Last year it was decided that our whole family was going to make the change and start eating healthy, no more takeaways or fast food - Not that we had very much of the horrid junk to begin with but something had to be done. I carefully watched my Mother cooking a Sunday roast and I started to notice how much salt she was putting into our vegetables, this is bad enough but I also noticed that she would accidently boil the vegetables resulting in them being too soft and killing the Vitamins inside. My biology lessons in school started flooding back to me and I remembered the teacher clearly stating the damage done to vitamins in vegetables during boiling and off I went to Tesco to buy a new steamer.
I saw this little beauty sitting proudly in its very basic Tesco Value style box and it was straight in the trolley for the extremely low price of only £9.97, how could I have resisted that? Even if it only lasted a few months it would have been worth that all day long.
In the box you get;
The steamer base
3 x cooking chambers (Tiers)
And an instruction book
The steamer was very easy to set up. They must have changed the design slightly as mine looks a slightly different to the one in the picture but it is the same model number, strange! To set up the steamer you simply stack up the three cooking chambers or however many cooking chambers you want to use - You do not have to use all three at the same time. Once stacked you simply pop the top vented lid on and fill the machine with water through the open water feed at the front, plug it in and select the cooking time. You obviously put the food in when your stacking the chambers otherwise there would be no point in having the machine! Gosh Nick get your act together......
It's also recommended that you use this in a well-ventilated room and I will explain why later on in the review.
>>> Cooking with the steamer <<<
Obviously steamers are mainly used for cooking vegetables but you can also cook fish which is handy. The first meal we cooked with our steamer was fish and what a bad idea that was. Nothing to do with the steamer, we had used it incorrectly. Out of pure stupidity and lack of cooking knowledge I had accidently put the fish in the bottom cooking chamber and the vegetables in the top, of course this is a recipe for disaster as steam rises! We ended up with soggy fish and vegetables that tasted very much like 'Soggy fish', whoops! So yes, if you plan on cooking fish in one of these please do not be an idiot like me and instead place it on the top shelf (as the manual clearly states). Once I had read the instructions and worked the problem out luckily all of our fish and vegetables have been perfect since.
Vegetables cooked in this steamer come out beautifully cooked and in my opinion - they are perfect! They are as my Mum says 'Al dente' as they come out not too hard, not too soft but just right. In my opinion the vegetables taste very nice and there is definitely a difference between boiling and steaming, I reckon steaming tastes nicer than the slightly unhealthier version - boiled with salt. If need be there is a little mesh type of filter in the bottom of the steamer that is used for placing herbs or general seasoning. This rises with the steam and is supposed to give the food being cooked a good seasoning but not too strong, we have not used this feature but it is there if need be. It should definitely help with the flavour if you do like to boil with salt.
The timer on the steamer is a turn style knob that goes from 0 - 30 minutes, this is very handy and most guideline cooking times are in the instruction manual. We can cook a whole meal for six people in this one steamer and it takes roughly 30 minutes from switch on to cook all of the vegetables, this makes life much easier as you can literally chuck all of the vegetables into the steamer and forget about it while cooking the meat etc. The only slight issue we have found is that the water can run out slightly before the timer but it is easy to add a bit more during the cooking cycle. There is a slight wait for the steamer to warm up but this is usually a maximum time of around 5 minutes.
The steaming chambers are of a good size and we can easily fit enough vegetables in it to feed a family of six, the vegetables must be chopped and evenly spaced to cook correctly and to maintain their colour and flavor. We find the smaller we chop the vegetables, the better tasting they are. Strange but true!
>>> Cleaning the steamer <<<
Now unfortunately we have lost our instruction manual so I cannot confirm whether the steaming accessories are dishwasher safe. However we have used our steamer daily followed by a wash in the dishwasher and we have not had any problems at all. The steaming base hardly gets dirty so we tend to wipe this with a damp cloth, all of the cooking chambers and lids would be easy to hand wash but we are slightly lazy at times and like to fill the dishwasher, they have cleaned up easily every time and they never get that dirty from vegetables anyway.
>>> Quality and other information <<<
The steamer is generally of a good quality, we have now owned this for about eight months and we have not had any part fall off or break and it still works as new. It has been used almost daily for that time and it's been fabulous every time. It's not built extremely well and in all honesty I never expected it to be considering the price, it's certainly built well enough though and it definitely exceeds our expectuations!
The cooking chambers are of a reasonable quality and they feel quite strong when handled but if they are dropped onto a hard kitchen floor I do doubt that they will survive, we have not dropped ours (Yet) but if we did I reckon it would smash. The plastic seems to be the brittle type that cracks but if handled correctly there should not be any problems at all.
The only slight problem I have with this is the steam exiting the steamer. Obviously this problem occurs with every steamer and is not confined to this one but the steam can damage certain items that you have hanging on the wall near the machine, they can also make walls and ceilings damp or even paint to peel from my experience. We have overcome this by placing the steamer by an open window while in use, most of the steam now goes straight out and we have not had a problem since. Obviously this is again mainly user error by me as the instructions do state to use it in a well-ventilated area so I shall not knock a star off this steamer. One other little piece of advice is if you're going to cook fish be prepared for a fishy smell that lingers in your kitchen for up to three days after cooking, this can again be avoided by placing by an open window or not bothering cooking fish in the machine at all. This is usually very common when cooking fish in an oven anyway so there should not be too much to worry about.
When you are removing you food after cooking it is important to leave the steamer cool down slightly as there is a possibility that you may burn yourself on the steam remaining in the system. This has caught me out once when I removed the lid to check my carrots and I got blasted in the face, I was luckily only slightly burnt but it could have been worse. Otherwise I would say this is a much safer option of cooking vegetables as we all know how dangerous boiling water and saucepan handles over the edge of a stove can be when young children are around, a steamer is a much safer way of cooking.
>>> Overall opinion <<<
I seriously think that this is a very good steamer at an exceptionally good price. It does exactly what it says it will and it cooks perfectly. It is obviously a reliable product as we have used it daily for 8 months and I doubt that anyone would be disappointed purchasing one of these. Obviously it is not a very pretty steamer and if you have a designer type of kitchen it would be a definite no-no unless you hide it in a cupboard when not in use.
Would I recommend this steamer to a friend? I most certainly would and in fact I have!
Thanks for reading and please ask if you have any questions at all,
I try to eat pretty healthily, and one of my wonderful little gadgets that allows me to do this is my Steamer . When I first purchased a steamer, I wasn't really sure how often I would use it, so opted to buy and try a budget model first - I could always invest in something more expensive later if I used it enough .
Part of the Tesco Value range, and costing a mere 9.97, this steamer actually looks pretty good - oval in shape, with a white base and 3 see through steamer trays, as well as a drip tray that sits snugly just inside the base . It comes with a manual (written in a variety of languages) that is pretty simple to follow . It also gives some hints on the cooking times for various foods.
To use this is simple - fill the base up with clean tap water (there is a little indicator there showing the maximum fill level) and then sit the drip tray inside the base . You then simply add on the number of steamer baskets you need. There is light that lets you know when the steamer is working, and a timer which sounds when your food is done - this has rather handy little picture of various foods you might steam, which is a good general guide for time . The steamer also has a safety function - it will turn itself off it it runs dry , which is reassuring as I'm quite easily distracted when cooking .
I've found this very easy to use , and I find the capacity of the baskets large enough to easily cook a full meal, especially with there being three baskets . The only slight issue with cooking a full meal is that different components will need different amounts of time to cook, which means adding extra baskets of food while the steamer is actually on . With oven gloves, adding baskets to the steamy is a clumsy affair, and without oven gloves, you can, if not careful, get a nasty blast of steam to the hands . I've gotten around this by using rubber gloves instead, which makes it a little safer .
I've never had any issues with food not cooking well in this steamer - on the rare occasion something isn't entirely cooked when the timer goes off, such as one very thick chicken breast, its easy to just set the timer for a few more minutes, and you can be assured with this method of cooking that your food will not burn or dry out .
In fact, I've found that fish and meats cooked in the steamer do stay very moist and tender, which is excellent .
You do need to be careful again when removing food from the steamer, as it will be very hot, and again, your hands might get a blast of steam from the cooked food. So long as your careful though, this isn't really a problem .
I find getting the timing right pretty easy - most things I steam have instructions on the packet anyway, and when they don't I can generally use the manual to find a rough cooking time for various vegetables and meats .
I find this cooks perfectly - fish is just right, chicken remains moist., and vegetable are cooked through without being waterlogged and floppy .
Cleaning the steamer is easy - once it's cooled down, all the baskets and the drip tray can be easily washed in the sink. The base unit, having electrical components, cannot be washed, but it can be wiped down with a clean damp cloth, and this is pretty simple.
The only problem I have with the steamer is that it does tend to make the walls wet, so I try to position it next to tiles near an open window to avoid it damaging paint . It also takes up a fair bit of space on my relatively small worktop, so when not in use I tend to store it under the sink.
I use this fairly often, probably a couple of times a week . If I'm only cooking a little bit of veg, I do tend to stick to pans as it's just easier for me personally, but if I were cooking for other people, or cooking fish or chicken, then this steamer does get used .
I think for it's price, this steamer is excellent, and I'll certainly carry on using it for a good while . I see no reason to upgrade - the space for food is generous, it's easy and convenient to use, and it cooks food healthily without it losing moisture or flavour .
4 stars .
We have been looking at buying a towers steamer for while but, not too sure if it would be somthing i would find usful and convient to use, i thought i would try a cheaper modle so if i didn't like it or had problems it would be too much of an expence. So we found the Tesco Value Steamer 3TS04W and thought this would be a good product to start with. It has three clear plastic teared baskets for the vegtable or meat and a steamer bowl for rice to be cooked in. The real test we thought would be using the Tesco Value Steamer 3TS04W for cooking the vegtables and potatoes for our sunday lunch. So on the bottom we put the peeled and chopped potatoes for the roasting, for 20 mins then rinsed the basket and layered up carrots, sweed, peas beans and brocollie although some things had to share a basket they cooked beautifully with out all the usel large quanty of pans bubbling away on the hob, which mut be saving a bit on our bills too. All in all this has been a great buy and we us it at least five times a week now.
Tesco Steamer 3TSO4W
I do try and get my recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day but I did find all the washing up of various pots and pans to be rather tiresome. A friend told me that steaming vegetables was so much easier on the washing up because of the plastic trays that are used instead of all the different pans and was intrigued to find out more.
I asked around at work on how many people used a steamer rather than the boiling method and was surprised that the majority of people had bought a steamer within the last year or so and were all really pleased with their purchase. I was told that not only it is a space saver but also that the vegetables taste so much better when steamed rather than boiled.
I had a look in the Argos catalogue at a few which really did range in both price and size. Since I was pushed for both money and room in my kitchen I wanted one that was cheap and small enough to store in limited space. The prices seemed to range from £15 to around £50 and I was interested in paying the smaller price. I thought nothing more of it till a trip to Tesco found me strolling down the appliances isle and stumbling across this Tesco 3TSO4W Steamer for the bargain price of £9.97 pence. This was cheaper than alt he ones in the Argos catalogue and I was sure that I was not going to find one much cheaper elsewhere (plus its an added few points on the Tesco card). I bought it without second thought and couldnt wait to try my crispy vegetables that night.
The steam was housed in a box, which wasnt overly large so I assumed it must be a reasonably compact steamer inside. The box it came in was very basic as the steam itself is from the Tesco Value range so therefore had the usual blue and white striped logo of the value range. There were instructions that came with the steamer but those were pretty basic due to the ease of which the steamer could be used anyway. The instructions give a few details of for how long certain things take to be cooked thoroughly with steaming. This was pretty helpful as things could be steamed that I had never even thought about such as chicken and rice.
Unpacking the steamer was easy and took seconds to get out and set up ready for use. The steamer comes in 5/6 main pieces that comprises of 3 clear plastic trays for which to put the food inside, a top lid which is also clear plastic, the lower unit with plug attachment and timer dial and also the water tray thats main job is to catch grubby water from the vegetables that has already been used and to keep it separate from the clean fresh water that is to be used.
The clear plastic trays come in 3 different sizes so that they can be stacked on top of one another easily but you are still able to use each tray singularly or within a stack. There are lots of little holes in each of these steamer trays and this is to allow the steam to pass through and fill up each tray giving the vegetables there steam cooking. The lids are exceptionally easy to clean and really just need a swish round and no scrubbing is ever needed. The plastic lid although designed to fit perfectly on top of the 3rd tier of the steamer can fit easily on to any of the other different sized trays giving the ability to use with just the one tray. The trays are also easy to pick up as they have small handles at each side.
The main part of the steamer is the base that has simply got one read light on to tell you that the steamer is switched on and a timer on the front giving a possible count down from 40 minutes. The timer also has little pictures of food next to certain times to show you how long things need in order to be cooked well but obviously if you like your vegetables crispy then this time will need to be altered somewhat but roughly vegetables take around 20 minutes to cook.
The only way to operate this steamer is to fill up the water area, which is held inside the lower base unit of the product to the correct fill line indicated on the side very clearly. The covers the element inside which is what heats up to give you the steam from the water. The water always needs to be cold and fresh. The water drip tray sits over the element and this will catch the used water nicely inside. You are then able to stack the steamer trays on top of this section, coving it up, either by using 1, 2 or 3 of the plastic trays. The desired vegetables are peeled and placed in each tray and the lid is placed on top. The timer then needs only turning to start the cooking process and once the time has counted down a ringing alarm bell will go off to tell you that the vegetables are ready.
I tend to put my potatoes in the largest of the trays and they would then go on first at the bottom of the tier stack. I would them put my carrots in the second tier but adding it a short while after the spuds had been cooking and then my third set of vegetables I would add t the top of the stack and they would all be cooked perfectly.
The steamer unit does get very hot and be careful when removing the lid when the unit is cooking, as the steam will burn! The unit does steam a fair bit, funny enough! But I would say be careful not to use it whilst it is under any units as by the end of the cooking these will be dripping wet.
At the end of the cooking experience with the steamer I was very pleased indeed and have been ever since. The steamer seemed to cook the vegetables even better than I could have ever dreamed of. They tasted far stronger than usual and actually I do think I had boiled all the life out of them. They tasted far crispier and fresher than I had eaten in a long time. The washing up too was so much easier as I had not used the hob at all meaning no cleaning around those horrid electric rings and scrubbing splashes off the stainless steal splash back. While the vegetables were steaming I was able to clean the kitchen and do a lot of the washing up that I wouldnt of been able to do till the end before.
The whole process was easy to do and the steamer far easier to use than I would of imagined. The food tasted better and it does seem to save me time and energy on the cleaning up. The price I paid was obviously a total bargain and I would suggest anyone to get a steamer and especially this cheap and cheerful one. Tescos are still doing these steamers and for this cheap price I cant see why anyone would pay more for something that does the same job. This unit looks smart and clean, as it is a very nice white colour. It fits well in my kitchen cupboard and is far easier than getting out all those pots and pans.
I have had the steam now for nearly a year I would say and it has been fantastic purchase that has had tons of use. Ti is still going strong and is looking and working as good as it did on the first day of purchase. I have probably been eating ore vegetables because of the total ease of now doing so much cooking. I have not yet however been brave enough to try and cook anything other than vegetables as I am not sure on the idea of steaming chicken but I am soon to buy some fish, which can also be steamed inside this appliance and I will update you on how that goes.
Overall this steamer is great! So cheap and works so well! Buy it you wont be disappointed.
Wow definately try the Tesco value steamer. I managed to get mine for £6.99 about a year ago, and it is still going strong. And believe me I have given it a hard life, with loads of steaming nearly every day. I had never used a steamer before, until my friend recommended it to me one day, and i thought, oh well lets give it a go. I can honestly say that I have never looked back ever since. It is sooooooooooo easy to use, and I like the fact that it has a timer on it so you can put it on and walk away and forget about it, until it pings to let you know that it is ready. I am not the best cook in the world, especially when it comes to timings (usually my dinners end up burnt as i put them in the oven and then forget Ive put them in, until that is the smoke alarm reminds me). So for me, this little device is just excellent. Basically all you need to know is that to start with you remove all the plastic trays (which your veggies go into), and fill the bottom of the steamer with water (it is marked to which level to fill- idiot proof), then you place the deepest tray back in place. This tray is useful for the larger veggies i.e Broccoli or Cauliflower, then the other trays just sit on top of each other until you are all done, then you place the lid on top. There is also a container to place in the top tray for doing rice in but I have never been adventurous enough to try it. If you are worried about how long to put the timer on for, there is a fool proof list on the front of the steamer to tell you what needs what length of time. Its as easy as that, and definately worth investing in one. Its worth buying the Tesco value one first if you are unsure if you will use it or whether it will end up in the back of the kitchen cupboard never to be seen again!!