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Breaking in a bamboo steamer??

My son just brought home a bamboo steamer, and over Thanksgiving I am going to make some dumplings.

The only other time I used one of these bamboo steamers was ages ago, and I have a vague memory that it imparted a strong bamboo flavor when it was new. Is this correct? Do I need to steam it a couple times before I use it to cook?

Also, I saw a couple of tips about rubbing it with a bit of oil, and maybe using a cabbage leaf or parchment paper to line it (in an old post on washing bamboo steamers). Should I do this?

And of course, if this inspired anyone to post their favorite recipe using a bamboo steamer (at Home Cooking, not here, horrors!) that would be lovely.

Any and all advice appreciated!

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  1. I don't recall any strong bamboo (woody?) flavor when I used mine but I would very strongly suggest using parchment or cabbage leaves as a base. It will certainly reduce the chance of any cross-contamination in the event something breaks open or if you use it to steam fish in the future, for instance. It keeps it clean too!

      1. I washed my bamboo steamer when I first got it ages ago, using ordinary soap and water. I usually use some kind of liner when I'm steaming food because I use it for both sweet and savory foods. Liners can be big leaves or baking parchment, depending on what you're making. Don't be too obsessive about pressing the liner around the edges, you want the steam to pass through.

        1. I just give mine a good soak and line it too especially when I am making steamed dumplings. That dough will stick like crazy to the bamboo and what a mess to clean up. Lettuce leaves, cabbage leaves or parchment. I sometimes cut individual parchment squares for dumplings. I find it easier to get them in and out of the steamer that way.

          1. You can also use rice bags or cheese cloth as a divider - these can flap over the edges (if they're square - which leaves more room for steam), and then you can gather up the ends to remove everything (an advantage over cabbage). And you can reuse after washing!