Great tasting food, healthy cooking and ease of use – as a product that combines all these attributes, the steam cooker has secured a rightful place in the modern kitchen over recent years. Says Mercia de Jager, Product Manager for Miele: “Each year, more and more consumers the world over are opting to include these innovative cooking appliances into their kitchens.”
More health benefits
There are many health benefits to cooking with steam, including optimum retention of vitamins, nutrients, flavour, colour and texture. This is a fact that has been known for thousands of years to the Chinese, who still use bamboo steamers to prepare their food. More recently, it has been scientifically confirmed by a study performed by the German universities of Giessen and Koblenz-Landau, explains Mercia: “According to the scientific evidence generated by these studies, it was proven that the vitamin C content of various types of vegetables cooked in a Miele steam cooker was 50% higher compared with boiling the same type of vegetables in a pan on a hob.”
Steam cooking is a way of preparing food that is low in fat and rich in vitamins – this is a claim that is supported by a nutrient analysis carried out by Professor Elmar Schlich at the Giessen University, says Mercia: “Conventional cooking tends to have a leaching effect on food, purging it of a large proportion of water-soluble vitamins and minerals. This is not the case with steam cooking however – Schlich’s study showed that steamed vegetables in particular showed very high concentrations of vitamins, minerals and trace elements, which has an exceptionally positive effect when it comes to releasing the food’s intrinsic taste.”
Quick, effortless and versatile
Steam cooking offers faster cooking times and you can cook more than one dish at the same time with absolutely no cross-contamination of flavours. A unique feature that any top-end steam oven should boast is the ability to set the time for the end of cooking – this allows the oven to adjust the cooking time to coincide with meal times. Using a steam oven is super simple to do, explains Mercia: “The electronically controlled steam cooking process eliminates the possibility of incorrect power settings, prolonged cooking and overcooking. Any top-end steam oven will offer various automatic programmes that will take the guesswork out of the cooking process.
“With the numerous automatic programmes on Miele’s steam ovens for example, you do not have to worry about the oven function, time or temperature settings. Simply select the type of food, the weight, quantity and desired end result when prompted, and the steam oven will automatically select the perfect settings for you. Reminders will appear in the display when it is time to do something, like turn the food or add sauces during the cooking process. Alternatively, for the cooking enthusiasts and professional chefs out there, you can also select your own customisable settings if you so wish.”
Combination steam ovens
Steam ovens can do virtually anything, but they can’t brown or crisp food – this is where the magic of combination ovens come in. As the name implies, combination ovens combine steam cooking and conventional cooking methods in one oven. This means you can steam cook your food, and then change to conventional fan-forced cooking to brown the skin, ensuring that it looks as good as it tastes. Says Mercia: “Combination ovens show off their full repertoire in combination mode, when dry and moist heat is required in rapid succession, such as when you are roasting meat or baking for example. This ensures the end result is crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside.”
Another great benefit of steam cooking is that steam ovens are really easy to clean and maintain. All you need to do is to wipe the condensation after the cooking process, since food will not burn or bake on the sides. Any steam oven worth its salt should have a dedicated “steam clean” function to make cleaning a snap. Also, look out for a special finishes in the steam oven’s cabinet with non-stick properties, such as Miele’s PerfectFinish for example, which will render the surfaces easy to clean. Also, if the exterior of the oven has a stainless steel finish, it is important to ensure that it boasts a special finish, such as Miele’s CleanSteel finish for example, that will negate fingerprint soiling and keep the appliance looking shiny at all times.
When choosing a steam oven, be sure to take note of the positioning of the water tank, advises Mercia: “The water tank in Miele’s DG 5080 XL steam oven is located behind the fascia panel, which rises up at a touch of a button, allowing easy access to the tank. The area to the rear of the fascia provides storage space for a condensate container. This container collects the surplus steam that condenses during cooking. As this steam is no longer expelled, this has a positive effect on the kitchen microclimate.”
www.miele.co.za, 011 875 9000