Last winter I was a poor college student living in a house with no heater. To keep myself warm I took up baking and started teaching myself new cooking methods. Staying warm next to the oven or stove was very much preferable to huddling underneath blankets.
One day I needed to steam some vegetables for a recipe I was making and discovered that neither my roommates nor I had a steamer set. As I mentioned, money was tight and I needed a way to steam some vegetables.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. You don’t have to be brilliant to figure out how a steamer pot works. After I had figured it out, I improvised my own simple steamer set using only a beer can, a plate and an ordinary pot.
This guide involves cutting aluminum. While unlikely, there does exist a risk that the jagged aluminum or knife could inflict a minor cut on one’s finger. Please be careful or wear protective gloves if you feel you are in danger. If you cut yourself please clean it properly to avoid infection and seek medical attention if necessary.
Step 1: Materials:
1 Empty 20 oz. size aluminum can. Rinse the can thoroughly before using.
1 Medium to large sized pot. (This needs to be deep enough that half the beer can with the plate on top can fit inside.)
1 Plate that has a diameter smaller than that of the pot. Be sure to use a ceramic or metal plate. I'm not certain that it will get hot enough inside the pot to melt a plastic plate, but I wouldn't want to risk it.
1 Pair of sharp scissors or knife that can cut aluminum. I have found that sharp scissors are the best option, but if you do not have sharp enough scissors a non-serrated knife works better than a serrated one.
Step 2: Cut the Can
Using the scissors or knife cut at least an inch off bottom (the end without the tab) of the aluminum can.
If you're using scissors, begin by opening them and stabbing the can with just one point.
Try to cut it as straight as possible so that once the base is removed the top part of the can will be able to stand on its own. This is done to keep the can from floating off the bottom when you put water in the pot.
Save the top part of the can. The bottom part can be thrown away. The author of this instructable recommends recycling any left over aluminum products.
Step 3: Water
Put clean water in the pot. The amount of water will vary depending on the size of your pot. I’ve found that the water does not need to be more than one or two inches deep in the pot.
Step 4: Put the Can in the Water.
Place the remaining part of the aluminum can in the water, jagged side down, in the center of the pot. The can should be standing in the water without floating. If it floats too much and will not sit on its own, try removing some water from the pot.
Don't worry if the can floats a little bit, when the plate is placed on top it will weigh the can down.
Step 5: Plate
Place the plate on top of the can. Make sure it is balanced evenly and will not fall over when the water begins to boil. If it seems off balance, check to make sure the can is still in the center of the pot underneath it.
Also, be sure that the plate is smaller in diameter than the pot. If the plate is wider it will not fit inside the pot, you will not be able to put the lid on top, and the steamer will not work.
In the picture bellow, notice the amount of space between the rim of the plate and the inside of the pot. This space functions similarly to the holes in an actual steamer pot. This is the space through which the steam will rise and cook the vegetables. If the space is not big enough the steaming will either take a very long time or not work at all. I recommend that there is at least half an inch of space there.
Step 6: Put a Lid on It.
Place your lid on the pot and voila! You now have a homemade steamer set.
Step 7: Using You Steamer Pot.
To use the steamer set you have just completed just set it on the stove and turn on the burner. If you have a clear lid like my pot, you will see the steam start to fog up the glass. To get the water to boil quicker, you can add a small amount of salt to it.
Just remove the lid, put your vegetables on the plate, and replace the lid. Make sure the vegetables aren't too big and keeping the lid from closing tightly. If the lid is on incorrectly, the steam will escape and the vegetables won't get cooked.
Cooking time will vary. You can check on your vegetables as often as you would like, but make sure you secure the lid each time.
Step 8: Don't Forget!
Turn off the stove when you are finished.
Also, it is a good idea to clean the pot and throw out the water after each use.
You can save the can part for reuse if you'd like, but make sure you wash it after each use.