The microwave is a standard feature in most kitchens, but that may soon change. While people still love the convenience that the microwave offers, many are starting to question the impact that using a microwave can have on their health. At the same time, other products are becoming available that can do the same job as the microwave and offer the same convenience.
One of the popular alternatives to the microwave is the steam oven. Two versions are available: A wall unit or a countertop unit. Both are just a little bigger than a microwave, but the wall unit requires special installation.
A steam oven works by heating up water in a unit to create steam. It can be used to cook foods or reheat them.
Steam ovens are gaining in popularity, but it remains to be seen if they will replace the long-reigning microwave. Here are a few reasons why they are so popular with so many:
You may think with a name like “steam oven” that these appliances are only capable of jobs that require steaming, like cooking vegetables or fruit. However, steam ovens are actually more versatile than that, and they can do much more than microwaves can.
Steam ovens can cook just about any type of food. You can cook an entire turkey in a steam oven, as well as other poultry and roasts. You can slide in trays, which you can line with all kinds of veggies, potatoes, or cuts of meat. You can even bake bread in a steam oven.
Steam ovens allow you to defrost food, bake, slow cook or reheat. Steam ovens can also operate like convection ovens.
Try cooking a turkey in a microwave! You won’t be able to do it. You might be able to reheat it, but you won’t be able to cook the whole bird.
When you cook foods in a microwave, they become drier and sometimes even harder. The most common complaint of reheated foods is that they just don’t taste the same. The reason is that a microwave draws the moisture out of the food and continues to cook it. Some people get around this side effect by putting a small bowl of water in the microwave. You can skip this step and just use a steam oven – which will also lead to better results.
When you cook or reheat items in a steam oven, they will be moister and fluffier. Rice, quinoa and other grains will be some of the fluffiest and tastiest you’ve had. Meats are moist and succulent. Breads are soft and chewy instead of hard and crunchy.
Steam ovens also won’t transfer the flavors of items cooking together. You can cook a roast next to a cake and not worry about the two influencing each other.
When reheating items, moisture is put back into the food. It will taste fresh, not dried out. Some people say that food that has been reheated in a steam oven tastes as good as food that has been just prepared. Pizza tastes fresh, not hard and chewy. Meat is moist, not dried out. Vegetables are crisp, not soggy.
When you cook in a microwave, there may be some presets you can use. However, every microwave differs, and the preset on one won’t cook the same as the preset on another. Different brands of food also cook up differently. Just think about the times that you have made popcorn. Sometimes, it comes out perfectly popped. Other times, it’s burned.
On a steam oven, you can choose one of the presets and feel confident knowing that you’ll get the results you need. Eggs are perfectly hard-boiled. Popcorn is perfectly popped. Meat is perfectly defrosted.
Better for Health
One of the primary concerns about microwaves is that they are not safe for health. Microwaves release a small amount of radiation into both the food and the environment. There is a strong debate over whether the amount is enough to cause any real problems, but some people just don’t want to take any chances. Some studies have shown that microwaving certain items, like breast milk, can cause illness in those who consume those items. Others suggest that regular use of the microwave can cause levels to become more threatening.
Even if there is debate about radiation levels from microwaves, it is clear that cooking foods inside plastic in a microwave can cause serious risks. Heating the plastic can release harmful chemicals into the food like bisphenol A, which can increase the risk of many health conditions, such as cancer.
Microwaves also change the nutrient profile for food. Many studies have shown that foods that are microwaved have fewer nutrients than those that are cooked through traditional methods. Any kind of fast cooking can reduce the nutrient content of foods.
By switching to a steam oven, you can get the same benefits the microwave offers without the health risks associated with it. Steam ovens rely on the heating power of water, which is completely safe for your food and your environment. There are no risks of cooking with steam ovens other than the same risks associated with any heating element. Even the risk of a fire is very low since the steam is contained. Opening the door to the oven would immediately dissipate any steam, causing it to lose its effectiveness.
The steam oven may not be ready to knock the microwave off its throne just yet, but it may not be long after more people learn about the benefits this technology offers. With a steam oven, you can still cook and reheat foods quickly, but you can also get better tasting food and reduce the health risks associated with microwave cooking.
Check out the options for steam ovens and consider getting one for your kitchen. You may become a convert and decide to retire your microwave forever.