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Can I Steam Without a Steaming Basket?

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I want to steam leeks (according to CI it's the best way) but I have only a steaming basket that goes on top of a pot uncovered. The recipe recommends covering it. I can always use silver foil, but would it be easier to place a colander or strainer in a pot with a see-through cover (so I can see the progress), and would it work? In other words, would I get the same effect?

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  1. Sure. That's a great solution. I'm confident it would work.

    1. As long as it's a fairly good fit and you can cover it, you can steam in just about anything that steam can get into. I'm just curious about the existence of a steamer basket with no lid - how can you steam anything effectively without covering it?

      If you live someplace that has Asian markets, you can find steamer pots for pretty cheap. They also usually carry the bamboo steamer baskets that sit over a wok, which are good for steaming vegetables.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        This is what I have. Got it at Whole Foods.

        http://www.kitchenfantasy.com/images/...

        1. re: ariellasdaddy

          I have the same steamer but I use mine in the bottom of a pot and cover the pot.

          1. re: lanersg

            I have one of those, too, and have always disliked how low it sits to the bottom of the pot. Then I found a long-legged rack that fits inside several of my pots, so now when I use that folding-leaf basket I set it up on the rack, which leaves me room for a couple of inches of water with no danger of its getting into the food.

            1. re: lanersg

              Doesn't the food then sit in the water?

              1. re: ariellasdaddy

                I only put in enough water so that it doesn't go into the basket. Doesn't work well for artichokes but everything else seems to.

                1. re: lanersg

                  Some things take long enough to cook that I fret about all the water boiling away when there's only like half an inch in there. That's why I use the rack - I like to have enough water so that I don't have to worry about the bottom going dry...which HAS happened.

                  A steamer pot, though, is really a useful thing to have - I got an aluminum one that holds about 2 1/2 quarts of stuff in the top section a long time ago, and I use the heck out of it. One of my favorite things to do with it is make a cabbage, potato and sausages dinner, with shredded cabbage on the bottom, chunks of potato over that, and thick slices of precooked sausage on top, all properly seasoned of course. Bring the water to the boil, pop the top part and the lid on, and 25 minutes later you've got a nice, fresh, relatively low-fat version of Middle-European soul food.

        2. before i got a steamer, i used to take those aluminum pie tins and poke holes in it and place it upside down on the bottom of a deep pot. a little makeshift, but it works in a pinch.