We all know what steamers are, what they are made of and what they are used for but those of you who do not know about bamboo steamers then here is a little briefing. Bamboo steamers are made out of……..bamboo of course! Bamboo is a grass plant and stronger than wood. Its growth rate is very fast, is resistant against pests and therefore making it a valuable natural renewable resource. How clever it is to make this versatile bamboo plant into a steamer! Bamboo steamers are non-scratch and do not swell or split. The bamboo steamer is multi-layered which allows you to cook different types of foods at one time. Each layer has an open-weave bottom which permits steam to pass through to cook the food. Bamboo steamers come in different sizes; ranging from 6 inch up to 14 inches.
Using Bamboo Steamer for the First Time
Before use, wipe over steamer with hot water but do not submerge the steamer in the water. Whilst wet, place your steamer over boiling water for thirty minutes. As bamboo is porous (meaning it allows air and water to pass through it), the steam will help to take away any impurities such as dirt etc.
Ready to Cook
To stop your food from sticking to the bamboo steamer basket, layer the bottom with lettuce leaves/cabbage leaves/corn husks or you can use unbleached waxed paper or natural parchment paper. Of course if you use the latter, then you will need to puncture holes through the paper to let the steam filter through. There are round parchments specifically for steamers but they are bleached and something which I certainly would not recommend.
Using lettuce leaves/cabbage leaves and corn husks, as ‘liners’, will add more flavor to your food. The foods which need to be cooked the longest should be placed in the steamer basket which is nearest to the boiling water. Most people use woks to sit their steamer in. You only need an inch or two of water for it to reach the bottom rim of the steamer. Keep an eye on the water level as you may need to add more boiling water to keep it at rim level.
Care of Bamboo Steamer
Bamboo steamers are not dishwasher safe. However, cleaning them is a breeze. Vinegar is a natural safe way to disinfect and deodorize your bamboo steamer. Use a half a cup of vinegar in one gallon of hot water to soak a cloth in and lightly squeeze out the water from the cloth. Wipe over the bamboo steamer with the cloth and repeat this method a few times until clean. Rinse the cloth in hot clean water and wipe the bamboo steamer over once more. Never soak your bamboo steamer in water. Let your bamboo steamer completely dry on the bench before putting it away. This will stop mold from occurring.
If you would like to ‘go green’ or care about our environment and are looking for a natural way of cooking then I recommend bamboo steamers.
Mini Bamboo Steamers as Party Favors
Yes, the smallest of the bamboo steamers are now being used as party favors. Use your imagination and fill these mini bamboo steamers with eco friendly items and decorate them with non-toxic materials etc. So do yourself a ‘favor’ and go for it.
Benefits of Bamboo Vinegar
Bamboo vinegar is made by heating the stalks of bamboo in very high temperatures. The steam is then concentrated and bottled. Used in Chinese cooking, bamboo vinegar has many beneficial uses. It can treat eczema, dermatitis and other skin disorders because it has anti-inflammatory properties. Using it as a deodorant is great because it is a natural deodorizer. Dilute one part vinegar to five parts filtered water and you have an insect repellent that insects just hate. You can use diluted bamboo vinegar on your skin and hair too to soften and moisturize. Make sure though that you rinse your hair with cold water after five minutes of applying the diluted vinegar.
If you would like to read about different types of vinegar’s then here is a book about Vinegars of the World which can be purchased on Amazon.
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