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Steamer-go-round: the smart foodie’s bewildering search for a “simple” gadget

You’d think that if one could make a rocket that goes to the moon, then little things like affordable and efficient vegetable steamers would be piece of cake and available anywhere.

You’d think. It took me ONE YEAR of on-and-off hunting, sputterring and intense visualization to find what might be The Steamer.

Its such an essential appliance to have because steaming is the best way to have lightly cooked vegetables with most of the nutrients intact. Boiling zaps all the good stuff  (like the microwave), and other methods like baking are okay but you’re still losing a portion of the nutrients.

So to save you some time when you go steamer shopping, I’d like to share with you what I found along the way.

the smart foodie goes sleuthing

The most common and affordable ($12-14) steamer gadget around is this collapsible one:

Image from Cookability web site.It looks big in the image but the reality is that you can only fit maybe two three pieces of small vegetables in at a time – like a mini yam and a carrot or something like that. How encouraging.

Then there are gigantic ones at the other end of the spectrum like this one, for anywhere between $100-300:


Way out of my budget and I’m just learning to steam vegetables. The other pot would just sit there all sad and taking up precious room.

I even resorted to asking random look-like-cooks mothers and grandmas on the street how they steam their vegetables. Got a lot of strange answers and shrugs. Am I the only one in town who is passionate about steaming the right way?

I looked into non-collapsible silicone steamers as well, approx $20:


First of all, pretty colours don’t sway me. Second, I could not find a large one and the small one was surprisingly tiny.

Someone suggested a bamboo steamer but then also said that it gives the vegetables a bamboo-ey taste. Deal breaker right there.

Finally, last week I stopped by the Gourmet Warehouse on Hastings Street for the second time. A staff member pointed me to a pasta steamer and then disappeared without any more info.

A PASTA steamer? I just stared at it, like a dufus.

I had to find staff member again and pester him politely a few times to show me how it works.

pastaSo, you put your vegetables in the thing with holes, like two yams, broccoli and some carrots, add a little water in the bottom pot, load the steam thing on top and you’re good to go for $30. He promised that the material was good quality.

Last word

My asparagus and broccoli came out beautifully, though after washing the pot I see that the material seems to be a bit corrosive and does not clean well at all. Problem is that the store does not take exchanges or refunds for anything used. I’m still going to take it back anyway – it’s about the principle isn’t it?

I really wanted to present you with The Steamer. I haven’t given up but I think your best take away from this is that if you’re willing to invest about $100, you’ll probably find that the big multi-tiered ones are the most efficient. I’ll probably end up doing that too…sigh.

Image credits

Collapsible steamer: Cookability biz

Multi-layered steamer: Cookworks

Silcone steamer: Cookworks

Pasta steamer:

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. stephanienunicorn #

    We have a steamer made by Cuisinart. It is a stainless steel sauce pan with a stainless steamer inset pot that is very roomy. Also noticed that Costco (Bellingham) has a similar one in their Stainless Pots and Pans set by Kirkland. I use ours a lot.

    June 11, 2013
    • Tasleem Bhanjee #

      Good to know that the Cuisinart works well, thanks for sharing Stephanie. Will also check out Costco when I next go to Bellingham 🙂

      June 11, 2013

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