Steam ovens are an excellent answer to consumers’ demand for healthy eating without sacrificing taste. Promoting these products at their best means not only highlighting their technological characteristics but also showing their advantages in daily life.
by Elena Corti
Consumers are increasingly careful to cook in a healthy way. This makes steam oven an excellent product to satisfy their requests for well- being and today this technique is available to everyone, not just to chefs. Manufacturers have realized several models capable not only of cooking with the 100% steam mode, but also of combining heat and steam and, in the most advanced appliances, of combining fan, steam and microwave cooking. In all cases, it is important to illustrate the benefits of steam in cooking to consumers: you can bring food to the table that preserves the nutritional properties of the ingredients, cooking without the need for too many condiments.
It is essential to explain to the potential customer that the use of steam in cooking allows to cook many recipes with truly excellent results because food remains juicy, tasty and does not dry out. And – no less important to highlight – many models of ovens have the Sous Vide function for cooking with vacuum, a professional derivation technique that uses special bags to contain ingredients which are then cooked with steam: using low temperatures, foods fibers do not break and aromas and nutrients are not lost. In addition, putting food under vacuum slows the degenerative activity of bacteria, so that food is preserved longer. All these characteristics make the sous vide technique ideal for a consumer who has little time to cook, but who loves to eat well. A good advice is that of cooking food in vacuum bags during the week-end for the next week, so that it is already portioned to then be frozen and regenerated when needed: quality of the dishes, taste and comfort will be evident.
Advanced technologies for precise results without difficulty
The technological evolution achieved by this type of ovens does not mean greater complexity for the user. It is essential to reassure the end user that intuitive interfaces, automatic programs and preset recipes will make it easy to cook with these products. Oven is able to cook with numerous functions and different levels of steam, ensuring that a precise quantity of steam is introduced into the cavity in order to cook the different types of food always to perfection. There are also appliances designed with special functions for slow cooking, for regenerating already cooked food and for defrosting.
Moreover, several models also have the rapid heating function. And, to further facilitate the cooking of meat, products are available equipped with the temperature probe to measure the temperature at the food heart. A further technological plus to be highlighted concerns connectivity, present in some models: this innovation allows the user to remotely manage and control the oven, in some cases even with the voice. Cleaning also deserves a special mention: various appliances exploit the power of steam also for cleaning and, for correct maintenance, automatic functions of sanitation and decalcification have been set up. Finally, to offer a complete advice, the sales employee can explain to the customer that it is possible to create in his kitchen a real chef system that combines the blast chiller and the vacuum drawer/machine with the steam oven (or combined steam).
|How to explain the advantages of steam cooking
To properly promote a steam (or combined steam) oven, it is essential to make consumer understand what he can really do with this product and what benefits it can obtain compared to a traditional oven. It is not enough to list the technological characteristics of the appliance, it is necessary to explain how these translate - in daily life - into concrete advantages for the end user. Here are the strengths of steam cooking and the heat-steam mix, illustrated by Chef Maurizio Marrocco, member of the "Electrolux Chef Academy".
Compared to classic boiling, which are the benefits offered by cooking with a steam oven?
Until yesterday, steam cooking was used almost exclusively in the kitchens of restaurants equipped with special professional ovens. Today, however, this technique is increasingly widespread in domestic catering as there is a growing attention, by consumers, to the qualitative and above all healthy aspect of food. For example, a steam cooked vegetable retains a higher percentage of mineral salts and chlorophyll (where present) compared to the same product cooked in water which instead leads to an almost total dispersion of these elements. Furthermore, the shorter times needed compared to the classic boiling limit the destruction of vitamins, which are notoriously susceptible to both high temperatures and prolonged cooking times. We can say that steam cooking preserves the organoleptic (odor, flavor) and nutritional (less micronutrient dispersion) characteristics of food, ensuring a richer, tastier and more natural food than that deriving from traditional cooking.
Does cooking with steam oven really allow to use less fat?
Certainly, the limited loss of nutritional components, during cooking, contributes on the one hand to enhancing the intrinsic characteristics of the product, on the other hand to limit or even eliminate the use of seasoning fats. Furthermore, in the case of vegetables, the reduced dispersion of mineral salts allows the product to be consumed without adding further salt.
Speaking of a combined steam oven, instead, is adding humidity to hot air a technique that improves cooking?
Cooking a food using only hot air has the irremediable effect of "drying" the product. The generated heat, in fact, evaporates water present in the food with the consequence of having, at the end of cooking, a dry and nutritionally depleted food. The combination of hot air and humidity allows for a crisp and uniform browning while keeping the food soft, succulent and with an extraordinary taste. It is as if there was a "cook assistant" inside the oven who constantly hydrates the food. Therefore, we will have meat browned on the outside and succulent on the inside, fish with a fleshy consistency, soft but crunchy vegetables.
And if consumer wants to use this type of oven for example for lasagne?
This type of appliance is ideal not only for lasagne, but for all those dishes where we want softness on the inside and crunchiness on the outside. Until recently, it was unthinkable to think of cooking bakery and/or pastry products using steam; today the opposite is unthinkable. Steam, suitably mixed with hot air, allows to have a shinier bread crust and a better development of alveoli, a more crunchy pizza and crumbly biscuits.
Does the combined steam oven allow to obtain good results even when it comes to heating already cooked food?
The regeneration of a food represents the moment of greatest criticality, since it is a question of giving new life to a product previously cooked and then frozen. The combination of hot air and steam creates what I call a "gentle, delicate" environment inside the oven, able to heat the product making it remain soft, succulent and at the same time crisp.