Just when you thought your only choices were "standard" or "convection", we're throwing another wrench into the decision works - steam!
That's right; today's high-end oven manufacturers also offer steam ovens as an option, and these models are quickly gaining steam (sorry, we can't resist...) with both health-conscious cooks and bakers alike.
What is a Steam Oven?
Perhaps you've never heard of steam ovens before? With these ovens, water is heated up, creating a steam bath in which your food is cooked. In lower- to mid-range models, this occurs by way of a water trough, or tray, that requires manual refilling.
In higher-end units, the oven has a separate water line, just like the water/ice feature on your fridge, connected to a valve that releases the steam when it builds to a certain pressure point.
In case you're wondering, steam ovens can be purchased with a variety of options. Or, we should say, ovens that offer steaming can also offer standard baking features as well as convection, browning and broiling options. The key is to find the model that works best for your household's needs.
Benefits of Cooking With Steam
What's the big deal about steam ovens anyway? In fact, there are several benefits of having a steam option in your oven.
Enjoy luxurious, culinary delicacies
Dedicated home chefs and bakers enjoy steam ovens because they are able to cook delicate foods to perfection. You've never tasted scallops so moist, and croissants have never been more flaky and delicious.
Healthy foods that actually taste good
It's hard to escape the idea that, "you are what you eat." The media feeds us a constant stream of information and tidbits about the importance of healthy food when it comes to overall health and longevity.
Eating healthy foods is one thing. However, the way your foods are prepared can enhance or detract from their nutrient content and health benefits. Steaming is one of the best ways to cook foods to their desired "done-ness" while still preserving optimal nutrient content.
One of the reasons we use fattening butter and oils when we cook is to retain the moisture that is lost from foods while they're cooking. So, cooking certain vegetables and foods in a moist environment eliminates or reduces the need to add oils or butter. That one simple subtraction can reduce your intake of calories and cholesterol.
Boost cooking efficiency.
Convection ovens are touted for their efficiency, because they can cook your favorite dishes in only half the time required in a standard oven. Steam options will take that efficiency, and raise it one.
Steam ovens reach their desired temperature faster and tend to cook food more quickly as well. For example, chicken can be cooked to a moist and tender finish in just 20-minutes. Then, you can switch over to the browning function to finish it off.
Become a fan of leftovers.
Are you one of those people who says, "I hate leftovers," or do you have one or two of those in your family? The steam oven may force a change of palate.
One of the reasons leftovers diminish in quality and flavor is that they dry out. This drying occurs while they're stored, and then again when they are reheated in an oven or a microwave. With the steam oven option, moisture is replaced as the food heats up and that means your leftovers taste every bit as good as they did the first time around.
Interested in learning more about steam oven possibilities? Visit us here at Kitchens Unlimited and we'll introduce you to your options.