Friday, January 12, 2018

Steam Cooking Times: How Long to Steam Vegetables, Fish, Chicken, Lobster and Other Savory Foods


How to Preserve Nutrients While Cooking?

Why is steaming a healthy way of cooking? “Healthy steaming method” is one of the best cooking methods for retaining flavor and nutrients in foods. It is one of the healthiest cooking methods. It allows you to cook your vegetables to preserve their nutrients, bring out their color and enhance their flavor. Fresh foods simply steamed and flavored with fresh herbs, lemon, salt, pepper and olive oil can be very satisfying and delicious, especially when the vegetable, fish and chicken themselves have so much taste. 

It is a cooking technique that can be done in a basket steamer inside a pot on the stove, rice cooker or Instant Pot, so there is very little mess and cleanup required.

A research study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that light steaming was the clear winner when comparing different types of cooking methods and their effects on the retention of phytonutrients, such as carotenoids and flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants. Light steaming of edible parts of broccoli inflorescences resulted in almost no loss of these health-promoting minerals nutrients or anti-cancer nutrients.

Steaming for a minimal amount of time produces vegetables cooked al denté, crisp inside and tender outside, and is an ideal way to preserve nutrients thus maximizing their nutritional value. 

If you are like vegetables because it is good for your body, you must read and try one easy recipe from one of these books. Download now at… 26 Best Vegetarian Diet Cookbooks of All Time

“Steam Cooking Process”: How Steam Cooking Works

As food is not immersed in water, nutrients that can leach into water are preserved and food cooks without the need for fats or oil. This energy-efficient method uses only a small amount of water. Water expands enormously when it turns to steam, and contains energy called “latent heat”, released when it strikes the cool food. 

Steam vapor circulates within the pot at a temperature of 102ºC (216ºF). When the steam strikes cool food, beads of condensation create a “film condensate” of about 91ºC (196ºF) around the food, shielding the food from direct contact with the steam. Heat travels into the food from the film condensate, gradually cooking it.

Steaming transfers heat to food through air convection (as in baking), but also through condensation of vapor. Just as it takes a lot of energy to convert water into steam, so steam gives up a lot of heat energy as it condenses back into water as it reaches and moistens the food.

9 Fast and Easy "Steam Cooking Tips"


Tip #1: Cut the vegetables into similar-sized pieces to guarantee even cooking.

Tip #2: Heat a small amount of water—about 1 inch (2.5cm)—in the bottom pan of a steamer. When heated, the movement of water molecules quickens, energy increases, and the water temperature rises to 212°F (100°C).

Tip #3: If you are using a food steamer with more than one tier, place meat or fish on the bottom tier to avoid dripping onto food below.

Tip #4: Food in a steamer should be loosely packed so that steam can circulate around it freely.

Tip #5: Bring the water to a boil. This will ensure that enough steam is produced for even heat distribution. When the water boils, the molecules have enough energy to break free as bubbles of steam.

Tip #6: Place the vegetables in the steamer basket above the water. When the steam comes into contact with the food, it cools and condenses back into water, releasing vast amounts of latent heat—the energy contained in the steam.

Tip #7: Cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid to trap the steam in.

Tip #8: Immediately remove the steamer basket from the pot and take off the lid to halt cooking and prevent the vegetables from becoming too soft. Remember to take into account residual heat in the food.

Tip #9: What are “suitable foods for steaming”? Steam cooking is best for vegetables (refer to list below); fish steaks and fillets; boneless chicken breasts and small whole chicken; tender loin and leg meat cuts. And even breads, there are many delicious and fluffy breads steam cooked in Japan, China and South East Asian countries.

Steamer Cooking Chart: Accurate Steaming Cooking Times

Vegetables like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus and others are sometimes steamed for much too long, causing them to lose their flavor, color and nutrients. This can be prevented if you know the accurate steaming cooking times.

Be sure to note the time recommended for steaming in the recipes. Because temperatures vary on stoves, watch to make sure your vegetables are still brightly colored and a little crisp in the center when you remove them from the heat; reduce the time they are steamed if necessary.

What are best vegetables to steam? Please refer to the list below:

How long does it take to steam vegetables? (How Long to Steam Broccoli, Artichokes, Asparagus, Green Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Corn, Courgette, Leeks, ? Mange Tout, Mushroom, Pak Choi, Parsnip, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Sea kale, Spinach, Squash and Swede?)


VEGETABLES – about 250g/9 oz
How to steam frozen vegetables? Frozen vegetables need not be defrosted before steaming. Just allow a few minutes longer cooking time.

Avoid strong-flavored vegetables such as kale or mustard greens – they are likely to transfer their flavor to other foods.

Artichokes – Globe
30-45 minutes or until the base is tender.
Before cooking, cut off the base so the artichoke sits level in the steamer.
Artichokes – Jerusalem, whole
About 20 minutes.
For the best flavor, leave the skins on during steaming (prick them first).
How long to steam Asparagus?
10-15 minutes.
Arrange the stalks so that they cross over each other – to allow the steam to circulate. Take care not to overcook or the quick-cooking tips will be too soft.
Beans – Green
10-15 minutes.
Arrange the beans so that they cross over each other – to allow the steam to circulate.
Beans – Runner, sliced
10-15 minutes.

How long does it take to steam Broccoli?
10-15 minutes.

Brussels Sprouts
15-20 minutes.
Once cooked, try mashing them with a knob of butter and a good grating of fresh nutmeg.
Cabbage, quartered
sliced or shredded
About 40 minutes.
About 15 minutes.

Carrots, sliced or cut into matchsticks
About 20 minutes.
30-45 minutes.

Cauliflower florets
10-15 minutes.

Celeriac, cut into cubes or slices
About 20 minutes.
Sprinkling the uncooked celeriac with a little lemon juice helps to keep its color.
Chinese Leaves, roughly chopped
About 2 minutes.
Once cooked, toss with a little soy or oyster sauce.
Corn – Dwarf
About 10 minutes.

Corn on the cob
About 30 minutes.
Season with salt after cooking or the skins will toughen.
Courgettes, small whole sliced

5-10 minutes.
About 5 minutes.
Take care not to overcook them or they will become watery.
Garlic, whole cloves
About 10 minutes.
Once cooked, squeeze the garlic out of its paper-like casing.
Garlic – Wild
5-10 minutes.
For leaves that are just wilted, cook for a very short time.
Leeks, small whole or sliced
20-25 minutes.

Mange Tout
5-10 minutes.
Cook until they still have a slight ‘bite’.
How long to steam Mushrooms?
About 5 minutes.

Onions, small whole sliced

15-20 minutes.
10-15 minutes.

Pak Choi, roughly chopped
About 2 minutes.
Once cooked, toss with a little soy or oyster sauce
Parsnip, sliced or cut into cubes
30-45 minutes.
Once cooked, leave whole or mash until smooth.
Peas, fresh
8-12 minutes.

Peppers, seeds removed and cut into wide strips
About 10 minutes.

Potatoes, small whole or cut into cubes
About 20 minutes.

Sea kale, shredded
20-25 minutes.

How long to steam Spinach?
5-10 minutes.
For leaves that are just wilted, cook for a very short time.
Squash, seeds removed and cut into wedges or peeled and cut into cubes
20-30 minutes.
Once cooked, serve just as it is or mash until smooth and stir in some cream and ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
Swede, sliced or cubed
30-45 minutes.
Once cooked, leave whole or mash until smooth.

Kids love to eat fresh vegetables that look colorful and eye-catching. Do you know how to keep cooked broccoli bright green? Learn how, just click a link below:

1) How to Keep Cooked Broccoli Bright Green

2) How to Prevent Discoloration in Vegetables When Cooking

How Long to Steam Fruits?


To catch the juices from the fruit, line the steamer with a sheet of baking paper or foil.

Apples – Whole, peeled Cored and quartered
About 20 minutes.
About 10 minutes.
Rub a little lemon juice over the cut surface.
Apricots – Whole or halved
5-10 minutes.
Prick whole apricots before steaming.
12-15 minutes, until the skins are brown and just beginning to split open.

Nectarines – Whole or halved
15-20 minutes.
Prick whole nectarines before steaming.
Peaches – Whole or halved
15-20 minutes.
Prick whole peaches before steaming.
Pears – Ripe, whole, peeled
About 20 minutes.
Rub a little lemon juice over the cut surface.
Plums – Whole or halved
5-10 minutes.
Prick whole plums before steaming.
Rhubarb, cut into 2.5cm/1 in lengths
5-10 minutes.

Do you know how to cook fruits? You can learn in just 5 minutes here… How to Cook Fruits and Vegetables

How Long to Steam Chicken, Pork, Lamb, Duck and Sausage?


POULTRY AND MEAT – 250-500g/9 oz-1 lb 2 oz
How to steam frozen chicken and meat? Thoroughly defrost all poultry and meat before cooking.

Chicken – Boneless breasts
12-15 minutes.
About 30 minutes.

The juices should run clear (not pink) when the thickest part of the chicken is pierced with a skewer.
How long to steam Duck breasts?
25-30 minutes.
The skin can be removed before or after cooking.
Lamb neck fillet, cut in 1cm/½ in slices
About 15 minutes.

Pork fillet, cut in 1cm/½ in slices
About 15 minutes.

Frankfurters and smoked sausages
10-15 minutes.
Prick before steaming.

How Long to Steam Fish, Clam, Lobster, Mussel, Oyster, Scallop and Prawn or Shrimps?


FISH – 250-500g/9 oz-1 lb 2 oz
How to steam frozen fish? Frozen fish need not be thawed before steaming but will probably take longer to cook.

Thin fillets: cod, haddock, plaice, sole, salmon, etc
5-10 minutes.
Placing them on baking paper makes them easier to remove from the steamer.
Thick fillets or steaks: cod, haddock, monkfish, salmon, tuna, sword fish, etc
How long to steam salmon?
10-15 minutes.

Whole fish: trout, salmon trout, bass, mullet, red snapper, etc
15-20 minutes.
Placing the fish on baking paper makes for easy removal from the steamer.
How long to steam Clams, cockles?
About 5 minutes, until the shells have opened.
Stir half way. Once cooked, discard any unopened shells.
How long to steam Lobster tails, fresh frozen?
About 15 minutes.
About 20 minutes.

5-10 minutes, or until the shells have opened.
Stir half way. Once cooked, discard any unopened shells.
Oysters, in shells
About 5 minutes, until the shells open easily.

How long to steam Prawns?
About 5 minutes, until raw prawns turn pink or cooked prawns are just hot.
Stir half way.
About 5 minutes, until just set.
Re-arrange half way.

How Long to Steam Rice, Couscous and Bulgur?


The liquid used could be water or stock with some wine or fruit juice. Put the couscous, bulgur or rice into a container with the liquid and steam uncovered.

200g/7 oz plus 400ml/14 fl oz liquid.
10 minutes.
Bulgur (or cracked) wheat
200g/7 oz plus 400ml/14 fl oz liquid.
20-25 minutes.
Rice – Long grain white

200g/7 oz plus 400ml/14 fl oz liquid.
200g/7 oz plus 450ml/16 fl oz liquid.

About 25 minutes.
About 35 minutes.

How Long to Steam Eggs?


EGGS – 1-6
Whole, in shells: Soft ‘boiled’ Hard ‘boiled’
8-10 minutes.
10-18 minutes.
The short cooking times are for 1 egg, the longer times are for 6 eggs.
In small dish or ramekin: Soft Hard
5-10 minutes.
10-15 minutes.
The short cooking times are for 1 egg, the longer times are for 6 eggs.

Electric Pressure Cooker is also a perfect steam cooker (steamer). Learn about the cheapest and most reliable electric pressure cooker on the market today. Click your preferred link below:

1) The Complete Electric Pressure Cooker Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Pressure Cooker?

2) Affordable and Best Electric Pressure Cookers - Top 10 Brands in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, India

Steaming vs. Boiling Food:  Advantages and Disadvantages of Steaming

Know the Difference Now:


Cooking time: Slightly longer than with boiling because you need to wait for the water to boil first before steaming the food.

Flavor and texture: Preserves sweetness and texture of food.

Nutrients: Holds or retains vitamins and minerals well.


Cooking time: Direct contact with water transfers heat quickly, speeding cooking times.

Flavor and texture: May be lost on delicate foods. Suits robust foods such as potatoes and dried beans.

Nutrients: Nutrients can seep into water.

Improve your cooking skill, know the difference between Fast Cooking versus Slow Cooking Technique

People who read this post also read other related cooking times and cooking temperatures:

1) Instant Pot Ultimate Cooking Time Guide- (Accurate Electric Pressure Cooker Cooking Time Chart)

2) Accurate Sous Vide Cooking Times- PDF Free Download

3) Temperature and Cooking Time for Fish, Chicken and Dark Meat Sous Vide Cooking

4) A Practical Temperature Guide to Sous Vide Cooking


Annette Yates. 2008. Steaming! Right Way with Recipes. How To Books Ltd. ISBN-10: 0716022028

Dr. Stuart Farrimond. 2017. The Science of Cooking: Every Question Answered to Perfect Your Cooking. DK. ISBN-13: 978-1465463692

F Vallejo, FA Tomás-Barberán, C García-Viguera. 2003. Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.1585.

George Mateljan. 2007. The World's Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating, 1st edition. World's Healthiest Foods. ISBN-10: 0976918544

You can download this guide in PDF printable format here, Steam Cooking Times PDF how long to steam vegetables

You can also get this in JPEG (picture printable format) to be posted in your fridge door, just click here, Steamer Cooking Chart.

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