As steam ovens have continued to grow more popular, prices have tended to drop, while the number of models, options, and features have grown significantly. When shopping for a steam oven, you will want to consider which features are most important as different models vary greatly in their capabilities. A basic consideration is whether to purchase a multi-function steam oven that incorporates conventional oven functions such as the ability to brown foods. Some steam oven models are designed for connection to your household plumbing eliminating the need to refill a water reservoir. Cosmetics are often an important consideration since many steam ovens are built-in.
When shopping for a steam oven, you'll find models that range from simple countertop designs that only offer a steam cooking mode to built-in designs with multi-function cooking modes and sophisticated, food-driven automation of controls that make the switch to steam cooking simple. Multifunction designs, sometimes referred to as combination ovens, include one or more cooking modes apart from steam cooking. Some models incorporate convection or radiant oven functions, while others include a microwave oven or a grilling function for browning food. A good shopping strategy is to look for models that fit your budget and space while offering the widest temperature ranges and versatility where steam cooking is concerned.
More advanced oven designs typically offer several steam cooking methods. These include arranging the foods in a supplied pan with lid that usually is directly connected to the steam source. This is an excellent way to cook meats, fish, and most vegetables. The diffused steam method fills the entire oven with uncompressed steam that is allowed to circulate around the uncovered foods, which can be placed on any convenient racks within the oven. Direct steaming entails directing a flow of steam into the food being cooked, such as the body cavity of a chicken. Many models offer precise control over the volume and force of the steam.
If you are apprehensive about learning new ways to cook your favorite foods, consider models that feature more automated programs based on the types of foods to be cooked. Many models include dozens of these simple-to-use settings. Other worthwhile options include interval cooking, in which steam and hot air alternate during the cooking process. Certain models allow hot air and steam to be introduced into the oven simultaneously, which is excellent for baking some breads and pastries. To help you sort through all of the available features and functions of steam ovens, you'll find many consumer and expert steam oven reviews and ratings online.