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Fruit steamers are a brilliant addition to any busy kitchen

Photo: Lakeland fruit steamer

Photo: Lakeland fruit steamer

For years I longed for a Vigo fruit press to process our apples, pears and fruit for wine, juices and cordials. They are beautiful objects but too expensive to justify occasional use.

Then one lucky day last year, Ronald Hayles left a comment about the wonders of the Mahu Liisa.

I had never heard of this type of extraction steamer before but they clearly would be very useful for processing juices. Basically these special steamers extract fruit juice using steam, this also pasteurises the juice which can be drawn off into sterilised bottles and heat processed. Cordials can be made by layering fruit and sugar and drawn off in the same way. The juice produced is pure and clear and doesn’t have to be dripped through muslin for hours before making jellies. In fact Ronald also steams chickens, hams and produces great stock. I was in love with this versatile steamer until I spotted the price £125.00. Argggh.

Then Pamela noticed that Lakeland were selling their own steamer at half price for £36.20. I ordered it and it has made an enormous difference to the production of wine and preserves at the cottage. They seem to taste better too – something in the steaming process seems to enhance the flavours. Last year I made very few as I just didn’t have the time. This year our larder shelves are groaning with produce that took a fraction of the normal time to produce.

The bad news is that Lakeland has sold out of their steamers. I did see this BEKA steamer on Amazon discounted by a third to just under £90 with free shipping. If you are travelling to France I believe that they are much cheaper out there. 

Update: I’ve found this link to the instruction manual/cookbook of the Mahu Liisa. Also I’ve discovered that Westfalia are selling a 15 l Multi-purpose Pan. The Westfalia save 10% might still be valid (SAVE10).

Update: January 2011 Westfalia are selling a Stainless Steel Juicer, 9 Litre for just £49.99!

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  1. Triumph! Lovely apple and rosehip jelly on toast this morning. Many thanks for the helpful advice! By the way, the bottom part of the Westphalia steamer was perfect for boiling up the jelly in.

    The apple glut continues, so I’m making and bottling juice as fast as I can, using all the windfalls instead of just composting them, and I’m now boring everybody at work about the wonders of the steam juicer.

  2. mauramac

    One other thing to bare in mind is that I’m pretty sure that eating apples don’t contain as much pectin as crab apples or cooking apples so adding enough sugar and lemon juice becomes a necessity. I could be wrong about that but I’m sure Fiona will know and therefore have always made sure to add plenty of sugar (sometimes using a proportion of jam sugar) to juice extracted from eating apples. The lemon juice balances the sweetness.

  3. Thanks for the swift responses! Katy, I’m glad I’m not the only one….

    Fiona, thank you for the expert advice – I’ll try again with the recipe amount of sugar. I think maybe I have to get over the idea that sugar is Bad and to be used as little as possible, and accept it as Good when it’s preserving and making things set.

    I love the steam juicer though, the apple juice is so good I’m going to try and bottle some to last through the winter, though it tends to disappear fast!

    I had a steam cooker before, it’s a delight being able to steam a whole meal in it and the food tastes wonderfully fresh, though meat and fish can tend to be a bit bland compared with other ways of cooking, you have to counteract that.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Barbara and Katy

    You need to use the proper amount of sugar for the jelly to set and keep well (sugar is a preservative). If your apples are sweet add fresh lemon juice to taste “ this also ups the amount of pectin and helps with setting.

    Use the steam juicer to extract the juice and then remove the juice to the base pan or a Maslin pan to make the jelly.

    The rolling boil reduces the water in the juice “ if there is a bit too much water it will take longer.

    I use a thermometer to make jelly now to save so much schlepping back and forth from the fridge. Setting point for me is 203-204.

    You can reboil jelly that has too soft a set and also tweak jelly that has set too hard.

  5. Barbara,
    I had a similar experience with crabapple jelly and my steamer so I would be interested in the answer.

    I don’t find the various steamer/juicer recipe books very informative so will keep looking for some good information on how to use the juicer.

    I had a go at making marmalade with my citrus fruits (I think they are Clemantines) The first lot wouldn’t set and I over cooked it and so have a delicious toffee flavoured orange sauce.
    I had another go using jam sugar with added pectin and this time it wouldn’t set at all and I have more orange flavour sauce.
    I must admit the sauce goes very well with ice cream and roast apples, but marmalade it is not.
    I shall keep looking for information.

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