid and a rack. They can be of various lengths, ranging from about 16 inches to 24 inches. Place the fish on the rack above the water. Or poach by plunging the rack into the water for cooking.

STEAMED CAULIFLOWER – Break a head of cauliflower into flowerets. Try to have them as nearly uniform as possible. Place the cauliflower in a vegetable steamer and lower into a pan of boiling water, without the vegetables touching the water.

Cover tightly and steam for about 12 minutes. The cauliflower should be just tender, not mushy. Serve with a cream or cheese sauce, if desired. ItÂ’s also good when sprinkled with a dash of dill.

Other vegetables can be steamed in the same way. The steaming time will vary, depending on the size and tenderness of the vegetables, just as it does when boiling vegetables.

SPINACH and other greens are steamed for about 4 minutes and generally will retain a bright green color when cooked this way.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS take about 8 to 10 minutes to steam, ASPARAGUS about the same time, and new POTATOES approximately 12 to 15 minutes, depending on size.



Article (C) 2005 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing cooking columns for 40 years. She and her family compiled a cookbook to preserve their food heritage. She teaches workshops to show others how to do this, along with scrapbooking their family recipes. Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at me.allen@juno.com

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