Save Nutrients by Steaming
One thing that’s well known about steaming vegetables is that steaming saves nutrients. Doctors and nutrition experts have been telling us for decades that steamed vegetables have more nutrients than boiled vegetables. But, did you know that they can have as much as 5 times the amount of nutrients? Boiling vegetables leaches vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients, displacing them to the water, which is left behind when the food is served. This can be seen in the color of the water after the vegetables have been removed. I don’t mean the amount of color, since steam water usually has richer colors, but in the quality of color.
Boil-off water will be dark and dingy looking, often resembling the colors of digested food. That’s because that’s what has just happened. The food has been effectively digested by the water, changed radically on a chemical level.
The color of the water in the bottom of the steaming pot does not come from leaching, but from something called evaporative runoff. Evaporative runoff water is bright and vibrant in color, sometimes shockingly so. This is because the food was not pre-digested. Steaming works by super-heating water in a contained situation, creating steam, which in turn super-heats the food. Fresh and frozen vegetables contain a large amount of water naturally, and this too begins steaming, carrying with it some of the purified flavor and color giving compounds of the vegetable. The compounds are not pre-digested, so they have not been altered too radically, thus maintaining their color. They appear brighter and more vibrant than the original vegetable they came from because the steaming process leaves the other particles behind.
Save Flavor by Steaming
It is a common misconception that steamed vegetables are flavorless. It fact, the opposite is true. Steamed vegetables taste more like the raw vegetable than boiled vegetables. Take potatoes, for instance. Boiling potatoes leaches a tremendous amount of flavor giving compounds from the potatoes, and then saturates it with water. This dilutes the taste of the potato. If that’s not bad enough, you have to remember that boiling them also pre-digests them, which is also going to change their flavor. Most people who say they don’t like one vegetable or another have usually only had them boiled.
Boiling vegetables also forces whatever chemicals are in your water supply into the vegetable. If you live in an area with a lot of chlorine, calcium, or salt in your water supply your boiled vegetables will end up tasting bitter because of it.
Save Time by Steaming
Food cooks when a transfer of energy occurs. Because steam has more energy available than boiling water it cooks foods much faster. Using potatoes again as our example we compare the time it takes. It can take between 30-45 minutes to boil a large pot of potatoes, and that is only after the water has come to a boil in the first place. Because we’re talking about a lot of water it’s going to take more time for the water to reach that point.
Steaming pots, however, reach the boiling point, in order to start producing steam, much more quickly over the same heat. That’s because they use less water. From there it takes a fraction of time to actually cook the potato… only 8-10 minutes!
Save Energy & Resources by Steaming
Because it takes less time to steam vegetables than it does to boil them you save on the amount of energy used to cook them. That’s right, you can go green with steam! You also use less water when steaming, which means you are wasting less water when you throw it out. Of course, since the water is less, and packed with purified flavor and color compounds you can return it to your food by using it in gravy or other recipes that call for water. On thanksgiving I take the evaporative runoffs from the green beans and potatoes and add them to the turkey drippings to make my gravy!
Saves Money by Steaming
Because you are loosing less nutrients you save money on costly vitamin supplements or compensative health foods.
When you save the flavor of your vegetables you save money by using less spices, butter, and other things to make your food taste good.
If you save time in the kitchen you have more time to spend doing the things want or need to do, like spend time with family or make money.
When you save on water and power usage you save money on your bills.
Over all there is no reason not to steam all of your vegetables and save the boiling water for pasta.
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