If you want to increase your intake of healthy, fresh vegetables, a steamer basket is an indispensable tool. Cooking vegetables in steamer a basket ensures that the vitamins and minerals won't be washed away with the water, and cooking with a steamer couldn't be easier. Steamers are available in a wide variety of styles and can be used for more than just vegetables. Try steaming rice, poultry, fish, pastries and even bread.
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Use stainless steel steamers for vegetables or meat. Smaller, collapsible steamer baskets fit in two- and three-quart cooking pans, and you can use larger stainless steel steamers for larger vegetables or meats. To use stainless steel steamer baskets, put a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan, but not enough to touch the bottom of the steamer. Bring the water to a boil and put the vegetables in the basket. The vegetables can take from four to 20 minutes to cook, depending on the size of the vegetable and the desired level of doneness.
Steam vegetables, potatoes, rice or small cuts of meat or fish in a microwave steamer. Microwave steamers come in a variety of sizes and styles but will generally look somewhat like a cake pan and will include a lid with a vent to release steam. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of the steamer and place the item to be cooked on a rack or steamer basket that holds the food above the water. Cook the food in short intervals, checking it after each one. You can also use microwave steamers to heat pita breads and tortillas.
Cook with a bamboo steamer. Bamboo steamers have been used in Asian cultures for centuries but are now growing in popularity due to their health benefits and ease of use. They are available in a variety of sizes and are used by putting a small amount of water in the bottom of a wok and setting the bamboo steamer basket in the water. Bamboo steamers are stackable, which allows several foods to be cooked at the same time.
Try an electric steamer. These sit on the counter and look similar to a crock pot, with an inner steamer basket that you can remove for serving. Most electric steamers have a timer, which makes steaming food even easier. Electric steamers are easy to use and are usually the most expensive type of steamer.
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