Should You Switch To A Steam Oven?
Steam cooking is not a new invention, it has been used for cooking for centuries, it dates all the way back to ancient China, where food was traditionally steamed in reed or bamboo baskets. In fact, this method is still used the Chinese are still using the bamboo basket method, in the modern kitchen a steam oven is much more versatile and functional for everyday life.
Traditional ovens employ hot air, which is generated by heating elements in the oven. Upper end models will also have more features built into them. Convection ovens usually have an additional heating element and an extra motorized fan, which circulates heated air throughout, diminishing the cooler air next to the food.
Another difference in a convection oven is that is usually has upper, lower and back heating sources.
Steam ovens, on the other hand, boil water from an inbuilt reservoir to create a cloud of steam within the oven chamber. This moist heating method is the reason why steam cooking offers significant benefits.
Steam cooking offers many benefits including faster cooking times, but most people are looking for the health benefits including optimum retention of vitamins, nutrients, flavor, color and texture. With steam cooking, your food can never be overcooked because food absorbs only the moisture it requires. Food cooked in a steam oven is typically a lot healthier because you don’t need to add any oils or fats in the cooking process.
Maintenance and cleaning on a modern steam oven is usually a lot easier as well. You simply wipe moisture out, since any food which does get out of it’s dish will not burn or bake on. In fact there are quite a few ovens which even have a dedicated ‘steam clean’ function to make cleaning a breeze. In addition, steam ovens are extremely simple to use and get started with. Most of them offer a range of in-built cooking guides such as recommended cooking temperatures and automated defrost settings.
The major benefits of steam-oven cooking are…
- Steam-cooked foods retain more of their flavor, texture and color (especially when cooking vegetables).
- You lose less vitamins, minerals and nutrients than with dry-heat cooking. This often means it isn’t necessary to add salt or oil, which is better for your health.
- The moist nature of steam heat insures that food doesn’t dry out.
- Different types of food can share the dish without transfer of flavor from one item to the other.
- Steam ovens are relatively easy to keep clean and avoid the problem of baked-in spillage associated with conventional ovens.
In fact, the only downside to them is that the moist-heat nature of steam ovens means that they are unable to brown the outer skin of meat. However this shouldn’t hold you back if you’re interested in purchasing one. For this reason, many manufacturer’s have launched combination ovens, which offer both heating methods in one appliance. The food is cooked by steam and then browned with dry heat afterwards. This combines the benefit of steam cooking with the crisp, brown skin so characteristic of roast meat.