In the last few years, this category has certainly been picking up steam (pun not intended). I’m sure by now you have been told that it’s the healthiest way to cook.
Moisture does maintain the nutrients and minerals of the food instead of baking them out. The food will also have a lower fat content because you’re not using any oil to keep the food moist when cooking.
A steam oven can cook foods such as vegetables, seafood, meats, rice and grains (think of it as a pressure cooker built into an oven). The moist environment provides a controlled and even flow of steam gentle enough for pudding cakes, eggs and custards as well.
But does it really work? Better yet, do you need to be a chef or mathematician to use it?
I decided to conduct my test (reheating 3-day old food) in one of the best selling steam ovens at Yale.
Wolf CSO24 (combi-steam)
- Convection mode which can be used alone for regular baking
- Gourmet Mode automatically adjusts the cooking temperature and time to the type of food being cooked
- Auto-steam Bake feature that transitions automatically from steam to convection
- Temperature probe
- Easy access water tank
Benefits of Steam Ovens
- Time Saving: Smaller cavity, faster preheat
- Better tasting: Moisture is not lost
- Healthier: steam helps retain vitamins, minerals and nutrients of food
- Better quality: Steam preserves color, texture and flavor of produce
- Reheat quality: Can warm up food without drying it out- saves money on food!
- Multipurpose: can be used as a traditional wall oven and installed in several different applications
- Steam enables easy clean up
- Cooking can be done using glass, metal dishes & cutlery
- No flavor transfer
To demonstrate the effectiveness of this tech I reheated 3-day old meat that had been kept in a fridge mostly uncovered. Mind you that at no point do I refer to the owner’s manual.
1 Chicken, 1 Pork and 2 pieces of Chorizo. Pretty stiff at this point…
Turning on Reheat mode couldn’t be easier. Notice how the unit shows it’s optimal location for one or two racks.
8 minutes later and it tastes better than it did 3 days before!
I managed to pawn off the chicken and chorizo to fellow colleagues telling them I just made it last night. No one believed they just ate 3-day old food. Another thing to note is that there were was no flavor transfer, although in this case it certainly wouldn’t hurt!
So to answer the question to my blog title…Yes, absolutely! Sure you can “nuke” a meal in less than two minutes. However, it robs your food of all moisture and nutrients. But for the exchange of a few more minutes that yield what appears to be “freshly prepared food,” the results are certainly worth it. And the simplicity and ease of function is a bonus.
As time goes by, my prediction is that these appliances will become a staple in almost every kitchen. The fact that you can cook family-size portions with ease means it’s adaptable to any size kitchen. Without a doubt a newly renovated/designed kitchen needs one of these!
Oh, did I mention this can also be used as a traditional oven as well? Microwaves are sure to be a technology of the past sooner or later.
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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 10, 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.