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
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Handler - Personal Lines

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of insurance and financial...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Developer / IT Support Engineer

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing financial ser...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

    Day In a Page

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food