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Steaming - Vintage Cooking Process

Steam Cooker

Steam Cooker © 1893 Science in the Kitchen

Steaming is cooking over, and not in, boiling water. In this method of cookery the water must be kept actually boiling for the entire length of time required for cooking the article. If boiling ceases even for a few moments, a soggy result is almost inevitable.

Steaming is a process very similar to boiling, for it is cooking in the heated vapor of water.  This practice as a means of cookery is largely adopted in hotels, clubs, schools and hospitals, and other large institutions.  It is also frequently applied in ordinary household cookery for particular articles of food requiring a very slow process of cooking.

The extent of this depends greatly upon the appliance at hand.  An ordinary kitchen steamer, with a close-fitting lid, is generally all that is required in this direction for simple household cookery on a small scale.

It is a pity that this most excellent method of cooking does not become more generally adopted for cooking meat, fish and vegetables. It is a slower process than that of boiling, but far more economical, as there is much less waste of flavor and nutritious properties. Success depends on keeping the water under the steamer briskly boiling. If there is not sufficient force of steam the food gets sodden.

The articles of food which are to be steamed are prepared in exactly the same manner as for boiling.  Many puddings, some meats, and some vegetables are considered better if cooked by steam, and inasmuch as the process of cooking is a very slow one, there is no fear of the food being destroyed by too fierce a heat, as the temperature in steaming never reaches beyond 212 degrees F.

Fish, meat and poultry cooked by steam are as a rule tender, full of gravy and digestible.  By steaming, watery vegetables are made drier, tough meats are softened and made tender; whilst farinaceous mixtures and puddings develop a totally different flavor than when baked or fried.

Table Talk: The American Authority upon Culinary Topics and Fashions of the Table, Vol. XXVII, 1912, A Series of Articles Published Throughout the Year. Published Monthly by The Arthur H. Crist Co., Cooperstown, NY. A Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Interests of American Housewives, Having special reference to the Improvement of the Table.  Marion Harris Neil, Editor.

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