A simple device that saves energy and cuts the risk of cancer. It must be the highest tech piece of high-tech known to humanity, and surely something we don’t have yet, mustn’t it?
Nah! It’s a steamer. Something that my mum had, and her mum before her, and that we seem to have forgotten how to use in the face of Stalinist saucepan rule. Well, not quite, but it does seem like the humble steamer has gone out of favour because it just seems too complicated to set up and use. Actually, it’s a piece of cake.
Here’s what you do. Say you are boiling some potatoes, rice or pasta – basically anything that has to be immersed in water to cook properly. Put boiling water in the bottom section of the steamer, then put the lid on. When the water starts bubbling, and it is time, put the next section on containing the vegetables that take longest to cook, and put the lid on this bit. If you have more vegetables that take less time to cook, wait until they are due to go on and place them in the next section. Take the lid off, place this section on and put the lid on the top of the whole thing. Voila! You are cooking three lots of food with only one burner.
Because the steam is constantly recirculating then the water level in the bottom stays the same as it would if you only had a saucepan. Better still, steamed vegetables actually take less time to cook than boiled vegetables – something to do with dry heat being more intense – and they also taste better. So with you using about a third (or a half, depending on the number of layers) of the energy than you would use with saucepans, and extra-tasty food you would think that would be enough. But it’s not.
Steamed vegetables can prevent cancer. Yes, it’s true. The phytochemicals present in brassicas, such as cabbage, cauliflower, brocolli and Brussels sprouts are not lost during steaming as they are when the same foods are boiled. In fact, all foods that are boiled lose vital nutrients – nutrients that protect against bowel and other forms of cancer, as well as being important for maintaining a healthy immune system and general wellbeing. Steaming preserves these nutrients.
So, readers, get yourself a steamer, and use it. Not only will you cut your energy consumption, you will also make your food tastier and healthier – now that’s low-tech magic!