Professional chefs around the world have known for years that cooking with steam means moister, better tasting food and faster cooking times. In fact, steam assist ovens have been standard fare in the restaurant business for quite some time. Lucky for homeowners, there are now a number of residential-sized models hitting the market. And any home chef would love to own one!
WHY COOK WITH STEAM?
There are many reasons to cook with steam, starting with food quality. Basically, you get the benefits of basting, water bathing and misting, all wrapped up in one handy appliance. Dried-out turkeys, chewy roasts and crusty casseroles become a thing of the past. And because steam cooks so much quicker than dry air, you'll cut down your cooking times significantly. Plus, steamed food is supposed to be a healthier option than boiled, as it doesn't lose as many vitamins or nutrients in the process.
While the steam assist feature is the main selling point of these ovens, they come with many other convenient additions as well. Convection heating is standard on most steam assist models, as is a fully computerized control pad that predetermines the proper cooking temperature, and how much steam to use, for specific dishes and meats. Some models even come with internal temperature probes that monitor food to make sure it's cooked through and through. And if your cooking skills are limited to the microwave, never fear. They sell combination microwave/steam assist ovens too. With all these wonderful features, these ovens can almost cook your dinner for you!
STEAM OVEN VS. STEAM ASSIST OVEN
While a steam oven can be used in "steam only" cooking, current steam assist appliances cannot. Steam assist ovens are considered combination appliances, or "Combi Ovens," and use both dry heat and water. The oven heats up and the assist supplies water to make the oven humid.
ENERGY SMART STEAM ASSIST OVENS
Food quality should be your top concern when choosing any oven, but energy use shouldn't be too far behind. Because steam assist ovens speed up cook times and internally regulate food temperatures, they also use less energy than traditional electric and gas ovens. With those benefits and other energy-saving features, such as variable duration self-cleaning settings and the ability to spot clean, steam assist models are as green a choice as you're going to find when oven shopping.
DESIGN AND INSTALLATION
Steam assist ovens come in a wide variety of designs and colors to match just about any kitchen or space. If you're interested in a steam assist model, talk to an appliance dealer and kitchen contractor about purchasing and installing your new oven correctly. Because they need a water hookup as well as an energy source, this is one appliance installation that's better left to the pros.
COST VS. VALUE
As you do your research and consult with experts, you'll find that these ovens are significantly more expensive than regular ovens. However, a steam assist oven can stand in as a more efficient and healthy alternative to both your regular oven and your microwave oven. Plus, the efficiency it offers will help you to save on energy costs.
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