In steam cooking steam passes over the food and cooks it at a temperature
of 2120 F. All the soluble juices are retained instead of being lost as in boiling.
Steamed foods therefore are highly flavored. Meats are usually better when boiled.
Many vegetables and puddings are excellent when steamed.
Utensils for Steaming
Utensils for steaming require two compartments, one for the boiling water,
the other fitted over this for the food. The utensils used in steam-cooking
Steam cookers; Steamers; Poachers; Double boilers.
Steam cookers are rather large, oven-shaped cabinets, provided with a copper
water tank at the base and with shelves above, on which the food is cooked.
Many varieties of food may be placed in such a cooker at one time.
Steamers consist of a perforated food chamber fitting over a kettle-shaped
vessel. The perforated part may be used as a colander or strainer, thus doing
the work of two utensils.
Poachers are a special variety of steamer used for preparing poached eggs.
As the process is a brief one, the pan is very shallow and broad to provide
a wide heating surface. A perforated removable rack holds 3 or 5 small-handled,
shallow cups, each large enough to contain an egg. A tightly fitting cover goes
over all. An advantage of poachers is that none of the white of the egg is wasted
as in poaching in hot water when particles of it are lost.
Double boilers, which are also known as milk boilers or rice boilers, are
not really boilers at all, as the food does not come in contact with water or
steam, but is in a dry heat. The outer vessel holding water keeps the food at
a constant temperature. This vessel may be of tin, enameled ware, or aluminum.
Tinware often has a copper bottom. The inner vessel is usually of the same
material, but sometimes inner vessels of enameled ware are found with tin outer
Double boilers are very good for cooking cereals, custards, and creams, as
the food juices and mineral matter lost in direct cooking are thus preserved.