A multipurpose resource in the kitchen

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From surfaces cleaning to food cooking: steam allows a variety of uses, ensuring hygiene and health. It also brings added value to household appliances, such as ovens and dishwashers, which can thus offer innovative functions.

by Elena Corti

Electrolux SteamBoost EOB9S21WX features 21 cooking functions, 6 of which with steam. Thanks to the Steamify technology, the oven automatically matches the correct percentage of steam to the degree of heat. And with the special “Regenerate with steam” program it allows to warm a cooked dish, enhancing its flavors and consistence as if it had just been prepared. Finally, with voice control or via the My Electrolux Kitchen app, the Connected Cooking personal assistant automatically starts cooking and sets and adjusts the best program for each recipe.

In the kitchen steam has many uses, both in cooking food and in cleaning surfaces and dishes. While the effective sanitizing properties of steam have been known for some time also in the domestic channel, its use for cooking food in a light and healthy way, instead, is more recent. The technologies linked to the use of steam have opened up new possibilities in the sector of cooking appliances, bringing innovation to some types of products already present in domestic kitchens, such as ovens or microwave ovens. Steam has thus created added value, allowing appliances brands to launch new products with advanced features responding to the growing desire of consumers to eat healthy. Steam cooking in fact preserves vitamins and nutrients, enhancing the taste of foods that maintain color, consistence and flavor. Furthermore, recipes can be prepared with very few condiments, satisfying the needs of those who, for health reasons or for diet, need to prepare lightly seasoned foods.

With the Haier I-Message Steam Piro oven you can choose among 3 different steam cooking modes: automatic with 30 dedicated recipes, assisted with 4 functions (fish, meat, leavened products, vegetables) or manual (to have a jet of steam when the user wants it). The oven is also equipped with a heat probe and the hOn app, thanks to which it is possible to communicate with the appliance (also via voice control) to access more than 300 recipes and extra contents or to manage the appliance remotely.

Design of appliances conceived for the domestic market has brought into homes a cooking technique until recently used mainly in catering: the presence of intuitive control panels and the possibility of selecting automatic programs has made it easy to carry out steam cooking even at home because appliances can be easily managed and guide the user in the preparation of dishes. Today there are different types of products among which you can choose for cooking using steam: both large and small appliances. One of the main innovations is the combi steam oven, which, in addition to 100% steam cooking, also allows controlled and precise quantities of humidity to be introduced into the cavity of the appliance, mixing steam and heat in different pre-set levels for obtaining better results cooking with various types of food. These appliances have been designed in such a way as to assist users by automating the setting of parameters and simplifying life even for those who are not particularly expert in the kitchen: with the help of steam it is possible, for example, to cook roasts browned on the outside and juicy inside. To further facilitate the cooking of meat, products are available equipped with the temperature probe to measure the temperature at the heart of the food.

The 45 cm combined steam oven by Fulgor Milano belongs to the Cluster Concept Combiset series. It features 12 functions and allows to cook by combining heat and humidity. It is equipped with a system that recovers the water vapor during cooking and, thanks to an electric coil, returns it to the liquid state in the loading jug: this allows to cook for up to 2 hours continuously without the need to top up water. Other pluses of the product are the assisted cleaning cycles for the oven and the steam circuit, the automatic descaler and the temperature probe.

Steam cooking also allows to obtain crunchy and tasty vegetables, fish with the correct consistency without drying out, bakery and pastry products with the right crunchiness, crumbly, and soft inside. In addition, you can also make homemade yogurt. Steam, suitably mixed with hot air, therefore allows not only a healthier but also a quality diet. And it allows to obtain high performances both in cooking raw foods and for heating those already cooked: thanks to the steam “regeneration” function, the user can also heat a cooked food succeeding to maintain flavor and consistency as if the dish had just been prepared. Another innovative possibility offered by different models of steam ovens is the Sous-vide function, allowing to cook food placed in vacuum bags. It is a professionally derived technique that allows you to cook delicately at low temperatures: in this way the fibers of food do not break and aromas and nutrients are not disperse. In addition, vacuum cooking, slowing down the degenerative activity of bacteria (since the air is extracted from the bags), ensures that food is preserved for longer.

Miele DGM 7840 combines DualSteam technology, which distributes steam evenly in the oven, with the speed of microwave cooking. The product includes 3 appliances in 1: steam oven, microwave and combinated oven. The steam generator is located outside the cooking compartment: steam flows at high speed inside the oven cavity, while oxygen escapes. This allows rapid heating, optimal temperature measurement and respect for the natural color of food. Furthermore, no limescale deposits are formed in the cooking compartment. The appliance also allows to cook with the sous-vide technique.

The management of these appliances is simple not only as regards the cooking settings but also as regards the systems for the steam generation, allowing the user to easily access the tank to load water. In addition, like other types of ovens, various steam models are also connected, with products that allow voice and remote control and access to numerous recipes. A further novelty in the field of built-in ovens are the models that combine steam and microwave cooking. These are versatile household appliances, ideal for example for users who have limited space available. This type of appliance brings together three products in one, allowing different cooking methods: steam, microwave and combined. By mixing the steam cooking function with the microwaves, the preparation time is shortened and you can cook in a healthy and tasty way without having to spend too much time.

Samsung Microwave Glass Design Healthy Cooking (model MG30T5018UE) is equipped with the Healthy Steam function: just pour the water into the glass steamer (supplied with the microwave), place the ingredients, set the type of food and the relative weight and the oven is able to optimize the cooking time. In addition, the microwave has the Auto Cook function allowing to cook without complications and without improvising, because each option is already set with the optimal mode, time and temperature. (source: Samsung)

There are also models that allow Sous-vide cooking and automatic menu cooking. In fact, it is possible to combine up to three automatic programs to cook different dishes. Temperature, duration and sequence are automatically determined and the user must simply introduces the ingredients into the oven at the right time and in the right order. Also with regard to free-standing microwave ovens, among the most innovative products there are appliances equipped with a special function for steam cooking. Functioning is simple: simply pour the water into the supplied steamer, set the type of food and its weight and the oven will optimize the cooking time.

Russell Hobbs’ MaxiCook steamer allows to prepare low-fat meals. It has 3 trays designed to cook different foods at the same time: the total capacity is 10.5 liters and it is possible to cook not only vegetables but also chicken breasts or fish fillets etc. In addition, the trays are dishwasher safe and BPA free. Thanks to the digital timer it is possible to program cooking, while the Turbo Steam function allows to generate steam quickly, accelerating preparation times. The steamer includes a rice bowl and an aroma infuser.

If in the field of large appliances there are several options that consumer can choose for steam cooking, there is no shortage of proposals also in the context small domestic appliances. It is in fact possible to choose steam generators that allow to cook even more foods at the same time thanks to the presence of stackable trays. Generally these are products characterized by a base with the water tank and controls, the perforated baskets above and the lid with ventilation holes. Unlike what happens with boiling, it is not necessary to immerse the ingredients in water and this allows food to retain more nutrients and a more intense taste, even without special condiments. In these steamers you can cook different foods: from vegetables to meat, fish, rice, eggs, etc. Among the accessories supplied you can find, for example, the aroma infuser, the container for rice and that for eggs; there are also models that have timers with an audible warning that signals the end of cooking and a special function that speeds up steam production. Finally, remaining in the field of small appliances, even the cooking machines, in the wide range of accessories generally supplied, have the steamer accessory that can be attached to the appliance allowing to cook one or more foods with steam.

Deep cleaning in the kitchen with steam

Among the different surfaces that can be cleaned with the Esmeralda steam cleaner, proposed by Steam Italy, there are also those of the kitchen. In fact, thanks to the numerous accessories, it is possible to treat floors, ovens, tiles, etc. Esmeralda is a machine for domestic use with professional performance: thanks to the dry steam with a temperature in the boiler of 180°C and a pressure of 9 Bar, it allows to degrease, disinfect and clean in depth. In addition, it eliminates viruses, bacteria, mites and allergens from surfaces.

At a time when hygiene and health are issues to which more and more attention is paid, the use of steam is a solution able to ensure the safety of a deep clean even at home. The power of steam can in fact eliminate viruses, bacteria, mites and allergens, helping to ensure a healthier environment. In addition, it is an ecological solution because it does not require the use of chemical detergents.

The Kärcher SC 5 EasyFix steam cleaner is equipped with numerous accessories and guarantees protection from viruses, germs and bacteria, eliminating 99.99% of household germs and 99.999% of viruses encapsulated on all types of hard surfaces. The removable water tank can be refilled constantly. In addition, the VapoHydro function allows to add hot water to the steam to remove even very encrusted dirt. As for floor cleaning, the EasyFix nozzle with flexible joint is designed to ensure ease of use and the special cloth attaches and detaches by pulling so that the user does not have to come into contact with dirt. Finally, the product is equipped with the connection for the iron.

Thanks to a wide range of accessories (for example lances, brushes with different types of bristles, caps, cloths, flexible tubes, etc.) it is possible to treat various types of surfaces even in the kitchen, such as gas hob burners, induction hobs, ovens, hoods, kitchen tops, joints, as well as glass and floors. Using the appropriate accessory, with a single appliance you can obtain an effective solution on a variety of surfaces, without damaging them and without having to make too much effort to remove the most stubborn dirt. Generally the heating time to allow the steam generation is short, moreover capacious tanks and continuous refilling systems allow not to have long waiting times. And to get the right amount of steam, you can also easily adjust the intensity. In addition, there are products that can be used in combined vacuum/steam mode to clean in a single pass. Finally, 3 in 1 models are also available on the market including vacuum cleaner, steam mop and portable steam cleaner in one solution.

Three products in one: Polti Vaporetto 3 Clean_Blue includes a cyclone vacuum cleaner, a steam mop and a portable steam cleaner. It is a versatile solution, which can also be used in combined vacuum/steam mode to clean floors in a single pass. Ready in just 30 seconds, Vaporetto 3 Clean_Blue uses tap water and does not require chemical detergents. In addition, the appliance can be set to 3 different settings to choose the correct amount of steam according to the surface to be cleaned. It is equipped with 14 accessories.

In addition to cleaners, a further use of steam in the kitchen concerns the self-cleaning function of ovens. Maintaining these appliances is tiring because grease and food splashes can become stubborn dirt, difficult to remove. To facilitate this activity, which is necessary to maintain the efficiency of the oven, some models are equipped with a steam cleaning function. By introducing moisture into the cavity, the encrusted dirt softens, allowing to clean the appliance easily without using harsh chemicals. And the oven isn’t the only appliance that takes advantage of the power of steam for cleaning.

The LG QuadWash range of dishwashers is equipped with TrueSteam technology, which consists of a jet of hot steam at 100° capable of removing germs and bacteria from dishes, ensuring a high level of hygiene. Steam is sprayed from the bottom to the top of the tub, removing streaks and tiny minerals that stick to the dishes. In addition, the steam generated in dishwashers with TrueSteam technology is made up of 100% water: it does not need to add detergents and additives.

Also in the area of dishwashers there are models that integrate technologies capable of spreading a jet of steam in the tub that removes germs and bacteria from the dishes, guaranteeing a high level of hygiene. In addition, pure steam is used to ensure the brilliance of glasses, cutlery and crockery, because it does not leave streaks and residues.

Thanks to the SteamFinish program, with which the V-Zug Adora V6000 Extra Height dishwasher is equipped, glasses, cutlery and dishes are treated with pure steam, ensuring cleanliness and shine without stains. At the end of the drying process, in fact, the SteamFinish technology produces steam free of all those substances usually present in the water such as salts, minerals and crystals: this ensures that there are no halos or detergent residues. Furthermore, the SteamFinish program is also suitable for plastic dishes, where the drops tend to dry out, leaving traces.