Boiling, frying or broiling food in an oven can rob it of taste, nutrients and colour. Using a food steamer, however, allows you to prepare vegetables, rice, eggs, meat and fruit in a way that helps them retain these vital components. Though loading instructions differ from steamer to steamer, certain principles are the same no matter what kind of steamer you're using. Just pick the freshest ingredients possible, and don't use any liquid other than fresh water.
Ensure that your steamer is clean. This includes your steamer pot and lid, as well as the base pot connected to the motor unit. Don't submerge the motor component in water; use a damp sponge to clean it.
Clean the food you plan to load into the steamer. This includes not only vegetables, but also grains and proteins. Rubbing lightly under running water will suffice.
Load the steamer pot with the food. Some steamer pots are equipped with shelves for placement of various meal elements, such as a rice pot on the bottom, and shelves higher up for vegetables and proteins. Follow your manufacturer's placement instructions. Usually, larger items like pieces of meat and bell peppers are placed near the bottom of the steamer pot.
Pour fresh water into the base pot's water well. This amount of water will differ depending on the model of steamer, as well as for the type of food you're steaming. Fill to the indicated fill line, according to manufacturer's specifications.
Slide any accompanying dripping pan under your pots, and attach the top lid. Plug in your steamer, then set your timer to correspond with the items you're steaming. For instance, rice will require about 35 minutes to cook completely, while certain vegetables will take less time. Practice using your steamer, and consult your manual or recipe for cooking times associated with different foods.