Steam works wonders

Sometimes the most revolutionary technology derives from the simplest things, like water. Or to be more precise: steam. For more than twenty years, researchers and developers at V-ZUG have been working on steam’s energy and qualities to innovate how people cook, wash and take care of their clothes. Changing lives with a molecule.

It all started in 2001, when V-ZUG launched the world’s first Combi-Steam SL, bringing to homes a technology that up until then had only been used in the best restaurants. Researchers and developers had worked on the steam technology for years, inspired by professional cooking. Steam was, and still is, the not-so-secret super power of some of the best restaurants in the world. It helps to cook by preserving vitamins and organoleptic properties, without losing food’s consistency and brightness of colours.

Steam has been serving as an energy carrier for many centuries. It is produced easily by boiling water, a common and genuine resource which is particularly abundant in Switzerland: the country is crossed by major rivers, has some of the largest lakes in Europe and its peaks are covered with snow throughout the winter. The challenge for V-ZUG was not to discover water as a medium for refining food or how to pro-duce steam, but how to handle it beneficially in a domestic environment.

The outcome was an innovative appliance that introduced a simple and fast way to cook healthy and delicious food at home: the combi-steam oven. By gently, yet quickly heating food with steam, vitamins, minerals, trace elements and flavours are largely retained. Steam acts as an interface to transport energy into food efficiently: colours remain bright and the consistency perfect. In short, the combi-steam oven makes everyday life easier and supports a healthy lifestyle.

In V-ZUG combi-steamer ovens, steam is evenly distributed and condenses when it encounters the food. Heat energy is transferred to the food, which is gently cooked. As soon as it has reached the temperature of the steam, it no longer condenses, so that it’s practically impossible to overcook food.

Once having recognised the steam potential in the kitchen, V-ZUG specialists discovered steam being capable of much more and began to integrate this highly effective technology into other appliances. 2012 was the year of the dishwasher, with the unique Steam Finish function for spotless glasses and shining dishes. Using steam in the washing machine saves time on ironing, as the clothes are already de-wrinkled. Textile treatment became the new frontier of V-ZUG’s excellence: the RefreshButler, launched in 2014, is a revolutionary fabric care system that combines all of steam’s positive qualities for a gentle and easy care of clothing at home. It neutralises smells, reduces creases from wearing, dries rain-wet coats and shoes and eliminates bacteria and other germs almost completely.

Meanwhile, researchers and developers never stopped working on combi-steamer ovens, always aiming for the better, as is V-ZUG’s tradition. They started to research how to integrate conventional heat, steam and microwave technology: crazy but smart, considering that microwaves act on water molecules while steam is basically made by water molecules. The Combi-Steam MSLQ was the first and only appliance in the world to combine simultaneously the three heating methods to achieve professional results at home. Cooking became even faster, while the focus shifted towards food sustainability: left-overs can be reheated and will taste like they’ve been freshly prepared as humidity is retained. Of course, shorter cooking times mean less energy consumption and more sustainability.

The SteamFinish function in the dishwasher uses pure steam to produce spotless, sparkling dishes. The steam generated at the end of the drying process condenses on glasses, cutlery and dishes in the form of extremely pure water, removing any residues and traces of detergents and rinsing agents.

Like a Swiss army knife, steam is a single technology that offers the opportunity in many dimensions. And while the development department studies new ways to handle it, creating maintenance free appliances and finding new cooking technologies, the company vision stays the same: bringing simplicity to homes, and creativity in kitchens.

The RefreshButler works within a closed air circuit. A photocatalytically active coating reacts with light and steam to gently refresh fabrics, while the integrated heat pump helps to save energy. The RefreshButler can either be free-standing or built into a tailored cabinet.