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Beware. By buying this machine I have learnt that not all steamers are the same. If you’ve read my first opinion on the Tefal Easy Steamer I borrowed you’ll know that I was sad when I had to give it back. That sadness was intensified when I decided to buy my own steamer and it wasn’t as good as the Tefal. Why didn’t I just buy my own Tefal one? It was because I wanted to save a few pounds and the Rosemary Conley Steamer has a blue lid and rice bowl (blue being my favourite colour). It also said it had a Flavour Scenter which sounded fun. I’ll try to be impartial in this opinion and not harp on about the Tefal I should have bought.
I bought the Smart Steamer for about £35 direct from the Rosemary Conley website because my local Argos didn't have them in stock. This website needs work - At least if I'd got it at Argos I would have had a money back guarantee.
This steamer consists of:
• a lid with 4 little steam vents • rice bowl • 3 stackable steaming baskets • drip tray with flavour scenter screen • steam diffuser • water basin • start/stop button • digital timer control button • backlit LCD display
It comes with a little black and white instruction booklet and an A5 full colour recipe book.
HOW TO USE IT
Put the steamer on a stable surface away from cupboards or other objects that can be damaged by the steam.
Pour at least a jug full of pure water into the water basin (the base). Do not put any oil or seasonings into the water basin!
Place the drip tray over the water basin. In the middle of the drip tray there is a round hole with a kind of mesh disc suspended in it. This is the Flavour Scenter Screen. If you want to you can put herbs or spices on the flavour scenter and supposedly this adds flavour to your food.
Place the food in the basket(s). If you’re using more than one basket, put the food that needs the most cooking time in the bottom one.
Put the basket(s) on the base and the lid on top.
Plug it in then use the + / - buttons to set the timer to the desired time. Steaming will begin within 30 seconds.
At the end of cooking time the timer rings and if you’re not ready to eat it automatically goes to the keep warm mode and the “keep warm” icon will flash. After 20 minutes the steamer will beep then turn off in 2 minutes.
Remove the lid carefully with oven gloves. Serve the food and enjoy.
When you’ve eaten, the steamer should be cool enough to clean, dry and put away.
The removable parts can be washed in a dishwasher. The basin should be cleaned with a damp cloth.
WHY DO I REGRET BUYING IT?/DISADVANTAGES
- The baskets do not have removable bases so not only can I not cook a whole chicken in them, they are not as easy to clean as they could be.
- The instructions tell you not to put any flavourings into the water basin. I gather that this is because putting anything other than pure water in the base would damage the steamer. Yet the drip tray with the flavour scenter screen actually allows flavourings to go through to the base. Surely the point of the drip tray is to stop “contaminated” water from the steaming process from going into the base? One of the advantages of steaming food is that you can collect water from the drip tray and save it to make a nutritious stock or soup because it will have all the vitamins and flavour that have been steamed out of the food. Now I’m not mentioning any names again but in another steamer I’ve used, if you’re cooking broccoli or green beans the water collected in the drip tray from the steaming will be green and the water you put into the basin at the start of cooking will still be clear. With the Smart Steamer, the water collected in the drip tray is green but the water put into the basin has turned green as well! Not very smart, huh? This can’t be good for the heating elements or whatever makes it work. So flavourings end up in the water basin whether you use the flavour scenter or not. I would say the flavour scenter is a gimmick that does not work.
- The steamer does not switch off automatically if the water runs out. So there you have more potential for ruining your steamer.
- There is no little window for you to see the water level so you either have to guess when the water has run out by listening out for choking and spluttering sounds. Or you have to lift the baskets off the base and risk getting your face steamed off to have a look at the water level during cooking. Madness.
- The removable parts don't fit together very easily.
- The whole thing seems to be made of a poor quality plastic that is not sturdy and not easy to clean. Is it just my imagination or does it emit a plasticky smell if you leave water in it for too long? Am I going to die of plastic poisoning in my bid to get healthy?! OK maybe I’m overreacting.
Although if I had the chance I wouldn’t buy this steamer again I suppose it has some advantages:
- It steams food and steamed food is healthy. - You can cook fish, chicken, sausages, fruit, cake, rice, pasta, eggs, and warm up your food too. - It has a nice recipe book with tips on losing weight if you’re bothered about dieting.
If you're looking for a steamer you can do a lot better than the Smart Steamer in my opinion.
EDIT 15/08/07 - Although I was originally quite harsh about this product, I have now re-rated it because it is still working four years later and I still enjoy steamed vegetables. I stand by all the design faults described above and I hope that designers and manufacturers take note.