Clean Your Bamboo Steamer Basket To Keep It Looking Fresh

Bamboo steamers have long been considered an essential kitchen tool, stretching back 5,000 years to the Han Dynasty. Originally used for making dim sum, the baskets are excellent for steaming anything from vegetables to meat, and their low cost makes it worthwhile to stack them up and cook multiple items at once. But whether you're steaming sticky rice or cooking dumplings, your bamboo steamer is picking up lots of the starchy bits of food left behind.

While bamboo is naturally antibacterial, it's still important to clean your steamer basket every time you use it to remove leftover pieces of food and prevent mold. However, since bamboo steamer baskets are very porous and will soak up water as easily as food odors, they cannot be put in the dishwasher.

The first step is to use hot, soapy water, preferably while the steamer basket is still warm. Use a soft nylon brush to gently scrub the basket and lid clean. An alternative method is to soak a black tea bag in hot water and use it to scrub the steamer, as the tannins in the tea will help remove the food and bacteria. After you rinse the steamer basket under hot water, let it dry on a flat surface or drying rack. To prevent mold, ensure the bamboo steamer basket is completely dry before putting it away.

There are easy options to make your basket last

There are a lot of ways to keep your bamboo steamer basket looking like new. When you first bring it home, you should clean it first before cooking with it. Use warm soapy water to clean off dust, and remove any loose bamboo fibers. Then steam the basket and lid for 30 minutes before letting it dry.

As bamboo will absorb all the odors from food, dusting your steamer liberally with baking soda can help eliminate unwanted smells. After letting it sit for a few hours, rinse it in hot water and let it dry. Alternatively, soaking it in a one-to-two ratio of white vinegar and water will also get rid of any unwanted stench. Scrub the steamer basket with the vinegar mixture to remove any mold spots you find. Be sure to always rinse in hot water and air-dry afterward.

Another option to skip the scrub time is to use parchment paper liners. Some people even use cabbage leaves or corn husks as a cheap alternative that also adds more flavor to your food. While cleaning and drying the bamboo steamer basket is still necessary if liners are used, the clean-up time is much quicker.