(Aug. 20) Microwave steam bags seem to be the hot package at the moment.

The U.S. Potato Board, Denver, is the latest organization to promote the use of microwaveable packaging, through a cross-promotion with Ziploc and its new Zip ‘n Steam microwave cooking bags, said David Fairbourn, manager of industry communications and policy for the board.

Partnering with Racine, Wis.-based Ziploc for the first time, the U.S. Potato Board is supplying potatoes for Ziploc’s in-store demonstrations, to educate customers on how to use the bags, Fairbourn said.

Both parties are testing the waters together; this is Ziploc’s first food preparation product, said Petrell Ozbay, Ziploc spokeswoman, and the U.S. Potato Board’s first time advertising a microwavable steam bag — or steam cooking in general, Fairbourn said.

The package allows potatoes to retain their nutrients, including 45% of the recommended daily Vitamin C intake — something that doesn’t occur in all preparation methods, Fairbourn said.

“I’ve been told steam cooking is one of the most healthful cooking methods of all vegetables, and I believe it extends to potatoes because you won’t lose the nutrients you would lose, say if you were boiling,” Fairbourn said.

The Zip ‘n Steam bag was introduced in July, Ozbay said, and they come in medium (two to three servings) and large (three to five servings) bags.

The promotion started Aug. 1 and is expected to continue through mid-September. The demonstrations — which will feature mainly russet potatoes, but potentially reds, whites and yellows — are occurring almost daily at 5,300 grocery stores, including Meijer, Cub Foods, Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Food Lion, Fred Meyer and Jewel-Osco, and 2,000 Wal-Mart Supercenters nationwide, Fairbourn said.

Produce packs for microwave gaining popularity
The U.S. Potato Board is launching a cross-promotion with Ziploc’s Zip ‘n Steam microwave cooking bags.