Assuming you don't have a "vegetable steamer" that you received as a wedding gift, how do you steam vegetables?
If you have a metal strainer then I
- Fill a large pot with water. Just enough so it almost comes up to the bottom of the strainer when you place it on top.
- Insert the strainer so it is balanced above the water.
- Fill strainer with vegetables and cover with a lid
- Take off when the vegetables are steamed to your specifications
I can't understand why all posts suggest putting enough water to reach the bottom of the strainer containing the vegetables. That way you are boiling them!
They call it steaming because you use steam to do the cooking, the more water there is and the closer it is to the stuff being steamed the more nutrients and flavors that will be washed away.
When steaming on regular pots I only use enough water so that it won't evaporate. Some lids for regular pots have a hole to let steam off, If that's the case I close it with a bit of kitchen paper. Additionally, you only need enough heat to keep the existing steam in gas form, more pressure just means the steam will leak and you will need more water.
It might take longer than your methods, but it tastes better, try it!
If they're frozen I often stab the bag a few times with a fork and then throw it in the microwave for a few minutes. To be safe make sure your bag is a plastic known to be microwave safe. It will either be labeled "microwave safe", but you can also check the recycling stamp. Type 4 LDPE is considered microwave safe plastic.
Why does your question imply that vegetable steamers can only be obtained via wedding gift? Buying a generic steamer insert/basket is relatively inexpensive. For example: Progressive International Easy Reach Steamer Basket
I don't care for the steamer bags because they are wasteful (and expensive), and I don't care for the microwave because it is too easy to overcook, particularly small quantities.
My procedure ...
- Chop the veggies into whatever size/shape desired.
- Put the steamer in the pot, and fill to just below it with water.
- Boil the water.
- Add the veggies, keep the water boiling, cover.
- Wait a few minutes, then check every few minutes. Turn off the heat when done to your preference .. time depends on the amount and type of vegetable and desired crispness.
Glad and other plastic bag manufacturers make microwave steaming bags - they're basically heavy duty zippered bags with a vent. Pop the veggies in, microwave the specified amount of time, and you're done.
If you don't want a dedicated steamer, my rice cooker doubles as a steamer (or even at the same time).
It has a round piece of metal that sits on top of the rice bowl with holes in the bottom of it, solid sides and then the lid fits on top of it.
While you have the rice cooking, your veggies cook above. If you don't need the rice that time, just toss some water in it and use it just as a steamer.
This is the one I have, I'm sure others also include the steamer piece.
Forget the steamer.
The easiest, fastest, cheapest, and best way I've found is to put three tablespoons of water in a large pan, put in the vegetables, and counting from when the water starts to boil, boil for two minutes on high heat with a properly fitting lid. This makes then perfect every time. Not mushy, soft, but perfect. Cook another minute to make them softer.
Seriously, this method is cheap, fast, and requires no extra gadgets.