Return of the Steam Age – Oven Technology

October 9th, 2018 - Posted by in-toto Stratford-upon-Avon

A 2nd steam revolution is taking place, not as in the Victorian age but in the modern domestic kitchen. Steam cooking technology has been long established in commercial kitchens and is the professional chef’s big secret to high quality cooking in a large - scale catering environment. Now this technology has been taken to the domestic oven market, steam ovens are rapidly gaining popularity and there is a widening choice of brands and models available to choose from. At our in-toto showroom in Stratford upon Avon, we have a good selection of working Miele and AEG steam ovens and steam oven combos for our customers to see.  

How Steam Oven Systems Work

Steam ovens work using a system where the water is heated by an element in the water tank and the steam is injected directly into the oven cavity when it reaches the correct temperature. This provides consistent temperatures for cooking which ensures optimum cooking results. After cooking, the water is collected during the cooling process and recycled.  

A steam oven does everything your current oven can, but the moisture isn’t lost during the cooking process because of the added steam. Conventional ovens surround food with dry heat which can result in the loss of moisture, flavours and nutrients. The extra moisture provided by the steam improves texture and colour while preserving crispiness in, for instance, roast potatoes, so cooking results are noticeably better.

miele images steam oven

Combination Steam Ovens - The New Way Forward

The most practical solution for consumers who want to use different oven cooking methods has been the combination steam oven. This offers the best of both worlds – they are the perfect answer for steam cooking, yet they can still be used for conventional oven cooking without losing any functionality for either method. You can also choose between conventional cooking for browning and steam for retaining taste and texture which gives outstanding results.

Combination steam ovens make life easy in the kitchen with the pre-set functions. Most of the cooking happens during steam cooking but then this function can be switched off and conventional heat can be used for browning or crisping up meat or toppings on baked dishes.

Benefits of Steam Cooking

It’s faster – a 130C steam temperature setting will refresh previously cooked items quickly and without drying food out.

It’s healthier- Steam cooking retains all the moisture, vitamins and minerals in ingredients, many of which are lost in conventional cooking. It also lowers the amount of fat that cooks into meat such as lamb so reduces overall fat content. This makes steam cooking a healthier method.

It’s tastier - Flavours are protected by the steam cooking process - important with more delicate foods such as vegetables and fish. Steam cooking is also odour-less, so you can cook a variety of dishes side by side without the flavours of one dish transferring to another. Altogether the results are healthier and tastier.

Great for Baking – The science of baking with steam is noticeably improved because water molecules conduct heat faster than hot air and cook the ingredients more thoroughly. This leads to bigger, quicker rises in bread and cakes and excellent caramelisation for pastry.

Too Good to be True?

Steam ovens still come with a relatively high price tag, however the market is growing rapidly and with an increasing range of available models, prices are coming down. Steam oven cooking takes a little while to get used to, but with a bit of experimentation and practice this is soon overcome. Leading manufacturers such as Miele, have tested traditional family recipes to ensure they work in their steam ovens and have found in many cases, cooking results are even better. Like all appliances, they require a bit of maintenance from time to time but the moist cooking atmosphere and steam cleaning programmes mean that residues are easier to remove. 

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