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Am I the only one smitten with microwave vegetable steaming bags?

These are made by Glad and Ziplock and I am having trouble finding them in my area so I'm afraid they may be discontinued. I've gotten a good lead from the LA board on laying my hands on some and note they are available at Drugstore.com, but I am curious if anyone else uses these? I ran out a few weeks ago and after steaming vegetables on the stove for a few meals I realize how sorely I miss the perfectly steamed produce that results. According to the package this method of steaming sans water preserves more nutrients. I wash and transfer vegetables to these bags upon purchase and they stay fresh for about a week until I'm ready to nuke. Have these caught on with anyone but me?

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  1. i've never understood the fascination with these things - they're neither economical nor environmentally friendly. but i also don't like using the microwave for cooking, so this isn't the kind of product that would appeal to me anyway ;)

    seriously though, if you have difficulty finding the bags, consider "investing" in a microwave steamer. the basic ones don't cost more than $7 or $8....or you can spring for a fancier, multi-tiered one or set of different sizes for $20-$30. i think it's a worthwhile purchase if you go through a lot of those bags. you'll save yourself a ton of money, and won't be generating all that waste.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=pd_lpo_k2...

    1. i use the containers my chinese food comes in for all my microwaving. works like a charm

      1. I love them, I don't care if they aren't economically friendly, etc. And I beg to differ on that point, actually. Isn't it less waste of water not to have a large pot full of water to steam, then you have to wash the pots, afterward, HUGE waste of water.

        My kids like very simple, unadorned steamed veggies, and for a busy mom, these are a GODSEND!!!

        10 Replies
        1. re: Phurstluv

          Why not just use a glass casserole dish with a lid? Or use a glass bowl with plastic wrap to seal it?

          1. re: John E.

            Then it would be one more thing to wash. Or takes up more room in the fridge to store than a ziploc or even a small tupperware-like container. You have no idea how much stuff I store in my fridge!

            GHG, you know I respect you and your opinions, but when you say, "the traditional method ....would still feel less wasteful.." That says it all to me. It's about what you FEEL, and not the reality of the situation. We have a serious water shortage and drought situation in SoCal, so I do not FEEL right, wasting all that water to steam and clean, for a couple of stalks of broccoli. With my method, there is no water required. It's so easy for a couple of gallons to go down the drain while you're swiping and rinsing. And the DWP has just put a surcharge on what they would consider "overusage" of water, so I don't need a higher water bill!!

            Just my two cents, as well.

            1. re: Phurstluv

              i honestly love threads like this where we can all share conflicting opinions without the discussion deteriorating into a name-calling snark-fest. it's far more constructive :)

              i'll make one last comment and then shut up - PLEASE be careful about reusing the bags for more than one go-round in the microwave. storage is fine, but after already having been zapped once, it worries me that they may start to break down and leach toxins into the food when exposed to the radiation again...and i'd hate to think that my well-intentioned fellow CHers who are trying to reduce waste end up unwittingly poisoning themselves!

              1. re: Phurstluv

                If people use "a couple of gallons" of water to rinse out a steamer pan/dish, they richly deserve an overuse surcharge. I do not use a dishwasher. I wash in detergent in a dishpan, then when everything is washed, run a thin stream of cold water to rinse the dishes, with the rinsed dishpan to catch it. Start with glassware, then dishes, then utensils, with pots and pans at the end. They are swished in the water that has collected in the dishpan from the prior rinsing, then under the thin stream. Air-dry. I am less worried about chemicals in plastic than about their half-life in the environment. As long as they haven't picked up off smells from the refrigerator, I wash and re-use zipper bags, but do not cook in them.

            2. re: Phurstluv

              John E makes a good point - use a Pyrex dish, and you can store any leftovers in it so there are still no extra pots/dishes to wash!

              i totally hear & respect your argument re: conserving water, but for my needs, the traditional stove top method (or a microwave steamer if i had one) would still feel less wasteful. i only use a few ounces for steaming veggies on the stove, and the pot doesn't require more than a swipe with a soapy sponge and a quick rinse...and since i'm doing other dishes anyway i don't see it as a waste of additional water. but that's just my take on it - i'd rather use an extra gallon or two of water than contribute more plastic to landfills. maybe if they were biodegradable i wouldn't mind ;) i guess it's a trade-off no matter how you look at it.

              again, i understand that we all have different needs and reasons for choosing the methods and products we use, i was just offering my two cents.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Totally with you ghg. Not just non-biodegradable but also don't plastics leach into food at high heat? I just don't use plastic in the microwave anymore - only glass or ceramic. And I agree, the extra water is not an issue in my kitchen either. If I'd only steamed some veggies in a pot and steamer, I'd probably just rinse with very little water and then reuse the pot for the next item I'm cooking - even if it is the next meal.

                1. re: sweetTooth

                  They wouldn't be on the market, if they leached into food!!! They do test these things before they come to market.

                  And I know there will always be naysayers that say, "No!! They leach into food and cause cancer, adhd, whatever!" But until they have definitive proof that that happens, my attitude is, just about everything you do eventually turns out to be bad for your health and I refuse to live in a bubble. I'm going to live how I want to live.

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Obviously, to each their own. I only reported what I am or am not comfortable doing. I apologize if I came across as telling you how to live your life. I don't like it when I feel someone does that to me and I am truly sorry if it appeared that was my intention.
                    The only point that I will counter is: "They wouldn't be on the market, if they leached into food!!! They do test these things before they come to market." There are plenty of things on the market that are *potentially* harmful. It is not possible to study the long term ramifications of every single thing, before it is put on the market. I am sure that things are tested to some extent before they come to market. However, I choose to pay attention to reports of studies about harmful effects in lab animals. I know that scientifically it is not always a clear extrapolation that bad for lab animal means bad for human beings. However, conclusions of reports like these tend to linger in my head and I find myself changing my behavior, if it is easily doable for me. Microwaving in plastic was one such change. Here is an article that addresses a few of the ones I am trying to eliminate from my household:
                    http://www.realsimple.com/magazine-mo...
                    I read somewhere that most of Trader Joe's cans do not have BPA in their lining, except tomato based products. Yay! I have to admit that canned tomatoes is going to be a very hard one for me to let go and I may end up never doing it.

                    1. re: sweetTooth

                      I also didn't mean to sound snarky in my response. It is just becoming quite tiresome to find everyone suddenly jumping on the "plastic is bad for you" bandwagon.

                      But I firmly believe they would not be able to market a product, that is specifically designed to heat up food in a microwave between 500 - 1500 watts, for a specified amount of time, without thoroughly testing it first, to see if the material leaches into food. My husband is a products liability attorney, and believe me , he's Mr. Food Safety at home. If he had an iota of doubt that these products work safely, they would not be in my home.

                      And since our life span continues to increase, without regard to modern medicine, but just as an indicator of our better eating & lifestyles than our ancestors, it just doesn't seem realistic that the new fangled microwave is actually killing us sooner by leaching more chemicals into our food.

                      1. re: sweetTooth

                        not to get too off topic, but i found this info about TJ's:

                        "Canned items in our stores WITH BPA lining in the cans would include: tomatoes, tomato sauce & paste, soups, chili, and stew.

                        Canned items in our stores that DO NOT have BPA lining in the cans include:
                        seafood (tuna, salmon, herring, sardines, etc.), chicken, turkey & beef and now beans and corn. All of our products and packaging are within food safety guidelines and regulations. However, we also wanted to inform you that we do not have any plastic packaging with BPA."

                        i'm THRILLED to hear this about their canned beans (now i can stop shelling out extra $$$ for Eden Organic - hooray!) and canned fish.

              2. We just use ordinary zip-lock bags with a tiny bit of water for the steam.

                Works great and ez cleanup.

                2 Replies
                1. re: duck833

                  I received a free sample of the bags and went ahead and tried them and while perhaps the use is less green than optimum, the results blew me away and way increased family vegetable consumption. I find them way more effective than pyrex or microwave steamers and perhaps the price is offset a bit by their effectiveness for storing vegetables and the fact that they actually get eaten. And despite instructions to the contrary, I rinse and reuse them if cooking a larger batch of same item.

                2. They are quick and they taste good, especially the ones with sauce. I usually use a big bag of frozen stir fry veggies. I can stir fry them or put them in a covered container and they steam. Sometimes I cook them in broth in a sauce pan on the stove.

                  The purists will scold you for not chopping your own and they are correct but at least the steamer bags or the frozen veggies aren't the canned ones that have been cooked to death.

                  1. I never cook food in heated plastic, there's definite breakdown and chemical seepage to varying degrees. That's reason number one. Reason number two is that environmentally, it's such an easy way to stop polluting; just use your dishes.

                    1. I totaly agree.

                      I enjoy the fresh simple favors of vegetables cooked in these bags. I use them without guilt.

                      1. A while back we got a plastic "microwave dome" at IKEA that's made to go over a dinner plate, and keeps it from spattering while allowing some steam to escape from little vents. I use it all the time now for steaming veggies, since it can sit well on top of a taller bowl, as well- so I just toss my veggies in with whatever water is clinging to them from washing, put the dome on top, and give them a nuke. The steam droplets collect on the dome, so I generally give it a quick rinse, but if it's just been used over cooking veggies, the washing required is quite minimal. Most of the time, I just nuke them in bowl I'll use to serve, so it really involves very little "overhead"- it's definitely one of our more favorite plastic items around the kitchen these days!

                        1. I saw this woman on Martha Stewart Monday and thought of this thread. Maybe some of the info on her blog can clear the plastic dilemma; what it is, what it contains, what storage types to buy, whether or not to use it in the microwave, (she says never for any plastic, which is her opinion, but a learned one) and how to tell what type of plastic you've got in your cupboard, etc.:

                          http://greenerpenny.blogspot.com/2010...

                          Hope this is useful.