Two critics weigh in on steamer.
Orka Personal Silicone Steamer, $12
Jennifer Mastroianni: You may have heard that some cookware and cooking methods can add toxins to your food. Teflon, for instance, can emit noxious fumes if heated to 500 degrees. (The poisonous gas has been known to kill pet parakeets).
With the increasing popularity of silicon, I couldn’t help but wonder, is it safe?
I found my answer in an online article, “Healthy Cookware,” by award-winning health and cookbook author Rebecca Wood (www.rwood.com/Articles/Healthy_Cookware.htm).
Wood’s article is a must-read for cooks who want to know about safety factors of various types of cookware. The bottom line is, silicone is the only nonstick cookware that is nonreactive and does not contain plastic polymers. It’s safe even if heated above its FDA-approved 428 degrees.
“If heated above its safe range, silicone melts but doesn’t outgas toxic vapors,” Wood explains. “This is apparently because silicone is a manmade blend of sand and oxygen (versus a synthetic plastic).”
That said, I love silicone. It’s affordable, it looks ultracool and is super easy to clean. This veggie steamer, which perfectly steams broccoli in its own moisture in about 60 seconds, is one more reason to love it.
Saimi Bergmann: I was slow to love silicone. The oven mitts are unwieldy and the baking pans are floppy. But this steamer is a keeper. You can cook broccoli without water to perfect crispness in less than a minute. Cleanup is a snap. And as with all steaming, nutrients remain in the food instead of leaching into the cooking water.
Orka makes microwavable steamers in various sizes. This 20-ounce oval is perfect for cooking for one or two.