The Insider: Healthy eating is a snap with an electric steamer

Steaming is widely acknowledged as one of the healthiest ways to cook your vegetables. It keeps in many more nutrients than boiling, and is just as simple to do – especially if you invest in a purpose-made electric steamer.

And these days, buying a steamer doesn't have to break the bank either. Prices start from as little as £11 – although it's worth paying a little more if you want one that's easy to use and able to cook rice as well as vegetables.

"If you're still trying to stick to a resolution to eat more healthily this year, then a steamer could be a useful purchase as it allows you to create a healthy meal using just one device. You can buy own-brand steamers for as little as £12, but if you pay more you'll get better features such as a digital timer, separate compartments and delayed start options.

"Bear in mind, though, that steaming in a microwave retains more of the food's nutrients, is quicker and uses less water. Not everyone likes the flavour of steamed food, so think carefully about whether you'll use it before you buy, or it may end up relegated to the back of the kitchen cupboard."

By and large, you tend to get what you pay for in the steamer market. When consumer group Which? recently reviewed 12 different models, it was the most expensive – the Morphy Richards Intellisteam 48780 – which came out on top. The Intellisteam will set you back a cool £100 – but for that price you'll get a machine that lets you cook several items at once without mingling flavours, and which gives you the power to preset cooking times, as well as cook rice to perfection. At 4.8kg, it's a big old beast – but if you're looking for the "Rolls Royce" of kitchen steaming appliances, this is it.

It's worth noting, however, that the Tefal Vitacuisine VS400116 was given the same overall score by the Which? researchers – and costs just £60. Although the testers thought it didn't cook rice as well as the Intellisteam, it came out better on tests for steaming chicken and vegetables.

If you're looking for a budget option, you can't do much better than the Argos Value Range steamer, which costs just £10.69. It's not as easy to use, or built as well as the premium brands – but its overall score of 62 per cent by the Which? team shows that it's certainly competent at the main task of steaming.

Don't bother with Tefal's Steam Cuisine VC102315, however. It costs £14 more than the Argos Value steamer, and received an overall score of just 52 per cent. Although it ranked slightly better in terms of its cooking abilities, it was found to be flimsy and too easy to break.

Where to buy

If you know what you're looking for, the best place to get a good deal is always the internet. Websites such as whichcompare.co.uk, froogle.co.uk and pricerunner.co.uk help guide you to the retailers who are selling your desired steamer at the cheapest price – and there are good deals to be had at the moment, as the sales come to an end. For example, froogle.co.uk shows that you can currently pick up the Morphy Richards Intellisteam for just £73.98 at electricshopping.com – a saving of £26 on its regular retail price.

Obviously, for the Argos steamers, you'll need to visit Argos.co.uk, or pop into one of their stores. And if you prefer to shop in person, it's also worth checking out stores such as Comet, Currys and Robert Dyas.

Five questions to ask...

Are the baskets dishwasher proof?

You can clean most steamer baskets in the dishwasher, but a few models advise against it.

Is the timer mechanical or digital?

Mechanical wind-up timers tend to not be very accurate. If you want to be sure that your vegetables are cooked to perfection, a digital timer is much better.

Does it have an external water level gauge?

Most steamers have a gauge that allows you to see how much water is left in the machine. If your steamer doesn't have this, there's a greater danger of you damaging the appliance by letting it dry out during cooking.

Can it cook rice?

Most, but not all, steamers come with a bowl for cooking rice – although some machines are much less effective at cooking good rice than their rivals.

Does it have separate compartments?

Most steamers have multiple tiers, which mean that the juices from the food being cooked on the top tier can drip down on to lower tiers during cooking. Some steamers, however, have separate compartments, which ensures each item retains its individual taste.

The Insider is written in conjunction with the consumer group Which?. For more information on steamers visit www.which.co.uk/steamers. To get three issues of Which? magazine for £3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

    Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

    Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

    £18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

    Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

    £35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor