Health practitioners have agreed that steams are among the best ways to process foods. After all, by steaming their foods, people have proved they have reaped the health and nutrition benefits more than when they process their foods through other means (such as deep-frying the foods).
Who knows, there are some scientific elements in steaming foods we know today. Here, we will explain the elements starting from the temperatures in steaming. However, we’ll have a look at what are the health benefits of steaming foods.
What health benefits can we get from steaming foods?
Many researchers have proved that steaming preserves more than half of the whole foods’ nutritional values than when we use other cooking methods. That’s why, nutritionists frequently recommend steamed vegetables like bok choy and broccoli, and also steamed silken tofu for several health purposes.
Apart from helping clients and patients lose weight naturally, steamed foods are also great antidotes for relieving fevers and fatigue. More specifically, Chinese-style steamed fishes can not only relieve fevers but also optimize brain functions due to the omega-3 content in the fish that we retain from steaming them wholly.
Many steamed desserts are also delicious. Chinese buns with lava fillings are some of them. By “lava fillings”, we meant chocolate or custard fillings that burst out from the bun as we steam them. They are delicious and can warm up our bodies, as long as we know the science (including ideal steaming temperatures) for processing them.
What are the ideal temperatures (and conditions) for steaming foods?
Water starts to boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and the same degrees also apply for steams. Nonetheless, people never steam above 212 degrees Fahrenheit, because doing so will make the water’s bubbles splash out from the steaming tools.
Another thing about cooking above the ideal temperature means boiling instead of steaming. When food ingredients boil in one place, their health benefits and nutritional values will diminish when we compare them with steamed foods.
Ideally, people steam at around 140-176 degrees Fahrenheit. It depends on what food ingredients they are processing inside their steaming tools. However, those temperatures are ideal for steamed foods to have health benefits and mouth-watering tastes.
The ideal conditions to steam foods will typically require us to fill in our pots with at least ¾ of water content. Then, we shouldn’t combine the water inside the steaming tools with lots of salt. Even though salt’s presence can elevate the foods’ tastes, lots of them can make the temperature measurements more inaccurate.
What are the tools we need to steam foods?
Steaming pots and baskets are the most common tools for steaming foods. People typically use one pot and two or three baskets in one cooking. The pot functions to contain the steaming water, while the baskets function to contain the foods we wish to steam.
When we use such steaming tool combinations, we should refrain from steaming main courses with desserts. If possible, steam the main course first, then we can steam the desserts. That way, we won’t spoil the flavors.
The bigger the main courses’ primary ingredients’ sizes, the more times we need to steam the ingredients. Generally, vegetables are the easiest and the fastest to steam, while large-sized ingredients like fish and some shrimp species are the slowest to steam. Steamed desserts tend to require more or less steaming times than vegetables.
Alternatively, we can also prepare bamboo steamers as substitutes for conventional steaming pots and baskets. These steamers are great for steaming sweet and savory-flavored dim sum and buns. People typically have two to three bamboo steamers served on their dining tables and eat the steamed foods with chopsticks or bare hands.
Bamboo steamers usually require lesser water content than traditional steamers. However, they produce desserts, appetizers, and breakfast menus with silky smooth tastes. They are also great for steaming rice and their materials are more environmentally-friendly than the usual steamer pots.
What are the alternative steaming methods for each food?
The previous point where we tell you to use steaming tools is the point for the most common steaming method, which is compartment steaming. Here, we will tell you about the alternative methods you can choose apart from the conventional compartment steaming process.
The first alternative is to bring your food ingredients inside a microwave. This alternative works best for vegetables like broccoli, cauliflowers, and potatoes, particularly when we want to add cream cheeses or melted mozzarella cheeses as the toppings.
In executing this alternative, you need aluminum foil lids to cover the foods while microwaving them at high temperatures. In addition, each vegetable has different cooking times. For instance, it takes around 3-4 minutes to steam broccoli inside a microwave, which is twice faster than steaming “harder” vegetables like potatoes.
The second alternative is what we refer to as cooking en papillote. This alternative steaming method is more common in fishes, even though we can also apply the same steaming methods to other protein sources. It is similar to microwave steam in that it covers the food with aluminum foil.
Nonetheless, we add some shots of wine and lemon juice to the aluminum foil packages. Then, we put the food inside the foil along with the foil itself inside an oven. The results are faster steaming times because the wine and lemon juice around the packages help in speeding up the steaming process.
Some final words
Steamed foods have more health benefits than when we process the foods’ ingredients through other means, including deep-fries and boils. Nonetheless, we need to pay attention to the ideal temperatures and the tools we need to perform the steaming processes.
Considering the alternative steaming methods is yet another step we can do while experimenting with the science of steaming food. Finally, we hope you enjoy your science experiments with steaming foods until you get the correct flavors, intensity, and more for your foods.
We guarantee you won’t regret the results. After all, these foods are beneficial for your long-term health, while also being delicious at the same time.