West Bend 86604 Programmable Steamer
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- 12-Hour programmable timer; Given an optimum length of time to steam cook a variety of foods
- 90-Minute electronic countdown timer-audible beep alerts to completed steaming
- Tiered Steaming Versatility-Baskets are stackable to allow for multiple steamed food items at once; fit together for easy storage
- Easy to add water, add water indicator signals when water level is low
- Water-level Indicator Lens; Cool Touch Exterior and Handles; Digital Backlit LCD
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West Bend 12-hour Programmable Steamer provides consumers a healthy option for steaming vegetables, fish, chicken and rice. This versatil small electric includes two stackable 3-1/2-quart steam baskets, and a 5-cup rice bowl and drip tray. Complete with brushed stainless steel accents to provide an upscale statement to this item.
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I'm not sure where the negative comments are coming from. I frequently steam broccoli, string beans and other vegetables and it is usually done within 15-17 mins. It takes some trial and error to figure out how "well done" you like your vegetables but setting it on for a few more minutes is no hassle.
I've also steamed fish in the Chinese style with soy sauce, five spice and ginger and that has also turned out fine. Yes, the plastic containers do feel a little flimsy but I've tossed them in the bottom dishwasher rack numerous times without any hassle, I just leave the plastic rings on.
On the cob, set it for 18 minutes, and it was crunchy but not to crunchy. It was so good I can't describe. Bought this one for our friends for Christmas. This is a triple, certainly don't have to use it as a triple steamer, but it is nice to have that
Option. Mine is a single, got it 25 years ago and still working.
Pluses: Good size, easy to operate, fast, easy to clean, overall effectiveness great if you're interested in preparing foods healthily. Well, except for...
Minuses: The steamer baskets are made of BPA, so if you have kids in the family, fuhgeddabout this steamer or you may disrupt their endocrine systems. For adults the risk is probably quite low and will rapidly diminish as the monomer slowly leaches from the plastic, giving it a slightly translucent appearance. Steam it without contents for an hour or so before first use. Other minus: The display is hardly legible except at a particular angle which you are unlikely to be at unless you're a midget. And...
Our unit worked well for ~4 months then, as other reviewers have said, it started squawking its low-water alarm, then proudly turned itself off, as soon as it started to steam. Typical ghastly Chinese quality, but what else is available these days? Being of a technical bent, I disassembled it, found the malfunctioning temperature sensor jammed in the boiler element, carefully removed it from the element, and secreted it in a safe place inside the cabinet where it would stay at room temperature. Worked like a charm.
BUT I would advise you NOT to do this! First, because unless you know what you're doing and take the usual precautions, you may kill yourself, and serves you right. Second, because it removes an important safeguard. I discovered this when my dear and highly intelligent but decidedly non-technical wife used the steamer for the first time just after I'd cleaned out the water reservoir. She filled the water overflow tray but left the steamer reservoir empty, and a minute or two later called me urgently to the kitchen where the West Bend steamer was putting on an entertaining smoke show.
Well, I still have a nicely leached set of relatively BPA-less steamer baskets, and am ready to re-order another unit. When the seemingly inevitable low quality Chinese workmanship rears its head yet again, as it almost always does with almost all products available in the United States, I will move the heat sensor again and trust that the memory of the last mishap will minimize the importance of a safety back-up.
EDIT: I received the replacement and it lasted barely two weeks. Then it died without warning - completely, absolutely dead with no sign of life. I returned it as defective, and have gone back to using a stainless steel steamer on a stovetop. There is something wonderfully low-tech and RELIABLE about this method. Yes, you have to pay attention to a timer, but what's not to like about being free of the ghastly quality of can't-give-a-damn appliances?
I hope you have better luck than I did! My advice, gentle reader, FWIW, is to go low-tech and buy a stainless steel steamer and a good kitchen timer. Or you may find yourself doing so anyway after spending $79 on this shoddily-made device.
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