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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: Somewhere along the line this pot was misnamed -- it’s not just for asparagus.
It’s lurking in the back of your cupboard, and it’s been there for so long you’re not entirely sure how or when it got there. Maybe you got trigger-happy making your wedding registry, picked one up at a garage sale (Who isn't enticed by a $2 price tag?), or received one as a gift from a friend who assumed every serious cook needed to have one. Regardless of how it arrived, it's there, and that asparagus steamer only gets put to work for a few short weeks every spring. It's time for that to change.
Here are 8 ways to put your asparagus steamer to good use:
Steam asparagus. (We’re not above stating the obvious.) It can be tricky to get asparagus’ thick bottoms fully cooked at the same time as the more delicate tips, and this tall narrow pot does exactly that. It's perfectly designed to keep the stalks upright -- allowing the bottoms to boil in the water, while the tops steam.
Blanch vegetables. Of course, this pot can be used to cook other types of vegetables too. Blanch them in an asparagus steamer, and you can skip hunting for tongs and a colander. Just pull out the basket (with an oven mitt), and quickly dunk the whole thing in an ice bath.
Boil eggs. The basket’s usefulness isn’t just for vegetables either, the same technique applies to boiling eggs too. Remove the basket of eggs from the water after your chosen number of minutes, and you have an instant strainer for running under cold water or setting in an ice bath.
Small batch canning. Marisa McClellan has properly schooled us that even small amounts of fruit shouldn’t go to waste, and if you’re only making a jar or two of jam, your asparagus steamer makes a perfect vessel for processing. Of course there's no need to stick to the sweet side of the spectrum -- use it to process small batches of pickles too.
More: Not sure where to start? Take a refresher course with Canning 101.
Dinner for one. This is the perfect pot for when you’re alone in the kitchen and whipping up exactly what you want to eat. Small batches of mussels? One corn on the cob? A single-serving of short pasta? Yes, yes, and yes.
And so much more. Thanks to this discussion on the Hotline, we know that Mr_Vittles uses an asparagus pot to deep fry small quantities of food, mrslarkin gives it another life as a vase for long-stemmed flowers, and healthierkitchen uses it to heat stock for risotto.
Now we want to know: How do you use an asparagus steamer?
Asparagus pot and pasta photos by Mark Weinberg, peach jam photo by Marisa McClellan, and all other photos by James Ransom.